Is It Time?

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

This week the Boy Scouts of America announced that they will allow girls to become Cub Scouts and to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. On the 23rd of October, I am going to receive my initiatory degree in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which became the first fraternity in the United States to allow women when it adopted the “Beautiful Rebekah Degree” on September 20, 1851. It’s time for Freemasonry to do the same. We need to start allowing women into our fraternity.

I know, what I’m saying is blasphemy to many of you. We’re steeped in historical tradition. We’ve been founded on the principles of brotherly love. We’ve already got a branch of Masonry with the Order of the Eastern Star that allows women. Part of the oath we take specifically states that we can’t assist or be present at the initiating, passing or raising of a woman. The root word in fraternity is frater, which is Latin for brother or brotherhood. How dare I even mention this?

Honestly, the answer is pretty simple. Women deserve to have the right to join us if they so desire. Women can enjoy and learn from our mysteries as much as men can. There is nothing in our mysteries that appeals to men only. Our fraternity teaches universal lessons that all of humankind can learn from. If a woman wants to learn our secrets, and meets our qualifications, I say we allow them to do so. If we can belong to an organization that teaches the universality of mankind regardless of his race or religion, then why do we not also teach this about gender? It seems hypocritical to me that we stop there. Can we not form similar bonds with females that we have with our brothers now? I believe we can.

I know the argument is that all fraternal organizations, including those that allow women are seeing a decline. This is true. The numbers are there. They show a decrease across the board. The Masonic fraternity has lost 3.8 million members since the late 1950’s according to one article I read. So why bother with admitting women? Aside from the answer above, we’re excluding one half of the population as potential members. We’re also not seen as very progressive, which is hurting us with our target membership pool, which are Millennials.

We need to attract Millennials if we want our organization to survive. I know, we have many millennial members of our fraternity. As of 2012, it was estimated that there were approximately 80 million millennials in the U.S. However, there is another reason I say this. Millennial women outperform millennial men in the classroom. As of 2015, 57 percent of the undergraduate population were women. They are in general known for being determined, confident, intelligent and curious. They are always seeking new ways to improve. Are our lessons not perfect for them?

Furthermore, Millennials generally as a trait are civic-oriented, ethical, globally – minded, authentic, compassionate, progressive and liberal. Our belief in the universality of brotherhood regardless of race or religion could be easily expanded to add gender. I believe that with including women, we would see our fraternity undergo a renaissance. We would need to market ourselves to them of course, but instead of saying we make good men better, what better phrase to use but: We make good people into extraordinary people.

Think of how many members’ wives, girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters, or great granddaughters might be interested in joining as well. For many years they’ve wondered about what goes on behind the closed doors. Here’s that chance to engage them. I know as current master of my lodge, I have a hard time getting my members to show up to events because they have other obligations to their families. But if their wife, or family were also members, I wonder how many might show up? Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I’m willing to bet that it might increase their engagement in our activities. I know several Masons that only have daughters. I’d be willing to bet that some of them might like to be able to see their daughters join Freemasonry, and be able to share the experiences of our gentle craft with them.

There could also be an economic benefit. I just attended the Grand Lodge session in Illinois, where our Grand Lodge made a desperate plea to increase the per capita by $20 dollars a year. (It was amended down to $20 dollars from $25 dollars.) This amendment was voted down by the Illinois Brethren. I also watched as another amendment to allow individual lodges to hold two raffles a year was amended to allow lodges to allow gambling where permissible by local laws, which was also defeated.

My point is: Our beloved fraternity is hurting for money, at both the Grand Lodge level and individual lodge level. Would you rather allow all forms of gambling be part of our organization instead of allowing women? Do you want to see every lodge turned into a video poker parlor or casino? Would we be having these discussions if we had the other half of the population as potential members? If we had women members, they would also be contributing dues at a local level and more per capita to the Grand Lodges.

Of course, I know we’re a long way off from this. We still have many Grand Lodges in the United States that haven’t even recognized Prince Hall in their state as Regular, which is another issue altogether. However, we need to adapt or die. I love Masonry. I love the friendships I have made and the bond between my brothers and I. I don’t want to have future generations lose the chance to make those authentic connections. I fear that if we don’t adapt, that they will.

~DAL 

WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL).   He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  When he’s not busy enjoying Masonic fellowship, Darin spends his time as a DM for his children’s D&D campaign, reading, golfing, watching movies and listening to music.  You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com.

43 comments:

  1. To BSA I say oh no! I believe there are already jurisdictions around the world who include women. To all of this, I say OH NO. Seems like bottom line is financial. Nope. Be better if some weak lodges merged to make stronger lodges. Don't join Alpha and Beta and call it either Alpha or Beta. Form New lodges with new numbers so all members of the new lodge equally belong. Believe me when I say I love my wife and my daughter, but if they were interested they'd be involved in OES. So sorry WB Darin, my vote would be a resounding no.

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    1. I didn't intend for the financials to take away from the message. The financials aren't the main reason I'm for this. All that being said, I appreciate you reading the article and eloquently writing your opinion. I'm sorry we agree to disagree, but thanks for taking time to write a response and for reading what I had to say.

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  2. As a proud member of our great fraternity for 44 years under the Grand Lodge of New York, I’ve experienced the transition of Prince Hall Masonry from a clandestine branch into a recognized Masonic order. I’ve also experienced the raising of men of color that was not possible when I became Master Mason in the 1970’s. I’m on the fence regarding allowing women into the fraternity. Years ago, a Masonic connection could be an advantage in business and an aid in seeking employment opportunities. The first company I worked for following my military service, a division of General Dynamics, had an active Square Club. Today, most large companies take great pains to avoid endorsing any sectarian or non-sectarian groups. As a result, having a Masonic connection no longer offers the business advantages it once did. Today’s working women are no longer disadvantaged by their lack of a Masonic connection.

    I see the primary mission of Masonry today as assisting men in their quest for moral and ethical growth. Within the sanctity of the lodge room, young masons look to their lodge’s senior brothers for guidance and enlightenment. With a career spanning over 35 years, I’ve witnessed first-hand how behavior often changes in the presence of the opposite sex. Just as important, I believe both women and men experience a more personal connection when discussing life’s intimate details with those who have shared similar experiences. This is not to say that all activities are best experienced in single-sex groups but that we need that special connection produced through personal relationships with those who share our gender. We shouldn’t be too quick to follow the lead of those organizations who, while struggling to attract new members, have lost sight of their true purpose. As a member of a veterans service organization (VSO), in our efforts to attract new members by offering features like exercise rooms and child playgrounds, we’ve lost sight of our original purpose – that of assisting our veterans and active duty military.

    “We are living at an important and fruitful moment now, for it is clear to men that the images of adult manhood given by the popular culture are worn out; a man can no longer depend on them. By the time a man is thirty-five he knows that the images of the right man, the tough man, the true man which he received in school do not work in life. Such a man is open to new visions of what a man is supposed to be.” Robert Bly (1990)

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    1. I certainly agree with you about the change in men's behavior when women are present, I've watched that for years. That is precisely why I favor separate groups for men and women. Most men begin to "posture" themselves differently and immediately when women are around, it's unavoidable and, to me, undesirable in Lodge.

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    2. If we have men that 'posture' themselves differently and immediately when women are around, then we most likely shouldn't have allowed those men into the Fraternity. This being said, I thank you for reading and replying to my article.

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    3. BobbyV-
      First of all, thank you for your amazing reply. I appreciate your candor and above all your service to not only our country, but to our Fraternity and to VSO's. Obviously what I touch on is a very subversive and controversial topic, and I appreciate your very thoughtful and eloquent reply to it. Thanks for taking the time to read my article and to write a reply to it.

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  3. I am an MM in the DFW areas of Texas. I am not for allowing Masonry to go co-ed. The answers for drawing members from the younger crowd is to do social events and things that interest the younger men. I believe the "Boy Scouts of America" have made a huge mistake and their numbers will end up dwindling rather than increasing. At least in Texas anyway, where father - son bonds are a bit more closer and desired. Not meaning anything against women at all but they have their sororities and women's groups. They do not need to meddle into ours.
    I think the numbers have been dwindling down due to the loss of the Greatest Generation and lack of membership from the years of the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts. The young men in my family (and generation - 60's youth) were even made aware of Masonry. I never heard about it until the middle 90's and even then did not understand how to join. I was of the opinion that you had to be brought in by a father or grandfather. In researching genealogy I found where two great grandfathers were Masons but not grandfathers or my Dad. Guess lie was too busy back then with my Dad joining the Navy when he was 21 (in 1951). Lot of young men went off to serve our country and so were not home to be exposed to their home town lodges. That was my dad's answer. Hard "To be one - Ask one" when "No one - is one".
    Bringing in females in my opinion is not the answer. My lodge is drawing more younger men in by doing things outside of the lodge that interest young men. Golf outings, BBQs, charity work for veterans, having co-ed social outings, etc.
    Anyway, these are just my opinions and words. Don't see the need for women in our Masonic fraternity. Everything would change. But I guess it would liven up the degree ceremonies though. ;-) (just a joke)

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read my article and for replying. Obviously it's a controversial stance I've taken, and I realize it's not the only answer to the problem. However, it is a possible answer.

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  4. No. There are many gender neutral groups out there if you are inclined to join a group that has / allows women. Best of Luck.

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    1. We'll agree to disagree brother. Thanks for taking the time to read my article and writing a reply. It's nice that we can meet on the level and part upon the square.

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  5. I am a MM in the DFW area of Texas. Our lodge was established in 1846 and is considered the "Mother Lodge" of north Texas. So history and ritual are very strong and strict in our lodge room.
    But I also am very open minded about a lot of things but when it comes to the Boy Scouts I am NOT pleased with feminist forcing their way into the Boy Scouts. Nor would I be accepting of co-ed Masonry. The Boy Scouts are no longer "Boy Scouts" they need to change to merely "Scouts" if they are going to lower their standards and such.
    Masonry would no longer be a fraternity if we allow women in. It would merely turn into a "Masonic Social Club" as the very idea of a fraternity is MALE oriented since time immemorial, hence the name. Our dwindling membership is merely a product of attrition due to members of "The Greatest Generation" passing away and the lowered number of Masons who came in during the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts. Part of the issue is that back in the day for some reason Masonry was so "hush hush" that a huge number of men had no knowledge of Masonry or how to join. My paternal ancestors were Masons but it skipped my grandfather and father. My grandfather was busy working and raising a family I suppose. My dad told me before his passing that he did not know anything about Masonry even though his paternal and maternal grandfathers were both Masons. I was born in 1960 and I knew nothing of Masons until 1998 or so, and then still did not know how to become one. I thought it had to be a legacy thing where your father had to be one before you. So secrecy is one of the main causes it is not drawing new members. And I think that in some lodges they are not near as active in things outside the lodge. Hard to draw interest from young folks in attending one meeting a month and attend to just business and then "See ya next month!". Our lodge has social events such as golf outings, bowling, shooting competitions, and of course our charity events. BBQs and suppers and such. We have a "Sweetheart Dinner" every February where we honor our spouses and or girlfriends. We are family oriented when outside the lodge. I think if more lodges were active outside the lodge, provided interests to young men, and were not so "hush hush", our numbers might grow again. I know our lodge is growing as we have had 10 new members join in the past year. Texas has a strong Grand Lodge and is focusing on education for 2018. Obviously we DO NOT solicit / recruit new members, but this does not prevent us from presenting ourselves to the public and educating our community in what we do.
    Honestly had I know how easy it was to join, I would have done so back when I was 21. But again, the "Hush hush" part keeps us down. Hard "To be one - Ask one" if you never see, hear about or "Know one". But again, co-ed is not the way to go. Although, perhaps it might keep members more awake during the degrees. ;-)
    (just kidding)

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  6. I'm a millennial and this idea is dumb. A separate but Equal idea maybe. Or make OES not require a Master Mason connection. Allowing women fundamentally changes the organization. Using the odd fellows is a horrible example, they're almost noon existent. Maybe it's a clue why admitting women is a poor choice.

    Lastly, if women are admitted, atheists should be too. Being an atheist does not preclude somebody from participating in and growing from masonry.

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    1. I agree completely that atheists or polytheists should be allowed to join. I have several Hindu friends that I think would benefit from Masonry, who I've been reluctant to have petition because of an arcane belief that a God must be one and not many. Secondly, The Odd Fellows are a cautionary tale. They are actually growing faster than the Masonic fraternity in Illinois in percentage of new members. Let's not be too quick to dismiss them. One of the reasons for this is that they allow women... But we can agree to disagree. I thank you for reading my article and replying.

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  7. I couldn’t disagree more...on every point. To try to make this a discussion about money is beyond me. Does the craft have issues? Without question. I don’t believe those issues have anything to do with accepting women into the fraternity, nor do I think they’d be solved by accepting them. Its' problems stem from poor management and a general lack of give a shit.

    I truly believe it is beneficial for men to be around other men in the journey of Freemasonry, i.e. fellowship, ritual, etc. I say this specifically for my experience. If other men feel otherwise I believe there are other organizations that will meet their needs.

    Sincerely,

    A millennial

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    1. Hi Brandon,
      I appreciate your candor. However, the discussion is not just about money. I'm sorry if my article made you draw that conclusion. I was trying to say that having the potential revenue stream from women members might help offset the need for my Grand Lodge to feel the need to raise per capita, or make lodges in my state want to install Poker Machines to raise revenue. However, am I less of a Mason now because I dared to question the status quo? You're doing the same thing by saying the our problems stem from poor management and a general lack of giving a shit. I think we would both answer no. I don't think you are, and I hope you don't I am. We must continue to ask questions and challenge it if we want to improve not only ourselves but also our fraternity. In any case, thanks for reading my article and replying. I hope you'll keep reading the Midnight Freemasons, and I hope we can keep challenging you to think.

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  8. Freemasonry is hurting membership wise because so many of our members will not change the way we do things.

    Lodges at controlled by people who have been masons for 30 years who continue everyday to enforce that this is the way we've done it for the last 30 years as opposed to adopting new ways of doing things.

    This will be the most ironic statement, not admitting women is something that makes us unique it is a safe place for men, it is why women only gyms exist just to create a safe place for women to work out and enjoy each other's company in fitness. It is this reason that admitting women is not the answer, because you won't see a mass Resurrection of the craft by allowing the other half of the population in when in fact we're not ready to accept more members male or female.

    Without changing the ancient landmarks we were to update our practices and be a better organisation that delivers value to the man of 2017 we will find that we don't need to look at allowing women to join. What's an influx of Men return to the craft.

    Let those with strangled the craft for the last 30 years released their vice grip upon it and allowsl men of today to run the organisation to be something that delivers a safe place for the men of 2017 and that will be the solution

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    1. First of all, Great name you have. The spelling might be a little off but still :) Secondly, thanks for taking the time to write a reply. Yes we need to challenge the status quo. Yes we need to come up with ways to bring men back to the craft. My opinion is only mine. Some agree with me, many disagree, but we need to start having these conversations. Thanks for taking the time to read my article and for writing a reply.

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  9. I disagree on allowing women into our organization. I believe it would cause disharmony within lodges and alter ritual to accomodate. I agree with Bro:. Sean above about the removal of being related to a master mason to join OES. To my knowledge PHA OES have made this change in Pennsylvania.

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  10. I am also a millennial. I also disagree that women should be allowed into our fraternity. I disagree because it would cause disharmony and just as in the example of the Oddfellows it would alter ritual. I do however agree that the order of the Eastern Star should drop the requirement of a candidate being allowed to join as long as they are related to a Master Mason. I believe the order of the Eastern Star Prince Hall affiliated in Pennsylvania have already undergone this change. I agree with this article in the sense that women should have the right to seek light as any man can as there are orders available to them.

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    1. Hi Herman,
      Thanks for reading my article, and for writing a reply. I'm glad we can agree on some points, and that even though we might disagree on others, that we can part on the square when we do it.

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  11. WB Darin, I gently but firmly disagree. Thirty years ago I took certain solemn obligations in joining this fraternity. While you make several good points about the world in which we live as 21st century Masons, you make no case that those obligations should be ignored, modified, or renounced. I cannot go there.

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    1. Bro. Overby... Thanks for reading my article and for taking the time to reply. I appreciate your candor, and I'm glad that you at least can see my points even if we ultimately disagree.

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  12. I usually really enjoy this blog but I really cannot say I agree with most of this post. There are already co-ed 'Grand Lodges' in existence which cater to this mentality and if this practice was so favorable then you would see these organizations growing very rapidly.

    As it is, I could only see this doing more harm than good. I'm a millennial myself and this would drive me away.

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    1. Justin,
      First of all, thanks for reading my article and our blog. I'm appreciative your candor. Even though we disagree, I'm glad that we can meet on the level here and discuss this. We'll part upon the square as I thank you for taking the time to reply.

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  13. No.

    I am a millennial and there are plenty of other millennials in my lodge and surrounding lodges of the area, and what we want is an even more traditional experience of Freemasonry, not less. We want even stricter adherence to the landmarks, as well. I am of course speaking from my personal experience and those of which I have talked about with my brothers my age and younger. We certainly do not want a watered down, PC culture experience. We could get that from almost, if not all, other groups and organizations out there.

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    1. Dustin, thanks for taking the time to read my article and for replying. Isn't Freemasonry somewhat inherently already a PC culture experience? Isn't our belief that men are equal regardless of religion or race somewhat of a PC idea? In any case, I appreciate your candor, and even if we disagree, I hope that you'll keep reading our Blog.

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  14. I was an Australian Freemason born in 1958, my dad and both my grandfathers and most of my uncles were in the craft. I could have chosen to join as a Lewis but waited until I was of the full age of 21 years.

    I was the Centenary master of my Lodge and am a Past First Principal of my chapter. I had a revelation in the mid 90's caused by a number of things that meant I found I no longer believed in a supreme being, it of course did not change my morals or standing in my community but as a man of honour I could no longer attend lodge as whilst I could be true to my obligations I no longer qualified to be a Mason due to my atheism. I left Scouting for the same reason. I honestly miss the brotherhood and the companionship and would return in a heartbeat if i could retake my obligations on the constitution of my country (as an example) rather than TVofTSL. As for women in our assemblies I would be a solid No vote however the removal of the need to believe in a Supreme being would (I am sure) assist in the return of many many lapsed masons

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    1. Thanks for your reply and for taking the time to read my article. I agree that atheists should be able to join the lodge, or remain in the lodge if they become atheists. I know plenty of atheists who are of better moral character and fiber than so-called Christian men. This being said, many of the replies I've received have equated having women join us with allowing atheists. I guess you're similar classes in the eyes of many Masons.

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  15. I was an Australian Freemason born in 1958, my dad and both my grandfathers and most of my uncles were in the craft. I could have chosen to join as a Lewis but waited until I was of the full age of 21 years.

    I was the Centenary master of my Lodge and am a Past First Principal of my chapter. I had a revelation in the mid 90's caused by a number of things that meant I found I no longer believed in a supreme being, it of course did not change my morals or standing in my community but as a man of honour I could no longer attend lodge as whilst I could be true to my obligations I no longer qualified to be a Mason due to my atheism. I left Scouting for the same reason. I honestly miss the brotherhood and the companionship and would return in a heartbeat if i could retake my obligations on the constitution of my country (as an example) rather than TVofTSL. As for women in our assemblies I would be a solid No vote however the removal of the need to believe in a Supreme being would (I am sure) assist in the return of many many lapsed masons

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  16. As a PM and past GL officer in Australia, I offer the following observations:

    Firstly, having met and spoken to many wives and significant others of Freemasons, the vast majority of them do not want to join as members. Perhaps it's different here but the Lodge social, community and charitable activities are very inclusive of the women in our lives (as well as non-Masonic friends more generally) so women know first-hand the kind of men their partners are associating with at Lodge.

    Secondly, there is a need for what our CEO (who by the way is a woman) has called a "third place" for men, somewhere other than home and work where men can socialise, address matters that are impacting them and work and support each other to be the best that they can be. Having women there would fundamentally change the atmosphere and dynamics of the Lodge in a way that is likely to negatively impact its ability to nurture those important processes.

    Thirdly, even those women who choose not to be involved in their partner's Masonic activities take some measure of comfort knowing that there are no women in the Lodge room (this last point was brought to my attention by several older brethren).

    Look, I get the sentiment behind this post, I really do. When I was a new Freemason, I thought it was just a matter of time before women would be allowed into the Craft. As I have gained more experience, both in life and in Freemasonry, I think there is a real need for a place for men to associate with men, now more than ever, when the way a man needs to act and what is expected of him is becoming ever more ill-defined and fluid. In many ways, Freemasonry is a support group for today's man, and bringing women into the Lodge room would significantly decrease its effectiveness in that role.

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    1. Jim,
      Thanks for your well thought out and eloquent reply. I suspect that the experience of Masonry in Australia and in the United States differs greatly. Unfortunately, having women attend our degrees and business meetings here in the US I don't think would fundamentally alter anything. I also didn't mean to think that every spouse or girlfriend would want to join the lodge. I'm glad that you understand my sentiment. However, I have a hard time with the support group for men argument. I believe that if anything, even if women were allowed in lodge, you'd still see the men with the men before lodge and the women with the women. I still think that the men would be allowed to have close friendships and bonds with the other men in their lodge. I just believe the when the gavel drops, that the men and women could meet on the level. Thanks for taking the time to read my article and I hope you keep reading the blog.

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  17. Not in my masonry, not in my time. I am a proud mastermason of the Masonic FRATERNITY in the great State of Texas. Don't know about the obligations up in your neck of the woods, but down in these parts we have penalties against such libertine thinking.

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  18. Not in my masonry, not in my time. I am a proud mastermason of the Masonic FRATERNITY in the great State of Texas. Don't know about the obligations up in your neck of the woods, but down in these parts we have penalties against such libertine thinking.

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    1. Brother,
      Your reply is probably my favorite to my article. I would argue however that my being in support of allowing women to join is not against my obligation. I've not raised a woman. I'm not forming a clandestine lodge of women. However, I wouldn't be against it if my Grand Lodge allowed it. I'd be curious how the Grand Lodge of Texas obligates against having a libertine opinion on certain matters. I thank you for reading my article, and for taking the time to reply. I also will thank you in advance for allowing me to borrow libertine thinking as a phrase I am now working into my vocabulary. Best Regards.

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  19. I have to disagree with this idea for a number of reasons. First, is the fundamental: "the pillars." The pillars of Freemasonry cannot be changed because when you do, you change the organization into something else. Even if you still call it Freemasonry, it is not.

    Now, why is this pillar important? Does it make sense, and would it really change the organization? I say it would, for a very fundamental and psychological reason. Men and women are different. We have many similarities and we are both equal, but we are not the same. Men and women both need places where they can separate, and learn from people of their same gender. Men simply do not and will not open up, and share with other men when women are present, and vice versa. This is also why the Boy Scouts integrating is so problematic. Boys need a place to "be boys." To learn things outside of trying to be a certain person because females are around. I have seen the same thing in Men's Ministry in the church. Men will not talk about certain things around women, they will not open up, and vice versa.

    Now, about the money. With all due respect I find this to be just an excuse. If we can't find ways to raise funds and take care of our own houses, without resorting to changing the organization, then we no longer deserve to have the organization. The same is true with our recruitment and numbers. If we can't find enough men of the right character to be members, we either need to work to change our society, or close up shop and say "wasn't this a great time in our history, too bad it is gone."

    Finally, there are the other organizations. We don't NEED women in our lodges because we do in fact have co-ed organizations like Eastern Star. This organization is also shrinking, probably at a greater rate (although I can't prove that, just my speculation). If we can't get our wives, daughters etc. to join Eastern Star, then they won't join Masonry.

    I love and respect you brother, but I completely disagree.

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    1. Hi Russ,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my article. One of the common threads in many responses has been that men need their own 'safe space'. I think my next article may be about that.

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  20. I had written out what I believed to be a respectful and thoughtful response... but unfortunately it was deleted when I tried to preview it. Instead of spending another hour going point by point addressing your article, as I did in my attempted response, I'll offer up a truncated version.

    First, our obligations simply prevent it. This is an insurmountable obstacle. No one has the right to circumvent that. Not a woman, an atheist, nor an unqualified individual. Even those that do meet the qualifications have no right to challenge the ballot box, whose secrecy is indispensable. I don't believe saying they have the right is correct. They do not.

    Second, many fraternal and civic groups have always allowed female membership. You mentioned the Oddfellows and OES, and they are worse off than we are as far as membership numbers. If co-ed membership isn't saving them, how can you reasonable believe it will make the difference in freemasonry? I seriously doubt, sans obligation, a huge number of women would become interested to put a dent in our declining numbers.

    Third, "progressive" is a loaded term shaped by current social standards. Should masonic ideals of political equality and liberty no longer be considered progressive, they should not change to appear as what ever is deemed as currently progressive.

    Fourth, the ideals and principles of freemasonry have never been concerned with membership numbers or the size of a lodge bank account. Nor should that ever be our concern. If a lodge has only 20 quality men committed to excelling in the ideals and principles of freemasonry, then that is enough. One member who doesn't share those ideals is one member too many. Masonry will survive by quality, not quantity.

    When dignity is restored to our lodge rooms, and serious weight placed back on the principles and ideals of our fraternity, and brothers refuse to lower the standards of our conduct, but strive to excel in the things that make us great, membership will never be a problem.

    Can a woman express those ideals and principles? Yes, they are not owned by freemasonry exclusively. Many women already are individually and in other worthy organizations, churches, co-masonic groups, civic groups, charities, and businesses... of which many regular freemasons are a part of and have no problem with. So can a woman join regular freemasonry? No, our obligations prohibit it.



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  21. I had written out what I believed to be a respectful and thoughtful response... but unfortunately it was deleted when I tried to preview it. Instead of spending another hour going point by point addressing your article, as I did in my attempted response, I'll offer up a truncated version.

    First, our obligations simply prevent it. This is an insurmountable obstacle. No one has the right to circumvent that. Not a woman, an atheist, nor an unqualified individual. Even those that do meet the qualifications have no right to challenge the ballot box, whose secrecy is indispensable. I don't believe saying they have the right is correct. They do not.

    Second, many fraternal and civic groups have always allowed female membership. You mentioned the Oddfellows and OES, and they are worse off than we are as far as membership numbers. If co-ed membership isn't saving them, how can you reasonable believe it will make the difference in freemasonry? I seriously doubt, sans obligation, a huge number of women would become interested to put a dent in our declining numbers.

    Third, "progressive" is a loaded term shaped by current social standards. Should masonic ideals of political equality and liberty no longer be considered progressive, they should not change to appear as what ever is deemed as currently progressive.

    Fourth, the ideals and principles of freemasonry have never been concerned with membership numbers or the size of a lodge bank account. Nor should that ever be our concern. If a lodge has only 20 quality men committed to excelling in the ideals and principles of freemasonry, then that is enough. One member who doesn't share those ideals is one member too many. Masonry will survive by quality, not quantity.

    When dignity is restored to our lodge rooms, and serious weight placed back on the principles and ideals of our fraternity, and brothers refuse to lower the standards of our conduct, but strive to excel in the things that make us great, membership will never be a problem.

    Can a woman express those ideals and principles? Yes, they are not owned by freemasonry exclusively. Many women already are individually and in other worthy organizations, churches, co-masonic groups, civic groups, charities, and businesses... of which many regular freemasons are a part of and have no problem with. So can a woman join regular freemasonry? No, our obligations prohibit it.



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    1. Hi Anzan, Thanks for taking the time to reply to my article. I appreciate the time you spent on writing both replies. I agree with several of your points regarding quality over quantity of membership, but I still feel that if a woman of excellent character wanted to join us, then she should have that right. But we still unfortunately struggle with racism and homophobia in our Fraternity, so dealing with sexism is something that is down the road aways. In any case, thanks for having the discussion with me, and let us part upon the square.

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  22. MM from Maryland here. I wholeheartedly agree. Prohibitions against women only make us less and less desirable in the modern era. Nothing in our teachings is masculine-exclusive. Masonry has all the makings of an institution that could be wholeheartedly embraced by Millennials like myself, but too often I'm made aware by our elder Brethren how much of a "good ol boys" club it is, and always to its determent.

    Would we lose some members before we gained them back? Absolutely. But the members I believe we'd lose are the same members who we're going to lose to time soon enough.

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    1. Alex-Thanks for taking the time to read my article and comment. Thanks for agreeing with me. You can probably tell that opinion is one in the minority. Yes - the 'good ol boys' club or 'Red Pill Masculinity' cults need to be extinguished. Yes you're right we'd lose members, but we'd gain new ones as you said.

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