Can Masonry do more, to assist people in learning about the Constitution?

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by cemab4y, Dec 5, 2014.

  1. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    The constitution of the United States is an unknown document to most people. Sad. Can Masonry do more to assist people in increasing their constitutional "literacy"? Can we provide copies of the document to people?

    Richard Dreyfuss (Actor and Freemason), has started the "Dreyfuss Initiative", to increase the study of "civics", and the constitution, in public schools. See his website

    http://www.thedreyfussinitiative.org/
     
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  2. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    see this video.

     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2014
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  3. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    Excellent question. Look forward to seeing some comments on this. I have a copy of the Constitution in pamphlet form. Maybe we could make up some of these and distribute them.
     
  4. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    See my comments under "Fund Raising Ideas". Lodges could distribute copies of the Constitution, and get some $$ as well.
     
  5. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    see this
     
  6. MaineMason

    MaineMason Registered User

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    I am a Yankee and a Democrat and a fifth generation Freemason. I also live in Maine where our State Constitution was ratified in 1820 and written by Thomas Jefferson and the Rt. Woshipful William King, first Governor of Maine and first Grand Master of the Right Worshipful Lodge of Maine.

    We have an odd State Constitution in Maine (our three Constitutional officers are selected by the State Senate) but we do love our democracy.

    As a Mason, and a Patriot, I think Freemasonry has done more for this country than any other body. Pretty much every man in my family has been a Freemason, and a Patriot. The Constitution is something I was raised to honor. I was pretty much raised in a Masonic family. That being said, I feel that we must honor the Constitution in a way that honors all Americans and put aside partisan differences between both Democrats and Republicans. When I enter the lodge and assist my Master in opening it as Jr. Deacon and then go on to salute the flag, I see why the Masonic Brotherhood has done well by the American People.
     
  7. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    Your comments are interesting, and I appreciate your enthusiasm. I did not know that Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, wrote the Maine constitution. Sounds like a "reverse Carpetbagger" to me.

    I am interested in your take, on how to increase the "literacy" of the American people about our (federal) constitution. Most people are sadly ignorant, and have next to no knowledge about the constitution. I would love for lodges to get copies of the Constitution in booklet form, and distribute them to people at shopping malls. Lodges could even offer classes in "Constitution 101", where people could come and get instructions.

    Lodges could also encourage people to take FREE on-line courses in the Constitution.

    See http://online.hillsdale.edu/course/con101/part01/lecture
     
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  8. MaineMason

    MaineMason Registered User

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    The Rt. Worshipful William King and President Jefferson were very close friends, hence the collaboration on the Maine Constitution just years before Jefferson's death. If you'll recall 1820 was the year of the Missouri Compromise and Maine ended up to be a "free" state. What a history we've had!

    What do you see when you walk into an A.F and A.M. lodge? Usually, a picture of our first President and famous Freemason, George Washington. I hardly think we need lessons on Democracy in Masonic lodges, as Masonic Lodges very much helped create our Republic. You and I might come from a different take on the nature of the Constitution: I see it as a living document, and I suspect you might see it as it was written in the 18th Century. However, we are both Brothers together and so many great Americans were also Brothers and as such I would like to think that while I suspect we don't agree on politics we certainly meet on the level and part on the square. I would agree with you that the US Constitution is a remarkable document and it should be studied by everyone.
     
  9. MaineMason

    MaineMason Registered User

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    Another thought: we are not supposed to be political in Blue Lodge. I don't think that getting political will fly, at least here in New England. There's Repubicans and Democrats in my lodge and it wouldn't fly there. Just giving some thought, and why not? It's that old thing about how folks consider the Constitution, and how folks consider the Federal Government. It has no place in Lodge.
     
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  10. dmurawsky

    dmurawsky Premium Member

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    I think you can talk about the founding documents without being political. You just have to avoid value judgements. The documents exist, and printing copies of them, handing them out, or speaking about how they came about is not a political act, but one of history. Discussing particular interpretations, though, could get political quick so it would have to be handled very carefully if done under the auspices of Masonry.
    I would not promote the Hillsdale class, for example, because it leans heavily one way on the political spectrum. It happens to lean my way, but I wouldn't promote it as a Mason as part of a lodge sponsored activity.
    Just my thoughts.
     
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  11. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    We are not to discuss partisan politics or sectarian religion. Notice the qualifiers. Teaching the basic civics of one's country is not a sectarian political issue.

    It is SUPER easy to cross the line when discussing civics to end up partisan but it doable with care. It is even harder to stay on the non-sectarian side of the line in religious discussion but we are open about our requirement of a belief in the existence of a supreme being.
     
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  12. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    I am not suggesting that we teach the basics of the Constitution in the lodge building, to the Craft assembled. Go back and read my original post. And the title of the thread.

    Freemasons started the first "free" public schools in this country. Promoting education TO THE PUBLIC is one of our splendid traditions. An ignorant people cannot remain a free people. That is why Thomas Jefferson (not a Freemason) was such an ardent advocate of expanding educational opportunities to all Americans.

    I believe sincerely, that we can assist and encourage the American people, to study and increase their knowledge of our form of government, and we can do it, without partisanship or divisiveness.

    The internet is ideal for increasing the national Constitutional "literacy".

    Please see this link:

    http://online.hillsdale.edu/course/con101/part01/lecture

    "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be... The people cannot be safe without information. Where the press is free and every man is able to read, all is safe."
    -Thomas Jefferson
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
  13. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    see this:

    Why You Need to Know the U.S. Constitution
    by Dave Meyer - posted February 15, 2010
    When you buy something, like a new car or a refrigerator, an instruction or owner's manual comes with it. Do you read it? If not, how would you know for sure what you bought will work the way it was intended? In order to receive its full benefits, better understand its functions, and know how to maintain and preserve it, reading the instruction manual of something you own would greatly benefit you.
    The United States has two owner manuals: The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. As Americans, we are the owners. It's our duty and privilege to know what each "manual" says and understand its purpose, particularly the Constitution.
    The Constitution shows us how we the people are to be responsible to maintain what we have inherited as a result of their sacrifice

    read the entire passage at:

    https://www.joycemeyer.org/articles/america.aspx?article=why_you_need_to_know_constitution
     
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  14. NY.Light

    NY.Light Registered User

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    Maybe this is just my paradigm as a law student, but the US has one "owner's manual", namely the Constitution. While an impressive document of the time, the Dec. of Independence does not have legal bearing. Cases before the Supreme Court, for example, evaluate the Constitutional questions being posed. In short, the buck stops with the Constitution (and the laws on the books via legislative bodies, both federal and local).
     
  15. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    Sounds right to me.
     
  16. JohnnyFlotsam

    JohnnyFlotsam Premium Member

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    I submit that, as Masons, we would better serve the interests of our nation and it's citizens, by renewing our institution's commitment to education. A thorough understanding of the U.S. Constitution requires more than just being able to read the words. Mastery of several of the "seven liberal arts and sciences" is required.
     
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  17. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    See my posting about encouraging people to enroll in FREE online courses in the constitution. Support education for all citizens, is one of our splendid traditions. Freemasons started the first "free" public schools in the American colonies. The mandatory set-aside for public education, as the nation expanded westward, is due to masonic influence.

    I agree that just handing a person a copy of the US Constitution is the first step. Most people never read the owner's manual for their car.

    Thomas Jefferson, was one of the most vocal proponents of expanding education for all citizens.
     
  18. dmurawsky

    dmurawsky Premium Member

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    Thoughts? I'm new to this, but I thought Masonry, as an institution, was supposed to be non-partisan in politics. Hillsdale is "a bastion of conservative tradition" and could turn people off by association.
     
  19. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    Masonry as an institution is completely neutral in politics. Grand Lodges do not endorse political candidates, etc. However, Informing people about an online course, is not the same as endorsing it. Information can be provided, on a non-partisan and non-ideological basis. The Wolcott Foundation, sponsors scholarships to George Washington University, which is a conservative institution. The Wolcott foundation is affiliated with High-Twelve International, a Masonic appendant body. This does not mean that Masonry endorses GWU.

    There are many ways for people to learn more about the constitution and our democracy.
     
  20. Morris

    Morris Premium Member

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    I believe American Freemasons can educate people about its country's founding principles and help facilitate instilling patriotism without being political. The constitution is a great place to start.

    I would see nothing wrong with handing out constitutions with American flag lapel pins on a street corner.

    Collect donations so that the lodge can print more copies and buy more pins.

    Slightly (ok, totally) off subject but I love saying the Pledge of Allegiance at lodge because that patriotism is one more thing that bonds us.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2014
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