It’s no secret that the Craft often moves slowly. “No innovation in Freemasonry!” is our standard platitude for those less "forward-thinking", and as an organization led by representative, deliberative bodies loosely organized in a decentralized network of mutual recognition, even truly great ideas take a long time to become generally accepted. So long, sometimes, that they die on the vine. This is a shame.
A closer look at the history of Freemasonry, however, shows innovation at nearly every turn. The core principles of the Craft have remained stable while trestleboards gave way to paper newsletters and then to email updates. Candles became oil lights, and Lodges are now lit with electricity. Even our ritual--still best learned mouth to ear--has long been committed to paper and is quickly moving to secure digital formats. In Illinois, our Constitution and Bylaws restrict us from using a "Stereopticon", meanwhile digital projectors are all the rage.
One of the most recent tools to be updated is the good old membership card. Originally conceived at a Grand Lodge Convention in the 1840s, dues cards were a response to the proliferation of plain-text ritual books, which enabled cowans to learn all they needed to enter a Lodge. This emergent response morphed to tradition, and many Grand Lodges around the world now require an officially-issued form of identification to prove one’s status as a Mason in Good Standing. And if you travel, you better have some kind of letter from your Grand Secretary too.
In an era before computers, Grand Lodges required as much security for membership cards as could be mustered: a raised seal that was manually applied to each card, signatures and more. The cards were to be issued on a regular basis, often annually... and without the ability to check directly with the issuing Grand Lodge on the arrival of a visitor. Remember, no email, no telephone. The card was effectively imbued with the Brother’s Good Standing status for the term it covered.
Today’s technology offers the opportunity for important updates to this process. Everyone with a smart phone is familiar with creating an account for some service or other, and entering their credentials to verify--in real time--their authority to access that service. Electronic security measures are nearly as old as computers themselves, and have allowed for time savings in almost every process. Imagine... How much less work would you get done if you had to contact Google and show a membership card every time you wanted to access your email? Insane right?
Freemasonry is finally receiving the benefit of this not-so-modern-anymore technology with a new tool created by the team behind Amity, called simply King Solomon’s Pass. The Pass is a digital complement or addition to your dues card, and integrates with the membership systems of nearly fifty Grand Lodges around the world (it covers over 700,000 Masons in the US alone!).
For Grand Lodges this innovation is an important one, because it puts member verification back where it belongs: in the Grand Secretary’s hands. Instead of using a card that acts as the Grand Lodge’s authority for a set term, it lets the Tiler check with the Grand Lodge for the Brother’s status... in real time, every time.
For Freemasons, the Pass is nothing short of a quantum leap forward. It offers a secure, digital profile for any Brother, photo included, that can be used to verify all of the required administrative criteria: "Are you who you say you are?", "Does my Grand Lodge recognize yours?", "Is your Lodge active?", "Are you in Good Standing?", All that’s left is the Tiler’s Investigation, which of course must not be omitted and can never be replaced by an app.
King Solomon’s Pass is available at no cost to any Mason with an account in the Amity app. Over 50,000 Masons across 200+ Grand Lodges are already using the app, and Amity has just completed their live Integration with the MORI membership system (all of the other major systems are already supported).
For Masons in the Grand Lodge of New York, the new dues cards set to be issued in the next few weeks will all carry an Amity QR code. Other Grand Lodges can also get this tech at no cost, allowing their members to share their status in real time with anyone in the world.
It has been said that the only constant... is change. No matter how slowly our Craft moves, it is still ever-changing... perhaps not our Landmarks and goals, but certainly the methods we use to perform our Work. King Solomon’s Pass is a long-overdue addition to the Craft, and allows Masons from any Grand Lodge to better understand how we are all related... which, ultimately, benefits the Craft.
And before I leave you all, I want to say something else, The guys behind Amity have taken your digital security to the top level. Currently NO GRAND LODGE SOFTWARE offers the protections required by law like CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) and the European Standard GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). But guess who does abide by and is compliant? AMITY and King Solomons Pass Does/is. This is truly awesome technology that is digitally safer than even MORI or Grandview or any other database out there in regards to Freemasonry and our data.
You can find out more about King Solomon’s Pass at https://www.amity.com, or use it directly at https://i.travelsafely.app.
RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatrewhich focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon