Toronto Society for Masonic Research


The universality of Freemasonry which is everywhere accepted as a Landmark in principle is as yet unrealized in practice. Great Britain admits Negroes to membership in its Lodges in the Western Atlantic but in China its Lodges do not admit Chinese. American Lodges admit Jews, who have long been debarred by a number of European Grand Bodies, but do not accept Negroes. Some Lodges in the Near East admit Mohammedans, others do not. These "discrepancies", or apparent inconsistencies, are found in every Masonic country, and they are made the more glaringly evident by the fact that in none of the Landmarks or Constitutions or Charters of regularly constituted Masonic Bodies are racial, social, or religious exclusions incorporated. The solution of the paradox is found in another Landmark, indubitably coeval with Freemasonry, to the effect that it is the first duty of Brethren when in Lodge assembled, and the paramount duty of the Worshipful Master, to maintain the peace and harmony of the Craft. This has been universally understood to refer not only to quarrels, schisms, cabals, etc., inside the Lodge, but also to such controversies, customs, or general social movements outside the Lodge that would, if introduced into it, disturb its peace and harmony.

A Lodge being not in a vacuum, and being composed of men who cannot wholly divest themselves of their feelings or even of their prejudices, is unable to act with absolute independence of its milieu, but must for sake of its own peace and harmony so act, at least for a time, as to exclude disturbing factors; if for this reason a Lodge in a given community excludes men of some race, language, or religion it is not because Freemasonry is antipathetic to them in principle, but because they are disturbing at a given place and time. Moreover the Craft never from its earliest years has admitted that any non-Mason has a right to demand membership; the non-Mason must petition, that is, pray for, the Degrees, and appeals to the grace of the Body to which he prays; the Body can refuse to grant that prayer for any reason of its own, and is therefore not responsible to demands set up in the world outside itself. American Grand Jurisdictions do not in fact (whether in principle or not) accept petitions from Negroes; this is solely because for the time being the Lodges are working amidst a social problem which is not of its making and which it cannot as a Masonic body alter among non-Masons; it is not because Negroes are not white; and it may easily come to pass in the future that when the "race issue" has ceased to be disturbing, Negroes will be admitted. Nothing in the Landmarks or in any Grand Lodge Constitution discriminates against them.

- Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and Kindred Sciences, Supplement 1966

[Emphasis added.  Analysis follows:]

This Supplement was written in 1946 by H.L. Haywood.  Haywood was a highly respected Masonic researcher, writer, and editor.  Did Haywood actually write this?  It contains factual errors, it invents nonsensical "landmarks" on the spot, it is illogical, unethical, and unabashedly presents Freemasonry as a fraud and a refuge for racism.

Haywood writes in Mackey's Encyclopedia that universality is everywhere accepted as a landmark.  Yet Mackey's own list of 25 "landmarks" makes no mention of universality.

Haywood then invents yet another "landmark", also not on Mackey's list: "peace & harmony", and then presents an intellectually and morally void argument that harmony justifies bigotry.  He allows for the possibility that racism will one day no longer be a pervasive prejudice among American Masons, but only after making the point that even if and when racism has ceased to be fashionable or legal in society, a Masonic lodge is "not responsible to demands set up in the world outside itself".

In other words, when Masons violate Masonic principles and act like the common profane, Haywood excuses this, since the outside society is profane.  But should the outside society be less prejudiced than Masons, Masons can continue to be prejudiced, since Masons have their own separate standards, resistant to outside demands.

The repeated statement that no constitution has race/religion exclusions is not merely a deception, but it seems to be calculated, cynically, to call attention to the duplicitous intent in the official rhetoric of these institutions, notably Mackey's own Grand Lodge, which blatantly or covertly, but deliberately and maliciously contradicts principle with policy. [1]

Why do "discrepancies" and "race issue" appear in quotes?  What exactly are these "general social movements outside the lodge"?  What does it amount to, to say " it is not because Negroes are not white", and "nothing ... discriminates against them"?  And why the exclusive focus "inside" the lodge, as if Masons did not exist and act outside the lodge?

As for "the first (and paramount) duty being to maintain peace and harmony" -- clearly, whatever "peace and harmony" means, it cannot be superior to morality.  And Haywood's concept of "peace and harmony" would appear to be a debasing vice rather than an uplifting virtue.

Haywood conjures up an image of prejudiced men, who see the lodge as a complacent refuge for their bigotry.  The baser attitudes of the profane world are allowed in, since "nobody is perfect", while the nobler sentiments of civil society are kept out, since they would disturb.  The precepts of Free-Masonry are dismissed as a nice idea that is impractical.  Excluding "disturbing factors" leads to avoiding critical thinking, problem acknowledgement, and therefore problem solving.  This can result in denial, and in failure to right wrongs.

Haywood's entire piece of rhetoric is a travesty and perversion of language, of reasoning, of morality, and of the very essence of Freemasonry.  It appears to be crafted to cripple the mind, the heart, and the soul of any who come under its pernicious influence.  Perhaps these two paragraphs of Haywood's words should be shown to all applicants, and any who are not outraged by it should be re-directed to the Ku Klux Klan instead of Free-Masonry!

Could Haywood have been using irony?  Perhaps this was intended to be a parody of some of the most absurdly dysfunctional lodges and Grand Lodges?  Perhaps he felt that the truth needed to be told from the perspective of those who would otherwise only whisper?  Perhaps he felt that the plain truth could not be told plainly?

This might seem plausible, except for this: "In 1930 they had 37 Grand Lodges, with some 750,000 members in some 5,000 to 6,000 Lodges; Like other non-Masons Negro authors find it difficult to understand Masonic data; their statements of fact about actions taken by regular Grand Lodges may be checked against Grand Lodge Proceedings. Negro writers very seldom, for example, have their facts straight about actions taken at different times by the Grand Lodges of Massachusetts and of Washington." -- H.L. Haywood: "Negro Lodges" in Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and Kindred Sciences, Supplement, p1318 1966

Haywood was not alone in these sentiments, among famous "Masonic" authors. And that includes other Fellows of the Philalethes Society, Like Claudy, Sherman, Cerza, Voorhis. To say nothing of such highly regarded authors as the R.W. F.G. Tisdall 33deg, G.Rep of NY to ON, and J.S.M. Ward.

[1]"The Ahiman Rezon of South Carolina, compiled by that eminent author, erudite scholar and unsurpassed Masonic jurist, Albert G. Mackey, and adopted by the Grand Lodge, specifically declares that a candidate must be of free white parents." -- Grand Lodge of South Carolina Proceedings 1898 p50, cited in Upton: "Light on a Dark Subject", 1899 #16 p22

PHR 2008-08-01