Friday, August 21, 2009

The Only Response a Mason Could Make

Back in July I posted my commentary on the fiasco Gate City Lodge No. 2 was embroiled in over their raising of a black man to the sublime degree of Master Mason. My article was entitled "The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things," and I invite you to read it now if you have not done so.

As the months have passed since this controversy in Georgia Masonry has subsided, the implications have continued to reverberate in back-channel discussions and open proclamations in lodges and Grand Lodges across the country. The dropping of the ridiculous charges against Gate City and its officers was an encouraging sign, but I like countless other Masons have awaited some overt gesture from the Grand Master of Masons in Georgia "setting the record straight" on the issue of race and membership in the ancient fraternity of Freemasonry. Now, the wait is over and the Grand Master has spoken. In an edict issued August 19, 2009, Most Worshipful Brother J. Edward Jennings, Jr., Grand Master of Masons in Georgia, stated the following:

The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the State of Georgia

August 19,2009
EDICT No. 2009-1

WHEREAS: Freemasonry has existed in Georgia since it founding in 1734 and is the oldest Fraternal organization in the State, and;

WHEREAS: Freemasonry is universal in scope, being a Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God, and;

WHEREAS: the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free & Accepted Masons, holds membership in this worldwide Brotherhood, and;

WHEREAS: our Ancient and Honorable Fraternity welcomes to its doors and offers its privileges to men of all races, colors and national origins who believe in a Supreme Being, as stated in our Degrees and Lectures, and;

WHEREAS: no reference is made to exclude any petitioner with regard to race, color or national origin in any of the Rituals or Masonic Code authorized for use in the Constituent Lodges chartered by the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons, and;

WHEREAS: it is incumbent on all members of our Brotherhood to abide by the Rules, Regulations, Laws and Edicts of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons;

That no negative reference be made by any officer or member of any Lodge chartered under the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons, in reference to a petitioner's race, color or national origin, who believe in a Supreme Being, during any Lodge Communication, conferral of degrees, proficiency practice or proficiency examination;

Further, be it resolved, that it is the responsibility of the Worshipful Master of each Lodge constituted under the Constitution of he Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons, to insure and enforce strict compliance with this EDICT, and, further, to have it read at the next two communications of the Lodge after receipt by the Lodge.

Any Lodge reported in violation of this Edict will be disciplined.

Given under my hand as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons, this 19th day of August, 2009.

J. Edward Jennings, Jr.
Grand Master

Donald I. DeKalb
Grand Secretary
Some will complain that this edict is insufficient because it does not specifically address the Gate City situation and redress the wrongs done to that lodge. I would argue that a public edict of the Grand Master would not be the proper venue for that. This edict addresses the very issue that precipitated the Gate City controversy, and it does so in clear and unambiguous terminology. I commend the Grand Master of Georgia for issuing the only public response any true Mason could give on the issue of race and membership in Masonry: that when it comes to the color of a man's skin, the lodge, its members, and officers are to be colorblind, and no man should ever be judged unworthy of membership based on his race.