Saturday, January 08, 2011

Atheists and Freemasonry

In a previous post, "Universal Freemasonry", I wrote about the possibility of an atheist becoming a Freemason. Of course, most American Masons would vehemently disagree with my opinion on the matter. Despite this there exists within the liberal Masonic community a sizable population of atheists. While I do not find this to be objectionable, what I do disagree with is the propensity of these Brethren to use the Craft as a platform to promote a militant form of atheism. A recent example of this involves the Grand Orient of the USA. On their website it is announced that the GOUSA has made its first female initiate, one Margaret Downey. The article draws particular attention to her activities promoting atheism.
According to the GOUSA's website FAQ:
"The GOUSA is not concerned with the religious, metaphysical, or philosophical beliefs of its members. A person’s character, not his/her personal and private theological beliefs, is the primary focus of the GOUSA."
Why then is the GOUSA making such hay of the fact that they have initiated a prominent atheist? If one of the primary tenets of their organization is "freedom of conscience" then the fact that Sister Downey is an atheist should be of no import. In fact, it should not even be mentioned, and certainly not advertised as some sort of accomplishment. Whether they intend to or not, the GOUSA is at the very least giving the appearance that they promote atheism, which is in direct conflict with their own concept of "freedom of conscience".
Too often it seems that liberal Masonic bodies use the concept of "freedom of conscience" to promote a radical anti-religious agenda. This has happened in the past with some of the larger liberal bodies, such as the Grand Orient of France, which has seen its members protest visits of the Pope to France while dressed in full Masonic regalia. Thus I suppose that it should come as no surprise that the GOUSA would follow suit. Nonetheless, just as mainstream American Masonic bodies do not promote any one religion over another even while requiring some sort of religious belief, liberal bodies should certainly not promote an agenda of non-belief, even while lacking a requirement for a belief in deity.
Freedom of conscience should go both ways. If one wishes to be free from religion, then that is perfectly acceptable. However, this does not mean that religion should be frowned upon, and those who wish to practice it should be held in the same regard as those who don't, particularly within a Masonic organization. As I mentioned before, one of the purposes of our Craft is to "cause true friendship to exist among those who might have otherwise remained at a perpetual distance". It is only through truly following the concept of "freedom of conscience" that this can be achieved. So mote it be!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Another New Year...

Here it is, another New Year and another chance to start afresh. In 2010, I was making a pretty good go of it for the first couple of months, but alas, a rash of circumstances caught up with me and curtailed my blogging momentum. Truth is, 2010 was not the greatest year for me, in the Masonic sense. Having returned from Afghanistan, I really wanted to increase my Masonic activity by visiting and possibly becoming active in the local Lodges. Unfortunately, despite my good intentions, I only managed to make one Lodge meeting here in Alaska and one in my home Lodge. I did, however, meet many fine Brethren so I was not utterly without the fellowship of the Craft.
As I begin this my 12th year as a Mason, I am resolving to start anew and truly immerse myself in the Craft. Like a foreign language, the lessons of our Fraternity can dim in our memories without proper practice and use. We need to constantly recharge our batteries through interactions with our Brethren, attendance at Lodge meetings, study and myriad other ways. I am resolving to do these things and more, with greater vigor and enthusiasm. Hopefully, a positive side effect of this will be more inspiration for blogging. At this point, I am not promising anything, but I certainly hope to be more active on the blogging scene this year. So mote it be!