Grand Lodge directive to violate Masonic Law

Discussion in 'Masonic Jurisprudence' started by Todd M. Stewart, Oct 16, 2020.

  1. Todd M. Stewart

    Todd M. Stewart Premium Member

    I am a sad and disappointed Mason this morning. Last evening, a friend of mine was Raised and I was forced to leave the meeting in order not to violate my solemn Obligation. The Iowa Grand Lodge recently announced that Lodges would once again be able to conduct degrees following a 'modified' ritual. One aspect of this was that the Candidate/brother was not to be guided due to the need for social distancing. As a result of this, the Candidate/brother was also not to be hoodwinked. This is in direct violation of our obligation in which we promise and swear to not reveal the secrets of a Master Mason 'Except it be to him or them, to whom they of right belong.' I arrived at Lodge and sat for opening, and came to realize that I could not in good conscience take part in this ritual. Once Lodge was open, I addressed myself to the Worshipful Master and Lodge. I spoke my concerns and informed them that I would not remain in Lodge and asked that my statement be read into the minutes of the meeting. I exited the Lodge room, offered my apologies to my friend and went home. What think ye my brothers? Should we or should we not suspend all degree work until such time as we can do so without violating our Obligation? Are we that desperate to gain new members that we should be willing to throw hundreds of years of history and tradition away?
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020
  2. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

    You followed your conscience and I can't say I disagree with you or would have behaved differently. If the degree can not be put on correctly due to safety concerns, then the prudent course should be to postpone it.

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  3. Scoops

    Scoops Registered User

    I don't disagree that you should follow your conscience.

    I would also like to add for information for those who are interested in the differences between jurisdictions that here in UGLE-land, using Emulation ritual, we only hoodwink the candidate in the first degree.
  4. jermy Bell

    jermy Bell Registered User

    I totally agree. But it's a fight, that we are witnessing here in southern Illinois. Our grand master states that the WM that obligates wear a mask, gloves, and that the bible is wrapped in Saran Wrap. And that the SD also wear gloves. But we have district deputies that refuse to reinforce these rules, because our state isn't on lockdown.
    I had a brain stem stroke back in may, and my immune system is shot. With other lodges not enforcing the mask rule, I can not and will not risk my health to be involved in any degree work. Now, my lodge will hold a1st degree in a couple weeks, all are welcome to attend, my lodge has set it's own rule of wearing a mask. If you don't have one, one will be provided for you. If you refuse, you are asked to leave. With 70% of our craft being over 65 you would think you would look out for your older brethren.
  5. Todd M. Stewart

    Todd M. Stewart Premium Member

    Thank you brother. I agree completely we do need to be very conscientious of protecting our older brethren. I believe our lodge does a very good job of that. That said, protection should not come at the cost of a core Masonic Law. We protect each other by finding some way to do it safely and not violate Masonic Law, or delaying all degree work until it's safe. I cannot countenance abandoning our Obligation.
    Bill Lins likes this.
  6. Todd M. Stewart

    Todd M. Stewart Premium Member

    I know something of the Emulation Lodge, but not familiar with the differences in ritual. I do know I've had to do a lot of re-learning just moving from the Nebraska Jurisdiction to Iowa. I am only now just scratching the surface of the period following the unification of the Ancients and Moderns, formation of the Lodge of Reconciliation, and Lodge of Emulation 10 years following. I could live to 200 and not feel my study of the fraternity complete.
  7. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

    Perhaps the issue is the definition of the “secrets of a Master Mason.”

    The candidate is already listening, and perceiving where he is being conducted.

    Are signs being given in a manner in which he can see them?
  8. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

    Key question for me, and reflecting and influenced by the obligation in our ritual. If he sees them before obligated, I would decline to participate too.
  9. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

    In my lodge, the 2nd degree candidates are only partially hoodwinked and the 3rd not at all.

    While the candidates are in the temple but not yet taught the secrets, no degree signs are used but rather the sign of fidelity. Once the candidates have been taught the degree signs they are then used by all the officers.
    Todd M. Stewart likes this.
  10. A Brother of Brothers

    A Brother of Brothers Registered User

    Brother... You did exactly what you were obligated to do as I would have done the same. If the Entering, Passing and Raising are going to be this way, then yes it should be suspended until this pandemic is over. No Candidate should be robbed of their true initiation and of the symbolism on entering the mysteries of freemasonry. I Hope and Pray that in the near future that Brothers take their Oaths and Obligations seriously with strict trials and due examinations of themselves as if it were the first and last time for them Entering with one distinct knock that can only be heard and not seen. Peace and Blessings to all the Brothers who Respect and take the Obligations and Mysteries of Freemasonry Seriously!

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  11. Capricornguy

    Capricornguy Registered User

    We're still hoodwinked and masked. You just need to provide your own. But I agree. Hoodwinked is a big deal. It adds to the mystique and you get the full experience.
    J Chapman and Todd M. Stewart like this.
  12. jermy Bell

    jermy Bell Registered User

    If this doesn't get under some kind of control, we may close lodges again till after the new year or longer.
    Todd M. Stewart likes this.
  13. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

    You have to follow your own morals and heart.
  14. TonyT2020

    TonyT2020 Registered User

    Thank you for sharing this. This certainly gives a different perspective from the US rituals. The original post has a legitimate concern and your Grand Lodge gives a possible way ahead as no real end is in sight currently for COVID. This may be something for US Grand Lodges to consider if we wish to initiate new Brothers and not violate our OBs as they are written.
  15. TonyT2020

    TonyT2020 Registered User

    Thank you for sharing this Brother and I am glad that you are doing well. It is a struggle for Grand Lodges across the spectrum to address COVID, as many local cities and states have different standards. Protective measures should be adhered to and enforced always in my opinion. In your case, you have taken very appropriate actions given your medial state. I am blessed that my Lodge is very proactive and open to input, which I gave as one with a MA and BA in the medical field. Hopefully smart minds win the day in your case. Stay safe and prayers for you and your family.
    jermy Bell likes this.
  16. Keith C

    Keith C Registered User

    I would say it is a different perspective from the Ritul in YOUR Jurisdiction in the US.

    In PA only EA candidates are hoodwinked. After the obligation it is understood that the candidate has been brought from Darkness to Light and no longer should be put back into Darkness. One of the differences that seperated the Ancients and the Moderns that remains in place in Pennsylvania.

    In my opinion our Grand Master did a great job in the changes in the Degree rituals to make things safer during COVID. Everyone entering our Lodge buildings must wear a mask and it must remain on while in the building. The VSL and tools used in the ritual are covered in plastic wrap, Candidates and officers in contact with the Candidates must wear rubber gloves and they are changed at the end of the ritual. The Candiate is put in the proper position for the obligation, told that is how they WOULD have stayed for the obligation, but then are left to place hands on the Altar and the Officers involded step away. Obligation and Recapitulation by the WM are done with WM standing and at least 6 feet away.

    Also there is nothing in our obligations defining how any part of ritual is to be performed. Additionally the Grand Master has absolute authority over all matters of ritual so this moral conflict is not possible here in PA. One may have differences of opinion but there is no doubt that what the GM says goes.
    Bloke, tldubb and Warrior1256 like this.
  17. BroBook

    BroBook Premium Member

    That's interesting.

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  18. Tylerl90

    Tylerl90 Registered User

    I commend you for following your conscience, Brother. The hoodwink is a big deal, especially for the Entered Apprentice degree. Had I been subjected to the same GL order, I probably would have done exactly what you did, at least for the EA degree. The FC and MM are up for debate based on who you ask because, as I’m sure you’ve read, some GL’s that follow more “ancient” customs only hoodwink in the EA degree.

    But I digress. You did the right thing! Hold your head high.

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