The grouping of England, America and France as "Allies" in the

present war has furnished civilization with many peculiar

situations, in which Masonry shares. Believing that our Members

will be deeply interested in knowing the facts surrounding the

non-intercourse of English-speaking branches of the Fraternity with

the French, we announce a series of articles, of which this is the

first, dealing with various aspects of the situation.


The first, distinctly historical in its scope, is a paper which was

prepared by Brother Ramsey in response to a question proposed at a

Study Club meeting of Anamosa Lodge No. 46, in which the sole

effort was to present the reasons why the Grand Orient took the

position it did regarding the use of the Bible, and the subsequent

action of American Grand Lodges. At the Lodge discussion when this

paper was read, two ministers of the Gospel were present. One of

them had travelled in France, and was familiar with the subject,

which caused him to take a most sympathetic attitude toward the

French viewpoint.


The second contribution on this subject comes from the pen of

Brother R.E. Kellett, Grand Master of Manitoba, and though it bears

the title "Internationalism and Freemasonry," its dominant theme is

the position which the Grand Orient of France occupies in the

Masonic category. The essay was written before the entrance of

America into the war. It has been read before the Masters' and Past

Masters' Lodge of Christchurch, New Zealand, bringing out a

discussion which we hope to be able to digest for our readers in

due time. This discussion, occurring in a Lodge most intimately

associated with the Mother Grand Lodge, revealed a wide diversity

of opinion on the subject, as it will undoubtedly do among our own

members. We mention this particularly, not only because it reveals

the broadmindedness and temperate spirit of our New Zealand

brethren, but because the very fact that a whole session of the

Masters' and Past Masters' Lodge was devoted to it is in itself

significant of the scholarly qualities of the paper.


The third essay, "Freemasonry in France," has been written at our

request by Brother Geo. W. Baird, 33d, P.G.M., of the District of

Columbia, whose name is already a familiar one to our readers, and

who was made a Mason in Portugal in a French Lodge. Through his

position as Fraternal Correspondent of his Grand Lodge, Brother

Baird has had an exceptional opportunity to keep himself in touch

with world movements. This article will appear in an early number



All of these contributions evidence an eagerness on the part of the

writers that some way shall be found by which the nonintercourse of

nearly forty years shall be eliminated. Justification for a careful

research of the facts, if needed, may be found in the recent action

of the Grand Lodges of New York, California and Kentucky,

permitting their soldier members to visit Lodges in France.


The Question Box and Correspondence columns of THE BUILDER are open

to you, Brethren. We wish to hear both sides, and know that there

are many who will not be slow to take up the cudgels in support of

the historic position heretofore taken by our Grand Lodges. If this

discussion shall be the means of ultimately acquainting our members

with the facts, it may also give French members of the Society an

up-to-date expression of the American position--a result which may

perhaps be of influence to both sides, in the future.



JUST forty years ago, or to be exact, on September 14th, 1877, the

Grand Orient of France voted to eliminate from its ancient

constitution the following article: "Freemasonry has for its

principles the existence of God, the immortality of the soul and

the solidarity of mankind." It adopted in lieu thereof, the



"Whereas Freemasonry is not a religion and has therefore no

doctrine or dogma to affirm in its constitution, this Assembly has

decided and decreed that the second paragraph of Article 1, of the

Constitution (above quoted) shall be erased, and that for the words

of the said article the following shall be substituted:


1. Being an Institution essentially philanthropic, philosophic, and

progressive, Freemasonry has for its object, search after truth,

study of universal morality, science and arts, and the practice of

benevolence. It has for its principles absolute liberty of

conscience and human solidarity. It excludes no person on account

of his belief, and its motto is 'Liberty, Equality and



At the next annual session of the Grand Body in 1878 a move was

made to conform the ritual to the change of the constitution and a

committee directed to make report and recommendation for

consideration at the following session.


Accordingly in September, 1879, upon report of the committee, a new

ritual was adopted wherein all reference to the name and idea of

God was eliminated, but liberty was given to the Lodges to adopt

the new or old rituals as they should see fit. We are told, and can

easily believe, that this action was taken in the Grand Lodge

session amidst great excitement and in spite of a vigorous and

determined opposition of the minority. Naturally, and as a matter

of course, the change in the Constitution and ritual permitted the

removal of the Bible from the Altar.


It is not too much to say that the Masonic world stood shocked and

astounded at this radical departure taken by the French Masons.

Probably nothing in Masonic affairs with the exception of the

Morgan episode ever excited such widespread interest and

apprehension. The Masonic press in every country was filled with

vigorous discussion and many felt that it foreshadowed the division

of the Craft into two great sections--one believers in Deity and

non-political, and the other atheistic and democratic.


Grand Lodges especially in all English-speaking countries lost no

time in condemning in bitterest terms the action of the Grand

Orient and in severing fraternal relations. In our own State (Iowa)

in the Grand Lodge session of 1878, the Grand Master said:


"The Grand Orient of France having obliterated from its

constitution the paragraph which asserted a belief in the existence

of Deity, and by such action placed itself in antagonism to the

traditions, practice and feelings of all true and genuine Masons in

this jurisdiction and the world, deserves no longer a recognition

as a Masonic body from this Grand Lodge. Some years ago that Grand

Orient persisted in an invasion of the American doctrine of Grand

Lodge sovereignty, to the extent of organizing lodges in the

jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana and other states. We

then cut loose for a time from all fraternal intercourse with

French Masons rendering obedience to that Grand Orient. Having not

only set at naught the supreme authority of American Grand Lodges

over their respective jurisdictions, but that of God over men and

Masons, we should wipe our hands of all such bogus Masonry."


The deep concern with which the Grand Lodge of Iowa viewed this

matter was but an indication of the sentiment prevailing in Grand

Lodges of all English speaking countries at that time and in order

that we may realize something of this let us read the resolution of

our Grand Lodge in 1878:


To the M. W. Grand Lodge of Iowa:


"The special committee to whom the committee on the M. W. Grand

Master's address referred so much of the same as relates to the

Grand Orient of France, submit the following report:


"While we cordially agree with and endorse all of the views of our

M.W. Grand Master and the Committee on this subject, yet we

consider that its importance requires more than a mere resolution.

If the course of the Grand Orient of France is allowed to go

unrebuked and become the recognized law, we may well say farewell

to Masonry. It is the glory of our Institution that we do not

interfere with any man's religious or political opinions. At the

same time we discountenance atheism and doubt, disloyalty and

rebellion. No atheist can be made a Mason; and the first inquiry

made of a candidate, after entering the lodge is, in whom does he

put his trust? These are the essential requisites, and the

cornerstone on which our Masonic edifice is erected. Remove them,

and the structure falls. What is the course that the Grand Orient

of France takes ? They have entirely blotted out this necessary

qualification, and leave it to the "ipse dixit" of each initiate to

decide as he prefers, thus entirely ignoring the imperative belief

in God and His attributes, as understood in all enlightened

countries. American Masons will not submit to such a monstrous

proposition, and the mere thought of it is well calculated to

arouse our indignation and dissent. We protest against such an

innovation, and "wipe our hands" of it. Let such sentiments

prevail, and our enemies will desire no better argument with which

to destroy us. The Grand Lodges of Ireland and England have set

noble examples to the Masonic world, by remonstrating, and breaking

off all intercourse with these iconoclasts. Several of our Grand

Lodges have followed their example, and others will doubtless soon

join their ranks. We feel that we speak the sentiments of the

Masons of Iowa when we say that we disapprove and condemn the

course of the Grand Orient of France, and we desire to express

these opinions still more emphatically by the resolution hereunto



"RESOLVED, That the Grand Lodge of Iowa, having learned with

surprise and regret that the Grand Orient of France has departed

from the ancient landmarks, by blotting from the constitution and

ignoring the name of God, and not making a belief in Deity a

prerequisite for initiates, does hereby express its indignation at

the course she has taken, and herewith severs all relations

heretofore existing between us.


"RESOLVED, That a copy of this resolution be sent to the Grand

Orient of France, and to each of the Masonic jurisdictions with

which we are in amicable relation."


With both friends and enemies of Masonry unreservedly condemning

the action of the French Brethren it would seem that there must be

little justification or defense. But as is usually the case there

were two sides to the issue. There were some peculiar circumstances

including such a radical departure, and the most interesting part

of this discussion will be to learn the motives and objects which

actuated those responsible for it. Do not forget, that if allowed

to exist at all in Catholic countries, as frequently they could

not, Masonic Lodges necessarily had to he much different in

character than are ours in this "land of the free and home of the

brave." France and the French people had been under the dominion of

the Catholic Church from time immemorial and at that period a large

majority of the population were its members. The Church controlled

all affairs of the State. Of course Masons were struggling for

liberty, justice and equality in order to accomplish the separation

of the Church and State and to loosen the hold of the Church on the

school system and public affairs, it was essential that the

reformers should be united and that none should be excluded by

reason of his belief. Thus the Grand Orient stood as the logical

nucleus around which an organization might be effected. They needed

the support of all men of every shade of religious belief, hence

the declaration of absolute freedom of thought and the elimination

of all dogma, always,--as they expressed it--"the starting point of

narrowness and persecution." This was in 1877.  In 1907--thirty

years later--France accomplished the division of the Church and

State and Catholicism no longer remained "The Religion of France."


There was another factor in the controversy-- The Scottish Rite

body of Masonry, with which the Grand Orient had been in continual

controversy for many years over matters of jurisdiction and the

right to confer certain degrees. The Grand Orient Masons have

always resented the accusation that they promulgated unbelief and

atheism. In fact, and in support of an opposite contention, they

cite the circumstance, that when the amendment to change the

constitution was proposed, at a meeting of the Council, preliminary

to the Grand Session, a Protestant minister, M. Desmons, drew the

report in support of the resolution in which he argued that the

disappearance of the original article of belief would not imply a

profession of atheism, but merely an admission into the Craft of

men of all opinions, and that Masonry should welcome men of all

doctrines and every shade of thought.


Here is the idea of a member of the Grand Orient, expressed only a

few weeks since:


"The Grand Orient of France, while it respects all philosophical

beliefs, insists upon absolute liberty of belief. This does not

mean that we banish from our lodges the belief in God. The United

Grand Lodge of England on the contrary desires to make a belief in

God in some manner compulsory. The Grand Orient of France is much

more liberal, since in proclaiming the absolute liberty of belief

it permits to each one of its members the liberty to believe or not

to believe in God, and by so doing desires to respect its members

in their convictions, their doctrines and their beliefs.


"This is the reason why fraternal relations do not exist between

the United Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Orient of France.

We regret this exceedingly. England has always been considered,

rightly in other respects, a country of liberty. It is difficult to

understand under the circumstances why the Freemasons of this great

and noble nation should want to deprive their brothers of France of

this same liberty."


Brother J. G. Findel, the well known scholar, historian and

journalist, in writing to the London Freemason in 1878, ably stated

the contentions of the French body in these words:


"But it is not my intention to give such general declarations on

the true meaning of the Royal Art, as it seems more necessary to

help to a right understanding of the resolution of the Grand Orient

of France. Our French brethren have not deserted the belief in the

existence of God and immortality of the human soul, in striking out

the discussed words of the first article of the constitutions, but

they have only declared that such a profession of faith does not

belong to Masonic law. The Grand Orient has only voted for liberty

of conscience, not against any religious faith. Therefore, the true

meaning of the French constitution is now only, that each brother

Mason may believe in God or not, and that each French Lodge may

judge for itself which candidate shall be initiated or not. The

French vote is only an affirmative of liberty of conscience, and

not a negation of faith.


"The excommunication of the Grand Orient of France by the Masonic

Grand Lodges, is therefore an intolerant act of Popery, the

negation of the true principles of the Craft, the beginning of the

end of cosmopolitan Freemasonry. The excommunication of the Grand

Orient of France only proves the sectarian mind of the

excommunicating Grand Lodges, which have forgotten that Masonry has

for its purpose to unite all good men of all denominations and

professions: they profess the separating element, and destroy the

Craft, and waste the heritage of our more liberal and more tolerant

forefathers. The Masonic union will in future be a mere illusion,

if the AngloSaxon Masons condemn the French, German, Italian

Masons, &c., and vice versa."


The great questions of recognition, invasion of jurisdiction,

establishment of irregular lodges and many other matters which grew

out of this movement can hardly be followed here. They are worthy

of further discussion.


What we started to tell was "Why the French Grand Orient removed

the Bible from its altar." It has been noted in a very brief way

how they did it and under the exigency of the situation "got by

with it" with a good conscience. That they were actuated by high

purposes few will deny, but most Grand Lodges then held and still

aver that Masonry can not be Masonry without strict adherence to

the requirement of a belief in God. Few of the Grand Lodges

severing relations have ever resumed them. Such action is still

within the range of future possibilities. Who can tell ?









Owing to lack of space, we have, with Brother Kellett's permission,

divided his article into two parts. In the present issue he

summarizes for us the attitude and activities of the Grand Orient

of France. He uses official sources, and, while at first blush it

may appear that the Grand Orient has encroached upon political

preserves, it will be well for us to hear Brother Kellett through,

before rendering ourselves a decision. In the second installment

will be presented the point of cleavage between Anglo-Saxon Masonry

and the Masonry of France.



With meteoric suddenness the present war has ruthlessly cut off

many lines of communication and channels of intercourse between

nations and peoples. Freemasonry has suffered with the rest. This

catastrophe has so jarred the mechanism of our daily lives and

impaired the development of the human race as to make us realize

more than ever before the distinct advantage to be obtained from

international co-operation. To attain the highest efficiency,

socially, morally, commercially and otherwise, the cooperation of

one people with another is necessary. We are interdependent one

upon the other. The organization of the relations among men on a

universal basis, embracing the whole of the inhabited world, has

been demonstrated to tend to the greatest good.


When each of the peoples of the earth lived unto themselves alone

little progress was made, especially along the higher ethical lines

that tend to the broadest development of a nation. Love of self

reigned supreme; the law of the jungle prevailed, and might proved

right. The evolution of the years modified these ideas, as peoples

came to know one another better through the intercourse of trade.

Old prejudices gradually broke down, and civilization took a wider

meaning. International conventions were called to consider the

betterment of relations between people and people. These gave birth

to international services, all tending to unite the civilized world

in common action for general progress, and to assure to human

activity the fullness of its powers. We had reached the point where

we were dreaming of a better life, universal peace, harmony and

progress. The masses today are uttering a cry of hope that the

present barbaric struggle may not be in vain, but may prove to be

but a stepping stone to even better things. May their hopes come to



No association exists which more naturally tends towards

internationalism than Freemasonry. Anderson's Masonic Constitution,

promulgated in 1723, said the following:--"Ye shall cultivate

brotherly love, which is the foundation and the master stone, the

cement and the glory of this ancient confraternity, for we as

Masons are of all races, nations and languages." An eminent

present-day writer on Freemasonry has said of it: "High above all

dogmas that bind, all bigotries that blind, all bitterness that

divides, it will write the eternal verities of the Fatherhood of

God, and the brotherhood of man." Its origin, past history,

organization and philosophy all lead in that direction, and have no

other goal than universal brotherhood.


A great deal of good can be accomplished by a world-wide fraternal

connection between Freemasons of all countries. Masonry's aim is

the Fraternity of men and the spread of the principles of

Tolerance, Justice and Peace. How better can this be accomplished

than by mutual understanding ? If we continue to hold ourselves

aloof, will we ever attain the object we seek? Is it not astounding

that Freemasonry should still be divided, and so far from being

united? Would it not seem that every Mason should use his influence

to help weld the chain of the international fraternity for the

accomplishment of universal unity, peace, tolerance and mutual



It is my purpose to point out to what extent the Freemasons of the

world are disunited, and what the main lines of cleavage are. In

particular, I desire to give some information about the Grand

Orient of France, which is a representative institution of that

class of Freemasonry towards which Anglo-Saxon Freemasonry has had

particular antipathy.


According to the latest available statistics, there are

approximately 2,100,000 adherents to Freemasonry scattered through

all countries in the world. These have been divided into three

distinct groups. Authorities say they do not differ materially in

customs, principles, or traditions. In what then can they rightly

differ? The divisions are made because of the greater or less

importance given to religious ideas.


To quote the International Bureau of Masonic Affairs, established

in Switzerland with the aim of completing an arrangement whereby

Freemasons of all countries may mingle with one another in the

Lodges, visit one another, and learn to know one another, these

divisions may be given as follows:


"(1) The first group regards as-being of absolute necessity the

adoption of what are called the 'Landmarks,' and in particular

these two, viz., a belief in the G.A. of the U. and the presence of

the Bible on the altar. Some of this group decline to receive into

its Lodges Masons who belong to groups which do not admit these two

landmarks. Others of this group also revere the G.A. of the U., and

possess the symbol of the Bible, but they do not close their doors

to any visitor who proves himself to be a Mason, even when his

obedience admits neither the formula of the G.A. of the U. nor the

Bible. Our brethren of the Grand Orient of France are welcomed with

pleasure by them.


"(2) The second group which comprises part of Latin Masonry, leaves

to its adepts the right to believe in God, even in the esoteric God

of the religions, and imposes on them no act of faith, which does

not hinder it from admitting to its Lodges all visiting brethren,

to whatever obedience they may belong, and without any other proof

than their title as regular Masons. This group holds the principle

of mutual tolerance, the respect of others and one's self, and

absolute liberty of conscience; it does not allow of any dogmatic



"(3) The third group comprises purely Christian Masonry,"

Very much of interest could be said in giving an account of the

effort made by the International Bureau of Masonic Affairs to the

furtherance of mutual friendship and brotherhood among the

Freemasons of all lands. Considerable progress was made, and

particularly on the Continent of Europe, it developed considerable

enthusiasm for the fraternal object aimed at. The war for the

present has brought their peace activities to a close. In one of

their later official Bulletins they say regarding it:


"If we were pessimists we should once for all give up our plans,

our endeavours and our work in behalf of an improvement in the

relations among men. But we know that in spite of everything our

cause is the best, and that nothing, not even the most overwhelming

upheavals, must discourage us.... It will behoove the friends of

peace and of fraternity to proclaim to the world that the ideas of

which they are the guardians may be defeated, but that they never

die and never surrender."


Many times in commenting on the progress of their work in their

official Bulletin this Bureau has deplored the fact that antagonism

still exists between certain Masonic bodies because brethren too

readily believe all the evil that is propagated about the Masonry

of another country without taking the trouble to ascertain facts by

making enquiries at a reliable source. They say credence is too

readily given to hateful affirmations, which are adopted without

examination, and they make the plea that brethren make the

necessary enquiries from the proper source. They add further: "It

would suffice to see one another in order to know, to love, and to

appreciate one another."


Not wishing to lay myself open to any charge of unfairness, acting

upon this suggestion I wrote the following letter:


"Winnipeg, July 24, 1916.

"Grand Secretary, Grand Orient of France, "Rue Cadet 9, Paris.

"Dear Sir and Brother:


"Freemasonry, being a so-called universal institution, one of whose

main tenets is the universal brotherhood of man, occupies a

somewhat anomalous position today, at least in so far as France and

English-speaking countries are concerned. Masonically we do not

recognize one another.


"United as we are in the great titanic struggle now going on in

Europe, it would seem that we should also be fraternally united. At

any rate, the present would be a most opportune time for

considering the matter, as it would surely get sympathetic



"The organization which I represent is a Masonic organization, in

that its members are Past Masters of regular Lodges in this

jurisdiction, but it is not affiliated as an organization with the

Grand Lodge of Manitoba, A. F. and A. M. We purposely have not

sought such affiliation because we want more freedom of subjects

for discussion than organized Masonry here would allow. All of our

members are members of the Grand Lodge, so that the thought and

decisions of our Association have a certain indirect effect on the

action of the Grand Lodge.


"I make this explanation to make it clear to you that I am at

present making no overtures from the Grand Lodge, and have no

authority to do so. I simply want to find out from you information

with regard to the Grand Orient of France, with the view, if

possible, through our Association, of breaking down the barriers

between Masonry here and Masonry in France. I am therefore going to

be perfectly frank in my questions, and trust that you will think

them more pertinent than impertinent, for impertinence is not

intended. I am actuated by a sincere desire to secure mutual

recognition, if possible.


"It may be said frankly at the outset that the Grand Orient of

France is generally looked upon by the rank and file here as an

absolutely impossible organization for us to recognize in any way.

You are generally considered to have departed from the ancient

traditions of the Order, to be frankly atheistic, and to be in a

great measure a political organization. I have heard it said by

some here that you have mixed Lodges of men and women, and that you

have made numerous innovations in Masonry that are not in accord

with the ancient tenets of the Order.


"These are charges which I can neither endorse nor deny, not having

the necessary knowledge. As your organization is the largest

Masonic organization in France, I can hardly imagine though that it

can be so 'terrible' as some would have us believe. Will you

enlighten me ?


"I believe you were at one time in friendly intercourse with the

Grand Lodge of England. Why was this cut off? I presume there was

some argument in connection with it; if so, what was your side of

the contention ? Does the Grand Orient of France control only the

first three degrees, or these and the higher degrees as well ?


"There are other questions I might ask, but I have probably asked

enough to lead you to give me complete information as to your claim

for recognition. I hope you can find time to answer this by letter,

and if you have any printed matter that would give fuller

information I would be pleased to receive it.


"It would be a great pleasure to me if this would result in the

barriers between us being pulled down, so that we can grasp one

another with fraternal grip and work together for the general good.

"Yours sincerely,


"President Past Masters' Association, A. F. and A. M., Winnipeg."


In due course I received the following reply:


"Paris, October 6, 1916. "To Very Dear Bro. Kellett, Winnipeg.


"Very Dear Brother,--I have the honour to inform you that your

letter, dated July 24th last, has been duly received by the Grand

Orient of France. Some time before its receipt, and at the request

of our Bro. Quartier-le-Tente of Switzerland, copies of our

Constitution and of our General Regulations were mailed to you.

Today I am mailing you a copy of the pamphlet, 'The Freemasonry of

the Grand Orient of France.' The perusal of these two pamphlets

will be sufficient to demonstrate to you exactly what the Grand

Orient of France really is. I also desire to reply to the questions

which you have asked me.


"It is easy to say that the Grand Orient of France has abandoned

the ancient traditions of the Order, but it is very difficult to

prove it. To state that we are frankly atheistic is to commit the

greatest error. It will be sufficient that you read the second

paragraph of the first article of our Constitution, which reads as



"'Freemasonry has for its basic principles mutual tolerance,

respect for others and for oneself, and liberty of conscience.'


"I can affirm that the Grand Orient of France is neither deist,

atheist, nor positivist. All philosophical conceptions are

represented within its body.


"In what manner is the Grand Orient of France a political

organisation? It includes among its members (it must not be

forgotten that France is a Republic) citizens belonging to all the

various phases of political opinion. You will thus see that the

Grand Orient of France is not bound to any party, and cannot in

consequence be considered a political organisation. All

philosophical questions are discussed in our Lodges, including

political and social economy, and each member may, during the

course of these discussions, express freely his personal opinions

in a fraternal and friendly manner suitable to Masonic re-unions.


"The Grand Orient of France consists of: Lodges which confer the

first degrees (Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason);

Chapters which work up to the Eighteenth Deg. (Rose Croix),

Philosophical Councils or Aeropages, which work up to the Thirtieth

Deg. (Kadosh); and the Grand Lodge of Rites (Supreme Council of the

Grand Orient of France). This confers the Thirty-first,

Thirty-second and Thirty-third Degrees. The Grand Orient of France,

which was founded in 1736, includes at present 472 Lodges, 75

Chapters, and 31 Philosophical Councils or Aeropagei. Contrary to

the information that has been given you, we have not under our

jurisdiction mixed Lodges of men and women, nor Lodges of women

only. We do not even recognise such Lodges.


"As you may have seen in our Constitution, and as I have stated

previously, the Grand Orient of France, while it respects all

philosophical beliefs, insists upon absolute liberty of belief.

This does not mean that we banish from our Lodges the belief in

God. The United Grand Lodge of England, on the contrary, desires to

make a belief in God in some manner compulsory. The Grand Orient of

France is much more liberal, since in proclaiming the absolute

liberty of belief it permits to each one of its members the liberty

to believe or not to believe in God, and by so doing desires to

respect its members in their convictions, their doctrines and their



"This is the reason why- fraternal relations do not exist between

the United Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Orient of France.

We regret this exceedingly. Is it not painful to contemplate that

these two Masonic bodies continue to ignore one another, even at

the moment when England and France are so closely and cordially

united for the defence of Right, Justice and Civilization? Do the

English and French soldiers, who are fighting side by side and

giving freely of their blood for the triumph of this just cause,

trouble themselves about the philosophical beliefs of one another?

Nevertheless, an intimate fraternity exists between them, which

excites the admiration of the civilized world.


"England has always been considered, rightly in other respects, a

country of liberty. It is difficult to understand, under the

circumstances, why the Freemasons of this great and noble nation

should want to deprive their brothers of France this same liberty.


"I ardently desire to see these difficulties, which appear to me to

be based upon mutual misunderstanding, removed. As a Freemason and

as a Frenchman this is my fervent wish. I ask you to accept, very

dear brother, the assurance of my most fraternal sentiments.


"The President of the Council of the Order."


The information received may, therefore, be regarded as authentic,

and what I have to say regarding the Grand Orient of France will

not be based on mere hearsay. A careful reading of the letter

quoted above, the Constitution and the pamphlet referred to, cannot

but impress one with the-earnestness and the whole souled fraternal

spirit of the Grand Orient. Their methods are different from ours,

but this is due to the circumstances of their environment, which

has influenced them quite materially. One cannot help but notice

that they have the same aims and possess the same aspirations as we

have, and that they seem, if anything, more earnest than we are in

working towards the desired end--the advancement and good of

mankind. They seem to direct most of their activity along


external and social lines. The ideal ever before them seems to be

the moral and intellectual improvement of their members.


Their whole Lodge life is aimed to train their members for a life

of activity in the interests of humanity. It has been said that

Masons who live in Protestant countries can hardly realise the

privilege they enjoy. Authorities say the Freemasons of France have

been subjected to narrow-minded intolerance and prejudice; that

they have been excommunicated, persecuted, insulted and detested;

and that their benevolent activities have been met by all the

hindrances, calumnies, slanders and active opposition pitiless

clericalism could invent. By the very force of events Masonry in

France became the directing force of the democracy. Masonic Lodges

became centres where liberal minds could gather for exchange of

views. Even there they had to be discreet, for the police were on

the watch. Circumstances in France have been such that it would

have been, as one has expressed it, "a crime against the Masonic

idea for the members to shut themselves up in classic Masonry."


This condition existed in the years following the establishment of

the third Republic after 1870. For a number of years, though, they

have not been seriously threatened by their old enemies. The aspect

of affairs has changed. That period of intolerance--intolerance

from a Clerical source is responsible for the stand the French

Masons took with regard to "God and Religion" and "Politics." But

I will say more later on those two topics. They may have committed

errors, but in my opinion have done nothing for which they should

be punished today.


They regret being separated from the brethren of other countries,

and, as we have seen from the letter quoted, they would welcome the

fraternal hand from us. Separation is, I believe, due to



French Masons seem to regard the institution as still in its

infancy, not yet definitely formed, a progressive institution. They

are not averse to trying out-reforms. They do not consider the

institution is such as they should be satisfied with and refuse to

change in any respect. They believe it should be changed, in

anything but principle, if it will help to realize the dream of a

world at peace and civilized in a truly Masonic sense. Their

programme is entirely philosophical. Their Lodges are schools,

existing to mould independent thinkers, free from prejudice and

intolerance to take their part in the citizenship of the nation.


Stated briefly, their principles, etc., as set forth in their

official pamphlet, "The Freemasonry of the Grand Orient of France,"

are somewhat as follows:


They recognise no truths save those based on reason and science,

and combat particularly the "superstitions and presumptions" of

French Clericalism. Their primordial law is Toleration, respect for

all creeds, all ideas, and all opinions. They impose no dogma on

their adherents. They encourage free research for truths--

scientific, moral, political and social. Their work among members

is to develop their faculties and to augment their knowledge by

study and discussion. Men of all classes are taken into their

Lodges to work in common "for the emancipation of the human spirit,

for the independence of the people, and for the social welfare of



Their system of morality is based on the teaching that to be

happier one has to be better. The scientific study of the human

heart establishes for them the fact that social life is the most

indispensable weapon in the struggle for existence. Those who live

a common life and band themselves together endure, while those who

isolate themselves succumb. The association of individuals develops

love and expands in the heart desire for the welfare of all. They

particularly point out that morality can be attained outside of

religious superstitions or philosophical theories.


French Freemasonry, in addition to striving to emancipate its

members and separate morality from religious superstition and

theory, recognises its mission to make citizens free and equal

before the law--to develop the idea of brotherhood and equality.

She enunciates the principle that it is the primitive heritage of

man, his individual right, to enjoy fully the fruit of his work; to

say and to write that which he thinks; to join himself to his

fellows when he sees fit; to make that which seems good to him; to

associate for common purposes of any kind, material or

intellectual; to put into practice, his ideas and his opinions; to

teach that which he learns in the course of experience and study,

and to demand from society respect for the liberties for each and



This may sound very socialistic, but the conditions of the country

may have required a declaration of that kind from Masonry. I cannot

help regarding this as simply a distinct protest against the

encroachments of Clericalism.


This pamphlet further declares that Masonry works for the assuring

of the triumph of democracy, so that citizens can take "a direct

part, as considerable as possible, in carrying on of public

affairs, and in exercising the greatest possible part of that

national sovereignty towards which the people of France have

marched for a century without being able to attain."


French Freemasonry interests herself in social laws because she

believes that through them men will realize the simultaneous

welfare of the individual, the family and general society. History

bears witness to the necessity of so moulding these laws as to

overcome the rivalry of selfish interests from whence spring the

miseries, the sufferings and hatreds of society. Social problems

they, therefore, consider legitimate Masonic problems if Masonry is

to fulfil its mission in its broadest sense. They believe the

things that menace the progress of human society should be

discussed, so that indirectly they may be drawn to the attention of

public opinion, and through that laws will be demanded to remedy

them. Under this heading they cite particularly that they aim at

legislation to combat misery which is the most active cause of

degeneracy, bad morals and crimes; legislation to protect the child

gainst moral, intellectual and physical atrophy; legislation to

lighten the burden of the woman in the family and in society;

legislation to recognize the dignity of abour, to ensure the safety

of the labourer, and to help n solving the strifes of labour. They

realize fully the vastness of the task they set themselves in

intellectual, moral and social development, but Freemasonry, being

a permanent institution, has the time for it, and does not

therefore allow herself to be deterred because of the size of the

task; a step at a time finally succeeds.


They describe their Lodges as being ateliers, in the sense of being

study classes or schools. Their membership is recruited by

voluntary impulse, as with us, the only condition of membership

being that of being free, as we Masonically understand it, and of

having good morals.


No dogma, religious, political or social, is imposed on their

members. Each member has absolute liberty of thought, which he is

led to modify or change along the lines of progression as his own

sense may dictate when, by discussion, more extended knowledge and

more numerous facts present themselves.


The condition that every free man of good morals, whatever his

ideas may be, can introduce into the discussions of the Lodge

principles and aspirations of the more diverse kind as to political

and social conditions has the result of educating and moulding

opinion in the best possible way. As when one stone is struck upon

another a jet of light is produced, so when ideas clash,

enlightenment likewise follows.


By virtue of a well-balanced scheme, to the centre of which these

incongruous thoughts move from the absolute order maintained in the

discussion, they understand themselves and criticise themselves.

They analyse and refine the one, the other, and evolve a common

reflected opinion.


The result is every French Freemason goes from Lodge, if not

transformed, at least better informed, improved in every way. The

truth which the Masonic study has created percolates indirectly

into profane society, with manifest results.


French Freemasonry thus offers its initiates a means of re-union

where they can inspect their efforts and their researches. She

places them in the centre of human researches. "By the framework,

by the symbols, by the custom, she makes them develop, without

knowing it, the best that is in them, intellectually and morally,

besides realizing the fruitful union of heart and spirit." She

elevates individuals by inciting them to make themselves strong,

desirable and true, just and good. She protects her members at the

same time against excess by maintaining internal discipline.


By conducting these studies the Grand Orient of France keeps before

her members, and indirectly before the people generally, the most

practical model and the most ideal. She has already exerted a

powerful influence on the different institutions of the people. Her

task is to inculcate, more and more; true order for the betterment

of humanity. In specifying more and more this ideal she works to

the end of bringing about the most favourable conditions, and at

the same time the most legitimate conditions, of happiness.


This "elevated school of intellectual and moral nobility" shines

not to lose itself in mere abstraction, but studies what would seem

to be of practical benefit to humanity. She gives her force,

trained by intelligence, to the service of Light and of the Spirit.

With study and research always going on and never interrupted, the

Freemasonry of the Grand Orient of France cannot therefore become

dogma. New thought and reason is ever being evolved. Further

investigation is forever upsetting proven theories.


As to their methods of working to these ends, the pamphlet gives

some very interesting information. Their annual Convention,

composed of delegates from all the Lodges, meets in Paris every

year in the month of September. One of the most important functions

of this Convention is to fix the questions which ought to be

referred, for the consideration of the Lodges during the ensuing

year. The programme is discussed, added to and taken from, and

finally adopted and sent out to the Lodges. By this method the

General Convention condenses the thought of Masonry throughout all

the Lodges, and members are kept in touch with all the studies

pursued in other Lodges than their own. The Masonic thought of the

whole country is systematized and crystallized.


Aside from the Convention programme, each Lodge keeps a teacher to

study problems of philosophy, morality, socialism, and history, and

bring before the Lodge what he considers worthy of discussion. The

Lodges work, therefore, largely on their own initiative, and these

new discussions are reported at the next Convention, and may

perhaps be put on the general programme for the following year.

To us these discussions might seem to lead on to dangerous ground

and have bad effects. With reference to this they say:


"The discussions which these problems provoke are always conducted

courteously and amicably. Tolerance is the first rule of the

Masonic Association. It is thus that men belonging to philosophical

or political schools, of the most diverse kind, may find

harmoniously, without noise and without vain agitations, the

solution of the problems which interest the prosperity of the

nation and the progress of humanity."


Among the principal questions examined in the Conventions and in

the Lodges for some years back are the following, taken from a list

they give:



The status of women and children in modern society.

The struggle against alcoholism.

The struggle against crime, more especially juvenile crime.

The means of combating prostitution, vagabondage, and mendicancy.



The reform and simplification of legal procedure.

Reform of the Magistracy.

Civil Service administration.

Public instruction, the taking it out of the hands of the clergy.

Betterings of methods of taxation.



Condition of the working man and how it may be bettered.


Cheap dwelling houses.

Agricultural credits.

Working men's credits.

Means of encouraging the apprentice system.

Homes for working women.



Study of morality outside of all religious dogma.

The finding of a morality, lay and scientific.

Study of the various philosophical systems.


What I have just given is but a brief synopsis of what is contained

in their pamphlet, "The Freemasonry of the Grand Orient of France,"

which, being an official publication for the purpose of setting

forth their aims, aspirations and reasons for being, may be

regarded as a fair statement.


What might also be called hereditary objections are hard to

overcome, and some of you may now be disposed to think their

philosophy and work mere socialism, to be scoffed at and carefully

avoided by Masonry. The Sermon on the Mount was equally, if not

more, socialistic, yet you do not think of putting it aside on

account of that. A great English scholar once said that Christ's

Sermon on the Mount may be justly regarded as the charter of

Christian Socialism.


Objection may be raised that this kind of thought, working in

French Masonic Lodges, would inevitably lead to the Masonic

institution in France becoming a mere political organization. Such

I do not believe to be the case, and in rebuttal of your thoughts,

if they lean that way, I would refer you again to the statement in

the letter I have quoted, that their membership is made up of men

from all political parties in France. Along the same line I will

quote paragraph 15 of their Constitution, which says:


"Lodges have the right of discipline over all their members and

over all Masons present at their working.


"They prohibit all debates on the acts of Civil authority, and all

Masonic intervention in the struggles of political parties.


"The presiding officer rules the meeting."


The Grand Orient of France has also at various times issued

instructions enforcing the above rules. To quote:


"If, as citizens, the members of the Federation are free in their

political actions, as Freemasons they must abstain from bringing

the name and the flag of Freemasonry into election conflicts and

the competition of parties."--Circular 1885.


"All political debates at Masonic meetings are strictly

forbidden."--Circular 1885.


If French Masonry has a political influence, and no doubt it has,

it is an indirect influence which we in this jurisdiction might do

worse than emulate. The latest political influence they are

credited with exerting is that which established secular schools in

place of monastic schools. A few facts in connection with this will

indicate why the French people, non-Masons as well as Masons,

demanded this separation. In France in 1897 there were fourteen

convictions in the Courts against monastic teachers for "outrages

on decency." In 1898 there were thirteen more convictions for

similar offences. Severe sentences were imposed in each case by

Catholic judges.


Is it any wonder that the monasteries were abolished and secular

schools established? Masonry has been blamed in magazine articles

for bringing this change about. No official action was taken. Some

informers may have been Masons, but not all of them. Who would not

inform? I have not been able to find any evidence to substantiate

the charge made against Masonry, but if similar conditions existed

in this country I should be sorry if the Masonic institution here

were not red-blooded enough to exert an influence to right such a

wrong. If that would condemn us to being called a political

institution, I for one would rejoice in the name.


The Grand Orient of France is not a political organization, nor

does it aim to be. It does aim to be an influence in moulding the

opinions of its members, so that when they are called upon to act

and vote as citizens they may do so with a view to the general

good. We might well copy much from their Masonic educational

system, to the profit of our Masonic institution, both individually

and collectively. Our interest in public questions is largely

material. Only where the financial interests are directly affected

do we as a people seem to bring ourselves to the point of

investigating, criticizing, and demanding the correction of faults

in our public government. We overlook altogether the by far greater

problems of government--sociological questions, moral reforms, and

other phases of public betterment which French Masons make a study

of. If there were the possibility of a Boodling Scandal in

connection with these other questions they might be more live

topics of interest with us.

(To be continued)









LET us now briefly consider the great point of cleavage between

Anglo-Saxon Masonry and the Masonry of the Grand Orient of France.

This cleavage is based largely on the suspicion, if not on the

definite charge that French Masonry is atheistic in its practices

or in its tendencies.


The Grand Orient of France was organized in Paris in 1736. Its

constitution was of the model of Anderson's original Constitution

1723. The Grand Orient was recognized as legitimate Masonry by the

Grand Lodge of England, and in fact by all legitimate Masons

throughout the world. At that time in all Masonic Constitutions

there was an absolute absence of dogma concerning in which all men

agree; that is to be good men and true, men of God and religion,

and Masons were bound only to that religion in which all men agree;

that is to be good men and true, men of honor and honesty. The aim

of the fraternity was purely humanitarian, its principles broad

enough for men of every diverse opinion. The desire was simply to

unite them, whatever their private religious beliefs, in uplift

work for themselves and for humanity.


Changes came first in England. About the middle of the eighteenth

century, the so-called Landmarks regarding a declaration of belief

in the G. A. of the U. and the placing of the Bible on the Altar,

were adopted. Following this, for the greater part of a century the

French Constitution adhered strictly to the original plan of the

fraternity and did not contain that formula which has since, in

some places, come to be regarded as essential. During this time

neither the Grand Lodge of England nor any other recognized Grand

Lodge took any exception to this notable omission. French Masons

were considered neither "Godless" nor "Atheistic." As time went on,

the French Constitution was changed to conform to that of the Grand

Lodge of England. One writer has said this was co-incident with a

closer political approach of the two nations, England and France.

The constitution of the Grand Orient of France followed the English

copy until shortly after the Franco Prussian war, when they

reverted back to what it had been originally. Co-incident with this

change, history records political estrangement between France and

England which continued until recent years. When France reverted

back to her original constitution, the Grand Lodge of England

immediately afterwards severed relations with France, and generally

speaking, Masonry of English speaking countries followed suit,

claiming that the change made by the Grand Orient of France was

Atheistic in tendency.


Can French Masonry be said to be atheistical ? Atheism is the

doctrine that there is no God. It is no longer considered

reasonable for anyone to dogmatically assert that there is no God,

and it is a question if such a being as an atheist exists today.


There is no unbelief.

Whoever plants a seed beneath the sod,

And waits to see it push away the clod,

He trusts in God.


Whoever says, when clouds are in the sky,

"Be patient, heart; light breaketh by-and-by,"

Trusts the Most High


Whoever sees, 'neath winter's fields of snow,

The silent harvest of the future grow,

God's power must know.


Whoever lies down on his couch to sleep,

Content to lock each sense in slumber deep,

Knows God will keep.


Whoever says, "Tomorrow," "The Unknown,"

"The Future," trusts the Power alone

He dares disown.


The heart that looks on when the eyelids close,

And dares to live when life has only woes,

God's comfort knows


There is no unbelief;

And day by day, and night unconsciously,

The heart lives by that faith the lips deny--

God knoweth why!


To be atheistic, French Masonry would need to have made the

dogmatic assertion, "There is no God." This it has never done. It

neither affirms nor denies anything relative to God. To suppose

that French Masons deny the existence of God is to totally

misunderstand them. They are as much averse to a dogmatic assertion

of that kind as to one of the opposite kind. They are simply

against a dogmatic assertion of any kind, as Masons, believing that

Masonry is antidogmatic. Many, and possibly all, of their members

would doubtless declare a belief in God at the proper time; but not

as Masons in a Masonic Lodge.


The French Masons found their attitude on the first edition of the

Constitution, which obliges Masons only to that religion in which

all men agree; that is, to be good and true, or men of honour and



Let us briefly examine what ground there is for their stand, and

see whether or not we are justified in condemning it. For this

purpose I want to direct your attention to:




Concerning God and Religion.


A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the Moral Law, and if he

rightly understands the Art he will never be a stupid atheist, nor

an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient times Masons were

charged in every country to be of the religion of that country, or

nation, whatever it was, yet it is now thought more expedient only

to oblige them to that religion in which all men agree, leaving

their peculiar opinions to themselves; that is to be good men and

true men of Honour and Honesty by whatever Denominations or

Persuasions they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the

centre of union and the means of conciliating true friendship among

persons that must have remained at a perpetual distance.


OUR OWN CONSTITUTION Concerning God and Religion.


A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the Moral Law, and if he

rightly understands the Art he will never be a stupid atheist, nor

an irreligious Libertine. He, of all men, should best understand

that God seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward

appearance, but God looketh to the heart! A Mason is therefore

particularly bound never to act against the dictates of his

conscience. Let a man's religion or mode of worship be what it may,

he is not excluded from the Order, provided he believe in the

Architect of Heaven and Earth, and practice the sacred duties of

Morality. Masons unite with the virtuous of every persuasion, in

the firm and pleasing bond of fraternal love; they are taught to

view the errors of mankind with compassion, and to strive by the

purity of their own conduct to demonstrate the superior excellence

of the faith they may profess. Thus Masonry is the centre of union

between good men and true, and the happy means of conciliating

friendship amongst those who must otherwise have remained at a

perpetual distance.




Freemasonry, an essentially philanthropical and progressive

institution, has for its object the pursuit of truth, the study of

morality, and the practice of solidarity; its efforts are directed

to the material and moral improvement and the intellectual and

social advancement of humanity. It has for its principles, mutual

tolerance, respect for others and for one's self, and absolute

liberty of conscience. Considering metaphysical conceptions as

belonging exclusively to the individual judgment of its members, it

refuses to accept any dogmatic affirmation. Its motto is: Liberty,

Equality, Fraternity.



As to whether the Grand Orient of France has departed farther from

the spirit and the letter of Anderson's original Constitution than

we have is not open to much controversy. The change they made in

1877 rather reverted back to it than went farther away from it.

To show the real misunderstanding that has occurred with regard to

their position let me quote from the minutes of their General

Conventions when the change was made. We can then understand what

the real meaning of their action was.


At the French Masonic Convention of 1876, on the proposal of a

Lodge in the department of the Rhone, a Committee was appointed to

consider the question of suppressing the second paragraph of the

first article of the Constitution, concerning God and Religion. The

Committee recommended that the proposition be postponed, and in

recommending this the reporter of the Committee, Bro. Maricault,

made the following statement:


"Your Commission has recognized that bad faith alone could

interpret the suppression demanded as a denial of the existence of

God and the immortality of-the soul; human solidarity and freedom

of conscience, which would be henceforth the exclusive basis of

Freemasonry, imply quite as strongly belief in God and in an

immortal soul as they do materialism, positivism, or any other

philosophic doctrine."


Postponement met with opposition. Bro. Andre Roussell, in

advocating immediate action, among other statements made the



"I am anxious to recognize with my brother, the reporter of the

Commission, that Freemasonry is neither deistic, atheistic, or even

positivist. In so far as it is an institution affirming and

practicing human solidarity, it is a stranger to every religious

dogma and to every religious Order. Its only principle is an

absolute respect for freedom of conscience. In matters of faith it

confirms nothing and it denies nothing. It respects in an equal

degree all sincere convictions and beliefs. Thus the doors of our

temples open to admit Catholics as well as Protestants, to admit

the atheist as well as the deist, provided they are conscientious

and honourable. After the debate in which we are at present taking

part, no intelligent and honourable man will be able to seriously

state that the Grand Orient of France has acted from a desire to

banish from its Lodges belief in God and in the immortality of the

soul, but, on the contrary, that in the name of absolute freedom of

conscience it proclaims solemnly its respect for the convictions,

teachings, and beliefs of our ancestors. We refrain, moreover, as

much from denying as from affirming any dogma, in order that we may

remain faithful to our principles and practice of human



Bro. Minot, in speaking on the same subject, said: "The

Constitution of 1865 had realized a transitory progress. The work

must be completed and purified by suppressing dogma and by

rendering Masonry once again universal, by the proclamation of the

principle of absolute freedom of conscience. Let no one be mistaken

in this. It is not our aim to serve the interest of any philosophic

conception in particular by our action in laying aside all

distinction between doctrines. We have in view only one thing:

Freedom for each and respect for all."


The recommendation of the Committee prevailed, and action was

postponed. In 1877, after a year's study by the Lodges, the change

was adopted by an almost unanimous vote. The reporter of the

Committee at the time said: "Who is not aware, at this moment, that

in advocating this suppression no one among us understands himself

as making a profession of atheism and materialism. In regard to

this matter every misunderstanding must disappear from our minds,

and, if in any Lodge there should remain any doubt in reference to

this point, let them know that the Commission declares without

reservation that by acceding to the wish of Lodge No. 9 it sets

before it no other object than the proclamation of absolute liberty

of conscience."


When the proposition of the Committee had been adopted by the

General Assembly, the President proposed, as an amendment, the

insertion of these words: "Masonry excludes no one on account of

his beliefs." Many regarded this as superfluous, but the President

was insistent, in order that it might be clearly established in the

eyes of all that Masonry is a neutral territory, in which all

beliefs are admitted and treated with equal respect. The suggestion

was adopted.


It may be interesting to note that the original proposer that the

Grand Orient of France should suppress the formula of the G. A. of

the U. was a clergyman of the Protestant Church, and he stated, in

justification, as follows:


"In suppressing the formula respecting the G. A. of the U. we did

not mean to replace it by a materialistic formula. None among us in

proposing this suppression, thought of professing atheism or

materialism, and we declare formally and emphatically that we had

no other end in view than to proclaim absolute liberty of



I have given the words and opinions of those responsible for the

change in the Constitution so that there may be no room for

misunderstandings. The Grand Orient of France, in making the

change, has done no more than was done by the Government of Great

Britain when she admitted members to seats in the House of Commons

by allowing them to make an affirmation only when their convictions

would not allow them to take a religious oath. The same custom

prevails in our Courts of Justice.


Their position will bear a little further examination to make clear

its consistency. The story, as depicted by our Ritual, tells of a

great loss and a life-long search for this something, which was

lost. Masonry ends at the point when something else is substituted

to temporarily make good that loss, and at the point where Masonry

ends we are expected to begin the search.


Various explanations have been given as to what this is that was

lost, and which all Catholic and Protestant, Jew and Gentile,

Christian and Pagan, are seeking for. The simplest and clearest

explanation of this that was lost is that it was "the way back to



"The way back to God." That is the door then to which Masonry

leads. Cannot any of us go as far as that door with any, be he

Agnostic, Deist, Buddhist, or any other, so long as he conforms to

Anderson's original specifications, and is a good man and true, a

man of honour and honesty? At the door, of course, we would

separate, each to follow on his own way. But happily we can come

back to the Lodge again and again for mutual encouragement, and for

strength for a fresh start on our several paths, all of which are

alike dark and obscure.


It is not the function of Masonry to solve the riddle of life but

to propound it and stimulate and encourage each of her initiates to

search for his own solution. It takes each man so far, and there

leaves him to find the answer for himself. By the very fact that

Masonry itself gives no answer, it demonstrates clearly that the

answer is not the same to every man. All this would seem to lead to

freedom from dogma of all kind and justify France and Belgium in

the stand they take.


I do not wish to be understood to say that it is wrong for a Mason

in Lodge to declare belief in God. But I would like to be able to

accept as brethren any good men and true, men of honour and

honesty, who are earnest searchers after the same truth as we are,

even though they do not insist in Lodge on a declaration of belief

in God. French Masons appear to be worthy men, doing a wonderful

work for the cause of progress and enlightenment.


Another so-called grievance against the Grand Orient of France is

that they have taken the Bible off the altar. Many of us have

imagined that because the Bible is one of the Great Lights

according to our Ritual and usage that its place has been in

Masonic Lodges from time immemorial. To most the presence of the

Bible on the altar is in some way a landmark. Surprising it may be,

but the Bible was not even mentioned in Masonic Rituals until 1724,

and it was in 1760 that Preston moved that it be made one of the

Great Lights of Masonry. One might properly question whether

Anglo-Saxon Masonry did not violate a landmark when she introduced

religious dogmatism into Masonry in the middle of the Eighteenth



As Masons, we have before us the great object of the fraternal

brotherhood of man. This will carry with it peace and prosperity.

Is not the attainment of this worth the abolition of narrow

intolerance ? Let us maintain, if we wish, our own principles

concerning God and religion, but forever banish all dogmatism as to

what others shall do in this connection, so long as they are

earnestly working to attain the great principles of Masonry. Does

not the situation demand the serious thought of every Master Mason?


Should not Tolerance and Fraternity prevail ? France is holding out

the brotherly hand to us, saying: "Let by-gones be by-gones, and

let us look solely to the future." Should we as Masons hold at more

than arm's length an institution which consistently devotes itself

to those lofty aims and pursuits which we preach better than we



Even as the Arts, Sciences, and other phases of human activity have

benefited by international discussion and concord, so also can

Masonry benefit. If Masonry is to sustain in the future its

splendid record, and attain the object she seeks, is not world-wide

international co-operation necessary? How else can we attain a

Universal Brotherhood?


With the present world crisis the time has come when Freemasonry

should stand forth, free from all entrammelling influences, in its

grand simplicity. Our Lodges should be centres of thought,

influence and effort, holding no task alien that will advance the

cause of righteousness on earth. To this end we could learn much by

confraternity with such an organization as the Grand Orient of

France. Is "Brotherly Love" to be nothing more than a label which

we carry but which does not properly belong to the goods at all ?






There are two "Obediences" in France, and three in Germany. They

are as separate and distinct as is the Grand Lodge of the '

District of Columbia and the Negro Grand Lodge of the District of

Columbia, but it is not easy to make all of our people understand



The Grand Orient (1) is the older of the French bodies: The Grand

Lodge of France separated from the Scottish Rite in 1804 but its

Lodges still meet in the same building with the A.A.S.R. and the

personnel in the Rites is almost identical. We have always been on

terms of intimacy with the A.A.S.R. in France and in all South

American countries, and with them the Scottish Rite is often

mentioned as "Universal Masonry," though the writer knows of no

friction between the Scottish Rite and Symbolic Masonry in any part

of the world. Symbolic Lodges have separated from the A.A.S.R. in

order to conform to the English and American system for the purpose

of securing fraternal intercourse.


Formerly (and properly) a Mason who could prove himself, was a

welcome visitor in any Lodge in any part of the world, unless the

jurisdiction from whence he came had been interdicted and any

change from this plan is modern and is an innovation.


The writer was made a Mason in a Lodge in Portugal, in 1867, in the

French Rite, and in the French language. The obligation was taken

on a Holy Bible of the King James edition, the Bible which was

translated out of the original tongues. This Bible is used by

Protestants, Jews and Mohammedans, and being from the original

tongues it is reasonable to believe it has less errors and less

changes than the Douay edition which is translated out of the Latin

vulgate. The personnel of the Lodge that gave us light was made up

of nominal Roman Catholics, about 70 per cent; Jews about 20 per

cent and Protestants about 10 per cent. When asked what our

religion was, we replied "The Constitution of the United States and

the Ten Commandments" which seemed to satisfy the Lodge. They were

liberal, tolerant men.


The Lodge books recorded no living man's name, as in all other

priest-ridden countries each man was required to take a sobriquet,

or a nom-de-guerre as they said, for the reason that it was a penal

offense to be a member of the Masonic Fraternity in Portugal and

when the priests finally did discover the Lodge and caused its

destruction, there was not the name of a living man on any record.

The members went to and from that Lodge singly or in pairs, each

lighting himself up the long flights of stairs with his wax taper

(a rolino).


It is not generally known that the Mohammedans believe in and read

our Bible. Mohammed himself believed in Jesus Christ and all his

followers do. One of the most bigoted sects of Islam is the

"followers of Jesus," and its see is on the north coast of Africa.

The Musselman believes more in the Koran than in the Bible and it

has the advantage or recommendation of containing no words which

would shock the mind of a child. The Koran is in the Arabic, and

there has never been a translation except an English edition, but

neither Arabs, nor Turks nor Egyptians ever read that edition; if

they cannot read Arabic they are dependent on others to read for



In English Lodges a Mohammedan is obligated on the Koran and a

Christian on the Holy Bible. The purpose of the obligation is to

bind the postulant and for this reason he is obligated on what he

believes to be most binding. This is recognized generally, but

where we know only one book of sacred literature we are too apt to

believe there should be no other. We are taught that the Holy Bible

is the divine revelation of the mind and will of God to man but

others differ with us in that, but if we can impose an obligation

that will bind any and all, our principal purpose will have been



Freemasonry has been defined as "a system of morals, veiled in

allegory and illustrated by symbols." It has never been claimed to

be a religion, though the priests call it a "sect." In the Entered

Apprentice degree we are taught that Masonry unites men of every

country, sect and opinion and conciliates true friendship among

those who might have remained at a perpetual distance. This, the

French believe, is the acme of tolerance and they take it

literally. We claim no "apostolic succession" nor do we essay to

administer extreme unction, give absolution nor offer any assurance

of admission to the Holy of Holies above, but we do strive to make

better men of our members.


We have no idea of the slings and arrows hurled constantly at

Masons, in priest-ridden countries until we have been there. The

long years of peace and harmony we have enjoyed have spoiled us and

unfitted us for sympathy with our stricken brethren abroad. Lodges

in Italy and France have been raided. The Lodge was interrupted by

police at Voltaire's funeral. The writer was once detained at

Mentone, on the border between Italy and Monaco, and witnessed the

seizure of a Bible which an English-speaking woman was carrying

into Italy. The guard acting under orders, would not permit it to

be carried into the country, but held the Bible for her until she

should pass out of Italy.


There have come to us from abroad many appeals for a more intimate

fraternalism. An invitation to an International Masonic Congress

was sent to more than two hundred "Masonic Powers" about 1901,

including the Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter, etc., of the District of

Columbia, and the writer moved in Grand Lodge that a delegate be

sent but there was not even a second to the motion, so lightly did

they regard it.


"Masonic Powers" with European Masons means all Masonic

organizations, as Grand Lodges, Grand Chapters, Grand Commanderies,

Consistories, etc., and these invitations went to all the addresses

the Swiss Masonic Bureau could obtain. It was stated it was a

congress, not a conclave; so that the doors were not tiled nor were

the esoteric sections to be discussed as the writer understood it

and as it turned out to be. The proceedings of that Congress were

printed, and to my surprise (and maybe amusement) I found the

following report of what took place at the banquet.


"Dr. Watts, (Washington)--W. President and Brethren: I have the

honor of presenting to this distinguished body of Freemasons in

Congress assembled, greeting from the Most Worshipful Grand Master

and Brethren of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, United

States of America.


"I have to say that the Grand Master is full of sympathy with the

object of the Congress as outlined in the several explanatory

circulars received from Monsieur Paul-Emile Bonjour, the Grand



"Permit me further to say that we are of the opinion that any

movement in keeping with the sublime principles of the Order and

that does not in the least degree conflict with the ancient

landmarks, has our approval and fraternal co-operation.


"Thanking the projectors for their kind invitation to participate

in the deliberations of this present Congress, I beg leave also

personally to express my appreciation for the courteous attention

I have received during the time I have been in the city.


"On behalf of my Grand Lodge we wish the Congress success and

desire that beneficial results may follow its labor-- which shall

prove a blessing to all -- especially the brethren."


Had I not written very soon after this an essay on Negro Masonry

for the International Bulletin (2) the delegates who heard that

very creditable address would have supposed that the Grand Lodge of

the District of Columbia had sent that negro delegate.


The speech of Dr. Watts was in English but the others were in

French. The writer made a full report on the above, which was

printed in the 1902 report of the Grand Lodge of the District of

Columbia and may be found on page 339 et seq.


And now we come to the Grand Lodge of France! Why should we not at

once accord it recognition? It may be asked what French Masons have

done to merit this. Their Masonry was received from England and the

writer believes the French are now working more in accord with the

first constitution of the Grand Lodge of England (Anderson's) than

are many American Lodges, which should be sufficient.


Owing to the espionage of the "Holy Fathers" the French history of

Masonry has been greatly abridged and often suppressed, so that we

have not the volumes to draw on that we would wish but there are

enough for this purpose.


During the War for American Independence, called "The Revolution,"

there existed in Paris a Lodge "Les Neuf Soeurs" of which the

American Commissioner, Benjamin Franklin, John Paul Jones, the

peerless Naval Captain, Houdon, the unmatched sculptor, Voltaire,

the fearless, the great Helvidius and many other eminent men were

members. At that time there were atrocious oppressions of the

people not only by the rich and influential, but by the priests.


In the Lodge Neuf Soeurs there was Elie Dumont, a young lawyer,

with a score of followers who took up the people's cause against

oppression. For a verification we beg leave to invite reference to

Les Memoires Secretes, Vol. XXI, and to Ed. Tachereau, Vol. XXI,

and Besuchet Precis Historique, Vol. II.


One example is that of Jean Calas, a Hugenot who had been sentenced

to punishment "on the wheel" by the tribunal of Toulouse, and he

was thus executed. His offense was that he had assaulted his son

who had been perverted to Romanism. His widow and his children were

despoiled of their property and belongings by confiscation and they

finally took refuge in Geneva and were sheltered by Voltaire. Their

cause was espoused by Voltaire who advocated it by printed

memorials, which he widely distributed. Elie Dumont defended the

Calas family in the French Courts without fee or reward and after

three years of labor, succeeded in having the judgment arrested and

the widow's property returned to her.


In the same tribunal in 1746, a man and his wife named Siren, were

condemned to death for an assault on their son who had been

perverted to Romanism and who had forbidden the son from continuing

his acquaintance with the men who had proselyted him. The rest of

the family took refuge in Geneva and their case was appealed by

Elie Dumont, who, after five years succeeded in having the judgment

reversed, so far as the confiscation went, and the family of Siren

was permitted to return to France and take possession of their

property. We could multiply these examples indefinitely if it were

needed, but it is not.


That Masonic Lodge became the target for Romish persecution and

accusation. It was charged with atheism. Masonry was branded as a

society of atheists in general but Voltaire was the central figure

of their atrocious attack. Dumont and his followers persisted in

the defense of the inherent rights of the people and lighted a fire

of indignation, which kindled in the people a consciousness of

their inherent rights and was closely interwoven in the French

Revolution which followed and which history has so vividly

recorded. Voltaire was obliged to leave Paris to escape

assassination. He took up his home in Ferney, near Geneva in

Switzerland, where he was held in high esteem. Napoleon I, who was

a Mason, had held the Pope of Rome a prisoner and this added to the

anger of the priests who believed and still believe that the Pope

is the "Father of Princes, the ruler of the Christian world and the

Vicar of Jesus Christ" and that there can be no proper government

without his sanction.


If a man goes on the street and cries "mad dog, mad dog," he will

jeopardize the life of every dog in sight, though there may be no

mad dog at all. And if a mob, believing a priest carries the keys

of Heaven and Hell in his girdle, hears his cries and accusations,

they will give respectful and obedient attention to his utterances

without further consideration. This is practically the condition

which existed in Paris when the priests began to denounce

Freemasonry in general, and Voltaire in particular. As they made

Voltaire the central figure of attack it may be proper to examine

his case. Take the twenty-four volumes of Voltaire which have been

printed in English and there cannot be found in them a word to

justify the accusation that he was atheistic. He was without doubt,

a Deist. In the little town of Ferney a chapel was built by

Voltaire for his neighbors to worship in. A marble tablet over the

door has engraved on it these words:




which is, "Erected to God, by Voltaire, 1758." When asked why he

dedicated his chapel to God he replied: "In London they erected

their Temple to Saint Paul, in Paris to Saint Genevieve, but I

erect mine to God."


When dying he said "I die worshipping God, loving my friends, not

hating my enemies, but despising superstition." (Vide Appleton's

New American Cyclopedia.) His accusers were the priests and the

same frocked fraternity is still accusing Masonry.


The Anti-Masonic Congress which was convened at Trent in 1896, was

attended by more than 200 Bishops of the Romish Church and many

times that number of priests and zealous laymen. That Congress was


"Called together with the concurrence and favor of Pope Leo XIII

who in a special brief, bestowed his benediction and approval on

its aims and purposes. Twenty-two influential Cardinals, over two

hundred Bishops, the most important clerical associations, the

whole of the clerical press, sent their adhesions to this

Tridentine Council. Over five hundred ecclesiastics from the

highest to the lowest were present and all European States,

England, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal,

Italy, the United States of America, the South American Republics

were more or less numerously and influentially represented."


"General and particular aim: To wage war on Masonry as an

institution; on Masons as individuals; in all countries and places

where the order exists; to wage war on Masonry as a body by

collecting supposed documents and facts; assertions of perjured

Masons as evidence and thus bring to light, or rather coin, by

means of the press or special publications all the misdeeds of the

fatal institution; all the demoralizing influences it exercises;

through obscene or sacrilegious rites, corruption and occult

conspiracies on man and civilization; to wage war on individual

Masons by opposing them in every phase of their existence, in their

individual homes, in their industries, in their commerce, in their

professional avocations, in all their endeavors to participate in

public life, local or general, etc."


A French reporter, Mr. Leo Taxil, had been employed to ferret out

and report on the vagaries of Masonry, and in his report he gave

them an account of a smithery in a cave under the Rock of Gibraltar

where iron tools were fashioned for use in devil worship.


The speeches of the "Holy Fathers" on that occasion were drastic,

atrocious and anything but Christian-like. This Congress was as

late as 1896, and must still be fresh in the memories of Masonic

students. And from it, we draw the lesson that the purpose of those

people has not changed with time. So it is but fair to ask shall we

accept the testimony of these prejudiced, fanatical sorcerers

against the French Freemasons ?


The Grand Orient of France by giving countenance to a spurious body

of Scottish Rite Masons in Louisiana, in 1858, caused

English-speaking Masons, generally to suspend relations with that

Orient, one after another until such time as the Orient should

revoke its sanction of that spurious body. (Vide Report of Grand

Lodge of D. C. for 1870, pages 6 and 7.) It was not an

interdiction, but a tentative suspension of relations which the

Orient was at liberty to automatically heal by the revocation of

its sanction of that spurious A.A.S.R. body of New Orleans.


That spurious body has long since gone out of existence but the

Grand Orient has never made any overtures to the Grand Lodge of

District of Columbia nor any other American Grand Lodge so far as

the writer has been able to discover.


But in 1878, the Report of the Grand Lodge of District of Columbia

(p. 20) says:


"The action of the Grand Orient of France in expunging from its

constitution the necessity for a firm belief in Deity and the

immortality of the soul was called up as unfinished business and on

motion, it was ordered that the resolutions accompanying the report

be considered separately.


"Resolved, That the action of the Grand Orient of France in

ignoring the foundation principles of Masonry--that of a firm

belief in God and in the immortality of the soul--meets with

unqualified disapproval of this Grand Lodge."


This is the last entry we can find in our reports of the Grand



Now (as the priests say) "let us consider this beautiful mystery."

It is certainly not an interdiction. There is no intimation of

clandestinism, nor of irregularity nor threat of permanent breaking

off of relations.


We Protestants disapprove of their failure to exact a firm belief

in the existence of God and of the immortality of the soul, more I

think because we are Christians than for any other reason. We

believe even more we teach the "resurrection of the body through

faith in the merits of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah," though the

Jews among us cannot agree with that, but it is there, and it

cannot be found in the Anderson Constitutions, under which the

Grand Lodge of France is working today. We are perhaps

unconsciously, gradually blending our Christian faith with

Freemasonry, while we believe or teach that the latter unites men

of every Nation, sect and opinion and concilates friendship among

those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.


The writer happens to know that there is a Lodge in Swansea, Wales,

under the obedience of the Grand Orient of France which has the

Bible on its altar on which it obligates. The Deputy Grand Master

of the Grand Orient assured us that they dedicate their Lodges to

the Great Architect of the Universe, and that they permit the

sacred writings to be kept on the altar of any and every Lodge that

wants it. And this they regard as becoming tolerance.


The Grand Lodge of France, however, has never offended us in any

way. It has not been even charged of having committed the

infractions which have strained our relations with the Grand



The Grand Lodge of France is a separate, distinct and sovereign

body recognized as such by the Supreme Grand Council from which it

was separated. It is in fraternal amity with many sovereign Grand

Lodges and has never, until now, asked formal recognition of any

American Grand Lodge. At the beginning of this European war the

Grand Lodge of France started a line of auto-ambulances, opened

soup-houses and lunch rooms, and equipped a hospital for the use of

wounded soldiers and for the aid of the indigent and needy of all

nations without regard to "race, creed, or previous condition of



We are now sending about 30,000 soldiers a month to Europe, most of

whom go to France; among these are many Masons. They naturally want

to visit and as our relations are strained with the Orient we

should make it possible for them to visit the Lodges of the Grand

Lodge of France.


Personally we have advised our soldier-Masons of the District of

Columbia that they are at liberty to visit the Lodges of the Grand

Lodge of France, but as relations are strained with the Grand

Orient we have advised that its Lodges be not, at present, visited.


(1) Orient means East.

(2) Printed in three languages.



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