‘The Persecution of Freemasonry’
4 days ago
Such Masons are distinguished, not by the amount of knowledge that they possess, but by the number of jewels that they wear. They will give fifty dollars for a decoration, but not fifty cents for a book.Mackey did not let up on his condemnation of this third class as he concluded his article.
These men do great injury to Masonry. They have been called its drones. But they are more than that. They are the wasps, the deadly enemy of the industrious bees. They set a bad example to the younger Masons – they discourage the growth of masonic literature – they drive the intellectual men, who would be willing to cultivate masonic science, into other fields of labor – they depress the energies of our writers – and they debase the character of Speculative Masonry as a branch of mental and moral philosophy.
The Masons who do not read will know nothing of the interior beauties of Speculative Masonry, but will be content to suppose it to be something like Odd Fellows, or the Order of the Knights of Pythias – only, perhaps, a little older. Such a Mason must be an indifferent one. He has laid no foundation for zeal.Oh, how the times never change.
If this indifference, instead of being checked, becomes more widely spread, the result is too apparent. Freemasonry must step down from the elevated position which she has been struggling, through the efforts of her scholars, to maintain, and our lodges, instead of becoming resorts for speculative and philosophical thought, will deteriorate into social clubs or mere benefit societies.
Freemasonry is a charitable, benevolent, educational and religious society. Its principles are proclaimed as widely as men will hear.The General Regulations of 1721 touched on another possible answer in Regulation I.
Through the improvement and strengthening of the character of the individual man, Freemasonry seeks to improve the community. Thus it impresses upon its members the principles of personal righteousness and personal responsibility, enlightens them as to those things which make for human welfare, and inspires them with that feeling of charity, or good will, toward all mankind which will move them to translate principle and conviction into action.
To that end, it teaches and stands for the worship of God; truth and justice; fraternity and philanthropy; and enlightenment and orderly liberty, civil, religious and intellectual. 1
…whereby Masonry becomes the center of union, and the means of conciliating true friendship among persons that must have remained at a perpetual distance. 2Another hint to a possible answer to the “purpose” question can be found in Albert G. Mackey’s Landmarks.
XXII. That all men in the sight of God are equal, and meet in the Lodge on one common level. 3These quotes touch upon the ideals of the Fraternity as are displayed to the public. But what of the esoteric purpose that so many Freemasons search for? Those purposes exist – but only in a format that requires the individual Mason to find them for himself. No article or book can explain this aspect of Freemasonry or provide the answers. Those possible esoteric answers to the “purpose” question are buried deep within the secrecy of the Fraternity and require intense self study to be discovered. Such self study ultimately leads to different conclusions or answers to the question – as has now been mentioned thrice in this article. The individual Freemason may be able to glean some insight into the esoteric purpose of the Fraternity by way of discussions with experienced and knowledgeable Brothers but – ultimately – it is up to the individual to discover these answers for himself.
Our society today is one of casual to less than casual dress and it has made its way into our Honorable Institution. So much so, our Fraternity in South Carolina has lost much of its dignity and decorum. As I visit various Masonic functions across our Grand Jurisdiction, I observe many of our Brethren wearing forms of dress, which I find not only to be inappropriate but also unacceptable such as t-shirts, tank-tops, shorts, jeans, overalls, no socks and open toed shoes. Freemasonry is not a club for “good old boys” and we should not be dressed as if it is. I firmly believe unacceptable dress will lead to unacceptable manner. It all goes hand-in-hand with each other.
Your Grand Lodge Officers are the leadership of Freemasonry in our state. I deem it our responsibility to set the standard in all aspects of the Fraternity for all other Masons. As to the standard of dress, they were informed unless they hear otherwise, they are required to be dressed in a coat and tie at any and all Masonic related functions. Blue Lodge Officers are the leadership of their Lodge members and, likewise, should be setting a higher standard for their members.
With these thoughts in mind, I encourage you while attending all Masonic related meetings such as Scottish Rite, York Rite, Shrine, Eastern Star, Amaranth, Masters’ and Wardens’ Club, Square and Compass Club, Past Masters’ Club, Rainbow, DeMolay, as well as Grand Lodge and Blue Lodge, to be appropriately dressed. Our personal appearance, attire and attitude will broadcast the message to others of our devotion, pride and respect toward the Fraternity and aid in setting the tone of our meetings. It is my belief, over time, this action will influence others to pause and reflect upon their own dress and act accordingly. If you are a Past Grand Lodge Officer, you as well should be helping to set the example. Being a Past Grand Lodge Officer does not relieve you from your responsibilities. Once you have served Grand Lodge in any capacity you always belong to the Grand Lodge Family.
One Brother has this to say concerning dress, “It is the internal and not the external qualifications of man that Masonry regards…That phrase is intended to be a leveler, to say that Freemasonry regards no man for his wealth or goods but for his internal qualities, his morality, his integrity, his sense of justice; qualities that can exist in an unemployed day laborer and the highest paid CEO in equal measure. Unfortunately, what it has become is an excuse. Apologia for slovenliness borne of the cursed notion that jeans, t-shirts and sneakers are appropriate attire for attendance at a gentleman’s organization, the odd idea that no one, not even you, should care how you look. Freemasonry is not intended to be a lowest common denominator group. It is a society of gentlemen created for our mutual encouragement and uplift, to become better.”
I ask, Brethren, that you will make a commitment to improve your personal dress so as to demonstrate to others you have a renewed pride in our Fraternity. I ask you to join me in raising the bar of our dress and appearance while attending Masonic related functions. At times it will be inconvenient. At others it will be bothersome. At still other times it will be uncomfortable. But remember, “Our Focus is on Quality.” Will you step forward? Will you join me? Will you help raise the bar? Will you help promote a higher standard? Think about it, my Brethren. Will you require of and for yourself a higher level of respect for Freemasonry?
As we leave Thanksgiving and enter into the more Sacred Season of Christmas and Hanukkah, Gail and I wish for all of you and your families, safety and security and a renewed faith in God and your fellowman.
May God continue to bless America and our great Fraternity and may the blessings of Heaven rest upon you and your families.
Barry A. Rickman
Every candidate for initiation into the mysteries of Freemasonry must be a man of good moral character, of irreproachable reputation, and living, as our ritual expresses it, ‘under the tongue of good report.’ The Lodge which admits a member who has not these necessary qualifications, is bringing into our fold not a lamb, the emblem of innocence and purity, but a ravenous wolf who will inevitably destroy the flock. Neither is an ignorant or uneducated man desirable as a candidate for our mysteries. Without some intellectual culture, it is not likely that he would appreciate the symbolical character of our Institution, nor would he be capable of becoming a very useful or honorable member of the Craft. – from an encyclical letter issued from the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina on 5 December 1848There is really only one proven method to determine whether a petitioner possesses good moral character. A thorough investigation must be conducted before an educated determination can be made as to a man’s moral character. Such an investigation must necessarily include an honest attempt to discover a man’s motivation that led him to petition. A man who petitions due to a less than honorable or pure motivation can not meet the moral qualification requirement.
As to religious qualifications, the action of some other Grand Lodges makes it expedient that we should impress upon you that no other religious test is necessary or proper in the candidate, except that he declare himself a firm believer in the existence of a Supreme Being.Though this passage would seem to be rather finite, one must take into account that there are men in the world who have attached Supreme Being status to some rather irregular entities. A man that has adopted his pet goldfish, the spirit of Adolf Hitler, or Satan as his Supreme Being probably does not meet the religious qualification. Some amount of investigation must be used to make an educated determination about a man’s belief in a Supreme Being.
…let it always be remembered that in balloting for a candidate each Lodge is not acting for itself alone, but for the whole Order at large. It is not simply admitting a new associate into its own narrow circle, but is introducing a brother to the great Masonic family, whose virtuous or vicious conduct will affect the Institution in all parts of the world, for good or evil. Let no brother forget, that it is as sacred a duty to reject the worthless as it is to receive the worthy.Without a doubt, men who are unworthy have at times been initiated into Freemasonry. These mistakes sometimes only cause disappointment for the initiated and wasted efforts on the part of a lodge – often leading to demission or suspension of the ones who should never have been accepted. There have been occasions, however, where the results were much more far-reaching and included such things as written exposés, fractured or darkened lodges, and damaged Grand Lodges. Ultimately, the needs and protection of the Fraternity outweigh the most well-intentioned desires to bring an individual into the fold.
Worshipful - British. a formal title of honor used in announcing or mentioning certain highly regarded or respected persons or groups.Using the Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina as a starting point in this examination, there can be found three primary variations involving the word “Worshipful” – Worshipful Brother, Right Worshipful Brother, and Most Worshipful Brother.
Source: Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/worshipful (accessed: September 27, 2009).
To adopt resolutions of non-intercourse is an extreme measure, and a Grand Lodge which is yet in its teens, ought not hastily to take to such action.1Following South Carolina’s recognition of the Grand Lodge of South Australia in 1886, South Carolina’s Grand Master J. Adger Smyth had this to say.
This is a vital question, and affects the very existence of Masonry. The rule has been that not less that three Lodges in any territory where no Grand Lodge previously exists are competent to form a Grand Lodge. Most of the older Jurisdictions now hold, however, that a majority of the Lodges in the new territory must concur in such a formation. Some even go so far as to hold that it must have the unanimous consent of all the Lodges in the new territory. We adhere to the majority rule. This would prevent a minority – as in the case of New South Wales – from attempting to coerce the majority.2Though an unfamiliar subject to many Freemasons, the diplomacy between Grand Lodges has been – and remains – an important part of the cement that holds the Fraternity together.
The proceedings of the year 1921, more than 50 years later, indicate that the elections were bitterly divisive in 1866, and that Mackey was rejected because he had sided with the Union supporters during the War Between the States. The collapse of the Confederacy would have brought considerable wrath on the head of one who had spoken out against the Southern cause. What is remarkable is not that Mackey was defeated, but that the proceedings do not explain why until 1921.1Brother Mackey's final years in South Carolina were clouded by suspicions and allegations of financial irregularities in regards to the Grand Secretary's office. A motion - one which was never acted upon - was actually made during the 1868 Grand Communication to expel Mackey from the Order.2
The Grand Master being compelled, by urgent public business, to depart immediately for the city of Charleston, the remaining officers were installed by Past Grand Master B. R. Carroll…1By the next annual Grand Communication in November 1862, the stress of the war was rather evident. Initially, not enough lodges were represented in order to constitute a quorum. The Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, Senior Grand Warden, Junior Grand Warden, Grand Treasurer, Grand Chaplain, the Senior and Junior Grand Deacons, the Grand Pursuivant, and at least one Grand Steward were absent when the Grand Lodge was to be opened at noon on 18 November 1862. The Deputy Grand Master and one other Grand Lodge officer, along with representatives from nineteen more lodges eventually arrived later in the evening.2
While without the startled ear is struck on every side with the crash of conflicting arms, and the sky is overcast with the lurid clouds of was, here, at least, for a brief period, around this sacred altar, and within this holy temple, all is serenity and peace.5Despite this optimistic statement, gloom surrounded the Fraternity in the Palmetto State. The physical home of the Grand Lodge and many subordinate lodges in Charleston had been struck by shells from Union forces on more than one occasion – forcing the Grand Lodge to move its offices to another part of the city. Half of the lodges in the State had gone dark – or dormant – though the Grand Lodge wisely and justly decided not to arrest the charters of these lodges. The Grand Master was also forced to address the increased popularity of Freemasonry in some parts of the State that had led to desires for a shortening of the time required for initiating and advancement in the three degrees of Freemasonry. There was a “dramatic upsurge for admission to the Order by candidates who came seeking the comfort and reassurance of an old and relatively stable institution in an age when all institutions were threatened.”6 Grand Master Boatwright stated…
At no time since the organization of the first Lodge in this State has there been so much danger as there is at the present day from the popularity of masonry.7By the next annual meeting of the Grand Lodge, however, much more serious matters than the popularity of the Fraternity would show just how close to the brink the war had pushed the whole of Freemasonry in South Carolina.
In that portion of the jurisdiction through which the armies have passed, our Lodges have been destroyed, our altars thrown down, and it is with maimed rites we can practice our ceremonies. That errors and irregularities have crept into our Lodges I have little doubt. These are, no doubt, caused by the disorganized state of the country, and the irregularity of the mails. In the decision of every trespass against our rules, I trust you will act with moderation, mercy, and charity…9Freemasonry in South Carolina had been brought to the brink of the abyss by the stresses of war. She did survive, however, and begin to rebound once the conflict and its aftermath had subsided and – from the end of this dark period – examples of what Freemasonry is all about can be found. The acts of Brotherly love displayed by Masons in the states that had been the enemies of South Carolina was duly recorded in the proceedings of the Grand Lodge annual communication of November 1866. These included such things as: one thousand dollars donated to the South Carolina Grand Lodge by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania; a new set of jewels donated to Orange Lodge No. 14 by “some wealthy brethren in Boston;” from a New York Mason, a return to Landmark Lodge No. 76 of a Past Master’s jewel which had been stolen during the war; and the return by a Illinois Brother of the warrant of constitutions which had been taken from Allen Lodge No. 38.10
So there lies the brave De Kalb; the generous stranger who came from a distant land to fight our battles, and to water with his blood the tree of our liberty. Would to God he had lived to share its fruits![i]
…and the Baron DeKalb, if not made in it [Army Lodge No. 27], doubtless affiliated therein, while the “Maryland Line” were serving under his command in General Gates’ army of the South.[iv]
At this Communication an amendment to the Constitution was adopted, dividing the State into five Districts, and placing over each a District Deputy Grand Master, who was to be either a member of the Grand Lodge, or a representative of one of the Lodges, and whose duty it was to visit the Lodges in his district, and to decide all appeals until the decision of the Grand Lodge could be obtained.[i]When Albert G. Mackey published The History of Freemasonry in South Carolina in 1861, this was his only mention of a position called District Deputy Grand Master. Though he does not explain why, Mackey went on to state that the District Deputies were never appointed and that the amendment was omitted in later revisions of the Constitution.[ii] Therefore, as late as 1861, the position did not exist within the Grand Lodge of South Carolina and this author does not currently know when the position was formally adopted.