A FLAWED SYSTEM
An Answer To The Question
Why Is There So Much
Disunity, Disharmony & Discord in Freemasonry
Freemasonry grew up with the birth of our nation, thus the Masonry in each
state was considered sovereign as were the states. After the US gained its
independence a loose association of states was formed under The Articles of
Confederation. When this proved to be unworkable a more serious commitment to
Federalization was put in place under the US Constitution.
The point is Freemasonry never changed and grew with the country and its civil
government; never realized the mistakes made when too many decision makers
afford no accountability. American Freemasonry stayed locked in the mode and
style of 1776 thereby never allowing an American Masonic Identity.
There was and there is no such thing as American Freemasonry, there is only
Californian Masonry, New York Masonry, Texas Masonry etc.
In parts of the world in civil government there are artificial countries, with
artificial boundaries and no sense of national pride. Whether it be
Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq or various African nations, the artificial
boundaries hold a loose collection of Tribes. These countries are said to
have a Tribal System. Tribal equals trouble.
Next year the USA will have a new President, either Obama or McCain. Whoever
it may be I know that that person will speak for the entire country even
though they lack total dictatorial power. My President will be a Unifier,
attempting at all times to bring the country together.
American Freemasonry has a Tribal Mentality which leads to constant
friction, dissension and outright war. American Freemasonry has no Unifier,
rather it practices Separatism. This is one reason we have so much
disharmony and discord.
If you like the present system of 51 Feudal Barons lording themselves over 51
fiefdoms then you pay the price of increased disharmony and discord. And you
automatically empower and refuse to condemn a Masonic jurisdiction such as
West Virginia which has not yet entered the 20th century never mind
As each fiefdom goes its separate way, some jurisdictions have admitted a
large number of agenda driven people, those with an ax to grind, and when they
have sufficient numbers they have changed Freemasonry.
For instance in some states conservative Christian evangelicals have overtaken
some Grand Lodges and written into their state Masonic code a Christianization
of their state’s Freemasonry. Freemasonry had previously gradually evolved
into being religiously neutral and it still is in many American
jurisdictions. Prayers to Jesus, extra Bible readings in Lodge, no Holy Book
permitted on the altar but the Bible, District Christian Church services,
Bible presentations upon raising, no gambling permitted, no alcohol on Lodge
property are just some examples of the way some Masons have codified their own
personal moral and religious beliefs into the Constitutions and by-laws of
their Grand Lodge. The Freemasonry in Louisiana, Georgia and Tennessee looks
a great deal different from the Freemasonry in Massachusetts, New York,
Illinois and California.
Some of these same Masons have used the outmoded system of balloting to
exclude men of diversity and to allow to enter others that do not reflect the
values of Freemasonry. This amounts to ethnic cleansing or purifying the
Lodge. Those welcome are Christians, politically conservative, White
Supremists, Protestants, Republicans, the KKK and the Militia. Those
blackballed and excluded are Blacks, the politically liberal, Jews, those in
the peace movement or civil rights movement, Democrats, Muslims and anybody
with a funny accent.
Some of us do not seem to be able to celebrate diversity. In Lodges in India
you can find at the same time Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Sikhs, Christians,
Jews, Jains, and Buddhists all sitting side by side. There are five Volumes
of the Sacred Law on the altar., The Bhagvad Gita for the Hindus, The Qur’an
for the Muslims, The Avesta for the Parsis or Zoroaastrians, The Bible for the
Christians and Jews and The Granth Sahib for the Sikhs. If this does not
cover the field a candidate may bring his own book of Faith. You will also
find many different skin colors and political allegiances.
If you travel to Canada and experience their Freemasonry you won’t find these
deep seated divisions and animosities. Neither will you find them in the
British Isles. Perhaps it is the nature of our contentious American society
where Americans tend to be hysterical and mean spirited that dooms us to a
Freemasonry of constant bickering, disharmony and discord.
As Masons we have been taught to be tolerant and accepting. This is one of
the traits for which a Mason is well known. But we have carried tolerance too
far. Those who have subverted Freemasonry for ulterior motives and their own
ends want us to tolerate intolerance. How do you fight evil if you are
required to tolerate it?
Other divisive and disharmonious behavior comes from a traditionalist attitude
I sometimes refer to as “legalistic Masonry”. These Masons, often entrenched
in seats of Grand Lodge power, refuse to allow the change or reform of
Freemasonry one iota, not even one word in one sentence. And they tell you
that trying to change Freemasonry is a violation of a Mason’s Obligation. The
reformers do not seek a change in the ritual or message of Freemasonry but
rather the procedures and processes that back the practice of the Craft. This
dedication to “legalistic Freemasonry” can be seen in those who insist on
maintaining the Right of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction from Prince Hall
inclusion. Their adherence to the strict letter of the law puts policy above
people, separation above unity and reminds one of the cackles of the Pharisees
The disharmony and discord of American Freemasonry is far larger than the so
called harmony of the Lodge. It is rooted in the policy and governance of
Grand Lodge where the Grand Master and Grand Lodge Officers set the tone
for Freemasonry in that jurisdiction. The Lodge is not alive but rather an
inanimate concept. It cannot feel, laugh, cry or do anything that human beings
can do. The harmony of the Lodge is an invalid concept and is often used to
exclude, as in – “We have to black ball this Black Man for the harmony of
the Lodge” or “This Jewish applicant will just not fit here at this
Lodge where we all are Christian. He must be rejected for the harmony of the
The tone of Grand Lodges and their desire to control Masonic thought, their
poor handling of the computer revolution and Internet Freemasonry, and their
suspensions and expulsions without a Masonic trial have dumped onto Internet
Freemasonry, its Forums and Blogs, bitter expelled past Masons who feel that
they have been dealt an injustice and are out for revenge. If Grand Lodges
were not so controlling and arbitrary in their use of power, were not so
political and so thin skinned perhaps Freemasonry in the USA would be a little
more subdued and harmonious.
So what is to be done? I offer three suggestions which are not the sum and
total of what might be accomplished but merely a start into a more harmonious
American Freemasonry and bringing Masons together.
A National Constitution and Masonic Bill of Rights
It’s too late for a National Grand Lodge. It would never fly today even if it
were a good idea which it probably is not. There needs to be a semblance of
sameness and order throughout the 51 jurisdictions which comprise American
Freemasonry. This has nothing to do with changing or standardizing the ritual
of Freemasonry or dictating the practice of the Craft or removing the
sovereignty of state Grand Lodges. It has to do with fairness, of creating a
sound base or foundation that exists everywhere so that each jurisdiction can
go on from there to implement the practice of Freemasonry as it sees fit. It
has to do with the processes and procedures of Freemasonry, the definition of
Freemasonry, who can and cannot be admitted into Freemasonry, what ethical
code can we all agree upon and having the same Landmarks. It also has to do
with the rights of individual Brethren and protecting them from abuse and
misuse of power. If we can do this we can eliminate a lot of the disharmony.
Freemasonry grew up in the time of Monarchies and the Divine Right of Kings.
Times and attitudes have changed into a way of life that is more participatory
by the average citizen. Freemasonry needs to reflect that change and allow
for the say of each individual Brother. A Masonic legislature which could
make or change policy by a democratic vote would perhaps lessen those who go
running off to start their own version of Freemasonry because they have been
locked out or arbitrarily squashed. A true will of the majority goes a lot
further in gaining support than the arbitrary desires of the Masonic Pope
sitting in the Grand East. Lest anyone think that this would strip the Grand
Master of all power and stature it could be set up so that a Grand Master
could veto anything the Legislature passes unless this body has voted on a
course to be taken by 75% or more of those convened. A change of this nature
would be up to the individual choice of each state Grand Lodge and not be
imposed upon them.
I devoted a whole blog to this subject. The present unanimous secret ballot
permits prejudice and revenge and no good reason to reject an applicant and
thwart the will of the majority. Its use keeps out Blacks, Jews & Hippies and
just about anybody you don’t like.
But it also lets in some undesirables like the KKK. One member gets in
unnoticed and he brings in scores of others always keeping their other life
from discovery. Black balls that should be dropped are not.
There is a case to be made for a secret ballot. What you definitely do not
want is a raising of hands in open Lodge. There is also a strong case to be
made that it is terribly unfair and unjust to reject a good man for no good
reason or because of prejudice.
The so called phony harmony of the Lodge is not justification for a unanimous
secret ballot. In essence one is putting pseudo harmony ahead of Civil Rights
and human rights. This is not the way a person joins the United States and
becomes a citizen. The election of a President or of a Worshipful Master does
not have to be unanimous.
I would offer that the decision of admittance to the Lodge be made in a semi
secret ballot of the three members of the Investigating committee who will
have taken training in Investigative technique and who sit as a permanent
committee of the Lodge for a duration of office as determined by the Lodge.
If any member of the Lodge has an objection to an applicant they are to bring
that objection to this committee who will investigate it. Rejection will then
come for a solid reason and not – “I don’t want a Black man in my Lodge”. The
Three so constituted will offer no comment on their decisions. The
implementation of this change would be a choice left up to each individual
It is not only within American Mainstream Freemasonry that there is disunity,
disharmony and discord. Relationships with other Obediences are governed by
Grand Lodge rules and regulations and in many cases they not only prohibit
Masonic Communication but also Masonic discourse. This is why disharmony is
not just a local Lodge problem. It goes all the way to the top where a Grand
Master feels that he can tell you who you can talk to and who you cannot.
Orders from on high often ask a Mason to shun other Obediences. When you do
that you can’t expect not to get some flak back.
Perhaps a case can be made for Unrecognized, Irregular, Clandestine knock offs
many coalescing around the cult of an individual. But for those practicing
Regular Masonry excepting the violation of sex, there really is no good reason
to be spiteful. If Women’s Masonry, Co-Masonry, and other Regular
Clandestines, which in some areas includes Prince Hall, would sit down
together with Mainstream Masonry, break bread together, sponsor some
charitable events together, do some social functions together, and rent the
same building for meetings, even though none of the different Obediences ever
sat in Lodge together, there would be more peace, harmony and accord. In many
parts of Europe the different Obediences of Freemasonry do not trash each
other but seek ways of accommodation thereby avoiding the tension and conflict
and ill feeling that fortressed American Freemasonry has. Much of this anti
social behavior is aided and abetted by Grand Lodges.
I have some of my writings on a wonderful website run by a Co-Mason. When
some Brothers of an Internet Masonic Forum I belong to found this out they
called me a traitor and said that not only would they never visit that site
again and never read any of my writings therein but that they would also
boycott any postings I made on the Forum. To them I was guilty of aiding the
enemy and giving him publicity.
We need an ecumenical spirit among the different Regular Obediences of
If we had an ecumenical spirit there would be less disharmony and discord.
It’s up to the Grand Lodges to pave the way in setting the TONE of American
Quite frankly I am dismayed by those Brothers who say that they don’t come to
these places anymore because of all the squabbling and bickering. Some of the
loud noise is being made by those of us who seek a change of heart from those
who are responsible for much of the disharmony that exists. Working to make
the future an improved, quieter, more unified and harmonious Masonic
experience, today sometimes requires some robust jousting.
But these Brothers would rather trade rights and justice for phony harmony
right now. Why can’t you just zip your lip and go along to get along they say?
Then there would be peace and harmony. Yup, and injustice too. Go along with
racism in Freemasonry, go along with expulsions without a Masonic trial, go
along with no Masonic discourse with other Obediences, go along with rigged
elections and shunning those that do it another way. My reply is why don’t you
come along? Come along and help solve the root causes of disharmony and
Frederic L. Milliken (aka Squire Bentley)