[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: November 2002

From: <alanb@oepsales.co.za>
To: <masonry-ask@mit.edu>
Subject: For your letters section
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 16:47:38 +0200
Message-ID: <002101c285a3$747f04c0$2902a8c0@alan>


I would just like to know if once one becomes a Mason, is one allowed to leave the fraternity or not, as I understand there are certain oaths?


Alan Baddeley

From: <dryfoo@MIT.EDU>
Message-ID: <1036598355.3dc93c53a6649@webmail.mit.edu>
Date: Wed,  6 Nov 2002 10:59:15 -0500
To: alanb@oepsales.co.za
Subject: Re: For your letters section

Dear Mr. Badderley,

Are you picturing some "mafia" kind of thing, where the person is a member for life, entrusted with deadly secrets, and if they try to leave they are killed? Do I really need to say that it's absolutely nothing like that?

The "obligations" of Masonry have nothing to say about permission to leave the fraternity. If someone became a Mason and then wished to leave, he could either request a demit, a certificate saying he had left his lodge in good standing, or he could simply stop paying his lodge dues and would be suspended after a year or two.

Now at that point, is the person a Mason?

Well if he was suspended, he wouldn't be allowed to attend a lodge meeting anywhere, and either way, of course, he wouldn't be forced to attend a meeting. No one is ever forced to attend a lodge meeting -- Masonry is entirely a voluntary organization.

I suppose even if the person were suspended, or even expelled, he would always be considered an ex-Mason in some sense. His name would always be in the lodge records that he had once been a member, for example, just like with joining any organization. But there wouldn't be anything he'd have to do about that. It would be sort of like being from a particular place: you would always be from there, but that doesn't mean you'd have to go back to it, or even think about it.


I just thought of something else you probably wanted to know in regards your question: what about the promises made in his Obligations, would they still be binding?

There are basically two kinds of promises the Mason makes in his Obligations: he promises to act properly toward his fellow Masons, to care about their welfare and treat them honestly. The other kind of promise is to keep secret the "signs and tokens" -- the traditional modes of recognition, between Masons. Regarding the first kind: once the person leaves Masonry, how he treats other people is up to him. If one of his lodge brothers had trusted him with personal details of his life, of some difficulty he was having, and the ex-Mason decided to blabber that around, it would be unfortunate, and kind of nasty. Regarding the second kind of promise: as part of the obligations, the Mason promises on his honor never to reveal those "signs and tokens". And yet, they aren't really secret. They have been published hundreds of times, by Masons or ex-Masons with no regard for their honor.

In both of these examples, what could a lodge do? Nothing. What would it do? Nothing. The promises a Mason makes in his obligation are enforced by his own sense of respect and honor. If he quits the fraternity, what he does about the promises he made -- that's entirely his decision.

Does that get at what you were wondering?

| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| Ocean Lodge AF&AM, Saugus, MA (PM)
| P.O.Box 425400, Camb, MA 02142  | Mt. Scopus Lodge AF&AM, Malden, MA (PM)
|                                 | Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge, MIT, MA
|  "A Page About Freemasonry"     | Internet Lodge #9659, E. Lancs UGLE   
|  http://mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/ | 32~; MPS; B'hood o/t Blue Forget-Me-Not 
|                                 | RWG Rep.GL Russia near GL Massachusetts 
| "...one 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."

From: <alanb@oepsales.co.za>
To: <dryfoo@mit.edu>
Subject: RE: For your letters section
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2002 09:33:15 +0200
Message-ID: <000101c2862f$eff06810$2902a8c0@alan>


Thanks, perfect answer. I was not picturing it as a Mafia at all. It's just that through my readings it was nowhere mentioned about leaving the fraternity.

To me logical sense says that if you are expelled or suspended from the fraternity or lodge, you '...are no longer a Mason', but agree to the fact that common and basic integrity still stands with regards to oaths and information that was entrusted in you. This sort of trust SHOULD always stand, whether one is or was a Mason.

Thanks for the information


Alan Baddeley

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