Brother Against Brother - The Masonic Civil War

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM

Brethren, there is unrest and dissension brewing among us. Brother against brother, peace and harmony being cast aside like yesterday's newspaper. Battle lines have been drawn and most have picked their side and will fight for their side until the bitter end. The shot heard around the Masonic world has been sounded and civil war is at hand!

OK, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic, but honestly when I read about this in Facebook groups or hear Brethren discuss this topic you would think the lodge room as we know it will cease to exist. (Yes I'm braced and ready for the comments when this piece is published.)

Since I became a Freemason I have heard the constant arguments amongst Brethren on many subjects. Most of these arguments are good natured and have been discussed by members for years: how to wear your ring, the pronunciation of certain words, how to hold your rod in lodge…etc. Most of these make good conversation while eating dinner. But there is one subject that will bring usually good natured brothers close to blows: one day classes. Nothing will throw peace and harmony out the window as the mere thought of participating in a one day class.

Both sides of the argument have plenty of ammunition to use. Each has their point of view, either Pro or Con...

The pro side says one day classes are a great way to bring in new members who under usual circumstances, couldn't or wouldn't become members of the Fraternity. These young men work odd hours or don't have the time to devote three evenings to go through the degrees “the usual way.” A man can walk into an auditorium in the morning, receive the three degrees of Freemasonry, have lunch, become a thirty second degree Scottish Rite Mason and finish off the day by donning the red fez of the Shriners and go home with the knowledge he now possesses within his heart the mysteries of Masonry and has started his journey to become a better man, just like he was promised.

The con side believes that one day classes are just a way for Grand Lodges to rake in new revenue from the dues of these unknowing young men who are blind to the fact that “they’re doing it wrong”, that their Grand lodge is just trying to bolster their membership numbers. “You might as well put in a drive-thru lane at the temple!” has often been heard in the Tyler's room of many lodges throughout the country. Thus, the term “McMasons” has been created. The con side believes a young man who wishes to receive further light must visit the lodge in which he petitioned and progress through the Masonic degrees as many of us have done since time immemorial. The con side also differs from their “pro” counterparts in the opinion that the man should advance through these degrees alone. Multiple candidates taking the same degrees should be discouraged, or outright prohibited. There seems to be no common ground between these two warring factions.

Sadly, there are casualties in this conflict: innocents caught in the crossfire of these warring factions. They are the ones that suffer the wounds. I have personally seen Brethren enter the lodge room for their first meeting after they were raised to the sublime degree at a one day class, expecting brotherhood and eager to take his first upright step in his Masonic career, only to be told at the point of a bony old finger of a Past Master that he “isn't a real Mason”, and to be called names such as “McMason” or “one-day wonder”, making them feel worthless and unworthy, and then to be called names by the men he was told were his “brothers” and would have his back, who would teach him to be a better man seems outrageous. Chances are, he isn't going to return, and his opinion of the Craft will be forever changed. There is an even greater chance that he will tell other potential Masons how he was treated, and they won’t even bother to knock on the door of your lodge at all. All of this, because the man had the audacity to take his degrees in one day instead of over the course of three evenings. In my personal opinion treating a brother like that, for any reason, is unmasonic.

Most of us know that Masonry is a lifelong journey; if this is the case, then why does the way a new Brother is obligated matter? Whether he was on his knees in a small lodge room, or in a large auditorium with the assistance of a mentor, that man repeated the same obligation as you did: that vow to help, aid and assist. I don't remember repeating words such as “unless he was raised in a one day class” in my obligation. Most of us say Masonry needs new members to survive. If we need this influx of new men why are we alienating the ones we are getting?

We need to treat all of these men on the level, and help them take their first upright step on their path in Masonry. These men asked to join our fraternity, and went to the trouble of going through our petitioning process. They deserve our respect, and the title of “Brother”.

Let's put all of these silly differences behind us. In the end we are Brothers, and deserve to be treated as such. Let's get back to that noble emulation of “he who can best work or best agree”. It's time we turn these swords into trowels and restore peace and harmony to our Gentle Craft.


WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.


  1. Hello Bro. I like the points that you have brought to light here and would like to particularly highlight the thing about the 'casualties' bieng the newly Raised brothers in a 1 day class.
    Its true that while they may have their eyes wide with wonder at the end of the class......all that will indeed come crashing down if they get treated in a sort of step motherly fasion. It is detrimental to the craft!
    As for the debate....i think as Masons we should have the courage and think of the gavel's representation and choose to do that what is Right and Not what is easy!

  2. Well written. It saddens me when a man joins through the one day class for the sole purpose of attending Shrine or a Square club and never intends nor does ever set foot in his Blue Lodge. But, I see this with men who join in the traditional way too.

    On the other hand, I know Brothers who entered via the one day class who become active members and contribute to their Lodges. Though if a man has not the time to become a Brother in the traditional method does he have time to become active or only time to wear a ring and plaster stickers on his car? I see both positions and have seen numerous examples of each.

  3. Once a brother has been raised in a manner that is recognized by your Grand Lodge, he is a brother. Period. He should be treated as such.

    I think there is a time an place for a one day class, such as someone in the military being deployed. For the most part, I disagree with them.

    What masonry needs is more good brothers, not more names on the roll books. By requiring candidates to dedicate time and effort to joining, you weed out the people who aren't serious.

    What happens when this new brother attends his first "real" degrees? If I were in that situation, I would feel cheated out of a worthwhile experience.

    In TN, you are required (without special dispensation) to wait 28 days between degrees. In some jurisdictions, you are required to wait 365 days between the degrees (from what I've been told). Does that mean when we visit those jurisdictions, *we'll* be "McMasons"?

    While I do have an opinion on the subject, I'll continue to abide by the Grand Lodge rules for my state. I don't think this is important enough to try and change, unlike the segregation we experience in the south and the exclusion of non-heterosexuals. If you think you get heated discussions on one day classes... whoo!

  4. There are no statistical difference between men going through traditionally, at-sight or in a one day class. I personally believe that the goal should never be to go straight to one-day classes or at-sight raisings for a candidate. Reduces the quality and sanctity of belonging to an initiatory order in my view.

    1. The entire subject or case should be renamed MEMBERSHIP GROWTH v.s. MEMBERSHIP RETENTION. Each is badly desired, but few are willing to work harder to achieve it. Every year I update my R3 Membership Manual and begin the efforts, seek support which I get overwhelmingly, mostly in words only.

  5. Seems like many jurisdictions are simply handling it poorly. We only allow people who have a legitimate barrier to come through one day classes. Undercover law enforcement, deploying military, etc. Some of them die in duty before they are able to come back to lodge others return when they legitimately can. But most are legacy members that want masonic lineage to be unbroken & masonic services if they die like their father before them. If you do it right it makes perfect sense.

  6. I became a Mason in a one day Grand Master's festival with several hundred other men in 1996. I do not recommend this method and wish I had experienced the traditional manner. However, Freemasonry has still had a great positive effect on me. It truly has been a lifelong self discovery and improvement journey and I have met some great, great brethren along the way. I think that a Mason that would withhold charity of thought, word, or deed to a brother because of the manner in which he joined has missed the point of the lessons illustrated by our ritual.

  7. One-day-classes? In the old world (Europe) we are not as "advanced" as in the US. Gentlemen interested in joining invest about one year meeting us - in private also - being thoroughly examined before ballot. At least one more year before passing. At least another year before raising. Here we take our time to grow. You might wish to consider it. Our lodge considers it to be a proven procedure - since 1742 (the year it was founded).

  8. My post continued: Just in case you wondered how many members our lodge has: More than 140. Just in case you wondered how many Gentlemen are currently interested in joining and undergoing this year-long procedure: more than 40.

  9. Well done Bill. I long for the day when the new Entered Apprentice, having learned his work lecture well, tells his Mentor, "I have much more to learn from this EA Degree. Can we hold off on my Fellow Craft until such time as I am completely comfortable with my EA?"

  10. As Thomas Paine once opined:
    “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value".

    Quality not Quantity.

  11. I am surprised to hear that this is a Civil War in your jurisdiction (or perhaps even in several jurisdictions).

    The TRUTH is that if we would follow the European practice of allowing EA's to participate in the life of the Lodge (but perhaps without voting rights).... the WAR WOULD BE OVER !!!

    Everyone could take as long as they want or need... and the growth of each EA would take on its own satisfying arc.