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GUEST,josepp BS: A concise history of Freemasonry (18) RE: BS: A concise history of Freemasonry 04 Jul 12

Many social changes were taking place and a Grand Lodge would be a good way to examine those changes and decide whether or not Freemasonry should incorporate those changes. Women, for example, were becoming more and more of a socio-political force. Freemasonry had not traditionally admitted women because, from the days of its Operative Masonic roots, women simply weren't employed in the occupation of carpentry. Hence the original Speculative lodges did not admit women. The Grand Lodge originally rejected the idea. They did not want their lodges turning into pick-up joints. But this gave their enemies the excuse to call Freemasons misogynists and even homosexuals who commit sodomy at their lodge meetings (needless to say, very few non-Masons took such a charge seriously). The oldest known story of a female Freemason, however, comes to us from Cork, Ireland where seventeen-year-old Elizabeth St. Leger, daughter of Viscount Doneraile, a high-ranking Mason, was supposedly initiated in 1710 after overhearing their meetings in her father's house. However, there are a large spate of young-women-being-initiated-after-overhearing-Masons-talking stories from Ireland, England, Scotland, and Canada throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and in America in the early twentieth century that we have to take them all with a grain of salt.

The truth is, French lodges began admitting women in the early eighteenth century. Princess Marie Thérèse Louise de Lamballe, who was thrown in Conciergerie prison along with other aristocrats during the French Revolution in 1792 where a mob broke in and killed them, the princess among them, was a Freemason. Not only was Napoleon a Freemason, his empress, Josephine, was Grand Mistress of two lodges that bore her name—one in Milan and one in Strasbourg. In 1875, Countess Hadig Barkoczy of Hungary was admitted to a lodge by the brothers but the Grand Orient of Hungary, under which the lodge was controlled, expelled her and suspended the brothers for three months. The Grand Orient lodges were more chauvinistic than other lodges and, even though other French lodges had been admitting women for well over a century, was still not admitting women as late as the 1880s when a feminist group protested their exclusionary practices. Today, in America, there are female lodges with names such as Order of the Eastern Star, Daughters of the Sphinx and others. But the male and female lodges are separate and, in fact, the female lodges are non-Masonic because females in the United States cannot be Freemasons. There is also Comasonry which admits males and females to the same lodges but Comasonry is considered "irregular" by Freemasonry.
Race relations, of course, is another major socio-political change that Masonry was forced to address. Masonry came early to the American colonies and among blacks, this was no exception. When an English officer married a black woman of French descent who had been newly freed from slavery, they had a son who was born in Massachusetts in 1748. His name was Prince Hall. He went to Cambridge, Massachusetts where he was ordained a Methodist minister. A British military lodge inducted him as the first black-American Mason in 1775 as a tactic of trying to get black slaves to revolt against their white American masters and join the British and become full-fledged Masons. Ironic, when one considers that England was, at that time, neck-deep in the West Indian slave trade. Perhaps this was why Prince Hall's sympathies lay with the colonies and he urged blacks to enlist in the Continental Army when George Washington, America's most famous Freemason, promised freedom to any black slaves who enlisted (black slaves in New England, unlike the South, actually enjoyed considerable freedoms and were well educated) and he appears to have enlisted himself. In 1791, Hall formed the Grand Lodge of African-Americans and was named the Grand Master. Upon his death in 1807, the African-American Lodge became officially known as the Prince Hall Lodge.

After the 1850s, when the Civil War loomed large and many laws passed to restrict interaction and intermarriage between whites and blacks (not until the 1990s would America see the same rate of black-white marriages as there had been in the 1850s), the black and white lodges were incredibly segregated. At a time when English Masons in India were inducting and admitting, albeit reluctantly, Indians into their lodges and when German lodges were admitting Jews quite freely, American lodges were rigidly segregated. Even in nations where conflicts kept certain lodges from intermingling with one another, there was nowhere near the number that we saw in America throughout the nineteenth century and up to the 1960s when white and black Masons began to tenuously reach out to one another. Prince Hall Masonry still exists and Grand Lodges in most states recognize it as regular. Nowadays, though, more black Masons are members of integrated lodges than they are of Prince Hall. However, there are several Southern states where Prince Hall is still considered irregular and black Masons are not admitted to all-white lodges. When some white Masons have complained of their white brethren's deplorable racist attitudes towards their black brethren, they have reported being threatened with violence. One man, who identifies himself as "Brother Alex Harris," who was to give a speech condemning white Southern Masons' racist attitudes towards their black brethren was told that if he entered certain lodges, he would not leave alive. In Masonic law, a Mason is never to harm or threaten a brother Mason. But still in some areas of the South, even this law can be acceptably discarded in the name of white supremacy.

There is much more to Freemasonry than this, of course, but I wish only to familiarize the reader with this organization. It has played an enormous role not only in occultism but in politics on the world stage. Much of the world's history cannot be understood without understanding the Freemasonry that orchestrated what went on behind the scenes. I do not suggest that Freemasonry is a vast conspiracy—this is a tiresome, worn-out theory of conspiracy nuts with nothing better to do with their time. Freemasonry has played a major role in the betterment of the world. Many of our Founding Fathers were Freemasons and the ideals that our nation was founded on were doctrines of Freemasonry. Freemasonry stands naturally opposed to dictatorships and, in countries with dictatorships, Freemasonry is always outlawed. This was as true of WW2-era Japan as it was of Nazi Germany. When Japan was to be rebuilt, it was largely due to the efforts of Japanese Freemasons working with the avid assistance of Douglas Macarthur, another Freemason.

And I wish to make clear that I am not a Freemason and never have been nor is anyone in my immediate family nor my known extended family a Freemason.

However, we should not sweep Freemasonry's failures under the rug. Before we get into the occult aspects of Freemasonry, let us examine its dark side.

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