THE SCOTTISH RITE JOURNAL - MAY 1993
C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33d Grand Commander Southern Jurisdiction
In 1990, the Scottish Rite Foundation of Missouri donated the original oil portrait of President Harry S. Truman, 33d, pictured on the front cover of this issue. It was the first portrait installed in the House of the Temple's new Temple Architects Hall of Honor.
This is a historic moment in American Freemasonry. We are confronted by a virulent attack on our gentle Craft from a faction within the Southern Baptist Convention. This June, the Convention will vote on the issue of whether or not Freemasonry is compatible "with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine."
In the February 1993 issue of The Scottish Rite Journal, the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, broke Masonry's tradition of silence. We responded to our critics via 25 articles. Most were written by prominent clergymen, many of them Southern Baptists. Each stated clearly and strongly one truth: Freemasonry is not a religion, let alone anti-Christian in any way. Instead, Freemasonry complements Christian faith while it enhances each Mason's personal religion, whichever it may be.
This May issue, again, presents essays on this crucial matter. As Masons, we must inform the public and our own members. Most of all, we must stand united.
It is with great pride, therefore, that this Grand Commander's message breaks new ground by presenting not only my message but also that of Ill.'. Francis G. Paul, 33d, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. Ill.'. Paul's message is reprinted on the following pages with permission from the February 1993 issue of The Northern Light, the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's official publication.
Our unprecedented unity of response to the crisis facing Freemasonry represents a historic closing of Masonic ranks. I invite all Masons of all Blue Lodges and of all Appendant Bodies to join the Scottish Rite, Southern and Northern Masonic Jurisdictions, in opposing the religious extremism which today threatens not only Freemasonry but the most fundamental of American principles, freedom of conscience. Read Grand Commander Paul's message which follows, as well as the following pages of this special issue of The Scottish Rite Journal, to find out how you, personally, can help defend Freemasonry and America today.
Sovereign Grand Commander Southern Jurisdiction
Francis G. Paul, 33d Grand Commander Northern Masonic Jurisdiction
He was a Baptist. He was a Mason. He was the President of the United States. And he was proud of all three. His biographer, David McCullough, writes of Harry Truman's high regard for Masonry:
He greatly enjoyed the fellowship and took the ritual and spiritual teaching of Freemasonry with extreme seriousness. He felt uplifted by brotherhood in an order claiming great antiquity and to which both Mozart and Andrew Jackson had belonged, as had so many presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt and his successor, William Howard Taft. As every Mason knew, George Washington took the oath of office on a Masonic Bible and laid the cornerstone of the Capitol with a Masonic Trowel. (Truman, p. 78)
When it came to accepting personal responsibility for his actions, no one in public life can equal President Truman. On one momentous occasion, he made an unpopular decision. "The buck stops here," he said. And it did.
Why is Bro.'. Harry Truman more admired today than when he occupied the White House? It's clear that he possessed the one quality that makes a difference in life: Harry Truman had character.
It's difficult not to think of Harry Truman-the man, the Baptist, the President and the Mason-at a time when our Fraternity has come under severe criticism from a vociferous group of Southern Baptists who have dedicated themselves to cleansing their denomination of what they consider contamination by Masons and Freemasonry.
When the issue first arose, I took the criticism somewhat in stride. Since the anti-Masonic movement 150 years ago, there have been numerous attempts to show that Masonry is the enemy of Christianity. While these periodic outbursts have been unpleasant, they have soon faded away.
Unfortunately, the current anti-Masonic movement in the Southern Baptist Convention persists, even gaining momentum.
The complaints against Masonry are not coming from the Southern Baptists as a whole. It seems to be one man's goal to vilify Freemasonry, and, at the same time, to drive a wedge of hate into the heart of this great denomination.
Although the perpetrator of the scurrilous and totally erroneous attack on our Masonic Fraternity feels he is on the side of Christianity and that Freemasonry is the work of the devil, we take our stand with the man from Missouri who said,
"I am by religion like everything else. I think there is more in acting than in talking."
This is exactly where the buck stops for Freemasons. We do not talk theology because we are not a religious organization or a church. But our individual lives and the life of our Fraternity are open-wide open-for all to see. Our actions are the voice of Freemasonry.
- There are thousands of young people who have been educated with Masonic scholarships.
- There are countless victims of severe bums who have been cared for without charge in the Shriners' burns institutes.
- There are thousands of children who live healthy, happy, and whole lives thanks to the free medical care they received at one of the Masonically-sponsored crippled children's hospitals.
- There is an almost endless stream of youngsters across the country who have learned to communicate because of the services of the Scottish Rite's Childhood Language Disorder Centers.
- There are major improvements in the treatment of schizophrenia, thanks to the medical studies and research funded by Scottish Rite Masons.
- There are thousands of Americans who, without charge, have had their sight restored or their vision improved, again without cost, because of the commitment of Masons.
Our Masonic Brother, Harry Truman, was right. "There is more in acting than in talking." From where we stand, this is where the buck always stops before men and God.
As Masons, we will not be drawn into a hateful verbal battle over theological or doctrinal issues. A shouting match is not our forum; trading accusations is not our style.
We will not hide, however. We will continue acting as Masons. We will follow the light of faith, brotherhood and truth. We will support the family. We will honor our nation. We will build character. We will care for the forgotten and the needy.
We stand on the Masonic record, and leave the final judgment of theological purity where it belongs-in the hands of God.
Sovereign Grand Commander Northern Masonic Jurisdiction
Religion Are Compatible
Forrest D. Haggard, 33d, G.'.C.'. 6816 W. 78th Terrace Shawnee Mission, KS 66204
After carefully studying the contemporary anti-Masonic movement, a well-known Freemason who is also a Disciples of Christ minister sees three main motives-personal, political, and economic-behind attacks on the Craft, and he advises Masons to respond by understanding and practicing the purposes of our Craft.
THE recent revival, by fundamental Christianity, of anti-Masonry has created a storm within both religious and fraternal circles. Over the past two years, I have listened to, watched on TV or read every program, article, and item concerning the modern-day anti-Masonic movement that has been called to my attention. It has been good for me. I have re-examined my own membership in all of my "other than the Church" commitments. I have reached a considered decision that Freemasonry is not now and never has been detrimental to my Christian faith or to Christian doctrine. In fact my fraternal relationships have strengthened and assisted me in my ministry as well as in my personal faith and life.
I have found three predominant reasons for the existence of the critics:
- Personal and personality conflicts are present. Freemasonry is a human organization with no claim to Divine origin. In any human organization you have human frailties. Where you have a structure you have "assumed power or prestige" and with that you have conflicts. Some critics have had a "bad experience" in their Masonic connections. (Just like local congregations have people who came from some other church where things were "bad.")
- Political, social, or religious dictatorships or hierarchial structures cannot, in fact do not dare, tolerate differences of opinion. They cannot afford any dissension or freedom of thought. Under their rule, Freemasonry and all like groups must be attacked or destroyed. Such systems may claim to be open minded, but they depend on their constituents or followers to have minds closed to all but their own particular "way" or doctrine. Freemasonry promotes freedom of thought and discussion.
- Money: I always listen and watch for the "bottom line" whenever I am watching the "Christian" TV station or listening to a "religious" broadcast. The bottom line is an appeal for membership in their group and for support funds. In spite of all of the revelations of graft, greed, corruption, and immorality on the part of the hawkers of fundamentalist Christianity, their kind continues. They are an embarrassment to the Church. I have to assume that Satan rubs his hands in glee as their message of hate, exclusiveness, and divisiveness goes out to the public.
I call your attention to some other factors:
The same voice that speaks out against Freemasonry often also speaks out against any other type, kind, style, or form of religious faith other than their very own. The same families that have left my congregation because I am a Freemason came to our Church because where they were was not of the "true faith." And they have already left where they went from my congregation because that place was not the "true faith" either.
Remember that Freemasonry is not a single-minded organization. It is a multitude of structures, groups, and units that are tied together by a common historical tradition. We have no "one voice," nor one leader, nor one ritual. Our critics pick and choose their quotations or dramatizations from any era, source, or supply that meets their particular needs.
I have never argued with single minded fundamentalists. They are always, ALWAYS, in their own mind, absolutely right. They must destroy all other systems to prove their own right to exist. They can always justify their stance on the basis of their own interpretation of their Source (such as the Word). And they need money to exist. If they cannot survive on their own, then they must invade or utilize some already proven source (such as the type and quality of people who make up most fraternal groups and, most especially, Freemasonry).
I represent a whole host of competent hardworking ministers who labor in a parish and who really carry the load of pastoral care and concern. Many of us belong to fraternal, civic, or community groups. We do so with personal joy at the sense of unity, openness, and morality that these groups promote. These groups are not organized religions. They not only do not compete with the Christian faith, but in reality are supportive of it. It is disturbing that the opponents of Freemasonry are, in effect, attacking that which is supportive of Christian faith. The "Christian" anti-Masonic leaders are not only inaccurate in their attack on Freemasonry but they also are. in my opinion, making a far more serious attack on the basic Christian faith under whose banner they claim to operate.
How do I respond to these attacks? What do I say? I do not respond directly to the attacker. The attacker is shrewd. He attacks the weak spot of his enemy. In our case that weakest spot is not, as the attacker would have you believe and thus defend, in our rituals, customs, and traditions. It is in the members themselves who have had only ritualistic education about Freemasonry.
Where Freemasonry has instructed its candidates in its history, purpose, and intent and where a local Lodge is going about its business with pride and dignity, there is very little that anti-Masonic groups can do to destroy the Craft.
Forrest D. Haggard was ordained by the Kansas Church of Christ and is the Founding Pastor of the Overland Park Kansas Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) where he has served since 1953. He has been in the ministry for 44 years and a Master Mason for 43 years. A Past Grand Master of Masons in Kansas, General Secretary of the World Office of the Churches of Christ (Disciples, Christian. and Church of Christ).
ABRAHAM LINCOLN was accused of being an atheist because of his nonaffiliation with any church. He is attributed with this reply:
I have never united myself to any church because I have found difficulty in giving my assent without mental reservations to the long complicated statements of Christian doctrine which characterize their articles of belief and confessions of faith. When any church will inscribe above its altars, as its sole qualification for membership, the Savior's condensed statement of the substance of both law and gospel, "Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself," that church I will join with all my heart and all my soul.
Needless to say, Lincoln has enshrined his memory in the hearts of millions for eternity.
Contributed by: Donald Lee. Arnold, 32d Pocatello, Idaho, Scottish Rite Bodies
I Am Proud To Be A Mason
Rabbi Seymour Atlas, 33d 4321 North 41st Court Hollywood, Florida 33021-1823
With nearly 50 years service as a Rabbi and a Mason to his credit, Brother Atlas recalls with pride the highlights of his career as a clergyman and Mason.
AS A YOUNGSTER, one of my favorite dreams and aspirations lingered with me for many years, until my petition was approved for initiation into Freemasonry. Looking back over the years, I realize this desire came from a photograph that I admired and wanted to emulate.
This photograph was one of my father, may he rest in peace, standing with other Masons on the steps of the Masonic Temple in Greenville, Mississippi. As he stood with his Masonic Brothers, it was as if a feeling of pride and joy was emanating from them, as if there were no equals to them. How proud I was of my father, and from that moment on, I knew I wanted to be a Mason and follow the Masonic teaching as he had.
I was brought up in a religious home, a son of a Rabbi with seven generations of Rabbis preceding me; and yet with this religious background, I felt I could still derive much from and give much to this Fraternity, for the good and welfare of mankind.
When I reached my 21st birthday, one of my first thoughts was to submit my petition to become a Mason! There was no hesitation or second thought, for this was the beginning of fulfilling a lifelong dream. With prayer and trepidation I awaited the call that my petition was approved.
Having been so informed over 40 years ago, I was filled with pride and anticipation that soon I would be welcomed into the Masonic Bodies. I walked on air and thanked God that I would be able to follow in the footsteps of my father and bring him the joy and pleasure of knowing his son was accepted into the ranks of men of integrity and righteousness.
I shall never forget my first thought as I made my initial entrance into the Masonic Lodge that conferred the Entered Apprentice Degree on me, and followed with the Fellow Craft and Master Mason Degrees. I was immediately made to feel that I was surrounded by Brothers. I felt there were no strangers present. This was one big family that seemed to have adopted me, and I, in turn, was elated to adopt them as my family.
Having completed my Symbolic Lodge Degrees and passed all examinations with perfection, I immediately became an instructor for others and became active in Masonry, never failing to attend the meetings and partake of the fellowship as often as my profession would permit, and I must say it was quite frequently on a regular basis.
My cup was running over with pride, and I looked forward to my advancement into higher Degrees. I soon advanced through the Scottish Rite Degrees, being a candidate in several and offered the honor and privilege to speak for the class as to my true feelings and impressions of the particular Degrees for which I was the candidate.
My horizon of Masonry expanded, and my pride and joy were bubbling and effervescent. I couldn't wait to be able to confer the Degrees on others as there was so much I wanted to explain and elaborate about each Degree.
I was offered this opportunity and immediately began to study and memorize many parts, and over the years I became very active, holding office, lecturing, and taking an active part in every phase of Masonry where my talents and abilities could be used. One aspect of Masonry that has made a great impression on me was the ability of all Brothers, regardless of religion, to ask me why did I need Masonry as a Rabbi, because my profession was one of integrity, kindness, honesty, and all the attributes expounded in Masonry. It was difficult for many to grasp my need for this addition and supplement to religion. I worked with men of different religions, as well as of the Hebrew faith, and they were all impressed when I would say that Masonry is not a religion, but to be a Mason we had to believe in God, and if this was the only aspect of our religion and we had no other formal religion, yet we adhered to all the moral teachings of Masonry; this too would have put us in the category of men of integrity. However, Masonry is not a substitute for religion, nor is it a religion.
My experience has shown that Masons are, for the most part, deeply religious men. I am proud to be a Mason and a part of an organization that is devoted to helping, without question or embarrassment, widows, orphans, and those in need.
I am proud to be a Mason and to be a part of a Fraternity dedicated to the upholding of the Constitution of the United States of America and the Bill of Rights.
I am proud to be a Mason who believes in the freedom of mankind and the sanctity of human life.
I am proud to be a Mason who believes in the dignity of God's children and opposes hatred and bigotry, and stands for truth, justice, kindness, integrity, and righteousness for all.
I am proud to be a Mason and shall always be happy to number myself among those who uphold those cardinal principles and moral standards of life that are so needed if our organization is to continue on the high level that has been its character from its inception. May God grant it continued strength to go, to grow, and to glow so that I and all Masons can exclaim: "I am proud to be a Mason!"
Seymour Atlas retired in 1990 from Beth Judah Temple, Wildwood. NJ. after 46 years in active Rabbinate as a Pulpit Rabbi in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, and New Jersey as well as an Auxiliary Chaplain in the U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard. He is a member of the Scottish Rite Bodies and the Shrine of Montgomery, Alabama. He was inducted into the Legion of Honor of the Chapel of Four Chaplains in Philadelphia, PA.
"A fanatic is a man that does what he thinks th' Lord wud do if He knew th' facts iv th' case."
Finley Peter Dunne as "Mr. Dooley," Writer
"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
Sir Winston Churchill, Statesman
"Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim."
George Santayana, Philosopher
"From fanaticism to barbarianism is only one step." Denis Diderot, Encyclopedist
Merry-Go-Round A Response to Mr. John Ankerberg
Jim Tresner, 33d P.O. Box 70 Guthne, OK 73044-0070
"The John Ankerberg Show" has sent out a circular in response to the February 1993 special issue of The Scottish Rite Journal. Near the end of that circular, Mr. Ankerberg invites a Freemason in good standing to respond.
I've been asked to do so.
I can qualify as a Freemason in good standing, so long as good standing is taken, in its Masonic sense, to mean current in my dues and not under suspension. If, however, Mr. Ankerberg means "a Mason who can speak authoritatively," I must beg off. No Mason may speak with authority for Masonry, only for himself.
First, it is a genuine pleasure to see from the newsletter that most of the issues have finally been put to rest. Mr. Ankerberg comments that the February issue of The Scottish Rite Journal dealing with the theme of "Freemasonry and Religion" is "Impressive. Very impressive!" (It is indeed, and as one of the writers in that issue, I can tell you it is a humbling experience to appear in the same pages as such eminent Churchmen and Masonic writers.) Second, since Mr. Ankerberg appears to have dropped the questions, we can gratefully assume there is now agreement (1) that a man can be and frequently is a good, highly placed, responsible, spirit-filled church leader and a sincere, devoted Mason, (2) that Masonry has a long and honorable tradition in support of religion, and (3) that intelligent men have finally put to rest the ridiculous charges that Masonry is satanic or pagan.
The remaining issues Mr. Ankerberg identifies are essentially semantic--that is they center around the meanings of words and symbols.
The first centers around the statement, "We are religious, not a religion." Anyone who has read Masonic writers dealing with this topic knows it is a difficult one. Probably none of us are completely happy with the statement-- but it may be as close as we can come to defining a situation which English does not handle well.
Perhaps it might be better to say, "Freemasonry acknowledges that man is inherently a religious being and celebrates that inherent religiousness, without trying to tell a man how he should worship or the details of what he should believe."
Mr. Ankerberg is in error when he says that "Freemasonry defines religion to suit its own distinctive purposes." Freemasonry, of course, does not define religion at all. Various Masonic writers have defined religion, simply because of the duty of a writer to define his terms. But essentially, Freemasonry is happy to let anyone define religion for himself as he wishes. We only start arguing when someone works out a definition of religion, and then tries to force that definition on us as a way of attacking us.
Ankerberg argues that Masonry defines what God is like and, in the process, defines away many qualities that various religions hold dear. To prove this, he quotes Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia. Doing so proves what Coil had to say, but it does not prove what Masonry has to say. These do seem to be hard points to get across to anti-Masons, but let's try once more.
I. No Masonic writer can or does speak for Masonry; he speaks only for himself.
II. Each Mason conceives of God as his own religion leads him.
Ankerberg insists that it is semantic slight of hand if the candidate and the Mason conferring the Degree have different definitions of God. But that's toleration, not slight of hand. In fact, given a fundamental principle of General Semantics--that each person has his own definition for EVERY word--it is inescapable.
And then, Ankerberg again asserts that Masonry teaches salvation by good works and that the apron is the proof. Since we speak of "purity of life and rectitude of conduct," he concludes that we teach such purity and rectitude are sufficient to gain admission into Heaven.
Masonic Ritual does not say that these are sufficient. Nowhere does Masonry say what is sufficient. That is the business of a church, not a fraternity. The Mason finds that answer in his faith, not in his Lodge. And that's what we encourage him to do. We point him to the Holy Bible (not the Masonic Monitor or his apron) and encourage him to search therein for the foundation on which to build his life.
Also, Ankerberg misses the point. The apron symbolizes or represents purity and rectitude of conduct, but from whence do they come and how are they defined? For me and most Christian Masons, they come from the acceptance of Jesus Christ. My Jewish Brothers tell me that, for them, they come from following the Law of the Covenant. A Brother who is a follower of Islam tells me that, for him, they come from submission to the will of Allah. And that's exactly why Masonry does not define them. Purity and rectitude are defined by faith, not fraternity.
One more ride on the semantic merry-go-round. Ankerberg asserts that if Freemasonry were not a religion and didn't have something to hide, we would not resent investigation of Freemasonry. But it isn't investigation we resent, it's attack. It may be that Mr. Ankerberg has so highly evolved as a spiritual being that it would not distress him if someone called him a liar to his face, or insulted his father by suggesting he were either a practicing pagan or too stupid to know the difference. If so, I honor him for his evolution.
But I have not evolved so far.
Jim Trasner is the Director of the Masonic Leadership Institute. He is also Director of the Thirty-third Degree Conferral Team at his Temple and Director of the Work at the Guthrie Scottish Rite Temple in Guthrie, Oklahoma. He holds a B.A. with majors in Communications. Theatre, English and Psychology, a M.A. in Communication Theory, a M.B.A. and a Ph.D in Business Communications. He has served on the editorial board of The Scottish Rite Journal, is on the staff of The Oklahoma Scottish Rite Mason, serves as a video script consultant to the National Masonic Renewal Committee, and is editor of The Oklahoma Mason. He is considered a scholar in the interpretation of Masonic symbols and ritual and has authored numerous articles, video scripts, and booklets on Masonic subjects.
One of Brother Tresner's most recent and effective short works, appearing in the February 1993 issue of The Scottish Rite Journal, is the essay entitled "Conscience and the Craft." This essay, which supplies answers to the criticisms most frequently aimed at Freemasonry, has been made into a fine VHS videotape that makes an excellent Masonic program for any Blue Lodge or Scottish Rite or Shrine Temple. To order copies of the video version of "Conscience and the Craft" please send a check for $25.00 payable to The Grand Lodge of Iowa, P.O. Box 279, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402. For copies of the pamphlet, call 405-282-1281 or write: The Scottish Rite, P.O. Box 70, Guthric, Oklahoma 73044-0070.
Signs, Symbols and Silliness
Rex R. Hutchens, 33d Rev. Donald W. Monson, 32d, K.'.C.'.C.'.H.'. P. O. Box 391, Tucson, Arizona 85702-0391
Anti-Masons who accuse Freemasonry of using pagan or "Satanic" symbols fail to realize that a symbol has only the meaning attributed to it by its user of the moment-not the meaning given it in other times by other persons. If this were not so, neither Christianity nor Freemasonry would have any symbols at all.
One of the more interesting charges against Freemasonry is its use of supposed "pagan" symbols. Common examples cited include the Order of the Eastern Star's inverted five-pointed star and the Cross of Salem, the emblem of the Sovereign Grand Commander of an Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Jurisdiction. The English occultist Aleister Crowley used the Cross of Salem, and it is, supposedly, a symbol of "Baphomet," a pagan god or another name for Satan.
Critics also bring up the parallels between the symbolism of the Rosicrucians and the Scottish Rite's Eighteenth Degree. These claims are particularly ironic, given the overt Christian interpretation used in the Masonic Ritual. Even such common symbols as the sun and moon are given an occult slant in the antiMasonic press.
While the use of different symbols is seldom in dispute, the interpretation of them is difficult. Taking the first example, the inverted five-pointed star, we may come to an understanding of the difficulty. This is the primary symbol of the Order of the Eastern Star, a Masonically affiliated organization that admits women who have close relatives as Masons. The symbol's source, however, is Christianity, not Satanism or the occult. The downward point represents the star seen in the east by the wise men (hence Eastern Star), pointing to the place of Jesus' birth and representing the decent of the divine to partake of earthly existence. However other groups distort the meaning of this profound symbol, its holy character is not affected unless we allow it. After all, the five-pointed star on the Congressional Medal of Honor, like the Order of the Eastern Star's symbol, is inverted, and no one has suggested any Satanic implications.
So many groups and individuals have used the Cross of Salem that it can hardly be said to possess any meaning other than that intended by its user. The same also applies for the sun and the moon- probably the two most common symbols in the history of man. Attaching the name "Baphomet" to the Cross of Salem is totally arbitrary and has no significance. Critics charged the Templars with the adoration of Baphomet as a demonic object of worship, usually described as a disembodied head. The name is thought to be a corruption of "Mohammed," the prophet of Islam, though other interpretations have been suggested. Idris Shah, in his inspirational work The Sufis, suggests it is a corruption of the Arabic phrase which means "father of wisdom." "Baphomet" is used in no Masonic Ritual of which we are aware.
Consider the All-Seeing Eye, commonly identified as a Masonic symbol. The reason for the association becomes clear when one considers Psalm 33:18, "Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope for his mercy." The symbol is found on the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States, and critics claim the All Seeing Eye is evidence of pagan traditions in Freemasonry which have been brought surreptitiously into our national symbols. Its Egyptian origin is a certainty, though it did not represent Osiris, as both Masonic and anti-Masonic works often claim, but rather his son Horus, the Egyptian god of time. Christians adopted the image in the Middle Ages as a fitting symbol of God. While the symbol is used in Masonic Ritual, its meaning is given as representing God, and the early Masons who adopted it from what was then Christian symbolism probably had no idea as to its Egyptian origins. Even the occasionally eccentric interpretations of Albert Pike can give no offense in this regard, for he considers the All-Seeing Eye a symbol of the continuous light of the sun, itself a symbol of the continual spiritual light given by God to man.
The pagan roots of a symbol have nothing to do with its modern interpretation. What Christian would want his faith judged by the adoption of the Persian sun-god Mithras' birthday as Jesus' birthday or the use of the pagan goddess Oestre's name (hence Easter) to name the holiest season in the Christian calendar? The dove was a symbol of the Greek goddess Venus before it became a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Pagan names dot the cultural landscape of Western civilization; automobiles, books, months in our calendar, days of the week, constellations all contain examples of the continuing influence of our pagan heritage. In the Sistine Chapel, the very center of Medieval Christendom, Raphael painted an epic portrait of the greatest pagan philosophers.
A symbol has the meaning attributed to it by the current user-not the meaning given it in other times by other persons. If this were not so, neither Christianity nor Freemasonry would have any symbols at all.
Light is the most profound of Masonic symbols. While not specifically pagan, its symbolic use in the Lodge often causes much confusion. The anti-Masonic press is fond of ridiculing the idea of a Christian being "in darkness" when he has the light of Christ in his life. No Masonic Ritual accuses the Entered Apprentice of being in spiritual darkness. Darkness, to the Mason, represents ignorance just as Light represents knowledge. Masonic knowledge is earthly knowledge and an awareness of the benefits of the tenets of the Craft: Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. As the great American humorist Bro.'. Will Rogers, 32d, once said, "Everybody is ignorant, just about different things." Christians attend college and take courses dispelling the darkness in their lives with respect to the subjects they are studying. Freemasonry is the advocate of a liberal education-studying the wisdom of the past to guide actions in the present. The darkness we seek to dispel is intellectual, not spiritual. What Masonry's symbols can do, and have done, for many men is help them to understand their spiritual and moral shortcomings and lead them to seek the answers to their spiritual questions in the appropriate places, whether it be a church, synagogue, or mosgue.
Rex R. Hutchens is a Past Master of Epes Randolph Lodge No. 32 Adobe Lodge No. 41, and South Arizona Research Lodge No. 2. He is also a Past Venerable Master and Past Wise Master of the Tucson Scottish Rite Bodies. Presently Personal Representative of the S.'.G.'.I.'.G.'. in Arizona for the Valley of Tucson, he is also active in the York Rite and several scholarly research societies. Dr. Hutchens teaches philosophy for Pima Community College.
Donald W. Monson is Rector of St. Michael and All Angels- Episcopal Church, Phoenix. Arizona. He is also the General Grand Chaplain of the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International and the Junior Grand Steward of the Grand Lodge of Arizona. Reverend Monson is, along with Dr. Rex R. Hutchens, the coauthor of the new book The Bible in Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma.
WHY I BECAME A MASON
Dr. Alvin C. Rose, 32d 1013 Christopher Lane Ashland City, Tennessee 37015
A member of the Churches of Christ tells of his personal journey from anti-Masonry to membership in the Masonic Fraternity.
I read and hear today of people of some faiths who speak out against being a Mason. They usually say that Masonry is a religion and, therefore, is a rival to other religions, including Christianity.
I know where they are coming from. I grew up in an anti-Masonic tradition myself. I grew up believing that Masonry was a religion, and a false one at that. For many years I believed one could not be a faithful Christian and also be a Mason. And, like many anti-Masons today, I grew up in a judging tradition.
I once believed I had the Bible down pat.
I once believed I knew just about all there was to know about the Bible.
I once believed that I was right in all of my interpretations about the Bible and Bible-related issues. Therefore, anyone who disagreed with any of my conclusions was obviously in the wrong.
I once believed that only myself and those who shared my views on any of the issues that I believed to be matters of faith were truly Christians.
I once believed everyone else was necessarily lost and would never have eternal life with God.
I am grateful to be able to say that, as I have continued to be a student of the Holy Scriptures, I have allowed the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within me, to work within me and allow me to grow spiritually in God's word. The more I study the Bible, the more I have come to realize that I never have known all there is to know about God's divine will, and perhaps I never will. Yet, I intend to continue to study, and grow, and press on toward the higher calling of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Many years ago, I discovered that many men of my religious fellowship, the Churches of Christ, were Masons. I have always considered members of the Churches of Christ to be Christians, and I wondered how men who claimed to be Christians could also be Freemasons.
I began to study Freemasonry to be able to prove to these Christian brothers that they were biblically wrong to also be Masons. While I was doing this, a Christian brother who was a Mason challenged me to continue my study. He told me that if I ever became a Mason and found anything in the Lodge that was anti-Christian, to let him know, and he and I would leave the Lodge together.
As I continued to study what Masonic materials were available to me, I found nothing in Masonry that was anti-Christian, nor anti any other religion for that matter. And during that time, I learned what happened to a boy named Walter.
Walter was about seven years old and was a student at a nearby elementary school. He had taken his household trash outside and was burning it. An aerosol can happened to be in that particular bag of trash, and the heat caused the container to explode, sending burning material over much of Walter's arm and leg.
When some area Shriners learned what happened to Walter, they came to his rescue. At no expense to Walter's family, the Shriners sent Walter and his mother to the Shrine burns hospital in Cincinnati. The Shriners paid for transportation, medical, food, and lodging costs for Walter and his mom.
My parents-in-law live in Cincinnati, and we told them about Walter and his mother being there with no friends and family nearby. My in-laws often visited Walter and his mother and gave them someone to know while they were a long way from home. Like me, my parents-in-law were positively impressed with how well the Shriners provided for Walter and his mom.
I wanted to become a Shriner and help them help kids as they had helped Walter. I knew that one had to be a Mason before one could become a Shriner.
I soon petitioned for membership at the local Masonic Lodge, Ashland Lodge No. 604, in Ashland City, Tennessee. I received the first three Masonic Degrees at Ashland Lodge, and I proudly remain a member of that Lodge today. Some years later, I received the 29 Degrees of the Scottish Rite and then joined the Al Menah Shrine Temple in Nashville.
I have found that Masonry promotes friendship, brotherly love, moral living, and charity. Being a Mason gives me additional opportunities to participate in those attributes.
Masonry in no way replaces or opposes my Christian faith. It does, however, allow my faith to work with people and in situations that would not otherwise be possible for me.
I regret ever having had antiMasonic views. My views were the result of my ignorance about this fraternal organization.
I also regret being a hypercritical judge towards other people in religious matters. The more I study the Bible, the more I realize how desperately all people, including myself, need God's grace and mercy.
God wants all people to be saved. He offers His grace to all who will receive it and who will attempt to the best of their ability and understanding to obey His word.
That is the kind of life I want to live. Whosoever will, please join me.
Alvin C. Rose is a supervisor of secondary education (grades 7-12) for the public schools of Cheatham County, Tennessee. He is a member of the Scottish Rite Bodies of Nashville, TN, and Al Menah Shrine Temple of Nashville.
Former President Supports Moderate Southern Baptists Compiled from The Washington Post, January 28, 1993. Page A13
Former President Jimmy Carter announced at the end of January that he will leave the Southern Baptist Convention. During an interview with Baptists Today, a biweekly newspaper in Decatur, Georgia, Carter said he will join the more moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). In his announcement Carter said, "Rosalynn and I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the policies of the dominant clique in the Southern Baptist Convention." A life-long Southern Baptist, Carter added, "We will share our personal gifts, time and influence with CBF," while remaining"loyal Baptists."
In addition, President Carter recently sent a letter to his pastor at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. The editor of Baptists Today, Jack U. Harwell, quoted from the letter where the former President says "the political and religious policies of Southern Baptist Convention leaders are no longer compatible with our [the Carter's] Christian beliefs ...."
In a related matter, former President Carter has played a behind-the-scenes role in gaining support for the CBF. Keith Parks, former president of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, joined the CBF on February 1, 1993. Parks admitted that Carter had talked to him "before I made the decision [to join the CBF] and let me know of his interest." Carter did not influence his decision, but "the fact of his interest certainly was encouraging to me."
According to Bill Leonard, chairman of the religion department at Samford University in Birmingham, Carter and Parks "have enhanced the future and credibility" of the CBF. Leonard, who wrote a recent history of the Southern Baptist Convention, added the denomination has begun to break apart internally. "What I have called in the past 'fragmentation' is the order of the day," he said.
Editor's note: Many believe the Southern Baptist Convention's growing disintegration is tied to its recent pursuit of ultra-nght goals, including its attack on Freemasonry as incompatible with Southern Baptist doctrine. This May issue, like the February, 1993, issue of The Scottish Rite Journal, examines this subject and confirms the compatibility of Freemasonry and Christianity.
CALLING MASONS SATANIC IS FOLLY
Paul Harasim Reprinted with permission from The Houston Post, Copyright 1993
A Houston columnist who is not a Mason describes the criticism of Freemasonry by an extreme faction with the Southern Baptist Convention and calls the attack a "folly."
If Dr. James Holly of Beaumont is right, George Washington, the father of our country, was a devil worshiper. Marvin Zindler has to be one, too.
Ditto for Sam Houston and Presidents James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford.
To take Holly's argument to its logical conclusion, Irving Berlin was under the influence of Satan when he wrote "White Christmas." So was John Wayne when he played in True Grit on the silver screen. And astronaut Buzz Aldrin did devil's work when he flew to the moon.
What makes these people satanic?
Well, Holly says, its because they're Masons, members of the most widely known fraternity in the world-a fraternal group that spends $525 million each year in the United States on charities, including free treatment of children at its network of 22 Shriners hospitals.
Now if we start thinking Holly's way-that Masonry "springs from pits of hell and from the father of lies, Lucifer" because the fraternity accepts people from different religious groups as brothers-chances are our friends would suggest we get our heads examined.
Too Much Time On Hands
But when Holly the Baptist wrote a tract arguing that Masonry is satanic, the Southern Baptist Convention decided a study should be undertaken to determine whether membership in a Masonic Lodge conflicts with its beliefs.
It was not called Holly's Folly. It should have been.
Too many people had too much time on their hands. If they had become Masons, like 1 million other Baptists, they could have found people to help.
In Saturday's Post, you probably read that Masons are breaking their tradition of keeping silent when criticized They've realized ignorance isn't bliss.
They worry that a negative finding against their 4 million-member organization by the 15.3 million-member Southern Baptist Convention when it meets in June could cost membership.
That should worry all of us who care about children. The Shriners hospitals alone have helped more than 500,000 children at no cost.
It's a shame that the Rev. Ed Young, the brilliant preacher at Second Baptist Church and the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, hasn't used his position as a bully pulpit against this nonsense. With America's charities hurting badly, as has been evidenced by United Way's problems, this isn't the time for him to utilize a "don't make waves" leadership style.
Something tells me he understands the five-pointed star sometimes used as a Masonic symbol is not a symbol of witchcraft but the oldest symbol of man-the five points refer to the head, the hands and the feet.
Argument For Tolerance
Holly tries to argue Masonry is a religion. The Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, himself a Mason, says no way.
"Freemasonry has no dogma or theology," he says. "It teaches that it is important for every man to have a religion of his choice and to be faithful to it.... A good Mason is made even more faithful to the tenets of his faith by membership."
Toleration, according to Holly, is Masonry's blackest sin-a definite link with the devil.
Masonic leader Allan D. Large has a memorable response to the charge.
"When you consider," he says, "what intolerance has produced-the Inquisition, the massacre of the inhabitants of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, the burning of Protestants at the stake, the horrors of Hitler, the mass murders of Stalin, the killing fields of Cambodia it is hard to believe that toleration springs from the devil."
Oh, by the way, I'm not a Mason
"A supreme and unchallengeable faith is a deadly enemy to the human mind." Wal Durant History of Civilization
A Letter From Jesse Helms
I have reached the firm conclusion, both as a Southern Baptist and as a Thirty-third Degree Scottish Rite Mason, that far too much has been made of the wrong-headed, albeit sincere, obsession of a Texas Baptist that prompted him to launch a false and unfair vendetta against Freemasonry.
I do not know Dr. James L. Holly, M.D., of Beaumont, Texas. It is not my purpose to attack either his character or his intelligence. Indeed, I give him the benefit of the doubt; I acknowledge that he is probably sincere in his vendetta.
At the same time, I would advise him, and those who may have accepted his unfortunate views, that Dr. Holly is sincerely wrong.
The Southern Baptist Convention is not led by foolish men and women who would allow themselves to be tugged over the cliff by this unfounded and unfair vendetta. Most of SBC's leaders are friends of mine. Moreover, the fact that Dr. Holly's motion at the 1992 SBC Convention asking that a "study" be made of Freemasonry was at best routine and the 1993 Convention is supposed to receive a routine report on that "study."
I have been a Southern Baptist since my childhood. I have served two Baptist Churches as deacon and Sunday School teacher. I have been a Mason for 45 years. I note that Dr. Holly has been described as a "conservative." I too have been so described.
Many hotheaded "liberals" have gone ballistic since their having been deposed from their longtime control of the Southern Baptist Convention. It would be unfortunate if Dr. Holly allows himself to be used by these angry people, resulting in great harm to the Southern Baptist Convention.
My advice to the 1993 SBC Convention, for whatever it is worth, is that the Messengers give Dr. Holly's motion a quick and quiet demise. The Southern Baptist Convention has far more important things to do.
Sincerely and fraternally,
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE MASONIC LODGE
A college student from a Masonic family contrasts the good done by Masonic philanthropies to the negative and divisive effects of anti-Masonry.
Paula O'Neal Senior, Political Science Department University of Georgia Athens, Georgia 30612 Reprinted from The Cochran Journal, Cochran, Georgia
In the May 28, 1992, issue of The Christian Index, there was an article published in which several arguments were brought out against the Masonic Lodge. I choose to reply to these because I feel I can provide an informed response to the allegations in this article and also those brought out locally by concerned members in our community.
First, James Holly accuses the Masonic Lodge of causing the demise of many Southern Baptist churches. Amazingly, Mr. Holly refuses to acknowledge any other possible factors that could contribute to the decline in membership. Furthermore, he fails to cite exactly how the Masonic Lodges are causing this phenomena, or even to establish a connection between Lodge membership and the decrease in Southern Baptist Churches. Without solid evidence, I fear Mr. Holly fails in successfully supporting this particular argument. There is something prevalent in human nature that makes it easier to cast the blame for a problem elsewhere, regardless of how futile that action may be, than openly to admit that they are in ignorance of what is really causing the problem and of a solution to the problem.
Second, Mr. Holly states that he is not attacking the individual Masons because most Masons "are not knowledgeable of what they are participating in, and they don't take seriously what the lodge officially says." This statement is flawed for different reasons. It shows that Mr. Holly himself is not as well acquainted with the practices of the Lodge as he professes to be. First, to earn Degrees one must have a very good understanding of the functions, rules, regulations, and beliefs tied to the Lodge. Also, before anyone can even become a Mason, he must believe in a Supreme Being. One special aspect of the Lodge is that it does not discriminate on the basis of color or religion. Baptists, as well as members of any other monotheistic religion, are welcome. By holding in common a belief in a Higher Being, it seems that this would only serve to strengthen Christian faith, not destroy it, because it unites fellow Christians in fraternal bonds that exceed the limitations of one particular denomination.
Saying that the men are not "knowledgeable of what they are participating in" implies that these men are ignorant and incapable of fully understanding the principles behind the Lodge. This is insulting to the mentality of these men and the motives behind their actions. It implies they do not understand what they involve themselves in. The latter part of his statement insinuates that they do not take their commitments to the organization seriously. Perhaps he feels Masonry is wrong because it is not solely based on just the principles of the Baptist doctrine. By mandating that all members believe in a Supreme Being without specifically naming the Supreme Being, this insures against the alienation of any particular religion. Baptists do not share the same beliefs as Methodists, Catholics, Jews or many other religions. This does not mean that these religions, just because they do not follow the exact same doctrine as the Southern Baptists, are satanic or occultic.
The charities that these organizations fund speak for their validity and the good character of the people who are members. The Masonic Lodge sponsors Masonic Children's Homes, one being located in Macon, Georgia. These homes provide care for children who come from broken or abusive homes, or homes where their parents are unable financially to provide the basic needs for the children. Once the child reaches eighteen, the home helps to provide for future schooling should the child wish to continue his or her education. The Eastern Star, which is a Masonic ladies' organization, has a retirement home for widows. The Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, has clinics that treat children for language and learning disabilities. Masons treat all degrees of illness and different kinds of cancers. Masonic hospitals are staffed with some of the best medical personnel in the country and use some of the most advanced medical technology. The York Rite has the York Rite Eye Foundation. This provides medical treatment for people with eye injuries, those needing eye surgery and treatment, and those who cannot afford to buy glasses for themselves.
The Shriners have two kinds of more specialized hospitals that they fund. There are nineteen Shriners Crippled Children Hospitals. These deal primarily with orthopedic problems and surgeries. They provide prosthetics for children without limbs and perform major surgeries to help them function as normal children. The Shriners also have three burn centers where they care for severely burned children. All of these hospitals are recognized nationally as being staffed with the very best professionals in the designated medical fields. Separating these hospitals from others is the fact that these hospitals are free for those who cannot afford medical care. Not only do Shriners provide medical care for the child, but they also provide transportation to and from these hospitals by vans belonging to the Shrine Temples. In cases of emergency, the Temple provides air transportation, absorbing all costs, to fly children to the burn centers. On top of this, they provide food and lodging for the parents to enable them to stay near their children while they are hospitalized.
I was brought up in the Baptist faith, and the one thing that I was taught as being most important is the love for all of humanity. Jesus taught love for all humanity, regardless of sex, race, religion, or class. I was taught that it is the community's responsibility to care for its members and that it is up to the individual to help provide for those less fortunate. That is exactly the primary purpose of these Masonic organizations. They start all meetings and gathering with prayer and end them with prayer. During the meetings, the Bible is open upon an altar, just as in many churches. These are not characteristics indicative of the occult or satanic worship.
My father is a Mason, Scottish Rite, and Shriner. My mother is in the Eastern Star. I have seen the good the dedication of these members has brought about. If one feels I am biased, then I suggest they ask those who have benefited from Masonry's hospitals and foundations to find out how they feel about the organizations. Ask the young girl who recently spoke at the Shrine Temple in Macon about her experience with the Shriners. She was once given little hope of ever walking, but the Shrine Hospital performed operations on her legs, fit her with prosthetic limbs, and she is now captain of her cheerleading team. This is not an isolated incident. There are thousands like her who have benefited from these organizations.
People often fear what they do not understand or have little knowledge of. When others are privy to information they lack, jealousy often arises. This jealousy can take the form of malicious rumors and gossip, slandering the reputation of the innocent. The real truth is out there for those who care to find it.
Perhaps before Dr. Holly so eagerly condemns, he should first try to understand and look beyond his very limited view. This also applies to the others who are anxious to criticize. If these people would put half as much time and energy into productively contributing to those who are in real need of their help, think of how many would reap the benefits! At the same time, they would be much more in line with practicing the doctrines they supposedly espouse. It is hard to respect groups that try to promote themselves by exploiting and destroying others. Upon evaluation of their actions, these groups are, in my opinion, living in contradiction of their faith.
Paula O'Neal is presently a first-year student at the University of Georgia School of Law where she is serving as one of the Vice Presidents of her class. In 1992, she was awarded an internship with U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. Both her father and mother are active in the Scottish Rite, Valley of Macon GA; Eastern Star Chapter No. 400, Cochran, GA; Al Sihah Shrine Temple and Daughters of the Nile, Ha Hisla Temple, both in Macon Georgia.
The National Grand Lodge of Norway and the Norwegian Church
Leif Ottersen Grand Prelate The National Grand Lodge of Norway Olaf Bulls Veg 11 C 0765 Oslo 7, Norway
The Grand Prelate, a clergyman, of the National Grand Lodge of Norway explains that Masonic membership by clergy of the Norwegian Church is not at variance with ordination vows. On the contrary, many clergymen have found in Freemasonry the "inspiration to renew their efforts in the service of the Church."
FROM time to time, the National Grand Lodge of Norway (NGLN) attracts the attention of the media. We are prepared for this and understand it. Unfortunately, however, the articles of some journalists are mere criticism rather than scientific research in its true sense. The result of such criticism has been a strained relationship between the Norwegian Church and the NGLN.
This is a heavy burden for Norwegian Freemasonry, and we are determined to correct misunderstandings by placing much greater emphasis on openness and by promulgating factual information on all activities of the NGLN. The brunt of attacks directed against the Order are based on sources of an unreliable nature. The concoction of partial truths taken out of context and so-called "facts" reminds us of a well-known line from our great national playwright, Henrik Ibsen: "The wrong point of departure gives a corresponding result."
The picture of Freemasonry painted by our attackers is such that we hardly recognize ourselves in it, and the picture itself has become a means of aggression. We disagree entirely with the objections raised against the work of the NGLN, and we refute the following false claims in order to clarify the true stand of Freemasonry in Norway and throughout the world.
The NGLN Is A Secret Order.
We are not and do not wish to be a "secret conspiratorial network within Norwegian society" as we are depicted in some tabloid journalism. In contrast, NGLN is a legally registered organization with all our articles and membership lists open to the public. Our meetings are advertised, our buildings are well marked, and many parts of our buildings, with the exception of ceremonial rooms, are frequently employed for public functions.
Also, the NGLN is a "closed brotherhood" only in the same way that life meets us unprepared and "closed." We learn as we live. Similarly, a school is "closed" until we enter its portals, attend its classes, and learn the wisdom it has to offer. If Freemasonry, like any other educational institution, were not "closed," it would lose all meaning. It would be tantamount to a school not requiring attendance and supplying beforehand the answers to all examinations.
The NGLN Has Rituals Which Are Frightening.
Freemasonry, like Christianity, uses symbols of the hereafter. In our modern world, however, people endeavor to escape from the fact that life must end as it started. Thus the traditional symbols of death have come to be regarded as unpleasant and even unethical. We can give assurance, without going into detail, that the rituals of Freemasonry are in no way a flippant use of symbols that would violate human dignity. On the contrary, the Order seeks to help each individual to meet his mortal condition as a purely realistic inevitability, combined with the consolation which the grace of God can give.
The NGLN And Masonry Are Part Of An Evil International "New World Order."
Freemasonry is international in that the NGLN, like many other Masonic Bodies, maintains contacts and fellowship with numerous foreign Orders. This does not mean, however, that the NGLN or any other Masonic Order, agrees with what takes place Masonically in other countries. Each Masonic Body is autonomous and independent. The desire to participate internationally without being responsible for the activities of other organizations is a familiar problem for all global institutions whether they are fraternal, ecclesiastical, or political.
Freemasonry Is A Substitute For The Church.
It is Freemasonry's express aim NOT to compete with the Church, any - Church. The NGLN is not a creed; it is a fraternity. Freemasonry is a system of teaching without a creed as such, apart from each member's own persuasions. Freemasonry offers no sacraments; its rituals are symbolic, not religious; the Order offers no plan of salvation; the Lodge teaches an acknowledgement of the value of deeds but also stresses their limitation.
The NGLN strives to make Freemasonry a means by which men can join their congregations and participate in their Church activities. The NGLN Article, Chapter 2, section 7, states, in part: "He [the Freemason] must be zealous and industrious by prayer in service, and confirm his sincerity of thought by showing mercy and goodwill to his Brothers and to his fellow man by counsel and deed."
In light of the above, we clergy in the National Grand Lodge of Norway see no conflict between our work within the Church and within Freemasonry. We wish to continue our labors along these lines, which is why we regard it as an asset for parish priests all over the country to be initiated in the Masonic Order. We have observed how the participation of clergy in Freemasonry has proved beneficial. That the majority of the clergy themselves reap personal and moral benefit from their activities in the Order is another side of the matter.
We therefore plead for the confidence of the bishops, not only for the sake of the NGLN but also for the Norwegian Church in general so that closer relations can be established between ow respective institutions. We, for ow part, are open to any suggestions as to how the NGLN can contribute to achieving this goal.
Leif Ottersen has been Rector and, since 1972, Dean of Oslo Cathedral, becoming Very Reverend Dean in 1988. He was ordained in the Norwegian Church in 1959, raised a Mason in 1960, and has served as Grand Prelate (NGLN) since 1979. The King of Norway has honored him with the St. Olav's Medal and the Olav V's Memory Medal.
Editor's Note: The above article is an edited, abbreviated version of a 1992 communication by Bro.'. Ottersen to the Bishops of the Norwegian Church. The Scottish Rite Journal is very grateful to Bro.'. Jens E. Lassen, Grand Secretary, The National Grand Lodge of Denmark, for translating the original article into English.
BLUEGRASS ROOTS: KENTUCKY MINISTERS SPEAK OUT
Summary: Many ministers who are Masons have written to the Southern Baptist Convention and/or The Scottish Rite Journal expressing dismay at criticisms of Freemasonry which are based on the claim it is a religion. Here is a sampling from the "Bluegrass State" of Kentucky.
I am not a Mason, but I want to thank you for publishing the February 1993 issue of The Scottish Rite Journal. It was very informative in helping to confirm what my studies and experiences have revealed concerning Masonry and religion. The recent attacks against Freemasonry are unfounded.
Recently, for the first time in my 18 years in the ministry, a person's qualification for leadership in the church was questioned due to his being a Mason. The questioners had read some books and seen some programs which would cause any concerned Christian to question. If the assertions were true, then certainly no person so involved in antiChristian activities could serve as elder, deacon, or preacher.
The elders and minister did a study. We read the books that labeled Masonry as a religious cult, and found that the basic presupposition that Masonry is a religion did not seem to bear weight. After interviewing Masons I have known in three states (including the former Senior Minister here who is now my Associate Minister of Visitation, A. Paul Reece, Sr., and one of my present elders, Ken Horn), the church leaders met and discussed our findings. We have concluded that these attacks are "much ado about nothing." The Mason was approved. We are glad to have him.
Your magazine has helped me greatly. Along with my respect for Masons I have known, the February 1993 issue of your magazine has prompted me seriously to consider becoming a Mason, if the Fraternity will have me. Reverend Richard D. Dike Kenwood Heights Christian Church, Louisville, KY
I was saved in September 1942, made a Master Mason on February 6 1946, and ordained to the ministry on May 21, 1950, by Hiawatha Street Missionary Baptist Church, Louisville, KY. It is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Freemasonry has never in any way interfered with my work in the ministry. Matter of fact, Freemasonry has strengthened me as a Christian and a minister, reminding me of my duty to God and my fellowman. Freemasonry has also allowed me to witness for Christ to men I never would have met otherwise.
Freemasonry in no way condones or even hints at the worship of Lucifer. Furthermore, if one would follow the teachings of Freemasonry, it will lead him to Jesus Christ. Elder Clifford Ward, 32d Hiawatha Street Missionary Baptist Church, Louisville, KY Aperson Lodge No. 195 Louisville, KY Lexington, KY, Scottish Rite Bodies
I have been a minister for 59 years and a Mason for 52. I have been Master of my Lodge of about 1,200 men and Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky of about 100,000 men. This means I have given a lot of time to Freemasonry, and I can say with certainty that it is not a religion or a cult. It is a Fraternity dedicated to the welfare of those in need.
Masonry does not claim to be necessary for salvation. Its moral teachings are good, but one can be as moral as Cornelius and be lost. It is through our religion and church that we are saved. God is the way of righteousness and truth. I do not feel I have been wrong in being a Mason. The more people a minister can know, talk to and have fellowship with, the better his chances of bringing them to God's kingdom through a church and religion that will save them.
Reverend Ashky Paul Reece, Sr., 32d Kenwood Heights Christian Church, Louisville, KY Plumb Lodge No. 862, Louisville, KY Louisville, KY, Scottish Rite Bodies
I am writing as a Mason and a Southern Baptist concerned about the charges against Freemasonry made by Dr. James Larry Holly.
I am a better man and a better Christian through the bond of fellowship that I have experienced through the teachings of Freemasonry. I have held in my heart the admonition that I received in one of our Masonic Degrees that I, as a Mason, should never allow Masonry to interfere with my service to God.
I was recently recognized, along with several others, for my having taught Sunday School at Gano Avenue Baptist Church for more than 25 years. During those years, I have also served my Lodge in various capacities, and I can say that the teachings of Masonry have greatly enhanced my ability to serve my church effectively.
Not only am I disturbed by the charges brought by Dr. Holly, but by the inability of our Southern Baptist Convention to deal with these false charges.
Charles C. Johnson, Secretary, 32d, K.'.C.'.C.'.H.'.
Gano Avenue Baptist Church, Georgetown, KY Mt. Vernon Lodge No. 14, Georgetown, KY Lexington, KY, Scottish Rite Bodies
I am dismayed by the recent action taken by the Southern Baptist Convention.
I became a Christian and a member of a Southern Baptist Church at the age of 14. At 34 I entered full-time ministry as a SBC preacher and pastor. I have always been proud of my calling and never doubted my relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ and Almighty God. I am now 73 years old, and 40 years of my ministry have been in Louisville, Kentucky.
Shortly after I entered the ministry, I also became a Third Degree Mason. Ten years later, I became a Thirty-second Degree Mason and a member of Scottish Rite Freemasonry. I have been very proud of this relationship and never did I consider there to be any conflict whatsoever between being a Christian and a Mason. The accusation of those in the SBC who began a study of Freemasonry that Lucifer is worshipped by Masons is completely out of line and irresponsible, even ridiculous. Personally, I feel the SBC could make better use of time and resources in much more worthy endeavors.
W. Louis Walters, 32d, Master of Divinity Victory Memorial Baptist Church, Louisville, KY Crescent Hill Lodge No. 820 Louisville, KY Louisville, KY, Scottish Rite Bodies
PREACHER WHO REFUSED TO RENOUNCE MASONRY
Reprinted with permission from The Scottish Rite Herald 1330 Linwood Boulevard KansasCity, Missoun 64109-1941
As Masons today are forced by fundamentalist extremists to choose between their Church and Freemasonry, an anecdote from the late nineteenth century carries a particularly significant moral of courage, conciliation, and cooperation.
In 1884 or 1885, an incident happened in Iowa, an event probably without parallel in Masonic history, that indicated the kind of Freemasons who lived then. This influenced Freemasonry in the territory now known as Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
Moses F. Shinn, a Methodist minister in Keokuk, Iowa, a member of Ft. Madison Lodge No. 13, is the principal character in this story. A powerful leader in his church and his Lodge, he was greatly loved by all. There came a time when his church coworkers, persons uninformed as to Masonry and its teaching, sought to increase his usefulness to the church by requiring him to renounce Masonry and devote all his energies to the church. At the next general conference of the church, a resolution to that end was adopted, and the church waited for Brother Shinn to respond.
Brother Shinn sat in thought for what seemed to be many minutes. The situation was serious for him. Unless he renounced Masonry, he would be separated from the work of God to which he had hoped to give his life. Also, he would be deprived of the livelihood for which he had prepared. What did Masonry offer in place of that which he must sacrifice?
After the stillness became oppressive, Bro.'. Shinn rose to his feet, looked into the faces of his friends, then spoke in a clear voice: "I have for many years endeavored to perform my duty as a faithful minister of Christ, and I believed I had extended the field of my usefulness, without violation of my vows to the church, by becoming a loyal and zealous Freemason.
"Now you demand that I renounce Masonry or retire from the church. The decision you require is a harsh and painful one. I must sever relations that have been pleasant to me and, I hope, acceptable to others. I have friends in both the church and Freemasonry from whom I wish not to be separated, but you have made the requirement. It is not for me to question whether that requirement is right or wrong, wise or just. So, at your bidding, I separate myself from the Methodist Episcopal Church."
Bro.'. Shinn then sat down to control his emotions.
The silence was oppressive, the Conference was stunned. Finally, one who had been active in proposing the resolution rose to his feet, walked to Bro.'. Shinn, extended his hand and said, "My brother, there must be something good about Freemasonry or you, whom we all love so well, would not adhere to it so tenaciously. I want to be a Mason. Will you recommend me and present my petition to your Lodge?" Others of the gathering followed the first.
One of these, Jonas W. Brown of Eagle Lodge No. 12 of Keokuk, became the third Grand Master of Idaho. Another, John C. Ainsworth, became the third Grand Master of Oregon.
At this time one may wonder what influence Bro.'. Shinn had upon the lives of others who witnessed the incident or were familiar with it.
WHEREVER there is a human cause we are certain to find Masonry, for it is the fundamental base of all truly liberal associations. Thank all of my Brothers and tell them that I am always with them, with all my heart, and that forever I will pride myself upon my Masonic connection." Giuseppe Garibaldi, November 1880, Milan, Italy Dedication of the Mentana Monument
Judgments About Masonry
Don Lavender, 32d, K.'.C.'.C.'.H.'. 2913-49th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50310
The author notes that as many judgments about Masonry are made on the basis of false assumptions, unreliable hearsay, or statements taken out of context."
How often do we hear of particular religious denominations criticizing Masonry? How often is Freemasonry subjected to condemnation by individuals who know little about the Craft? The answer to both questions, unfortunately, is too often.
Similarly, religious denominations are often critical of each other. Trivial disagreements regarding interpretation, doctrine, or procedure sometimes cause splinter groups-new churches-to be formed.
Knowing that differences exist within the spheres of the religious world, it is all too easy to see how people unfamiliar with Masonic doctrine might be critical of it. The old adage "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" certainly applies in both of these cases. In addition, many judgments about Masonry are made on the basis of false assumptions, unreliable hearsay, or statements taken out of context.
In a world where devout members of various denominations think they are the only ones with the right answers to religious questions, the fact that Masonry teaches simple, basic morality leaves our Fraternity open to accusations. The Craft is considered anti-religious because its religious views are too universally permissible to be accepted.
What religion can truly argue with a philosophy that only requires a man to have faith in God, hope of immortality, and charity towards all people? Masons know these to be the basic requirements for membership in the Craft. Few churches, if any, would argue with the moral foundation of these principles. The fact that Masonry does not limit its understanding of a Supreme Being to the Christian interpretation and that it is willing to accept Brethren from all faiths does not coincide with those who cannot tolerate beliefs other than those of their particular church.
It is good and proper that people should be devoted to their accepted religion. To assume, however, that there is no good in any other religion or organization, even though it may promote similar moral truths in a different way, is a source of distrust. It is the same misunderstanding that has led to religious wars throughout history and even today promotes hatred and violence in some countries.
There is no shame in the fact that Masonry recognizes the good in diverse religions throughout the world, nor does our Craft take anything away from the Christian who may be a member. There will never be a single religion acceptable to all in the world, but the fact that the many diverse religions teach brotherly love, a faith in their God, and the need for charity to others is a steadying influence wherever it may be.
Brother Masons accept the precepts of Masonry and live a better life because of it. Without Masonry the world would be a much poorer place. It has promoted understanding between diverse peoples and provided tangible charities seldom equaled wherever it is active. Further, it has promoted the freedom and the importance of the individual even against overwhelming odds and despite tyrannical leaders.
Most religious individuals agree all of us face a day of judgment. Any man who lives the precepts of Masonry can face that judgment without fear. Those who, through their ignorance or misunderstanding, are critical of Masonry face that same judgment. If we are to conclude that organizations as well as individuals are subject to judgment, we can confidently put our trust in Freemasonry.
Don Lavender is a former secretary Registrar (1974- 79) of the Des Moines, Iowa Scottish Rite Bodies. He is retired from the City of Des Moines Engineering Department, and enjoys hobbies of instrument music and photography.
A HOW TO GUIDE FOR FREEMASONS WHEN CONFRONTED BY ANTI-MASONS J.C. Montgomery, Jr., 33d P O Box 1352, Chesteffield, Missouri 63001
Brother Montgomery offers practical advice on how to explain Freemasonry while responding to the attacks of anti-Masons.
DON'T ARGUE OR DEBATE.
Our Masonic instruction forbids this.
You can't win in an artillery duel of Bible texts. Chances are your opponent will use biblical texts only to prove "his point."
Masons use the Scriptures as a "rule and guide for our faith and practice," and not as a club to beat down an opponent.
DO UNDERSTAND WHAT MASONRY IS.
A society of friends and brothers.
A beautiful system of morals, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.
A universal fellowship which conciliates those of every sect and opinion.
DO KNOW AND TELL WHAT FREEMASONRY DOES.
One of the prime creators and protectors of all of our religious, political and social freedoms. More than a dozen Presidents, including George Washington, both Roosevelts, Harry S. Truman, and Gerald Ford, have been Masons.
DON'T GIVE UP YOUR OWN FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION.
Your Masonic heritage has been too beneficial to humankind to yield to misguided or uninformed prejudice or harassment.
A Mason who "quits" or is lapsed is seen by others as admitting that Freemasonry is not worth the "fight." Your loyalty to Freemasonry is the best witness there is for our Fraternity.
Freemasonry sponsors and supports great charities, most without cost to the beneficiaries and without regard to race, creed, color or ethnic origin, for example:
Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children and Burns Units Scottish Rite Children's Hospitals Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Centers
Scottish Rite Foundation scholarship aid programs
Knights Templar Eye Foundation Royal Arch research in hearing difficulties Cryptic Masons research in arteriosclerosis Grand Lodge College scholarship funds State and national disaster relief funds National Masonic Foundation for Prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Children Children's Miracle Network Care of elderly Masons, widows, wives, and members by Grand Lodges and the Order of the Eastern Star in Masonic homes or in their own homes Sponsorship of wholesome youth organizations for young men and women: DeMolay, Job's Daughters, Rainbow for Girls.
"Ye shall know them by their fruits." Matthew 7:16
DON'T FAIL IN FRATERNAL REGARD EVEN FOR ENEMIES. Our Masonic charge is that "every human being has a claim on your kind offices. Do good unto all."
"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Matthew 5:44--
J.C. Mootgomery, Jr. is a retired pastor and district superintendent in the United Methodist Church as well as a past member of various Methodist national boards. He is also a Past Grand Master of Missouri and the editor of The Missouri Freemason and The Royal Arch Mason Magazine.
Freemasonry and Religion
The Reverend Dr. W. Kenneth Lyons, Jr., 33d P.O. Box 118, 12367 Route 216, Highland, Maryland 20777-0118
A respected young pastor gives his personal testimony regarding how Freemasonry fosters unity and brotherhood and is opposed to those who hate on the basis of race, creed, color, and religion. "
IT has come to light that there are those who label Masonry as a religion. Even among British Methodists there has been an outcry as to the use of Masonry as a means of getting in some professions where only Brothers advance Brothers, and where British Masons have neglected their Church for their Lodge.
Sad to say, some of these criticisms do have a basis of truth in the way that certain Masons apply what they believe to be Freemasonry. Application, however, is often a far cry from the true spirit and actual teaching of the Fraternity. Personally, I have found that the Scottish Rite and the Symbolic Lodge espouse the belief of no one religion, but are respecters of all major moral religions of the world. Scottish Rite and Symbolic Lodge Masonry have never inferred nor stated that their edifices are houses of worship. Rather, they are places where every good man's religion is equally respected and persecution for one's religious beliefs is not tolerated.
Democracy is taught by all major Masonic Fraternities as opposed to totalitarian forms of government. A government, or Lodge, which states that one religion must be practiced in order for one to exist peaceably in that society is an infringement upon the freedoms that we hold dear in American society.
As a Christian minister, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I also believe that any Lodge prohibiting me from holding that belief or berating me for being a Christian is not a Lodge of "Brothers" but a stronghold of bigotry. This same belief, however, should hold true in a Lodge of "Brothers" for a Jewish Mason.
Facing squarely the misconceptions and criticisms concerning our Fraternity is the only constructive way of dealing with this issue. Much of the Ritual of our Fraternity does in fact come from Old and New Testament Scriptures. It is the most solemn of all responsibilities to administer God's Word. It is also believed by most theologians that in Old and New Testament Scriptures, the Jewish and Christian communities are stated as the primary caretakers of the faith. Masonry has indeed recognized this great Scriptural resource and incorporated a belief in a Supreme Being as its foundation. Masonry, however, is not the primary caretaker of the faith but a respecter of faith in practice.
Faith in one's God is appropriately ritualized and sacramentalized in the synagogue, church, or mosque. The major part of the lives we exhibit, as God-believing Masons, should be learned within these houses of worship. Attending Lodge is no substitute for regular attendance at your place of worship. We are also learning that the scheduling of Masonic activities during worship hours only enhances justifiable criticism of our Fraternity by responsible religious leaders.
Certainly there will continue to be bona fide Masonic teachings which run contrary to some religious denominational practices. Masonic Brethren who fashion our practices and found Masonic Orders will fall prey to human error when dealing with religious and secular issues. We must be aware of this and be willing to change for the better. I do believe, however, that Masonry is represented more by the way we of the contemporary Lodge live, than by what ancient Masonry taught. The teachings of Masonry and the lives you and I live as Jewish and Christian Masons will combine with others of the Fraternity to represent what Masonry is in this century. Our Jewish Brothers will espouse Moses, Abraham and David, while Christian Masons will also speak of Saint Paul and Jesus Christ. Together, hopefully, we will exhibit unity and Brotherhood to those who hate on the basis of race, creed, color, and religion.
W. Kenneth Lyons, Jr. is pastor of Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Highland. MD. In addition to his Masonic affiliations, he is active in the Boy Scouts of America. Police Chaplaincy, and civilian International and has received awards from Freedoms Foundation, Military Order of World Wars, and the Maryland state government. For his portrait, see the back inside cover of this issue.
ABOUT THE CONTROVERSY IN THE SBC
Dr. Ron Ford Pastor, Central Baptist Church 5200 Fairway Avenue North Little Rock, Arkansas 72116
A Baptist minister believes the controversy over Freemasonry is "moving in the direction of a spirit which is uglier and meaner while our world needs the love of Christ."
This year's Southern Baptist Convention has created some confusion and questions among members of our church body. A medical doctor from Texas is marshaling forces against Masons. This is the same man who led the fight against Dr. Leon McBeth's history book about the Sunday School Board. He eventually had the book banned and destroyed. He is part of the fundamentalist group that now leads the Convention.
He is asking Southern Baptists to take a stand against Freemasonry which he denounces as being of "Satanic origin." As pastor, I am not about to defend the Masonic Lodge. I am not a Mason. The Masonic Lodge does not need my defense. But I do raise this question. Since when did the Southern Baptist Convention start investigating and "taking stands" against such organizations as the Masonic Lodge?
The recommendation for the Convention is to authorize a study so that actions might be taken that would lead to "local churches, including prohibitions against Masons serving as pastors, deacons or in other positions of church leadership." This is an example of extreme fundamentalism. Can you imagine being against Masonic Lodges, the Eastern star, the Rainbow girls, and the DeMolays? Would you have ever imagined this coming?
Our Home Mission Board, which must study this issue, is now in a difficult position. If they decide to recommend that we adopt the motion to remove Masons, a large group of fine Christian men will be offended in the churches. If they decide to recommend against the motion, the fundamentalists who made the proposal will be offended. What has been touted as nothing more than an attack on Liberalism and those who do not believe in the Bible has now shown it is more. We are moving in the direction of a spirit which is uglier and meaner while our world needs the love of Christ.
The question in my mind is, "Who will be next?" What group will next be on the outside looking in? We are moving in the direction of the SBC becoming smaller and smaller with more and more people on the outside looking in.
To the Masons of our congregation, I simply say we are still a free, autonomous church, not directed by the actions of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is not the policy of Central Baptist Church to lead an attack on Masons or forbid Masons to serve in leadership in its missions, education, and evangelism. We must leave the policies of local churches in the hands of people in the local church. Masons of our congregation should not feel any attack on them because of the actions on the national level.
How To Assure Success At The SBC
On March 17, 1993, the Home Mission Board of the SBC submitted its "Response to the Report on Freemasonry" saying, "we therefore recommend that consistent with our denomination's deep conviction regarding the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church, membership in the Masonic Order be a matter of personal conscience."
The issue of the Home Mission Board condemning Freemasonry as incompatible "with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine" is over. At the same time, the threat of anti-Masonic forces over turning the Home Mission Board's report at the Convention itself is very real. Therefore, the Scottish Rite urges every Freemason to write a brief letter to the two main leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention urging support of the Home Mission Board Report.
Dr. Ed Young, President Southern Baptist Convention 6400 Woodway Houston, TX 77057
Dr. Morris Chapman Executive Committee 901 Commerce street, Suite 750 Nashville, TN 37203
Also, if you are a Southern Baptist, consider counseling with your local church leaders and becoming a messenger to the Houston Convention. There you can support Freemasonry by voting to approve the Home Mission Board report. For how to do this, see pages 59-60 of this issue.
A Masonic Response to the Report on Freemasonry by the Home Mission Board, SBC
T. Max Tatum, 32d, K.'.C.'.C.'.H.'. Grand Master of Masons of the state of Oklahoma P. O. Box 1019, 102 S. Broad, Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044
Jim Tresner, 33d
P. O. Box 70, Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044-0070
The Freemasons of Oklahoma congratulate the Home Mission Board on the conclusion reached in their report on Freemasonry: ". . . we therefore recommend that consistent with our denomination's deep conviction regarding the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church, membership in a Masonic Order be a matter of personal conscience."
That conclusion is, indeed, in accordance with the traditional and highly commendable insistence in the Southern Baptist denomination that each person must decide issues of faith for him/herself. In reaffirming that tradition, the Home Mission Board continues the rejection of the narrow radicalism which has characterized the fanatic from the earliest history in Europe to modern Iran.
The report recommends that the decision to join a Masonic Order should be made thoughtfully and prayerfully, and we completely agree. The entire process by which one petitions for membership in a Masonic Order is designed to encourage exactly that thoughtful and prayerful consideration.
We especially appreciate the warm and kind commendation of the Fraternity for Masonry's charitable activities, including "the operation of 22 Shriners hospitals, 19 orthopedic hospitals, and three burn institutes with noteworthy success in treatment, research, and education, often providing free treatment to children under 18 years of age. [In fact, the Shrine never charges for any hospital treatment.] Also, we commend support of the Foundation for the Prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Children and the Eastern Star sponsorship of Masonic Homes for the Aged. [Actually, most Masonic Homes are funded by Grand Lodges.] These, with many other charitable and benevolent endeavors, are commendable."
While Freemasons support these operations with the goal of meeting human needs, not for publicity, we appreciate the Home Mission Board's commendation given in its report.
On two or three matters covered by the report, there may be some misunderstanding, and I appreciate the opportunity to clarify the more important ones.
The question of the penalties of the obligations each Mason assumes seems to be especially vexing. The Home Mission Board Report suggests that some Masons may not take them seriously. I would hope that all Masons take them seriously, but that none take them literally, for that would violate both their spirit and their intent. It is made clear to the Mason that the penalties are not literal, for the only actual "punishments" for violation of an obligation are reprimand, suspension, or expulsion from the Fraternity. Like the other symbols of Masonry, the penalties of the obligations are a teaching device, and the candidate is not supposed to fear them but to consider what they could symbolically represent-that any liar or vowbreaker is likely, for example, to find himself cut off and rejected by those around him.
The Report is concerned that many Masons read materials which make reference to pre-Christian or "pagan" ideas or teaching. But the subject matter of Masonry is the history of man's thought and philosophy, and that history begins thousands of years before Christianity. Nowhere, in any official Masonic publication, are those ideas advocated. They are simply acknowledged as having existed and as telling modem man something about the way ancient man thought.
The Report is concerned that the use of the term "light" in Masonry might lead someone to assume that we are referring to salvation, rather than insight and knowledge. While a non-Mason, reading Masonic material might possibly run that risk, I
"While I disagree strongly with several points critical of Freemasonry in the Board's report, I compliment the Home Mission Board for its intent to report even-handedly on Freemasonry. Most of all, I commend the Board on its conclusion that membership of Southern Baptists in Freemasonry remain what it has always been, a matter of personal conscience and decision."
C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33d Sovereign Grand Commander Response to the Home Mission Board Report on Freemasonry
think it is unlikely that a Mason would, since not only is the term "light" clearly explained, but the Mason is repeatedly told that he must find the path to salvation in his church or synagogue, not in the Lodge. And that same fact would address the fear that a Mason might think we were teaching salvation by good works. A Fraternity clearly is not the organization to offer a path of salvation, and we do not.
Language causes a few additional concerns, and it's probably because Masonic terminology developed in England hundreds of years ago. Some terms are now used differently in the "world outside" than they are in Masonry. The term "worshipful" as applied to the Master or President of the Lodge, for example, does not mean "one who is worthy of worship." It simply means "honored" or "respected"just as Mayors in England and Canada are called "your worship" rather than "your honor" as in the United States.
That the Holy Bible, square and compass are referred to as the "furniture" of the Lodge is not to lower them, nor to suggest the square and compass are the equal of the Bible. We use the word "furniture" in its original meaning of "essential equipment." No Lodge can meet without them. In Masonry, the square is a symbol of &e world, while the compasses are symbols of spirituality. They rest upon the Bible because the Bible and the truths it contains are the foundation and underpinning of both the world and of spirituality.
Finally, the Report remarks that some materials written by some Masonic writers may allude to ideas offensive to some denominations. That may be, for any Mason is at liberty to write anything he chooses-that is a fundamental American right. But those writers speak for themselves, not for Masonry. It would be as unfair to hold all Masons responsible for the writings of one as it would be to hold all ministers responsible for the events in Waco, Texas.
These points of clarification aside, however, we again congratulate the Home Mission Board on upholding the intellectual integrity of the SBC. While I cannot speak for the Grand Masters of the Masonic Lodges in other states, I am sure that those Grand Lodges are as ready as is Oklahoma to answer any sincere question anyone may have about the Masonic Fraternity
Thomas Max Tatum is a member of the Thirty-first Degree cast for the Valley of Guthrie, a member of the Oklahoma Lodge of Research, and holds a Class "A" Lecturer's Certificate. For a portrait and biography of Jim Tresner, 33d, see page 15.
Home Mission Board Returns Positive Report on Freemasonry
The following quotations highlight the positive statements in the Home Mission Board's report on whether Freemasonry is compatible with Christianity and Southern Baptist doctrine. Also, please see A Masonic Response to the Report on Freemasonry by the Home Mission Board, SBC, by T. Max Tatum, 32d, K.'.C.'.C.'.H.'., and Jim Tresner, 33d, on page 46 of this issue for more information on the report.
"We commend the Masonic Order for its many charitable endeavors ...."
"We acknowledge that many outstanding Christians and Southern Baptists now are, and in the past have been Masons, including such notable past Southern Baptist leaders as B. H. Carrol, George W. Truett, L. R. Scarborough, W. T. Connor, Louie D. Newton, and J. B. Lawrence."
"We recognize that many of the tenets and teachings [of Freemasonry] . . . could be considered compatible with, and . . . supportive of, Christian faith and practice, such as the strong emphasis on honesty, integrity, industry, and character and the insistence that every member believe in God."
"We recognize . . . explicit references to Christian faith, including exact quotes from the Bible, such as in the ritual constituting a new Lodge in the Monitor of the Lodge of the Grand Lodge of Texas."
"We recognize . . . the explicit reference to Jesus in the Masonic Code of the Grand Lodge of Alabama."
"We recognize . . . the strong affirmation of the Bible found in the North Carolina Lodge Manual."
"In summary, . . . we therefore recommend that consistent with our denomination's deep convictions . . . membership in a Masonic Order be a matter of personal conscience."
POINT COUNTERPOINT Dewey C. Crutchfield, 33D P. O. Box 6368 Raleigh, NC 27608-2310
The following article consists of two letters, one from a demitting Brother in North Carolina and a response to him from Illustrious Dewey C. Crutchfield, Jr., 33d, Secretary of the Valley of Raleigh, Orient of North Carolina. It clarifies the position of one well-versed Christian Mason vis-a-vis extreme religious fundamentalism and restates the basic Masonic principle that Freemasonry is compatible with all religions, including Christianity.
After much consideration and prayer, I must at this time request to demit as a member of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.
My original intent in pursuing advanced Degrees in Freemasonry was to receive light. You and other Brothers made me feel welcome and gave me a sense of belonging. However, as I read and studied the philosophies of the Scottish Rite, God revealed to me that the true Light is His Son, Jesus. And that ONLY through Jesus can one reach true knowledge.
The philosophies of Freemasonry, which I believed were supplemental to God's plan, appear to teach that through works a man can attain light. I still feel that the moral teachings of Freemasonry are good; however, the underlying confusion is that it is in conflict with the one true God, Jehovah, and His Son, my Savior, Jesus.
Even though I can no longer support the Lodge nor feel myself bound by Masonry's obligations, I will continue in prayer for your well-being in the hope that you also receive the true Light of God.
I am writing this letter as an individual, not as a Secretary of the Scottish Rite. However, your letter to me as Secretary has prompted this response.
It is very disturbing to me that any person who has received the Degrees in Masonry can misinterpret the teachings of the Craft.
I have been an active Mason for thirty-six years and have never found anything in the Masonic teachings that tells me I cannot be a Christian and serve my Lord to the fullest.
Masonry is not a religion and does not teach any religious doctrines. The salvation of the soul is an individual responsibility and must be left to each person.
We of the Masonic Order who are Christians know that you do not receive salvation through good works. However, we also know that Jesus said: "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." Matthew 25: 35-36, Authorized (King James) Version.
In addition, consider James 3:17-18 which says: "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."
While the works of Masonry may not save anyone's soul, I must believe that they are a part of God's plan and do meet with His approval.
As for myself, I appreciate your prayers for my well-being, but I feel that I have already received the true Light of my religion in as much as I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and strive to serve Him to the best of my ability.
I regret very much that you are not able to accept the teachings of Masonry as they are intended and use them to enhance your own religious beliefs.
My faith is in God, and I hope that the service, as little as it may be, which I attempt to render through Freemasonry and in my life meets with His approval and, if not, that He will reveal to me a way in which I might improve myself and my relationship with Him and my fellowman.
Dewey C. Clutchfleld is Secretary of the Scottish Rite Valley of Raleigh, Past Master of J.J. Crowder Lodge No. 743, and Wm. G. Hill Lodge No. 218 of Raleigh, NC. He is a member of the Raleigh York Rite Bodies and Potentate of Amran Shrine Temple.
Declaration of Principles
OF THE ANCIENT AND ACCEPTED SCOTTISH RITE OF FREEMASONRY SOUTHERN JURISDICTION, U. S. A. (MOTHER COUNCIL OF THE WORLD)
THE SUPREME COUNCIL of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, S.'.J.'., U.S.A., reaffirms its unswerving loyalty to the United States of America and affirms that the fundamental purpose of Freemasonry is to improve and strengthen the character and education of the individual and, through the individual, the quality of the community, particularly its moral and ethical values.
This purpose can be attained best by a broad basis of principle upon which humankind of every race, color, sex, creed, or religious or ethnic group can unite. Such a basis can be set by practicing OUT of the Lodge that which is learned IN the Lodge and by engaging in visible and significant programs of service to the community such as advocating patriotism, drug and alcohol education, youth programs, and a quality public school education as well as supporting all worthy philanthropic causes which are recognized by the United States. To that end, Freemasonry stands for truth and justice, liberty and enlightenment as well as philanthropy, along with public and private service for all human beings. The Supreme Council expects strict observance by its members of the laws of their country and respect for its flag.
Another Scottish Rite principle important to the freedom of the American people is the separation of Church and State. This is so because the history of nations has shown that when religion controls government, political freedom dies; and when government controls religion, religious freedom perishes. Therefore, the Supreme Council advocates complete separation of Church and State, absolute freedom and protection of religion, press, assembly, and the dignity of every individual.
The preservation of unity of purpose and devotion to principles held in common is essential to Freemasonry. The Supreme Council, therefore, affirms its continued adherence to that time-honored rule of Freemasonry which forbids the discussion within tyled doors of creeds, politics, business and commercial interests, or other topics apt to excite personal animosities.
It is the strongly held belief of The Supreme Council that brotherly and sisterly love must continue to be the principal mainstay of any Masonic Body or organization. Thus, it believes that it is destructive to the unity and strength of legitimate Masonic Bodies everywhere to deny visitation requests by any individual, regardless of color, creed or religion, who has the proper credentials in hand, that is, a current dues card issued by a particular Lodge recognized by the Grand Lodge of the Jurisdiction where visitation is requested, plus a current dues card and patent from a Consistory of a Supreme Council recognized by the Mother Supreme Council of the World.
A CHRISTIAN MASON LOOKS AT MASONRY AND RELIGION
John E. Canoose, 32d K.'.C.'.C.'.H.'. 39301 Pine Ridge Road Oakhurst, California 93644
To say that one has the truth all of the truth, and the One Truth, and that those who differ are wrong is by definition bigotry.
ONE of the landmarks of Freemasonry is that no atheist can become a Mason. A belief in a Supreme Being is central to all of Masonry. Beyond that there is no religious test for candidates.
Freemasonry teaches the "Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God." This means that each Mason is free to worship God as he has been taught or as he conceives Him to be. It means that no Brother has the right to criticize the beliefs of another.
This is important enough that Masonry has developed the tradition that religion and politics will not be discussed in the Lodge. Freemasonry recognizes that all great religions contain truths and that in many cases the truths are identical but phrased in different ways.
Knowing that religion is a system of morality offering salvation through sacraments and dogma, then it is clear that Masonry is not a religion. Masonry offers no salvation or intercession between man and God. The means of his salvation is left to the individual Mason. Masonry goes a step further in its desire not to interfere between man and his religion. The bylaws of the Order prohibit meetings on Sunday, except for funerals or social affairs. This is to prevent the Lodge from interfering with proper religious services.
Why are there so many different religions? Is not Truth immutable?
Truth is immutable, but the ability of man to discern that truth is not. Every person's thinking is influenced by the society in which he lives, his personal intellectual abilities, and his own self-interest. Had I been born in a Moslem country, it is quite likely that I would be a Moslem. My understanding of my religion would be limited by the power of my intellect. My conformance to my religion, of whatever persuasion, would depend on my personal desires, my dedication, and my self-discipline.
For some unwilling, or unable, to engage in the rigorous mental activity usually required in the search for Deity, it is a great comfort to have a ritual form that will assure them of salvation. No one has the right to deprive them of this ritual and its comfort. Nor is it proper to sow the seeds of discontent by introducing contrary ideas.
Does the person satisfied with a ritual form of religion and worship have the right to deny another the right to invoke his logic to obtain a belief satisfying his doubts? No. To say that one has the truth, all of the truth, and the One Truth, and that those who differ are wrong is by definition bigotry.
John E. Canoose is a retired machine designer. He is a member of the Fresno Scottish Rite Bodies. P.'. M.'. of Central California Lodge, and District Counselor of Education in California. During World War II Bro.'. Canoose was awarded five battle stars on a European Theater of Operations ribbon.
NOTE: Except for "Calling Masons Satanic Is Folly" where reprint permission must be requested individually from The Houston Post, blanket permission is hereby given to any Masonic publication to reprint any portion of this May issue or the February issue, 1993. Please note "Reprinted with permission of The Scottish Rite Journal."
THE worst damage is often made by the one who thinks he knows. Dave M. Daugherty, 32
The February issue of The Scottish Rite Journal, with its theme of "Freemasonry and Religion," produced a surge of letters, more than elicited by any previous issue of the magazine. Here is a sampling.
BY THEIR FRUITS YE SHALL KNOW THEM
Dr. Holly, regarding your attacks on Masonry, the next time you see a child who has been burned, crippled, or has a language or learning disorder and has been assisted without cost to his or her family by some Appendant Masonic Body, ask yourself if it could be that the Masons who made this child's recovery possible are the spiritless, non-Christian, devil-worshiping pagans, you say they are. John H. Roberts III, 32d, K.'.C.'.C.'.H.'. Houston, Texas, Scottish Rite Bodies
TRULY TOLERANT OF JEWS
My father was a cynical man who believed that the only predominantly Christian organization that was truly tolerant of Jews and gave us a fair chance was Freemasonry. Dad never joined the Craft, but he passed his feelings about Masonry on to me, and I did join. In fact, I am the immediate Past Master of Ann Arbor-Fraternity No. 262, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The February Scottish Rite Journal epitomized what we all stand for, exemplified what Dad said about us, and illustrated why I am proud to be a Mason. In short, I found the February 1993 Scottish Rite Journal a very moving and personally meaningful gift from our Craft. Please receive my heartfelt thanks. Jushn F. Krasnoff, 32d Ann Arbor, Michigan
THANK YOU, DR. HOLLY!
Regardless of the outcome of the Southern Baptist Convention "study" of Freemasonry, the Craft will emerge much stronger. I and many of my fellow activist Masons have long held that we need to be more aggressive in seeking publicity and holding more open activities to encourage membership. I am certain that we will look back at this period ten years hence and will find that Dr. Holly has single-handedly done more for the promotion of Freemasonry than any other man since Albert Pike. Thank you, Dr. Holly! Jay M. Callaham, Jr., 32d Greensboro, North Carolina. Scottish Rite Bodies
MASONRY WILL BE ON CENTER STAGE If you had made a request to discuss Freemasonry at the Southern Baptist Convention, there is little doubt that your request would have been denied. But now Masonry will be on center stage with the spotlight on it. What a marvelous opportunity! Ernest D. Collins, Jr., 32d St. Louis, Missouri, Scottish Rite Bodies
STRANGE SILENCE After reading an article "Conflicts Between Christianity and Freemasonry" in The Nevada Baptist, I wrote to the editor of that publication expressing my concerns. I didn't get even so much as an acknowledgment.
In 1995, with the Lord's approval, I shall complete fifty years as a Master Mason. Beyond my lifelong practice of Christian faith, I am a recently baptized Baptist, and I teach a Sunday School class in the Temple Baptist Church of Sparks, Nevada.
I expressed to my pastor my concerns about the present claimed conflict between Baptist doctrine and Freemasonry. He received my letter in good faith and passed it on to a Baptist lay minister. From the latter I received a bombastic reply to which I responded by sending him a copy of the February Scottish Rite Journal which is focused on "Freemasonry and Religion." To date I have received no reply.
It appears to me that those who are set on discrediting the Brotherhood become strangely silent in the presence of material that validates the value and worthiness of Freemasonry. George W. Grossoehme, 32d St. Joseph, Missouri, Scottish Rite Bodies
CHRIST FIRST, MASONRY SECOND Masonry has not taken away anything at all from my Christian beliefs but, by its teachings, has helped me in many ways to serve my Lord and Savior even better.
The most important thing that I have ever done in my life is when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. The second most important thing was when I became a Mason. Glenn D. Belvin, 32d Charlotte, North Carolina. Scottish Rite Bodies
SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION, A MONOLITHIC RELIGION Indeed, the overconcern of the Southern Baptist Convention regarding our Fraternity is something every Freemason must scrutinize, but the reasons for this over concern were never really addressed in February's Journal. The Southern Baptist Convention appears to be approaching the status of a monolithic religion with a well-defined dogma and an ecclesiastical hierarchy. I have no doubt that it will eventually elect a supreme religious leader whose views on religion and religious practice will be paramount within the group. Mark Schulzinger, 32d Joplin, Missouri, Scottish Rite Bodies
NOW IS THE TIME TO SHOW OUR COLORS Thank you for a beautiful Scottish Rite Journal, February 1993. I am a 3rd generation "Silent Mason," but I agree now is the time to show our colors. Now I have even more reason to be a proud member! Richard L. Stone, 32d Louisville, Kentucky, Scottish Rite Bodies
A BETTER JOB OF PROMOTING MASONRY We are losing members not because of outside, ignorant attacks, but because we fail to let good men know what we are and what we represent. That means we must do a better job of promoting Masonry. The method of "to be one, ask one" will not cut it anymore. Reacting to these uninformed people merely gives them credibility. Truth never has to be defended. In a nutshell, Masons have to come out from under the proverbial bushel, not react to dopes. Richard R. Haight, 32d Washington, District of Columbia, Scottish Rite Bodies
CARRYING THE MESSAGE
Fred W. McPeake, 33D Secretary, Scottish Rite Bodies of Knoxville, Tennessee P.O. Box 708, Knoxville, Tennessee 37901-0708
If you are a Mason and a Baptist, your presence at the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston, Texas, on June 15-17 is urgently needed. The following steps outline how to become a messenger and vote. Only you can prevent an extremist faction from taking over the Convention and obtaining a vote to condemn Freemasonry as incompatible "with Christian and Southern Baptist doctrine."
1. Make hotel reservations before being elected a messenger.
2. Let your pastor know you desire to be a messenger.
3. Attend the business meetings of your local church.
4. Be present when messengers are selected.
5. Obtain the necessary card of authorization signed by your pastor or your church clerk.
6. Be sure to take the card to the Convention.
7. Take care to present your card at the registration desk.
8. Get your book of official ballots and instructions.
9. Register as early as Sunday, June 13, or Monday, June 14, before the formal opening of the Convention.
10. Be in your seat at the opening of the Convention on Tuesday, June 15. Stay through every session and have your ballots with you.
11. Remain in your seat since it will be difficult to know when the important vote on Masonry will come up. You could lose the opportunity to vote by being out in the halls or elsewhere at the time of the vote.
12. It is important to be present and to vote regardless of the position taken by the Home Mission Board. Anti-Masons will undoubtedly reject a positive recommendation by the Board, despite Dr. Holly's present statement to the contrary, or try to amend it to condemn the Fraternity unless Masons are there in sufficient numbers to defend our position.
Fellow Masons/Messengers, meet me in the Astrodome June 15, 1993! The fate of Freemasonry today depends on you!
From time to time religious and governmental authorities have condemned Freemasonry and have taken steps to prevent men under their influence from joining the Masonic Lodge. Among many such examples one finds: the Inquisitors into Heretical Depravity, Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, and the Ayatollah Khomeni. Rev. Ron Carlson of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is anxious to add his name to this list.
MAGNA EST VERITAS ET PREVALABIT
Dr. S. Brent Morris, 33D Book Reviews Editor for The Scottish Rite Journal
The Scottish Rite Journal does not ordinarily review the same book twice, but The Cloud of Prejudice, by Bro.'. Arturo DeHoyos, 32d, is not an ordinary book-it is a masterpiece. It provides an almost line-by-line refutation of an anti-Masonic sermon distributed by Rev. Carlson through his Christian Ministries International. Pastor Carlson is not your common anti-Mason; he establishes his credentials by proudly stating he spent two years studying Freemasonry. Yet with all his study, he still foists on his congregation the bogus Albert Pike quotation created by Leo Taxil. He lacks the ability (or perhaps integrity) to quote accurately from Morals and Dogma. And he doesn't seem to want his listeners to read Morals and Dogma for themselves.
For instance, at the end of his widely distributed sermon, he answers a question from the congregation about Morals and Dogma and imputes that Masons are trying to stop its distribution:
. . . the publishing house told them that they are now only giving them to the Masonic Lodges, for the Thirty-second Degree Masons. You can no longer buy it from their secret publishing house. And so, evidently, they've heard about us, and are trying to stop the dissemination of this information.
This is simply not true. There never has been a secret publishing house for Morals and Dogma. It is out of print but widely available in used book stores, and The Supreme Council, 33d, sells used copies when available. During his two years of research, Rev. Carlson apparently never thought to check the public library in his headquarter town of Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He would have found three copies available through the Metropolitan Library Service Agency: two in Minneapolis and one in West St. Paul. Copies are also available in the public libraries of Duluth and Winona.
It is possible for honorable men to disagree honestly. But Rev. Carlson's disagreement with Masons is neither honorable nor honest. The lies must be exposed, and the following excerpt by Bro .'. DeHoyos does just that.
The Cloud of Prejudice: A Study in Anti-Masonry, by Art DeHoyos. Paperbound, 188 pp., Kessinger Publishing, P.O. Box 160, Kila, MT 59920, Tel. 406 756-0167, $14.95. S/H $4.50 first book, each additional book add .50 cents.
Pastor Carlson continued his sermon:
Let me read for you what Albert Pike says, page five hundred and forty-five, concerning revealing any of the secrets, quote:
"All the mysteries should be kept concealed, guarded by faithful silence, lest it should be inconsiderately divulged to the ears of the Profane. He sins against God who divulges to the unworthy the Mysteries confided to him. The danger is not merely in violating the truth, but in telling the truth."
Albert Pike says it is a sin to divulge the truth. Now how different this is from what we reading God's word.
Ironically, the truth is that Ron Carlson is not quoting Albert Pike. Here is what Pike wrote in Morals and Dogma (the text omitted by Rev. Carlson is in bold):
St. Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, who was born in 340, and died in 393, says in bis work De Mysteriis: "All the Mystery should be kept concealed, guarded by faithful silence, lest it should be inconsiderately divulged to the ears of the Profane .... It is not given to all to contemplate the depths of our Mysteries . . . that they may not be seen by those who ought not to behold them; nor received by those who cannot preserve them." And in another work: "He sins against God, who divulges to the unworthy the Mysteries confided to him. The danger is not merely in violating the truth, but in telling truth, if he allow himself to gives hints of them to those from whom they ought to be concealed .... Beware of casting pearls before swine! Every Mystery ought to be kept secret; and, as it were, to be covered over by silence, lest it should rashly be divulged to the ears of the Profane. Take heed that you do not incautiously reveal the Mysteries!"
Pike was clearly quoting St. Ambrose on what he taught regarding the Christian Mysteries. It was, we find, a Christian Father who said it was a sin to tell the truth; and we here discover that the Pastor himself becomes guilty of what he alleges the Masonic authorities do-he lies to the unwitting.
Rev. Carlson further compounds his deception as he gleefully tells his audience that
Albert Pike says it is a sin to divulge the truth. Now how different this is from what we read in God's word. Jesus says, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." Jesus said, "I am the Truth." He said, "Go unto all the world and proclaim this good news." But the Masons say, "No, it is a sin for you to reveal truth."
If we analyze Pastor Carlson's statement we find:
(1) He claims to be quoting Albert Pike when he was in fact quoting st. Ambrose, a Christian church Father.
(2) He claims that the supposed words of Pike represent Masonic teachings by stating, "But the Masons say ...."
(3) He ignores that Pike wrote in his Preface that "every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to be untrue or unsound."
If unchecked, the subtle manipulation of source material aids both the construction and destruction of the ersatz Albert Pike by allowing the Pastor to build on a false premise.
The type of slanted truth, half truth, or outright untruth demonstrated in this one passage is rampant throughout Ron Carlson's work. Also, such twisting of fact is typical of the writings of other anti-Masonic authors.
Whether their intent is to deceive or they are deceived themselves by their biased view of Freemasonry, anti-Masonic writers, when their works are carefully analyzed, only prove one fact, the validity of the Latin motto Magna est Veritas et prevalabit, Great is Truth and will prevail.
Truth, like joy, can usually be discovered at its source-within. William Arthur Ward, 32d