Pagan and Mason in Florida

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December 4, 2012
by Corey

Editors note: We are very grateful to Corey for his willingness to share about his personal experience as a person with Pagan religious practices within the Florida Free Masons. This is a developing story, check back for updates. – Florida PNC

I had considered for years becoming a Mason before ever taking the first step. I felt I was too busy, didn’t have the extra money, or otherwise just couldn’t commit wholeheartedly to the fraternity. I finally came to the decision in early 2012 that I wanted to pursue becoming a Mason. My life had finally leveled out and normalized. My kids were grown and had lives of their own. I also realized that I was losing my faith in humanity, and becoming jaded and cynical. I was hoping that Freemasonry would restore that faith and help me move along my path towards enlightenment.

I contacted my local lodge, filled out my petition and waited for the news. Unbeknownst to me at the time, a fellow Mason and co-religionist had casually mentioned to the Jr. Steward at my lodge that I was a Pagan. I’ve come to learn that there were numerous discussions among the officers of the lodge prior to my initiation as to my suitability for Masonry. They finally agreed to proceed. A home investigation committee came and visited my wife and I at our house. I was asked if I believed in “a God.” I said that I did. I was asked if I believed in the immortality of the soul and the resurrection to a future life. I said that I did. The lodge voted and scheduled my Entered Apprentice degree for May 17, 2012. I was then passed to Fellowcraft on August 2, 2012 (my birthday) and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on September 6, 2012.

During this time, another non-Christian was initiated into my lodge. He is an Odinist (and Tribalist) and has no hesitation mentioning his beliefs to anyone. At some point, his catechism instructor had a disagreement with him and allegedly criticized his religion. Tensions flared, the instructor was relieved of his EA class, but no further action was taken. The situation came to the attention of a DDGM, who proceeded to file charges against the instructor.

On the night the charges were to be heard in lodge, the Grand Master of the State of Florida came to the lodge. The charges were read, and discussion commenced. Several brothers stood to defend the accused instructor and cast aspersions on the Entered Apprentice who was at the center of the issue. One brother stood and began stating that some of the verbiage used in the charges (and attributed to the instructor) were commonly used in Paganism, and therefore couldn’t have come from the instructor. Having a fairly deep knowledge base in Pagan religions and practices, I recognized this statement as false. I stood and made this known to the Brothers, admitting that I was a Pagan to lend validity to my statement. After the vote was tallied, the Grand Master stood and began to criticize the lodge for their practices, and proceeded to state that “Paganism is in direct conflict with Freemasonry. No Pagan should ever be initiated into the Craft.”

After the lodge was called to refreshment, I approached the Grand Master and stated that I must respectfully disagree with his statement. I proceeded to tell him that nothing in my religious beliefs were in any way contrary to Masonic Law. He proceeded to ask me if I believed in a monotheistic God. I stated that I did. He then asked if I believed in the immortality of the soul with the resurrection to a future life. I concurred. He then proclaimed that I had no Volume of Sacred Law upon which to take my obligation. I stated that I recognized the “truth” in all VSL’s, and have no issue obligating myself on any. We parted, still not seeing eye to eye.

A few weeks later, I received an email stating that I was to appear before the vigilance committee of my lodge by order of the Grand Master. I appeared before the committee with the assistance of a PM of my lodge who volunteered to assist me. I was asked again the questions relating to 32:16 of the Florida Masonic Digest, and again honestly answered the questions, in agreement with the Digest. I was asked if I was a Pagan, and explained that I used that term to describe my religious practices, but not my belief. Paganism is not Orthodox, and has no set doctrines. It is merely a blanket term for non-Abrahamic faiths. In definition of my beliefs, I stated that I was primarily a Deist. I was further asked if I could uphold Masonic Morality, as exemplified by the Golden Rule and the 10 commandments. I explained that the Golden Rule was a value to aspire to. Concerning the 10 Commandments, I had to educate the committee on the fact that the first 5 commandments were religious commandments that only really apply to Jews, but that the second 5 were values to aspire to as well.

The Committee concluded that there was no reason for further action in my case. Apparently the Grand Master was not satisfied with this decision, and proceeded to issue his Ruling.

After reading the ruling, I felt that I had no choice per my Master Mason Obligation other than to resign as a Mason. This morning, I went to my lodge and submitted my letter of resignation to the Secretary, along with my dues card.

I cannot express how disillusioned I am with Masonry in Florida. I have had communication with Masons around the country who are just as shocked and appalled as I am. I spoke with the Sr. Warden of the Lodge after submitting my resignation, and he repeatedly said that he wanted me to understand that the officers of the lodge did what they thought was the correct thing in accepting me for initiation. He refused to make any definitive statement as to his own feelings. He said that he understood why I was upset, and asked me if I understood where they were coming from. All I could say was that I did. I understood that they were coming from a position of Self-preservation instead of their Masonic Obligations. The amazing part is this man, the Sr. Warden, was so impressed with me as a man and Mason that he was talking with me about serving in the line as recently as a month ago!

Is this really what Masonry is about today? Have we slid so far from the ideals of our Masonic Ancestors that we now require petitioners to define their beliefs, making sure that they use the politically correct terminology? What happened to masonry helping to make good men better? My wife saw it in me in the past 7 months. Unfortunately it seems that political infighting and wrestling for power supersedes the search for Further Light, at least in the Grand Lodge of Florida.

8 comments

  1. Catalyst says:

    Your article was very well written and well thought out. The last paragraph really spoke to me because of how it parallels the pagan community itself. I have seen pagan and traditional organizations bend the same way where the political infighting and wrestling for power steals the main focus and then, unfortunately, good people become disillusioned and leave, while the ones who are left have no purpose and the particular group falters until there is nothing left. Pride and arrogance are dangerous emotions. It’s sad really, but maybe this has happened so that you can bring others together in good faith and with good purpose so that the best can happen.

    • Aequitas says:

      Yes, good points all around, Catalyst. I also thought Corey’s article was very eloquent and forthright. The younger progressive generation struggling against the old guard…it’s an archetype we’ve seen before…Titans v. Olympians?

  2. Sephiroth says:

    I am very disturbed at this story, especially considering that I myself have considered joining the Order of Freemasonry. Another thing that concerns me (not personal), is that this lodge allowed you to progress so quickly, it was always my understanding that, while the times are not set, this process took significant time. Perhaps this lodge had other issues as well.

  3. Samuel Lawson says:

    This grand Master of the state of Florida had violated his sacred obligation. He is symbolically dead as a mason as per the penalty of his obligation.

  4. Darksome Knight says:

    You know I only found out about this ruling this week? This is being kept “under wraps” and is a very “hush-hush” topic within the masonic community. I have even received (unconfirmed) reports that there is a “gag order” of sorts regarding this matter within the masonic circles of Florida, which the consequences for any perceived breach of confidence being expulsion from the order. I can tell you I have been a freemason for over a decade. I have also been a Wiccan for the same amount of time. Being a Neo-Pagan within the halls of Freemasonry is like being a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I was looked at funny, talked about in secret, even had some well-meaning (albeit misguided) brothers very concerned about the “salvation of my soul.” I have bore witness to the New Wave of Masonic Christianity over the last 10 years.
    And I am not even in Florida.
    This is not a problem that is indigenous to Florida freemasonry. That is a fact. With as many as our rituals have been altered in the last few years to accommodate those of the Judeo-Christian belief system, all mystical elements which owe their origin to pre-Christian teachings are all but wiped out. Sanitized. I would even be surprised if you hear about the Vedic Poets mentioned anymore like they used to be in the “higher degrees” of the Scottish Rite.
    The new face of masonry in the 21st century obviously has a Christian face. And this is spreading on a national level. Back in 2004 I was corresponding with a masonic brother out of Michigan who was the only other Pagan freemason I was aware of at the time besides myself. He had a webpage/blog discussing all items esoteric and his take on issues of the day. Well, my last communication with him was almost in 2005 when he informed me that he was effectively “run out” of freemasonry owing to his religious beliefs. This was happening even then. While this religious bigotry by no means is shared by the majority of masons, especially the older, reputedly “wiser” ones, what perpetuates this crime is not the singular actions of a select few.
    But the combined actions of the collective.
    Freemasonry is completely guilty of one thing:
    Its inclination to do nothing in the face of wrong doing when the crimes are perpetuated by one among their own, especially if this is a powerful, well-established member of the order. For the purpose of harmony and “brotherly love” it has a tendency to remain mute in the face of injustice for the purpose of “those who can best work and best agree” which each other. It hopes in vain that the instigator will simply see the error of his ways and change on his own. Or it will politely voice its opposition to his views in classic masonic fashion and then look the other way. Rarely is there ever change brought about within the organization and the only change I have seen in recent years, is the official recognition of the “Prince Hall Freemasons” into the fold. Prince Hall masonry is essentially Afro-American freemasonry. They have been now recognized as a legitimate branch of the order…45 years AFTER the Civil Rights Movement…
    Florida’s edict does not affect my membership within my state. But it is a sign of where things are headed for The Craft and I have seen this coming for years now. All this Florida Grand Master did was to make public the very many opinions that ALREADY EXISTED within the organization on a NATIONAL level. Each masonic lodge in the country has upon it’s alter a Volume of the Sacred Law.
    That book is always the Holy Bible.
    Will they now replace that tome with Malleus Maleficarum?
    We swear pagan oaths upon a Christian book to learn a secular philosophy. It truly is quite astonishing. Well this obviously doesn’t sit well with them anymore and have decided that The Order needs a complete make-over. And have started to do that very thing. My only questions now remain to the many Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and others who are still relatively safe in their lodges.
    For the time being.
    For those to whom this inquiry is leveled I beg you to remember these words:
    “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me”
    –Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)

    Are we really so far from this atrocity that we fail to remember and learn from history?
    How long will it be before they come for YOU?

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

    • Aequitas says:

      Wow, thank you for your long but important thoughts on this. I’m sure there is more development behind the scenes around this. – Aequitas

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