What do Freemasons believe in?


(Edom, Texas)

I would love to join the Freemasons. My grandfather is one. He is Caucasian and I am biracial. He tells me about the Freemasons all the time and I love hearing the different history he tells me, but there's one problem. His lodge will not accept me because the older men in the lodge are racist. I can see that it's not what you guys are about so why are they?

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Dec 29, 2014
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Racism in Freemasonry...
by: Tim

Hello,
and thank you for your question.

You are right, there is nothing racist within the teachings of Freemasonry, and in a perfect world there would be no racism in our Masonic lodges. Unfortunately, that's not the world we live in. You touched upon the reason when you said, "...the older men in the lodge are racist." Regrettably, it's not only the older guys. Racism is a disease that's passed to future generations through words and actions. As much as we may want it to be different or pretend that it doesn't exist racism is still with us. We've come a long way from where we once were, but obviously we have yet a long way to go to arrive at that day when the color of a man's skin truly does not matter. I commend you on being able to see Freemasonry for what it is rather than viewing it as it's represented by men who represent it poorly.

A Masonic lodge is made up of the men who hold membership in that lodge, and will develop it's own personality through those men most active in the lodge. As a result, lodges are like people in that they come in all shapes and sizes and with their own peculiarities. The key is to find a lodge with a personality that suits your own, a place where you feel comfortable.

The difficulty or ease of finding that place is relative to the area in which you reside. In some parts of the country, primarily in metropolitan areas, there are several lodges situated within a short drive of one another. In those areas you would likely have no trouble finding lodges that would suit you. In more rural areas of the country lodges are spread much more thin, and there may be only one within a reasonable distance from your home.

It looks like Edom, Texas is pretty rural so I'm guessing there aren't a lot of lodges around to pick from. Below is the Web address for the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas:

http://www.grandlodgeoftexas.org/

Use their Lodge Locator to locate lodges in your area. Contact any that are within a reasonable distance, or within a distance you would be willing to travel, from your home and see how it goes.

Or, if you're up to the challenge of change try volunteering to help out around your grandfather's lodge or at lodge functions. All lodges, especially small lodges, are desperate for help when putting on a public lodge function or fundraiser. By volunteering with the members, getting to know them and letting them get to know you, they will at least come to see you as the person you are rather than the race you are not. You may or may not gain membership. You may decide you don't want membership. Change may not happen within your lifetime, but you may be the impetus of that change that causes a person to question everything they thought they knew. There is no greater gift a man can receive.

Or you could do nothing, but doing nothing gets nothing done.

Thanks again for the question and for visiting Masonsmart.

Fraternally,

Tim

Dec 30, 2014
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Grandfather
by: Fred

The requirements to join a lodge are as follows: a candidate MUST be: a man, free born, of legal age, of good moral character, believing in a Supreme being, and must come to Masonry of his own free will and accord. The free birth clause prevented slaves from being made masons in mainstream masonry for a long time. For many years, Black men joined a group known as Prince Hall Affiliate, or PHA. The history of Prince Hall and PHA Masonry is too extensive to get into in this venue. As humanity grows, so does Freemasonry, and many mainstream Grand Lodges accept and recognize their PHA counterparts, and their members. There are even mainstream lodges accepting black members. This is, unfortunately, not the norm, as many masons believe in the traditional requirements and what they allude to.

Jan 03, 2015
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It's Open
by: Thane

I would respectfully disagree with Fred in one or two details.

From my experience, many if not most mainstream lodges accept men of any colour; my own lodge does and others in the city certainly do. I think THAT is the norm now, but every lodge and every region is of course different and there may well be pockets of prejudice as opposed to just the odd lodge here and there. Prejudice and xenophobia are slowly dying, but are sadly still around. As Tim so correctly points out, effecting change is easier from within than without.

Prince Hall is recognized by more and more mainstream grand lodges - and a good thing, too in my opinion. Fascinating history, too detailed to go into here but as just one datum, mainstream objections to PH Masonry often had less to do with colour than with a concept called 'jurisdiction', meaning that only one lodge or grand lodge can have authority in a given area. As PHM existed, as it were, as an overlay to regular Masonry, it posed a challenge to that.

If it matters, the ban on slave-born men joining probably stems from one of what we would call the Old Charges, very old books recognized as having an influence on he Craft. The oldest is probably that called the 'Regius Manuscript', dating from the late 1300s. It is a book of rules for actual stone masons on behaviour and morality. One of its specific rules is a ban on apprenticing slaves, serfs or bondsmen (almost all of whom in Britain at the time wiuld have been white). The problem was not colour, but rather that a slave did not control his own destiny. The lodge could spend a lot of time and effort teaching him the secrets of the trade, only to have his owner show up and demand him back - maybe even selling his services in competition. So, from a very long time ago, well before the present fraternity came into being, slaves were not permitted. It's one of those things which has carried over from olden days - ditto with initiating minors - underage boys too did not control their lives any more than slaves.

I presume you have discussed your dilemma with your grandfather. What did he advise?

Mar 02, 2015
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Prince Hall and mainstream Masonry
by: Tim

There is another aspect to the relationship between the mainstream Masonic Grand Lodges and our Prince Hall Affiliate Brethren that I found interesting. During a conversation with a Grand Lodge officer a few years back the question was raised, "How is it in this day and age that our Grand Lodge has not yet officially recognized the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in our State?"

The answer was that our Grand Lodge had extended the offer of recognition to our Prince Hall Brethren and they had declined. They have developed their own way of doing things, and they like it that way. They did not wish to be absorbed into mainstream Masonry. So, the offer remains there on the table, open-ended and available to them anytime they wish to pick it up. In the meantime the two Grand Lodges and subordinate lodges enjoy friendly but unofficial relations.

Things are not always as simple as they first seem.

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