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
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