While the social connections create a loudspeaker for what your Lodge, Valley, or Shrine may be doing, it also serves as a place for potential members to seek a starting point for the journey into Freemasonry. Freemasonry has been for many generations confined to your town or perhaps the neighboring town. There was a time when a person would have to walk into the Lodge and express interest; however, times have changed.
Today a simple e-mail can be sent to Grand Lodge. Grand Lodge will, in turn, get in contact with the Lodge that is near the potential member. Then that Lodge will reach out to the one who inquired. This is the traditional way. But more and more often, the first contact is made or asked through social media--and there begin the Masonic Journey.
With all these Freemasons online, I have met Brothers from all over the globe. But how do we make sure these people are actually Freemasons? While sometimes it’s easy to pick out Irregular or "quasimasonic" orders, others have passed themself off as Masons and do it very well. Still, how do we ascertain if one is genuinely a Brother--online?
I have seen many call out men who I have sat in lodge with simply because they refuse to state their lodge name and number. They'll be accused of not being a "Regular" Freemason. While Masonry holds secrecy in high regards, men need to understand privacy, and that privacy must be respected and honored. If someone doesn't want to give their Lodge name and number, so be it.
The protection of Craft is vital, especially online. From how one perceives you, to how you perceive another. But calling one out is not the answer. I feel that kindly dismissing yourself is critical, any other way often leads to a debate, and ultimately to online turmoil.
How do we navigate all of this? The short answer is that we really can’t. One can produce a “dues card”, but this still poses problems. It’s simple to go online and fashion a dues card with their name on it. Or cards issued by irregular lodges are produced and given to their members. It all seems legitimate. Yes, one can provide pictures of their dues card as well, but this also has its hurdles.
Michael Laidlaw was raised to the Sublime degree in 2011 and is a plural Member of South Pasadena 290 and Southern California Research Lodge where he is Junior Warden and Pop Culture editor for The Fraternal Review Magazine. He is also serving as Senior Steward for Arcadia 278. Michael is an active council member for Jobs Daughters Bethel 210 Arcadia (where his daughter is serving as Honored Queen) and serves on the Grand Lodge of California Youth Orders Committee. He is a 32° Scottish Rite Mason from the Valley Of Pasadena Orient of California where he has completed all three Master Craftsman Courses. Michael is also a member of San Gabriel Valley Chapter No. 100 RAM, Alhambra Council No. 25 CM, and Foothill Commandery No. 63 KT. He also holds Membership in Cinema Grotto and Order of Eastern Star.