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masonic matters


by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota

Of all the cants which are canted in this canting world, -- though the cants of hypocrites may be worst, -- the cant of criticism is the most tormenting.” Laurence Sterne 1713-1768

“I do not resent criticism, even when, for the sake of emphasis, it parts for the time with reality.” Brother Winston Churchill

“This shows how much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.” Brother Benjamin Disraeli

Every once in a while I get questions from, or I am told there are, Masons who have been approached mostly by well meaning people who repeat something they heard from someone else about the supposed evils of Freemasonry. Most of these charges and accusations can be traced back to an anti-Mason, and sometimes a Mason is openly verbally accosted by an anti-Mason, which many times will catch some of us off guard.

When this sort of thing happens we might automatically think this person is uneducated about Masonry, and that might be true if by that we mean he is not getting factual information from a knowledgeable Mason. Unfortunately he most likely does not think he is uneducated and he isn’t, if educated means he is receiving information about Masonry from someone who he trusts and thinks is knowledgeable. The person may very well have received information about Freemasonry from only one side. If he is willing to receive information from the other side, so he can make up his own mind, decide for himself, on the question of Freemasonry being a cult, or simply a fraternity of good men who believe in the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, then you should be able to have a good informative conversation with him.

Devout Fundamentalist Christians, and I’ve been told devout fundamentalists of other religions too, believe what they are told from the Synod, or whatever the parent organization is, that tells them about a certain something; in this case Freemasonry. So there are times when you can talk till the cows come home and give them all the information you can think of, but if they have a closed mind and intend only to believe their clergyman who only believes what his seminary and superiors tell him you’re then dealing with a closed mind, and a closed mind is very difficult to open.

The admonishment in the charge of the First Degree about arguing with those who through ignorance ridicule Freemasonry etc. does not mean we cannot have a decent friendly conversation or debate with someone who is willing to listen or debate with us. So in my mind it is fine to try to open a man’s mind with the truth, but while it can be frustrating don’t let it get to you if he just won’t believe what you have to refute the false charges floating around about Freemasonry. And don’t be surprised. Some people believe what they believe and don’t even want to hear the facts let alone be confused by them.

Having said that I think one of the best books on this subject is “Workman Unashamed” by Brother Christopher ‘Kit’ Haffner, published by Lewis Masonic some years ago, but recently updated and republished again by Lewis Masonic.

Another book, (booklet,) that I like and is cheaper and easier to get is “Conscience and the Craft – Questions on Religion and Freemasonry” by Brother Jim Tresner. My copy is well marked up and highlighted, in fact many of my books are like that. This booklet might be available on line as was another book called “Is it true what the say about Freemasonry,” which is another good book about anti-Masonry. If they are not available on line I think they can be purchased from most Masonic book suppliers at a very reasonable price.

People who are vocal anti-Masons are knowledgeable about Freemasonry. They may have a wrong view of the Craft in our opinion, but that doesn’t mean they’re ignorant about it. So I think a Mason needs to be ready, and by ready I mean he needs to know his subject well, as well as know what their opinion is and where it comes from. To do this we read books, like the ones I’ve mentioned. We need also to know about why the term The Great Architect of the Universe to them is a name for another god, and why they say we regard all gods as equal to the God of Abraham. Also know that saying that the term was used by John Calvin an early theologian whose writings were used in founding a Christian Church really doesn’t mean much to a fundamentalist, because they don’t put much stock in Calvinism.

Also reading books from anti-Masons about Masonry is a good pastime if you can stay objective, and realize you are learning some of what you need to know to be able to debate or have a conversation with an anti-Mason. Many will not want to do this, because it is a big job to become very knowledgeable. But the anti-Mason is knowledgeable and many times more knowledgeable than the Mason he’s talking with. The Anti-Mason knows about our ritual, and they offer their own meanings to our symbols and allegories. Many a Mason has been surprised how knowledgeable an anti-Mason can be. One good thing to remember, since the anti-Mason has a penchant for quoting Brother Albert Pike from his book ‘Morals and Dogma’ is the preface to Morals and Dogma; in it Pike says in part: “The teachings of these readings are not sacramental, so far as they go beyond the realm of morality into those of other domains of thought and truth.” “Everyone is free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound.” Page iv (middle of the page.) So even Brother Pike himself is saying that what he wrote in Morals and Dogma is not the dictum of Freemasonry our critics and enemies say it is. Pike knew he wrote only for himself and his opinions - not for Freemasonry.

I will suggest, also, that it is good to know what Leo Taxil’s Hoax’s are all about. Know about the myth about the Great Seal of the United States, know about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and be somewhat familiar with the Holy Bible, and about the information in the Bible that our Hiramic Legend was formed from. Be knowledgeable about where in the ritual of the Third Degree the drama ends, and the officer portraying King Solomon ends. The drama ends when he again resumes the role of the Master of the Lodge. Many people, including Masons, have the mistaken idea that the candidate represents the legendary Hiram right up until the end of the degree; he doesn’t. The drama ends when the Mason portraying King Solomon takes the candidate by the strong grip of a Master Mason. When the candidate hears the word he is the candidate and the Mason saying the word is the Master. The reason I think this is important is because some think we teach that Hiram was raised from the dead, which would be reminiscent of the legend of Osiris, and of course we teach no such thing. In fact, in the 2nd section of the lecture of the third degree it tells us that Hiram’s body was carried to King Solomon’s Temple and buried. However, many anti-Masons will challenge a Mason on that.

The fact is, there are so many challenges and accusations an Anti-Mason can say to and about us it is hard to stay up with them. A number of years ago now the Grand Lodge of Minnesota changed their work to mention the penalties are reprimand, suspension or expulsion and then called the other penalties the ancient and symbolic penalties, which of course they always have been. I’m not saying this change was either good or bad, what I will say is that if it was done to answer or satisfy our critics and enemies then what do you do the next time our enemies tell us about something else that in their opinion is wrong with Freemasonry. They will never be satisfied until we cease to exist.

Awhile back I spoke with a Mason who commented how he liked the piece I sent out in Mehr Licht about the Masonic ring. Then he mentioned he’s noticed that many Masons don’t wear their rings or pins as much any more, (He was a 50 + year Mason,) and he surmised that one reason might be that they had been accosted by an anti-Mason and didn’t know what to say, so to avoid the embarrassment they tend not to use much Masonic jewelry on their person except for attending Lodge or Masonic functions. He may be on to something.

The enemies of Freemasonry won’t be satisfied with any changes we make in ritual, use of symbols, or whatever, they want to see Freemasonry disappear.

I don’t mean to worry anyone, I just want to be clear that in any discussion with an anti-Mason, and even with a well meaning friend repeating what they heard from an anti-Mason, be well prepared, because it is always easier for someone to ask questions than give the answer, and it is always easier to repeat a charge or myth than to explain or answer it.

Brother Leon Zeldis wrote an excellent article that was published in volume 7 of Heredom, (page 89.) Heredom is the annual book sent out to members of the Scottish Rite Research Society, and in my mind is one of the best bargains in Masonic Education. Today Brother Zeldis’ article can be read on the web at: and it is very interesting to read.

I always wonder about some of my fellow Christians wanting to take the same stand dictators do when it comes to Freemasonry, especially when you consider what Hitler did to clergymen, churches, and Freemasons in Germany during his eliminationist period, and to the millions of Jews who were killed in his ‘final solution’ and on his orders. A good book on this is “Hitler’s Cross” published by Moody Press.

Anti-Masons now say that it is the Masons of the ‘high degrees’ that are keeping the rest of us in the dark about what Freemasonry is really about, and that of course we would not know about it if we haven’t been in the inner circle of our Grand Lodge or are not a 33°, which is most of us. They tell our friends and family that we may be good Christians, good men all around, but we are being duped by the Masons of the ‘higher degrees’ who have a plan of world domination and worship the devil. This is the theme of Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is what Brother Zeldis exposes and explains in his paper I mentioned earlier, do yourself a favor and take a look at it. Chick Publications, on the other hand, repeats the hoax of Leo Taxil, and this is explained in great detail in the book ‘Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry,’ this is a book every Mason ought to have and read. The charges and falsehoods of the anti-Mason are ridiculous, but that’s what they believe. They say the individual Mason is o.k. it’s the organization that’s bad, and that we’ve been brainwashed so much we just don’t know how bad it is or we’d leave it, and it’s part of their calling in life to tell us everything we’re not able to figure out or understand for ourselves.

Another good place to begin learning about anti-Masonry is on the web site for the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and the Yukon at: There are many helpful articles on this site, one of which is called ‘Responding to Critics,’ which is very helpful.

If you plan to talk to any anti-Mason be prepared. If you’re not as prepared as you would like to be, a good thing to do is to ask questions. When they say something like we’re a cult, or we worship the devil – remain calm, and ask them “can you tell me why you think that?” or “Why do you feel that way?” then write down their answer in your little notebook, (I always have one in my shirt or jacket pocket, so I think everyone does,) and then check it out with research on your own or ask a Brother for help, and get back to our critic if he’s amenable to listening. Anti-Masons, I’m convinced, like to ambush Masons, their wives, children and friends; I think there are too many family members who might believe some of this trash they hear from anti-Masons if the Mason in their lives either doesn’t know himself what is and isn’t true or he is so secretive he won’t talk to them even when they are interested. So when it comes to knowing about the charges of an anti-Mason and providing good honest information to refute them it is important, especially, so that we can educate our family and friends when they have a question.

Remember Freemasonry can stand up to scrutiny; it’s the false charges of the anti-Masons that fold like a house of cards when you do the research. And believe it or not ‘Research is Fun’ because you learn something in the process.

“He wreathed the rod of criticism with roses.” Issac D’israeli 1766-1848

From the Great light of Masonry = “Do not speak against another, brethren. He who speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one lawgiver and judge, the one who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you to judge your neighbor.” James 4: 11-12

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Last modified: March 22, 2014