Article: 5956 of alt.freemasonry
From: (dr foo)
Newsgroups: alt.freemasonry
Subject: "Innovation" -- Reasons for Rejection (was: Re: PHA QUESTION)
Date: 10 Jul 1995 22:24:06 GMT
Organization: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Lines: 118
Distribution: world
Message-ID: <3ts9a6$459@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
[We keep having the power bounce here on campus today. This is the 3rd or 4th time I've tried to answer this, so you know I really want to.]

[Also, this is no longer really about PHA, so I have changed the Subject:]

In article <3tf0fj$>, (DonaldW177) writes:

|> No Lodge or individual Mason has the right to make innovations in
|> Freemasonry.
Yes. You keep saying this.

I keep telling you that I don't disagree with you about this.

Perhaps, we don't mean the same thing by the word "innovation".

Here is what I mean by it: "Innovation" means a change in the landmarks of Masonry. No one, not even a Grand Lodge is properly allowed to change the landmarks. The phrase from the old charges that:

"It is not within the power of any Mason or group Masons to make any innovation in the body of Masonry"
means that there is a set of certain fixed landmarks that cannot be changed.

But what we are discussing is not a _landmark_, nor an innovation of one, unless Texas actually has something in its Grand Constitutions that lists among its enumeration of landmarks "No Black Man shall be admitted into Masonry" or something similar. If there is such an item, please quote it for me.

If there is no such thing, then what we are discussing is _not_ an innovation; it is a custom.

Now, do you wish to discuss whether or not this custom _could_ be considered racist?...

|> You have allowed a single line of
|> thinking (Racist Reasons) to obstruct your view of the problem. You, as do
|> so many, assume that any action taken by the Craft of a non-PH Lodge that
|> prevents a "black" from becoming a member is an act of prejudice. Should
|> feel the same about pot smokers who are rejected?
....Apparently you do.

1) First of all, as I understand it, smoking pot in Texas is still against the law. Therefore, a habitual pot-smoker is a habitual law-breaker, and so a Texas lodge might certainly decide to refuse such a person for membership on those grounds.

2) Next, as I understand it, being a black person, is not against the law in Texas. Therefore, the analogy does not hold.

3a) Do I agree that any lodge can reject any person for any reason whatsoever? Yes. Absolutely.

3b) Do I think that a lodge that rejects _a_ _particular_ black applicant because he turns out to be a felon, a disputatious person, an atheist, or applying for insincere or inappropriate reasons is being racist? No.

3c) Do I think that if a lodge would reject _any_ and _every_ black applicant not because of a criminal past, an inharmonious personality, a lack of belief in a Supreme Being, or for any reason inherent to that particular person, but simply and solely because the applicant was black, then that lodge is performing an "act of prejudice"? Absolutely yes.

You may say that I "have allowed a single line of thinking (Racist Reasons) to obstruct [my] view of the problem." But I think that the difference between (3b) and (3c) is crucial, and shows that I have not.

Yes, lodges have the right to reject anyone they wish to. But when they do so based only on the racial characteristics of the applicants, they I will continue to say that they are acting in a racist manner.

Perhaps we disagree on the meaning of the word "racist". By "racist" I do not mean "someone who engages in overt destructive acts and degrading language against members of another race". I do mean "someone who bases his beliefs about, or actions toward, some other person based on his ideas about the entire racial group to which the other person belongs."

|> The right of any Lodge to reject an applicant _is not questionable._
Again, I agree.

|> I believe that the Brethren in Texas
|> know what is best for Texas.
I believe that, too. Believe it or not, I have no desire to have any other Mason use _my_ Plumb line. Each and every one of us has his own.

Somewhere, someday, when a member of a Texas lodge brings in an application from a long-time friend and co-worker, or from a military buddy who saved his life, or from a volunteer firefighter neighbor who saved the local school, or from the god-father of his newest child, and that friend, buddy, neighbor, etc happens to be black, then it will be obvious that the Brethren in Texas are not completely unanimous in their opinion of "what is best for Texas".

All I have tried to say from the first in this discussion, is that in proposing that new member, that Texas lodge brother will _not_ be proposing any "innovation". Of course his lodge can turn him down. But it would not be honest of them to defend their practice by invoking the magic word "innovation".

All the best,

| Gary L. Dryfoos       ofc: 617.253-0184 fax: 617.253-8665
| P.O.Box 505, Cambridge, MA 02142      URL:
| Master, Mt. Scopus Lodge AF&AM, Malden, Mass.
| P.M. Ocean Lodge AF&AM, Winthrop, Mass. (1988-90, 1991-93)
|    " sacred band, or society of Friends and Brothers, among
|     whom no contention should ever exist, save that noble contention,
|     or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree."

Return to Freemasonry main page.