Lutherans Informed about Lodges (LIL)
December 7, 2004
Masonic "Satan Symbols" Split African Presbyterian Church Down Middle
One of the symbols at the St Andrews PCEA Church, in Nairobi. Church elders want them destroyed for alleged links to devil worship.
A dispute over Freemasonry has split one of Kenya's largest churches, the PCEA, leading to the removal of priceless historical fittings from its prayer houses.
Two factions are locked in an expensive and potentially destructive wrangle over symbols and artefacts used in the Presbyterian Church of East Africa for many years, but which critics are now linking to Freemasonry and demanding they be destroyed.
The row found vent in a newspaper advertisement, last week, signed by four of the church's biggest names - including the Moderator, Rev Dr David Githii - which argued that one could not be a Christian and a Freemason at the same time.
At least 30 stained glass windows and metal grilles more than a century old have previously been removed from St Andrews Church - the main seat of the PCEA - and destroyed by supporters of one faction, who claim the designs are similar to symbols used by Freemasons, said by their critics to worship an alien God and to hold un-Christian principles.
Police have had to intervene at least once to quell confrontations between the two factions at St Andrews, which counts among its members prominent Kenyan businessmen and politicians.
The current crop of PCEA leaders have, however, vowed to destroy all "satanic and devil worship symbols" from all churches and plan to send a demolition squad to all sanctuaries built by Scottish missionaries at the beginning of the last century.
Targeted are the Church of the Torch at Kikuyu, PCEA Tumutumu Church and PCEA Chogoria in Meru South.
The anti-Freemason faction has also declared that architects hired to build PCEA churches and its institutions will be vetted to ensure that they do not include un-Christian symbols in the buildings.
"One cannot be a Christian and at the same time a member of Freemasonry," Rev David Githii told the Press after the church's Nairobi region meeting at St Andrews Church, recently. "We don't worship the same God the Freemasons worship."
More than 100 delegates drawn from the seven presbyteries attended the meeting, including those from Milimani, Ngong, Pwani, Nairobi and Tanzania mission.
At the heart of the dispute are the heritage and traditions of Scottish missionaries, who established the PCEA, originally known as the Church of Scotland Mission.
Their defenders say the targeted symbols and designs have been in the PCEA churches for more than a century and were simple Scottish internal decor engravings and patterns on stained glass windows with links to Freemasonry but not necessarily satanic.
Others pushing for the destruction of "satanic or devil worship" symbols are the moderator of St Andrews, Rev Dr George Wanjau, PCEA secretary General Samuel Muriguh and Dr Eustace Kabue, who chaired a task force on Use of Symbols in Worship and Faith Practices.
On the opposite side are personalities such as Rev Dr Timothy Njoya, Mr Fred Mbiru, a retired banker and elder at St Andrews Church and scores of other parishioners.
Among the symbols already removed from the church are a compass and square on the grilles at the entrance to the church, Masonic coffins on the church's 30 windows and celestial globes on stairs leading to the main sanctuary. Also destroyed were plaques on pews dedicated to members of the congregation, including those of the family of former nominated MP Eliud Mahihu.
Dr Wanjau and the clerk of the Kirk Session, engineer James Mureithi yesterday told the Nation that there were other symbols yet to be be destroyed, among them the spiral on the old church at St Andrews, made up of a spear on top of a hut.
Dr Githii said freemasonry and Christianity were incompatible. "Freemasonry, which itself is a religion, is not at all compatible with Christianity," he declared. "These symbols and artifacts must be removed and destroyed. They are anti-Christ."
But church elder Fred Mbiru, writing to Dr Wanjau, has taken issue with destruction of parts of church, saying, they were not in accordance with the Practice and Procedures Manual of the PCEA .
"St Andrew's congregation has no track and no relationship with Freemasonry" Mr Mbiru said." It is a Christian congregation and any symbols in the sanctuary all depicts Christianity down the ages."
Mr Mbiru described as "a big perversion to great work done all these years" the removal of church symbols adding:
"Inability to appreciate such Christian religious art should not be inflicted on the congregation."
The destruction of the symbols was reported to the Kilimani police station, but the police backed off when they were told it was a spiritual matter.
Targeted by the "reformists" are St Andrews altar and pulpit and the baptismal font
A demolition squad will be sent to the PCEA's oldest church, the Church of the Torch, in Thogoto, in Kikuyu, on December 19.
July 11, 2004
Boston Lodges Revitalized
By Claudia Torrens / News Staff Writer, Daily News Tribune
Ilton Santos first heard about Freemasons in Brazil.
He worked with them in the air force and a bank in the city of Brasilia. Many of his friends had joined the fraternal organization, he said. But what made him become one happened in 1991, after his arrival in the United States.
Somebody saw his daughter, who had no right hand, at a Marlborough elementary school playground, he said. Months later, the girl was treated at Shriners Hospital in Boston and received a $50,000 prosthetic hand.
"I still don't know who did it, but I knew that person was a Mason," said Santos, who had heard the Shriners are affiliated with the Masons. "That day, I decided to become one."
Santos is one of the more than 20 Brazilians who have joined the Middlesex Lodge, a Framingham Masonic Hall, in the last four years. Their presence is injecting new blood into the old brotherhood, making it become more active and diverse, according to its members.
The same is happening in towns like Ashland, where the membership of the North Star Lodge has doubled during the last three years because of its new Brazilian "brothers."
"In the past, it was hard to increase our membership," said Edward Sawyer, who will become the master of the Middlesex Lodge in September. "But now is different. The number of members has been increasing steadily since 1999 or 2000 and that's in part because of the flow of Brazilians joining us."
While some Brazilians were already Masons in their home countries, the majority of newcomers become Masons here, after a few years of settling in.
For Fernando Castro, a Brazilian business owner and master of the North Star Lodge in Ashland, the reason to become a Mason is access.
"Here, friends invite friends to become members. We do many activities and everyone knows about us by word of mouth," said Castro, who lives in Ashland and works in Framingham. "In Brazil, there is a tighter environment."
Founded in England more than 500 years ago, the brotherhood of Masons has extended around the world.
While for some it is still hard to explain what Freemasonry is because of its clandestine character, the official Freemasonry book describes it as "the oldest and largest fraternal order in the world and an organization revered for centuries."
Brazilians in MetroWest describe more of a fraternal organization that promotes honesty, love and charity.
Framingham Middlesex Lodge, founded in 1795 by Paul Revere, is one of the oldest in MetroWest.
In the United States, there is a lodge that oversees and has jurisdiction over all other lodges in the state. The grand lodge in Boston, for example, has jurisdiction over all lodges in Massachusetts, including the Middlesex, Alpha and Perfection lodges in Framingham, as well as the ones in Marlborough, Milford, Westborough and other MetroWest towns. There are 310 lodges in the state, with more than 45,000 members.
In Brazil, the first evidence of Masonic tradition came with French travelers in Rio de Janeiro at the end of the 18th century. Today, more than 700 lodges with more than 1 million affiliated members hold regular meetings all over Brazil.
"People have the notion that Masons are against the (Roman Catholic) church, that we are a kind of weird organization against Christians," said Santos, in a downtown Framingham cafe. "But you must believe in God to be a Mason, and you must respect all religions."
According to Santos, applicants to the group also need to have good moral standards, be willing to help their community and be able to sustain their families.
"I am very proud of being a Mason," said Santos. "I regret not having become one many years ago."
According to several Brazilian lodge members, the rules and practices that run the organization are the same in Brazil as in the United States.
They meet once a month to talk about fund-raising activities and new or old membership, but they also socialize and talk about themselves, creating the brotherly bonds for which they are famous.
For Carlos Eduardo Ferreira, another Brazilian member of the Middlesex Lodge, that is what to be a Mason is all about.
When you are a foreigner and you come to this country, you have to be trained again for everything," said Ferreira. "You are starting all over again, it's a new life, and if you belong to a group with people similar to you or with the same background, you find the support you need to keep moving on."
Ferreira, who said he decided to join the lodge to do some good for his community, said he was an engineer in Brazil, but had to do all kind of jobs when he arrived in America.
It is hard, but the chance to be a Mason helped me become a better person in every way," said Ferreira.
He liked it so much that he invited his two brothers and his father to join. Now, the four of them attend meetings.
Ferreira, as well as Castro, Santos and Sawyer, talks with passion about the fund-raising activities the lodges perform. That includes help for Shriners Hospital, local schools and children in need.
The money is raised through efforts like the Masonic Angel Fund or the fund each lodge independently maintains. Members donate blood to the Red Cross in Massachusetts every year and run the Child Identification Program.
That's why if somebody tells them they are weird, they know exactly what to do.
"I invite them to know more about us. Then they realize what we really do," said Santos.
The Brazilian is a junior warden at the lodge and will become the master in two years.
March 14, 2004
Masonic leader suspends lodge where member died in shooting
From: www.newsday.com, http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/ny-bc-ny--masonsshooting0314mar14,0,4931677,print.story
By FRANK ELTMAN
Associated Press Writer
March 14, 2004, 11:45 AM EST
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- Six days after a man was fatally shot during a ceremony at a Long Island Masonic lodge, the organization's state leader said Sunday a panel of lawyers will investigate social clubs that operate in lodges like the one where the shooting took place.
The 170 members of South Side Lodge 493 in Patchogue _ the site of the shooting _ also have been suspended pending the outcome of the probe, Carl Fitje, state grand master of the Free and Accepted Masons told 750 members and their families at a breakfast in Great Neck on Sunday morning.
"We are deeply anguished and outraged because a fellow Mason has died in an incident that never should have happened," Fitje said, reading from a letter that will be sent to the state's 67,000 members.
William James, 47, of Medford, N.Y., was fatally shot participating in an initiation ceremony into a social club called Fellow Craft in the basement of the Patchogue lodge last Monday night.
Police say Albert Eid, a 76-year-old retiree and longtime member of the club, mistakenly pulled a loaded .32-caliber handgun from his left pants pocket instead of a .22-caliber pistol with blanks that was in his right pocket.
Police have called the shooting "completely accidental," but charged Eid with second-degree manslaughter. He is free on $2,500 bail.
Detectives say James was seated in a chair and a small platform with cans on top was placed near his head. Eid was standing approximately 20 feet away holding a gun. A third member out of James' view held a stick, and when the gun was fired the man with the stick was supposed to knock the cans off the platform to make the inductee think that real bullets were fired.
Eid, who was said by police to be "quite stunned and ... distraught" after the shooting, has not said publicly why he brought a loaded weapon to the ceremony.
Since the shooting, the Masons have taken pains to say that the social club initiation was not sanctioned or part of any official Masonic rite. Part of the confusion is that the social club used the name Fellow Craft, which also is the second of three levels of entry into the Masons organization: apprentice, fellow craft and master Mason.
In his letter, Fitje said, "No Mason can engage in or participate in any ritual that varies from the ritual approved under Grand Lodge law. ... firearms do not, and never have, played any role in any Masonic ritual in the state of New York."
Robert Leonard, a spokesman for the Masons, noted that each of the state's approximately 660 lodges runs independently and is owned locally.
He said the in-house investigation by six attorneys _ all of whom are Masons _ will try to determine the scope of activities of social clubs that make use of Masonic facilities. Leonard conceded that social clubs are prevalent, but could not precisely say how many were operating statewide.
The members of the Patchogue lodge will not be permitted to participate in meetings or any other sanctioned Masonic activities during the probe, which is expected to take 30-60 days.
There was no telephone listing for the Patchogue lodge.
Fitje also announced he has personally contacted James's widow and said a fund would be established on behalf of his family.
January 20, 2004
Plea to Ombudsman over Freemasons
From: The Western Mail, IC Wales--The National Website of Wales
AN MP is urging Wales to follow England's lead on a ruling over Freemasonry.
Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Jackie Lawrence wants Freemasons to be forced to declare their membership when they become councillors.
Her call follows a ruling by the Local Government Standards Board in England, that membership of the Freemasons must be declared under the Councillors' Code of Conduct. Mrs Lawrence, who has long campaigned on the issue, has written to the Local Government Ombudsman in Wales urging him to implement similar guidance.
"Government at every level needs to be open and transparent. That is why councillors, AMs and MPs have to declare their interests when they take office," she said.
"It seems a major anomaly that membership of a secret society like the Freemasons should to date have been ignored as a potential interest.
"This ruling in England makes declaration obligatory. It is a significant step in making local government wholly transparent."
Under the Code of Conduct in England, councillors must declare membership of charities - and part of the subscription fees to lodges go to the Freemasons' Grand Charity.
October 21, 2003
Masons Must Choose Lodge or Church: Synod
From: The Sydney Morning Herald
By Malcolm Brown
The Sydney Anglican Synod has called on all Christian members of Masonic lodges to withdraw their membership and for church facilities not to be used for activities linked with Freemasonry.
The motion, passed yesterday, also "requests that councils of all Anglican schools . . . consider any association that their school may have with any Masonic lodge, and to withdraw from any such association".
The King's School, Shore and Trinity were specifically mentioned during the debate.
The motion was put by Reverend Bill Winthrop, Rector of St Paul's Church, Lithgow, whose parish council last December passed a motion calling on Freemasons and members of the Order of the Eastern Star to choose between those movements and continuing membership of the congregation.
Mr. Winthrop said yesterday that though the synod had passed a motion in 1988 condemning Freemasonry as leading people away from God, it was not cast in strong enough terms and it was now up to the synod to pass an unequivocal motion stating its position.
He said it was especially important as the United Grand Lodge of Sydney and the ACT was on a membership drive and it was up to the Anglican church, which itself had embarked on a long-term campaign to boost church membership, to counter this.
The motion said that Freemasonry and Christianity were "fundamentally and irreconcilability incompatible" and that Freemasonry "teaches and upholds a system of false religious and spiritual beliefs that are contrary to biblical Christianity".
Speakers for the motion held the floor, including Reverend John Davies, from Northbridge, who said that in the Royal Lodge the secret name of God as revealed was in fact a combination of the biblical name and the names of several "ancient, pagan gods".
Another speaker drew parallels between Freemasonry and witchcraft.
Sandy Bennet, from the parish of Kurrajong, put an amendment - "synod encourages ministers and other Christians to reach out in love to all Freemasons to share with them the Gospel of Christ" - which was adopted in the motion.
George Curry, former Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Sydney and the ACT, said last night that the lodge would have to study the text of the motion before it responded.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2003
"32° Masons" to Replace "Scottish Rite"
The Supreme Council of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the AASR held its annual session in St. Louis this past week. The term "Scottish Rite Masons" is falling out of favor, to be replaced by "32° Masons" on all publications, etc. to make the Rite more easily identifiable to the public.
AUGUST 5, 2003
MASONIC VIDEO DEBUTS AT COUNTY FAIR
RICHMOND - "The Next Great Mason," a 15-minute video produced by the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island Free and Accepted Masons, will be shown to the public for the first time at the Washington County Fair.
This new video, which provides an introduction to the fraternal organization, will be shown continuously at the Rhode Island Freemasons' Child Identification Program (CHIPs) tent at the fair on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 14 and 15.
The video briefly traces the history of Freemasonry from its origins in ancient times through its development in the Middle Ages as a craft guild for builders of Europe's cathedrals to its evolution as a social organization. The focus of the video is the philosophy of Freemasonry and its goal of offering men of all faiths the opportunity to join in comradeship and to work together for charitable purposes. Also included is a brief introduction to other Masonic organizations including the Order of the Eastern Star for men and women, the Order of the Rainbow for young women, and the Order of DeMolay for young men.
The video describes Freemasonry's role in the American Revolution and Rhode Island's rich Masonic heritage that began in 1749 with the establishment of St. John's Lodge in Newport.
"Our goal is to provide the public with a comprehensive picture of Freemasonry's roots, its goals and its successes, such as our work through the Shrine Burn Centers and Orthopedic Hospitals, the Centers for Learning Disabilities through the Scottish Rite organization" said Joseph B. Brearley, Grand Master of Masons for the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
The video has been distributed to Masonic Lodges throughout the state and to some public libraries. Individuals or organizations who would like to view the video can receive a copy on loan from the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island Free and Accepted Masons, 222 Taunton Ave., East Providence, RI 02914-4556, (401) 435-4650, FAX (401) 435-4423, Web site www.rimasons.org.
May 20, 2003
Pataki Declines to Join the Masons
Gov. George Pataki has decided against joining the Masons because
of the Roman Catholic Church's long-standing objection to the world's oldest and
largest secret society, a spokeswoman said Monday.
Pataki, who is a Catholic, was asked to join last September, but passed on the offer. "In deference to his church, the invitation was respectfully declined," said Pataki spokeswoman, Lisa Dewald Stoll.
In an open letter published on the New York Mason's Web site, Grand Master Carl Fitje wrote that Pataki had accepted his offer to become a Master Mason. The induction was to take place at a June ceremony at the Grand Lodge in Manhattan.
Fitje praised Pataki for his leadership after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center by activating the National Guard to protect vulnerable areas like airports, bridges, tunnels and waterways. "He was instrumental in helping to restore calm and committing the total resources of New York state to New York City," Fitje wrote.
Stoll said Pataki was offered an invitation to join, but upon further review, declined the offer.
There was no immediate comment from the Masons Monday. The story was first reported by the New York Post.
Church officials historically have objected to an attitude among Masons regarded as anti-clerical. Pope Clement XII first expressed the church's opposition to them in a 1738 declaration.
More properly known as Freemasons, members of the secret fraternal societies guided by national Grand Lodges have a membership estimated at about 6 million worldwide. The principles of Freemasonry are brotherliness, charity and mutual aid.
April 20, 2003
of Canterbury apologizes to
By Chris Hastings and Elizabeth Day
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has been forced to apologize to Britain's 330,000 Freemasons after he said that their beliefs were incompatible with Christianity and that he had rejected them from senior posts in his diocese.
Dr Williams has written to Robert Morrow, the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, in an attempt to defuse the row prompted by comments he made last year. In his letter, the Archbishop apologizes for the "distress" he caused and discloses that his own father was a member of the Craft.
Freemasons, many of whom are active members of the Church of England, reacted angrily to his disclosure that he "had real misgivings about the compatibility of Masonry and Christian profession" and by his admission that, as Bishop of Monmouth, he had blocked the appointment of Freemasons to senior appointments.
His comments about Freemasons were in a private letter leaked to the media shortly after Downing Street confirmed his appointment as head of the Church of England.
Subsequent attempts by his advisers to defuse the row only caused further offence. A spokesman said the Archbishop was worried about the ritual element of Freemasonry, which has been seen as "satanically inspired".
In his letter of apology, Dr Williams tries to distance himself from his own reported comments. He claims that his views were never meant to be public and were distorted by the media.
He wrote: "I have been sorry to learn of the distress of a considerable number of Freemasons . . . 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."
He added: "The quoted statements about the 'satanic' character of the Masonic ceremonies and other matters did not come from me and do not represent my judgment. 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."
Dr Williams does not, in his letter, deny that he has misgivings about the role of Freemasons within the Church.
He wrote: "Where anxieties exist, however, they are in relation not to Freemasonry but to 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."
He ends his letter by stating that Freemasons' commitment to charity and the community is beyond question.
March 1, 2003
NY GRAND LODGE OFFERS TOURS TO GENERAL PUBLIC
By:Bro. Steven S. Grant
Coming to New York City soon? Why not enjoy an escorted tour of New York Grand Lodge and its newly renovated magnificent 1,200-seat Masonic Hall, its Museum and Library, numerous Lodge rooms and other facilities. Included is a short introduction to our New York State and USA MASONIC History. All you need do to arrange a tour is contact , Bro. Steven S. Grant, Tour Guide.
What to bring with you? Your family and friends, Masons and non-Masons. You'll want to bring a Camera to take photos you can show to your Brethren back home. If you want to attend a Lodge in session, you'll need a document establishing your Masonic Affiliation, of course. And your Apron which would make a most welcome
subject for our local Brothers to see (though we can provide a White Apron before your entrance into the Lodge ). Sound interesting? Need Date, time and place to be mutually acceptable. Tour Office located on the Main floor in "MASONIC HALL," 71 West 23rd Street, corner 6th Avenue, NY, NY.
Steven S. Grant, Masonic Hall Tour Guide
PDDGM Third MANHATTAN. Masonic District
Telephone and FAX # (201)263-0711