Sun | Jul 5, 2020

Gordon Robinson | The Church and the Lodge: What’s the difference?

Published:Sunday | December 22, 2019 | 12:00 AM

As we rapidly approach Jesus’ official birthday, Christians are filled with warm sentiments expressed by Herald Angels upon His birth “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14).

Some insert the word ‘all’ so the sentiment is often expressed “peace, goodwill to ALL men”. Clearly, none of these sentiments apply to women for whom a different sankey sings. This was recently confirmed by a Roman Catholic diosese (Grand Rapids, Michigan) when it supported a priest who told Sara Smolenski (Chief Judge, Michigan’s 63rd District Court) that she’d be denied Holy Communion because she was legally married to longtime partner Linda Burpee. The diosese commented, “No community of faith can sustain the public contradiction of its beliefs by its own members.”

You gotta read that again. And again!

Then ask yourself, how does one contradict “belief”? Do all community members act in accordance with every interpretation of every facet of the community’s “faith”? If Sara acts contrary to edict-inspired “belief”, is she the only “sinner” turned away from salvation? Most confusing, is it the “contradiction” or the “public” contradiction that is Sara’s “sin”? If a priest should privately live in a homosexual relationship or secretly abuse young boys, would HE be denied Holy Communion?

Oh, I forget. It’s “peace, goodwill” to all MEN.

This is more proof (if more was needed) that the Church was founded and perpetuated on principles foreign to Christ’s teachings; survives and profits on fear; and is as bigoted, exclusive, and cultist as any Masonic Lodge.

Now, why am I being so unkind to Masonic Lodges? Or churches, depending on your perspective? In his interesting book Musings of a Jamaican Freemason (Volume 1), my friend and colleague, Walter Scott QC, sought to dispel as a myth that Masonic Lodges were cultic institutions with “pernicious influence” over Jamaican society. He relied heavily on a 1997 report by a UK Parliamentary Home Affairs Committee enquiring into influence among freemasonry, the police, and the judiciary. The report called concerns about freemasonry “unjustified paranoia” and declared “preliminary conclusions” about freemasonry’s nature:

- “WHEN THE OATHS ARE READ IN CONTEXT (my emphasis), nothing in the evidence we have heard would show a conflict between the oath taken by a judge or policeman and that taken by a Freemason.”

- “We do not believe that there is anything sinister about freemasonry PROPERLY OBSERVED (again, my emphasis) and are confident that freemasonry itself does not encourage malpractice.”

So what? When Cabinet members’ oaths of office are read in context, there’s no conflict with any other oath nor is there anything inherently sinister or encouraging of malpractice about the practice of politics or government. The same can be said for the Hippocratic Oath. The problem with human beings is that malpractice is pretty much guaranteed. The important difference is that Cabinet members and doctors who may engage in malpractice do so under the scrutiny of public oversight bodies and under the glare of as much transparency as humanity can provide. Freemasons act in total privacy bound by an oath of secrecy stricter than the Mafia’s Omerta.

These spine-tingling oaths, cunningly worded to avoid violating any personal oaths yet swearing absolute allegiance to the fraternity, would appear to be contradictory of the Church’s beliefs. But the contradiction is private. AND LODGE MEMBERSHIP IS RESTRICTED TO MEN. So, according to the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan, it’s all “peace, goodwill”.

MANY CATHOLICS WERE FREEMASONS

Despite these apparent contradictions to Catholic “belief”, in the beginning, many Catholics were Freemasons. In 1731, Francis I of Austria was initiated into freemasonry at a specially convened lodge at the British ambassador’s house in The Hague. Subsequently, he was made a Master Mason at another specially convened lodge on British Prime Minister Robert Walpole’s estate.

Yet, starting with Clement XII in 1738 and up to the promulgation of the first Code of Canon Law (1917), eight popes wrote explicit condemnations of freemasonry. All provided the strictest penalty for freemason membership, namely, automatic excommunication (revoked in 1983). The million-dollar question is: why the “sudden” hostility?

In a word (or two): religious Indifferentism. The Church pretended for a long time that its animosity was due to the Masons’ strong republican views which clashed with a monarchy in which the Church was deeply invested.

On August 10, 2017, Ed Condon, writing in the Catholic Herald, stated:

“What Clement XII described in his original denunciation was not a revolutionary republican society, but a group spreading and enforcing religious indifferentism: the belief that all religions (and none) are of equal worth, and that in Masonry, all are united in service to a higher, unifying understanding of virtue. Catholics, as members, would be asked to put their membership of the lodge above their membership of the Church. The strict prohibition, in other words, was not for political purposes, but for the care of souls.”

For my part, I’d substitute the word ‘control’ for ‘care’. So we see that the hostility was born of competition and an urgency to protect religious “belief”. The Church wasn’t giving up its mind-control monopoly without a fight!

The May 9, 1996 edition of the Arlington Catholic Herald published Fr William Saunders’ review of the Catholic Church’s historical enmity to freemasonry:

“The Catholic Church has difficulties with freemasonry because it’s indeed a kind of religion unto itself. The practice of freemasonry includes temples, altars, a moral code, worship services, vestments, feast days, a hierarchy of leadership, initiation and burial rites, and promises of eternal reward and punishment ...

“The rituals are also inimical to Catholicism. During the initiation rite, the candidate expresses a desire to seek ‘light’, and he’s assured he’ll receive the light of spiritual instruction that he couldn’t receive in another Church and that he’ll gain eternal rest in the ‘celestial lodge’ if he lives and dies according to Masonic principles ...

“A second difficulty with freemasonry for Catholics involves taking of oaths. Only the Church and the State, for serious reasons, can require an oath ...

“On November 26, 1983, with the approval of Pope John Paul II, the Sacred Congregation reiterated the ban on Catholics joining the Masons. Catholics enrolled in masonic associations are involved in serious sin and may not approach Holy Communion.”

‘WOULD JESUS TURN SARA AWAY?’

When you boil the accusations, oaths, and counter-oaths down to gravy, this Church/freemason dichotomy is just (apologies to P.J. Patterson) a fight for scarce benefits and souls carried on by hostile cults that seem to be perpetually at war.

In that context, the correct analysis of Grand Rapids Diocese’s bigoted behaviour is to ask: “Would Jesus turn Sara away?” Or would he say, “Ye without sin cast the first stone?” Didn’t Jesus preach “Love thy neighbour” and “Judge not’? Why the drama over a married lesbian?

In his book, Walter Scott asserts that of recent vintage, one former Jamaican chief justice and four judges (one being a Scottish Freemason) are/were Freemasons. He concludes that this isn’t enough to establish significant influence and asserts that “as the gender balance in the Supreme Court increases in favour of women, it is obvious that the potential for influence declines”. Again, this (inadvertently?) admits that Freemasonry is another bastion of female exclusion.

It’s not just religious cults that seem driven by a manic obsession for male (especially white male) domination. Many organised human endeavours seem based on ancient religious dogma of white male supremacy (Jesus, born in the Mid-East, was made ‘white’ by the Church) espoused and promoted eons ago by insecure antediluvians using fear-mongering. That majority black nations like Jamaica perpetuate these secret societies only confirms the effectiveness of colonial brainwashing that encourages us to ape white, male supremacist values and attitudes.

Old Testament insistence on male supremacy is so powerful that even the most independent of former British colonies, the USA, expresses similar sentiments in its Mission Statement (a.k.a. Declaration of Independence):

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all MEN (my emphasis) are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ... That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among MEN (my emphasis again) ...”

As Hillary Clinton Kamala Harris discovered, and Elizabeth Warren is about to discover, this government thingy ain’t about including women except as submissive, supporting acts.

Also, those same men who crafted that cunningly worded oath (oops, sorry, “Declaration”) kept black men and women as slaves, and their male descendants still treat women and men of colour as inferiors, except where required to satisfy white male needs they can’t (or won’t) self-provide.

So pardon me for skipping all religious ritual this Christmas. My sole oath is sworn to truth. Regarding this much-vaunted Christmas spirit thingy, I’m with Ebenezer. Bah, humbug!

Still, I wish for all human beings wherever or in whatever circumstance …

Peace and love!

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com