Friday, December 21, 2012

Resolution to Revoke Florida's
Ruling and Decision No. 3

The Landmarks are important.

I am very sorry that it has come to this.

In an earlier post, I described the Ruling and Decision No. 3 issued late in November by the MW GM of Florida. This edict essentially bans members of certain minority religions (Pagans generally; Wiccans and Odinists in particular; Gnostics) as well as Agnostics from being Freemasonry. This is a problem for me and many other Florida Masons, because it violates not only the letter of Florida Masonic law (Regulation 31.16, to be precise), but also the longstanding Landmark of Craft Freemasonry under which Masons simply do not inquire into the specifics of the particular religion of a candidate or a brother Mason. What matters is whether or not he believes in God; beyond that, we do not, as Masons, have requirements or conduct inquiry. This practice is foundational for establishing the atmosphere of religious toleration that is part and parcel of regular Freemasonry in North America and Great Britain.

Over the two weeks since I posted my detailed objections to the Ruling and Decision No. 3 on December 7, I have received a great deal of support for the idea of revoking R&D3—private comments by e-mail, largely—but no word has emerged from the Grand Lodge of Florida regarding changing this policy. Consequently, as a matter of conscience, I must take things to the next level.

Below, I give the text of a Resolution that I will present to the Grand Lodge, for a vote of the Craft at the next meeting of Grand Lodge (scheduled, I believe, in late May 2013).

Any Master Mason with membership within the Grand Lodge of Florida, F&AM, may co-sign this Resolution. Eligible brethren who wish to do so should do the following:

  1. On a piece of paper, please write or type the words, “I co-sponsor this Resolution.”
  2. Sign your full name in ink. (Only statements with original signatures are acceptable to Grand Lodge.)
  3. Print or type your name, your Lodge’s name, and your Lodge’s number. (If you are a WM, PM, or hold another Craft Masonry office, you may indicate that status after your name.)
  4. Send your signed statement to the following address:
                        Mark Koltko-Rivera
                        PO Box 20223
                        New York, NY 10023

I must receive co-sponsor's original signed statements—which will be submitted to Grand Lodge with the Resolution—by Thursday, December 27, 2012. (Grand Lodge must receive everything from me by Dec. 31st.) If a signed statement is mailed to me from a Florida Post Office even as late as Monday December 24th by 12 noon, via regular mail, it is likely to reach me in time.

UPDATE (Fri. 12/28/12): Florida Masons who wish to co-sign at this late date may do so by printing out the resolution itself (only the resolution itself!), signing it in ink, printing their names, lodges, and title (for example, "WM John Smith," or "William Jones, PDDGM"), and sending it on Saturday December 29th from a Florida Post Office to:

     MW Richard E. Lynn, PGM
     Grand Secretary
     The MW Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons
          of the State of Florida
     PO Box 1020
     Jacksonville, FL 32201-1020
    

I hope to receive signed statements from many eligible co-signers.
 

RESOLUTION FOR REVOCATION OF RULING AND DECISION NO. 3

WHEREAS, “The Grand Lodge … is … the supreme head and authority of Ancient Craft Masonry in this jurisdiction” (Constitution, Article V, Section 1), and,

WHEREAS, “The Constitution and Regulations of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida as set forth and contained in this Digest [that is, the Digest of Masonic Law of Florida F. & A. M.] … with the amendments, changes, alterations and additions thereto which may hereafter be made by jurisdiction of Grand Lodge, are declared to be the supreme Masonic Law of this Grand Jurisdiction” (Regulation 1.01), and,

WHEREAS, the Most Worshipful Grand Master is delimited in his power, in that he “may do, order and direct all matters and things which in his wisdom and judgment may tend to the prosperity of the Craft, not in violation of this Constitution and the Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry” (Constitution, Article VI, Section 6, emphasis added), and that fraternal matters “shall be subject to supervision, direction, and control of the Grand Master, subject to provisions of the Landmarks of Freemasonry and the Constitutions and Regulations of the Grand Lodge” (Constitution Article I, Section 7, emphasis added), and,

WHEREAS, the Most Worshipful Grand Master is delimited in his power in relation to the issuance of Edicts, given that “issuance of Edicts, Proclamations, Executive Orders, and Dispensations and all such Fraternal matters … shall be under exclusive control and direction of the Grand Master,” but said issuance is explicitly “subject to the provisions of the Constitution and Regulations of the Grand Lodge” (Constitution, Article I, Section 8, emphasis added), and,

WHEREAS, the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Freemasons in Florida, Jorge L. Aladro, did issue on or about November 28, 2012 the Ruling and Decision No. 3, and,

WHEREAS, the Ruling and Decision No. 3 states that, in relation to “Paganism, Wiccan [sic] and Odinism, and … Agnosticism and Gnosticism,” that “none of the above mentioned beliefs and practices are compatible with Freemasonry since they do not believe or practice one or more of the prerequisites to be a candidate for Masonry”; and,

WHEREAS, the Ruling and Decision No. 3 stipulates that “any member of the Craft that professes to be a member of one of the groups mentioned above shall tender his resignation or suffer himself to a Trial Commission whose final outcome will be expulsion”; and,

WHEREAS, Florida Masonic Law clearly stipulates that “Belief in God is the only religious prerequisite of a candidate for initiation into Masonry, but a Mason is bound by his tenure to obey the moral law” (Regulation 31.16, emphasis added); and,

WHEREAS, Pagans, Wiccans, Odinists, Gnostics, and even many so-called Agnostics in fact believe in God, and all of these groups recognize a moral law; and,

WHEREAS the Ruling and Decision No. 3 violates Regulation 31.16 by making further religious prerequisites of a candidate beyond the stipulations of Regulation 31.16, and

WHEREAS the Ruling and Decision No. 3 violates a Landmark of Freemasonry by inquiring into the specifics of a candidate’s or a Mason’s particular religion,  

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

1.      that Ruling and Decision No. 3 be, and be declared, hereby revoked, rescinded, repealed, and of no force and effect; and,

2.      that all Masonic Trial Commissions currently in progress pursuant to Ruling and Decision No. 3 be immediately and forthwith dissolved; and,

3.      that all those who were expelled from Freemasonry by Masonic Trial Commissions pursuant to Ruling and Decision No. 3 are hereby and herewith restored to the rights, benefits, and privileges of Freemasonry, subject to the unanimous consent of each such individual’s respective Lodge, as in cases of a ballot for membership, per our Constitution (Constitution Article V, Section 3), but without need for the Lodge to convene an Investigation Committee, or conduct a criminal background investigation, or require payment of any fees but dues; and,

4.      that all those who resigned from Freemasonry pursuant to Ruling and Decision No. 3 be permitted without prejudice to petition for readmission to their respective Lodges, subject to the unanimous consent of each such individual’s respective Lodge, as in cases of a ballot for membership, but without need for the Lodge to convene an Investigation Committee, or conduct a criminal background investigation, or require payment of any fees but dues; and,

5.      that Florida Masonry hereby declares its eternal devotion to the religious toleration that is one of the immoveable and Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry, never to be changed by any man or group of men.

Respectfully submitted,

(signature)

Bro. Mark E. Koltko-Rivera, M\M\ Winter Park Masonic Lodge No. 239 F. & A. M.

- - -

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I discuss the basics of Freemasonry in my book, Freemasonry: An Introduction, published by Tarcher/Penguin. (Described here, available here.)

Mark Koltko-Rivera on Twitter: @MarkKoltkoRiver .

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http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mark-Koltko-Rivera-Writer/13487584827


[The image shows a landmark or boundary stone in Popadia, within Gorgany, on the pre-World War II border between Poland and Czechoslovakia. It is a photo taken by Tomasz Kuran (a.k.a. Meteor017) on August 16, 2006. It was obtained from Wikimedia Commons, and appears here under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.]

(Copyright 2012 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.)

23 comments:

  1. Well done, Bro. Mark. Not being a member under the Grand Lodge of Florida, I cannot assist beyond being supportive, but that I am in spades.

    Frat. Eoghan Ballard ஃ

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would remove "WHEREAS, Pagans, Wiccans, Odinists, Gnostics, and even many so-called Agnostics in fact believe in God, and all of these groups recognize a moral law;" from the resolution. It allows opponents to get into a theological argument. This is not an issue of theology, but one of personal faith. Can one be a Wiccan and believe in God? Of course. Can one be a Methodist and be agnostic? Absolutely. The tenants of any organized religion are immaterial. We are Freemasons, not theologists.

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  3. @E. C. Ballard and Eric D.: Thank you both very much for commenting.

    @Eric D.: You are certainly correct that Masons are not theologians, and that the specific tenets of any specific religion are immaterial when it comes to determining a candidate's fitness for Masonry. However, it is important to keep that one Whereas clause to which you object; it is the heart of the Resolution.

    The one religious or theological question that is permitted, even mandated, regarding a candidate for Freemasonry is, does this man believe in God? The MWGM of FL is taking the position that membership in any of the groups he's mentioned violates some regulation or Landmark of Freemasonry. In Florida Masonic Law, the only permitted religious requirement is belief in God. By making the statement in the resolution that people in each of these groups actually believe in God, we knock the props right out from under the Ruling and Directive No. 3.

    My sense of it is that you are actually speaking to a different issue, which I would phrase this way: "What the heck is a GM doing, focusing on a candidate's particular religion, when for centuries one of the proud claims of Freemasonry is that it does not consider the specifics of a candidate's particular religion?" Good question, indeed! In fact, no Mason, of whatever office, or Masonic organization within Craft Masonry as practiced in North America or Britain should pay the slightest attention to the specifics of a candidate's particular religion. Period. End of story.

    To do anything else is to endanger the integrity of Freemasonry.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very well written, thanks Mark for the link. I'm always amused that people think Paganism is a minority religion when in fact the (Christian) Church molded much of Christianity around Paganism in order to make conversions easier. Not to get theological on you, but technically we are all Pagans. The AODA (Druid Order) used to have a requirement that their members first be masons. I bet Bro John Michael Greer, the current Arch Druid, would love to know about this if he doesn't already. I am surprised to know this is happening in Florida, I would expect something like this more likely in my own backyard, NC, where freedom of religion is translated into "freedom to choose a Christian denomination". As Bro Ballard implied, it's a shame we can't support your decision by signing the petition. Good luck. I'll post this in a couple places to try to get more Florida brethren aware of this matter.

    Kyle Kissmann

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  5. My copy of the Florida Digest says only a belief in God is required, and we must obey the Moral Law. A Mason can not be a Communist as Communists have no faith in God. Quote from the Florida Digest:
    RELIGIOUS BELIEF

    Constitutional Provisions

    The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida hereby recognizes, as being Landmarks of Freemasonry, the following:

    (A) A belief in the existence of one ever living and true God.
    (B) A belief in the immortality of the human soul and a resurrection thereof to a Future Life. (Excerpt Art. XIII, Sec. 2).

    Regulations

    31.16 Belief in God is the only religious prerequisite of a candidate for initiation into Masonry, but a Mason is bound by his tenure to obey the moral law.

    257 1976

    31.17 Digest of Masonic Law Chap. 31

    31.17 Since Communism does not have faith in Deity and is contrary to all the principles and purposes of Freemasonry, it is unlawful for any Lodge in this Grand Jurisdiction to accept the petition for or confer any of the Degrees of Freemasonry upon a Communist or upon anyone actively supporting the purposes thereof.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where did you ever get the idea that a Communist has no faith in God? That is completely made up! You can't make assumptions about someone's religious beliefs based on their POLITICAL beliefs. Why stop at Communists? You can just make things up about every political persuasion while you're at it.

      How would you even know if a Mason is a Communist? Are you quizzing candidates and Masons about their political beliefs? You know better than that!

      Delete
  6. I understand, I guess the question for me is that the tenets of a religion have nothing to do with the faith of the adherent. For example, I know of a sect of pagan Hebrews. They worship YHVH, but they also worship Ashterah, and several other deities. In discussions with some of their adherents I found their religion, somewhat bizarre. But if I were to ask one of them, do they believe in God, they would answer "of course." The contents of a holy book are not necessarily the contents of a man's heart.

    Having arguments about what others believe is pointless. There is only one way to determine whether a man believes in God or not, and that is to ask him. Whether Odinists or Wiccans profess belief in a deity is immaterial.

    Put it another more mainstream way. There is a sect of Jews called Reconstructionists. Reconstructionists beleive that Jews follow Torah not becasue God commands them to, but because they regard Judaism as a civilization and doing the practice of Judaism is how they express Jewish culture. They keep Kosher, they celebrate holidays, they go to synagogue and put on a tallit and pray. But many of them are atheists. I also know many fine Masons who believe in God but have no orthodoxy or orthopraxy that they adhere to. One's religion and one's belief in God are two completely separate questions. And they should ever remain separate.

    If someone wants to believe that God lives in a tree outside in his back yard, that is perfectly fine for the purposes of the Craft. As long as he has the belief. It should not be up to a bunch of Christians, or Jews or Muslims or whomever to say that this religion or that religion is OK or not. To do so elevates that religion above another. We have enough of that as it is.

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  7. How does one arrive at the opinion that a political opinion equated to atheism? Communists don't believe in God? Hmm, I have never heard that, nor do I agree with it even remotely.

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  8. I agree with you totally Mark. Living in a state where the majority religion was not allowed to be Mason's until 1984, I have a problem seeing the same ugly head come up again in another state. Good work!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Being an Indiana Mason, I, of course an unable to cosign this Resolution... but, in our Yearly Grand Lodge Communication this week, I am proud to say that the Grand Lodge of Indiana, on unanimous vote, agreed to send a strongly-worded letter to the Grand Lodge of Florida, warning that, as R.& D. #3 is in open Violation of their own Digest; contrary to the Landmarks of Masonry; and an attempt to promulgate an Innovation on the Body of the Craft, Indiana is ready, willing, and able to de-recognize the Grand Lodge of Florida, thereby revoking its Regularity as pertains to Indiana if this horrible Decision is allowed to Stand.

    It's sad to have to threaten this "Nuclear Option", seeing as Indiana has many 'snow-birds' that overwinter in Florida are active in Florida Lodges... likewise, Indiana has always happily greeted visitors from Florida.

    But Grand Master Aladro's R.&D. #3 is so egregiously harmful to the Craft, and so disdainful to the Craft's Laws, Rules and Regulations, and has furthermore cast Freemasonry into disrepute, that is the only option that the Grand Lodge of Indiana can take.

    My guess is that MANY, if not most Grand Lodges have, or will soon, send like minded letters to the Grand Lodge of Florida.

    F&S,
    C.A. Roscher, PM

    ReplyDelete
  10. W.'. Roscher, thank you for your comment, which I will feel free to publicize elsewhere on the 'net.

    I must say that I am delighted to see this position being taken by the GL of Indiana. It is something that every Florida Mason should be told about. (And now I am going to try to do just that.)

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  11. News Updatee from the Grand Lodge of Fl.

    The resolution to revoke R&D 3 has passed!

    To clarify the R&D is no longer in force

    ReplyDelete
  12. Brother Mark - Can you confirm if R&D #3 has been rescinded? It was posted on the Masonic Landmark Restoration Community on Facebook that it was.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Brethren and friends, I have received reports from multiple individuals through several different channels, informing me that the Resolution passed, and that R&D 3 is no longer in effect in Florida. As I get more confirmed details, I shall share them on this blog.

    Wow.

    My deepest gratitude goes to my co-sponsors, and the brave brethren of Florida, and all brethren and friends everywhere who publicized this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dave, Boston, MAMay 28, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      Brother Mark:

      I'm confused by your use of the word "resolution." When I hear that word, it makes me think of something non-binding...essentially, a consensus among the majority that "this is what we want," but it doesn't actually make it so. By the definition I'm thinking of, R&D 3 would still be in effect, a resolution has merely been passed ASKING for it to be rescinded, but it's still up to the Grand Master to make it so, according to his own wishes.

      I hate to ask what may be a stupid question, but can you confirm or deny in the clearest language possible: is R&D 3 still in effect? Are those who follow certain minority religions still barred from being Masons within the jurisdiction of Florida, or not?

      Delete
    2. Not a stupid question at all. Three points:

      1. The language of the Resolution, above, is not a request, but rather a declaration that R and D 3 is null, void, etc. A Resolution has the force of Masonic law in Florida; it is not merely advisory.

      2. I am relying on reports from others, as I am in NYC. However, my reports are unequivocal: R and D 3 is revoked, and no longer in effect, in Florida, as of today.

      3. None of the minority religion barred from Masonry by R and D 3 are now so barred.

      Thank you for your expression of the desire for complete clarity, something that is dear to my heart. Be well, Dave in Boston.

      Delete
    3. Dave, Boston, MAMay 28, 2013 at 4:28 PM

      Thanks! This is a happy day!

      Delete
  14. I only wish I were in Florida to co-sign this. But you have my full support from Kansas.

    Bro. Duane Marshall

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    Replies
    1. I believe that support changes the reality, as it were. And, this morning, the Ruling and Decision No. 3 was indeed revoked. Thank you for your support!

      Delete
  15. Brother Mark! You really had an impact, and a very positive one. I always thougt the GM ruling is a disgrace for the whole craft. I applaud you for your work! frats Rolf Keil, PM Lodge Lessing #769 , Frankfurt/ UGLsGermany

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    Replies
    1. Brother Keil, You are far too kind. Thank you for your kind words.

      Delete
  16. This is very interesting. However, "Agnostics" generally are defined as someone who does not know (as opposed to an athiest who does not believe in a God or Supreme Being). If anyone claims to be an "agnostic" (not knowing if there is a God) it seems to exclude then that same person could also believe in a God or Supreme Being. Perhaps, if one splits hairs and says well agnostics do not know, but still hold a belief, but I believe this to be too weak. Agnostics should not be admitted. As for all other religious or spiritual beliefs I suppose these do qualify. Anyhow, what did they mean by "pagans" - so Native Americans for example may believe in the "Great Spirit" but this is not Biblical. Pagan refers basically to any indigenous people or Western belief before Christianity. This arguably would even exclude Ben Franklin and many others who were "Deists" (not believers in Abrahamic or Christian God concepts but believed in a Creator / Divine Providence nonetheless).

    ReplyDelete

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