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Article # 65
Anti Masonic Feelings and Utterances.

Author: R.W.Bro.R.Ratnaswami    Posted on: Thursday, May 1, 2003
General Article | 2 comments  | Post your comment

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[ Freemasons throughout the world were shocked at the publication in “The Independent”, about the views held by the present Archbishop of Canterbury against Freemasonry vis- a- vis the Church and about his alleged assertion that he would  continue his practice of not promoting clergy, who are Freemasons to sensitive senior posts. They were also eager to know about the details and the result of the steps taken by the United Grand Lodge of England in this regard. We are posting this article furnishing the information collected by us. Please read on…]

 

 

Anti Masonic Feelings and Utterances

R.W.Bro.R.Ratnaswami P.A.G.M, Grand Lodge of India.

 

Freemasonry has been the target of unjustified and unprovoked attacks during the past several centuries, from several sources, most of which were ignorant of the lofty ideals and the tenets of our peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Some had been either not properly informed or had acted on hearsay. Still others have maliciously misinterpreted our rituals and practices. There is a great volume of antimasonic literature and even several web sites are being maintained to malign our order. Freemasonry had always ignored all those attacks, probably by just dropping “ a tear of sympathy over” their failings. Some of the brethren had advocated that we must either clear their misunderstandings or enlighten them on the genuine principles              of the order. Some are of opinion that  we must at least   express  our indignation. The matter assumes some importance, when unjustified comments and criticisms are made by  persons  holding  exalted  positions.

 

Recently, such a case of unjustified and probably unwarranted comments were  made  against Freemasonry in England. The United Grand Lodge of England promptly reacted and sent representations in vindication and offering to clear any misapprehensions. Ultimately the authority had relented. This instance is a clear pointer to the imperative necessity for Freemasonry to assert itself and repel the attacks against it from without. As the matter is of universal importance to the Freemasons throughout the world, more details of the episode are given hereunder.

 

The Newspaper The Independent published in England carried a report about the views of The Archbishop of Canterbury, who appears to have pronounced  that  Freemasonry is not compatible with Christianity and that the rituals of Freemasonry have Satanic basis and that, he would continue his practice of not appointing Freemasons to sensitive senior posts under his control. The United Grand Lodge of England  reacted  promptly and the Grand Secretary Bro.RA.H. Morrow addressed a letter to the Archbishop on December 2 nd 2002 conveying the feelings of  Millions of  Freemasons. That letter referred to the said newspaper report, which indicated that the Archbishop had

1)      expressed  doubts on the compatibility of Freemasonry with Christianity and that he appeared to believe that elements of the ritual may have  Satanic basis and that he further

2)       appeared  to believe Freemasonry to be both a secret society and a self-serving network and that he had declared

3)      that  he had not in the past appointed to sensitive senior posts candidates, who are Freemasons and he intended to continue that practice.

The Grand Secretary in his letter had stated that Freemasonry had existed in an organised way in England and Wales for nearly three centuries and that during that period hundreds of thousands of committed Christians (clergy and laity) have found no incompatibility between their Christian faith and the principles and practices of Freemasonry, but many had testified that their membership of Freemasonry had strengthened their faith and, in some cases, brought them back into active church membership.

He then urged that the prime and inalienable qualification for admission into Freemasonry is a belief in God and the individual's religion is a matter for his conscience, and Freemasonry had not and will not interfere in or in any way comment on religious matters and that its membership encompasses Christians of all denominations, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, etc, and all of them meet together in harmony, despite that their religions differ on certain matters, but they did not allow those differences to come in between them during Masonic  meetings.

As regards the belief  that  Freemasonry is "Satanically inspired" in its rituals the Grand Secretary had characterized the same as risible (ridiculous) and that such a postulate questions the basis of the faiths of over 300,000 Freemasons under the United Grand Lodge of England, whatever be their religion. He had pointed out that even a small amount of elementary research would have shown how nonsensical that dreadful assertion is, and would have enabled the Archbishop to avoid giving deep and gratuitous offence to so many, who are encouraged in every form of Freemasonry to be true to their God above all other considerations.

As regards the criticism that Freemasonry is a "secret organisation", the Grand Secretary has urged that Freemasonry makes its rules and aims available to the public; publishes annual lists of its national and local leaders together with the dates and places of meeting of all of its units; opens its national headquarters to the general public on a daily basis; maintains national and local web sites on the Internet; gives regular briefings to the media; and provides spokesmen to speak anywhere about its nature and activities and that each Freemason is at perfect liberty to tell whomsoever he pleases that he is a Freemason and that Freemasonry is one of the few organisations to have been specifically declared not to be a secret society. The Grand Secretary has cited that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in July 2001 that (a) Freemasonry was neither a secret, criminal nor an illegal organisation, and (b) that in making appointments or promotions it is illegal to discriminate against a candidate simply because he is a Freemason.

Rebutting the comment that Freemasonry is a self serving network, Grand Secretary had pointed out that on at least six occasions during the process of becoming a Freemason the new member is told that it is contrary to our principles and rules to use his membership to gain any form of advantage for himself or anyone else and that any attempt to do so would result in disciplinary proceedings, with sanctions running from admonition to irrevocable expulsion.

The Grand Secretary had sent two booklets including the booklet “Your Questions Answered” and some leaflets explaining the background to Freemasonry and how it relates to society in general.

An invitation was extended to the Archbishop to meet privately some senior Freemasons to discuss at the true source any doubts he may have, in preference to simply putting his reliance on secondary and unreliable information and further informing him that three immediate former Archbishops had visited the Grand Lodge and had met the brethren at lunch and found it an interesting, stimulating and enjoyable experience. Realising that the Archbishop would be busy at the moment , the Grand Secretary extended an open invitation for such a meeting at least  after  his Enthronement.

 

That exceedingly well written letter of the Grand Secretary was replied by one Sheila Rainger, a Deputy Secretary to the Archbishop on December 18 th. It would be appropriate to consider the full text of the reply, which betrays complete non application of mind and the same runs as  follows.

“On behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, I am writing to thank you for your letter of  2nd December. I apologise for the delay in replying.

The Archbishop expressed his personal views in a private letter and his position is that there are difficulties in reconciling some of the expressions of  belief and practice of Freemasonry with those of Christianity. He recognises, however, that there are a variety of opinions within the Anglican Church.

While his diary does not allow him to accept at present, the Archbishop has noted your kind and open invitation to meet you and your colleagues at a future date.”

The reply not proving satisfactory in that none of the representations of the Grand Secretary had been either considered or adverted to, the Grand Secretary forwarded a terse rejoinder, emphatically asserting that any disqualification for promotion of the clergy, who are Freemasons would be a serious act of discrimination and illegality both under Human Rights and Employment Legislation and that many of the Freemasons have also pointed out the said discrimination and are aggrieved. The Grand Secretary had also enquired, whether it was the intention of the Archbishop to continue such discriminatory practices.

Finally, the Archbishop sent a reply on January 23 rd as follows.

“I have been sorry to learn of the distress of a considerable number of Freemasons. It is true that a great deal of upset and hurt has been caused by the newspaper reports about my purported views on freemasonry. In replying to private correspondence, I had no intention of starting a public debate nor of questioning the good faith and generosity of individual freemasons and I regret the tone and content of the media coverage.

Much of the distress has been due to what amounts to a serious misrepresentation of views I am supposed to hold. The quoted statements about the "satanic" character of masonic ceremonies and other matters did not come from me and do not represent my  judgement. Since my late father was a member of the Craft for many years, I have had every opportunity of observing the probity of individual members.

Where anxieties exist, however, they are in relation not to Freemasonry but to Christian ministry, and. my letter simply reflected a personal unease about Christian ministers subscribing to what could be and often is understood (or misunderstood) as a private system of profession and initiation, involving the taking of oaths of loyalty. Concerns like these have led to a number of debates within the church in recent years and it is clear that there are still widely differing views ? held with sincerity and honesty ? about the compatibility of certain aspects of Freemasonry with Christian belief, ministry and, service.

My statement about resisting the appointment of freemasons to certain posts in Wales needs to be understood against the background of the belief that I  and  the Church had deliberately advanced the cause of Freemasons. In saying that I had resisted the appointment of Freemasons to certain posts I was not suggesting that people had been blackballed, but asserting that I was satisfied that membership of the Craft was neither a disqualifier nor an advantage.

I welcome the manner in which Freemasons have engaged in debate and especially the increasing openness of recent years. Their commitment to charitable causes and the welfare of the wider community is beyond question.”

 

The reply of the Archbishop clearly indicates that the media had misrepresented his views and that the Archbishop does not hold the view that Masonic rituals have satanic basis and that the clergy who are Freemasons would not be discriminated against. There is however one  aspect which requires further clarification. The Archbishop has pointed out that still widely differing views are being held  by  the  Church on  the compatibility of certain aspects of freemasonry with Christian Belief, Ministry and Service and those views are said to be held with sincerity and honesty. The United Grand Lodge of England, The Grand Lodge of Scotland and the Grand Lodge of Ireland may have to in due course obtain audience with the Archbishop and dispel the misconceptions about the incompatibility between Freemasonry and the Christian Belief, Ministry and Service now being entertained by a few in the Church. The earlier it  is done, it would be better for Freemasonry. The present Archbishop has been fair enough to concede that he does not entertain any hostile attitude towards Freemasonry and we believe that, we can persuade him to feel that there is no incompatibility as referred to in his reply. We entertain no doubt that Freemasons throughout the world will be solidly behind the brethren in England in this endeavour and we are also invoking the blessings of the G.A.O.T.U for clearance of all misconceptions about Freemasonry.

 

 

 

The author is the Web master.


Click Here To Post Your Comment

kandade wrote on Sunday, May 4, 2003:

Subject: Antimasonic feelings & utterances

Dear R. W. Bro. Ratnaswamy, I read with great interest your article giving details of the recent dialogue between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the UGL of England. Your suggestion that the UGLE, the GLS and the GLI seeking an audience with the Archbishop is a very welcome suggestion and I, as a freemason hope that this will take place sooner than later. This suggestion may be more fruitful if instead of a private audience with His Holiness, the three Grand Lodges seek an open debate probably with the support of BBC or some such other media, which could be viewed by all the masons of this world. Perhaps on the spot phone in comments from masons as also non masonic Christians could be an added feature of such an open debate. With best regards Fraternally yours Raghu Kandade



revenk wrote on Wednesday, August 27, 2003:

Subject: Antimasons

Very nice article. Recently a mason from Europe visited Coimbatore who was fascinted by a sticker of square and compasses on the windshield of the car of one of our members. It seems that the masons in some of the European countries cannot publicly show themselves as masons! It is time we all took efforts to dispel the feelings of insecurity in others about us! R.Venkatesan PM Lodge Concord # 204 GLI, Coimbatore



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