Thursday, June 6, 2013

Florida Lifts Ban on Pagan Masons

Religious discrimination has no place in Masonry. In fact, it seems to me that the entire Masonic system is set up as an institution that allows people of different faiths to interact spiritually without conflicts based on sectarian differences.

Last year, though, the Grand Master of the state of Florida seems to have forgotten this simple principle. Back in November, he issued an edict stating that "Paganism, Wicca, Odinism, and Gnosticism" were not compatible with membership in the fraternity. Fortunately, the rest of the Florida Grand Lodge recently did the right thing and overturned the edict.

Happy to report that, on May 28th, 2013, the Grand Lodge of Florida overturned Ruling and Decision #3 on the advice of their Jurisprudence Committee, and that all Masons affected by said Ruling are now fully restored to membership.

Exactly why this Ruling was made in the first place is a bit beyond me… I’m not a Mind-reader. But, my guess is that the Grand Master wrote it in a fit of pique, without consulting his Jurisprudence Committee (which is certainly his Right, but rarely a smart move). As others on the Net have pointed out, his stated reasoning on this was ENTIRELY out-of-line with Masonic History, its Ideals, and its Laws. A simple chat with his Chairman of Jurisprudence would have set him straight.

In some ways the most bizarre part of this whole story is the inclusion of Gnosticism. Perhaps the original intention was to single out classical Gnostics who follow Demiurge theology, but much of the Masonic approach is related to cultivating direct, personal spiritual realization - that is, Gnosis. There are a number of Pagans and Wiccans in the lodge I belong to up here in Minnesota, and they are just as good Masons as those who belong to more mainstream religions. If you take the universalism out of Masonry, what you're left with seems to me rather sad, and I'm glad to see that the Grand Lodge of Florida has now refused to do so.

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