Of our own free will and accord, we are free men and Free Masons, have done several things. We will continue to act in manner that is dictated by our conscience and reason. There is nothing more that we can do. We will not be subjected to the attacks and illicit behavior of those in brief positions of authority that are “howling for our blood.” In other words, we will not deal with looters, thieves, or thugs. I have been approached by three dear Brothers who have asked us the question that no other Mason has. “Why?” They asked and they truly wanted answers and to understand. These Brothers met me on the level, as a Mason I should expect this from all Masons. There have been far too many that have taken this as an opportunity to fulfill some personal vendettas against me. So be it, Truth will always shine through, and it is starting to now.
Freedom of Association
It is our belief that any private organization is free to limit who may become a member of their organization. That control stops there. No organization, private or public, has a moral right to control the private life of its members. This is not the time to pull out a book of regulations and quote some rule that is immoral to prove that a moral right exists. This is the time to discuss openly the moral justification of those types of rules.
Most Grand Lodges have a rule that forbids their members from attending a co-Masonic lodge. That seems to be pretty cut and dried. Please put your pitchforks and torches down, I am not a member of co-Masonic body though I have thought about. No man should be punished for his thoughts. We find that rule to be immoral. We find it immoral because it in no way affects the various Grand Lodges in this country yet the rule exists not to enhance the Craft but to limit the freedom of association of Masons outside of the lodge.
It is said that a woman cannot be a Mason. It goes to reason then that any organization, no matter what they call it, is not Masonic. So why is that rule in place? There is an intellectual dissonance in this case. If they are not Masons then forbidding a Mason from attending or joining a co-Masonic body is the equivalent of forbidding him to join the Rotary Club.
If indeed a co-Mason is a Mason then we have to return to the original premise and open further discussion. Masons do not need to be kept safe from ideas; ideas obviously need to be kept safe from Masons from time to time. If a woman cannot be made a Mason, as we are told, then where did the female Masons come from? We cannot have it both ways.
The argument that this rule is in place to preserve the Craft is empty. No damage can possibly come to the fraternity if a Mason were to visit a co-Masonic lodge. Regardless, we must ask what exactly we are protecting the Craft from. Girls don’t have coodies, get over it. Many of the arguments that I have heard about this subject sound similar in origin to the tired arguments used against Prince Hall Free Masonry.
This is one of the most misunderstood concepts in Free Masonry. A Grand Lodge’s authority begins and ends with its constituted lodges. It goes not further than that. It does not include a specific geographic boundary as Free Masonry itself is not constrained to lines on a map. The Grand Lodge of Michigan, in a stroke of genius and morality, did decide (I believe that it was in 1996 – fact checkers please check that for me) that its authority was only over its constituted lodges. The Grand Lodge of Michigan has also extended recognition and built the bridge of Brotherhood with the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Michigan. Bravo. Most Grand Lodges in the United States have also extended recognition to Prince Hall Grand Lodges. It is right and proper to do so. By these actions should we not question further the misapplication of territorial exclusivity?
Since it has been decided that the Prince Hall Grand Lodges are entirely regular should we not extend recognition to all Prince Hall Grand Lodges? Including those that are in certain Southern states? There will be some that will say that I am acting outside of my authority. How drôle. I am not acting on any authority. I am not acting at all. I am asking a question that we should ask, and that we should answer.
The only stain on the Grand Lodge of Michigan regarding the issue of recognition of Prince Hall Grand Lodges is that it took so long for it to come about. Of course, the sins of the father are not the sins of the son. The good Brothers of the Grand Lodge of Michigan did correct the historic error and may they always be remembered for that. Mistakes happen; we are only human after all. It is important that it was corrected.
This is not a chicken and egg situation. Grand Lodges were formed by Lodges. Lodges formed these Grand Lodges to administer to the needs of the Lodges, not the other way around. Some times this is forgotten. Lodges were formed by Masons to administer to the needs of Masons. The sovereignty of an individual Mason cannot be superseded by that of the Lodge. That is the key to the free will and accord that we discuss so often. Allow the natural progression of logic (one of the seven liberal arts) to guide you on the natural conclusions of this.
As there are different men with different needs in Free Masonry we cannot expect one model of a lodge to suit all of their needs. Regarding this issue it is important that a lodge be able to develop its own character. Ritual is an important aspect of a lodge’s character. Allowing a lodge to select and work a regular ritual would do much to enhance the character and egregore of the lodge. This is practiced in several jurisdictions around the world. It has been quite successful. It will also allow us, as Masons; access that vast tapestry that is Free Masonry. It is our heritage.
These are not attacks of arguments. These are simply points of discussions. Answers to these questions are important.