Sunday, March 27, 6016 AL
Since its founding in 5784 AL (1784 by AD reckoning), the great State of Franklin has been seen world-wide as a symbol of the universal love and harmony espoused by our namesake, M.W. Benjamin Franklin. But in recent days, that harmony has been sorely tried within the distinguished halls of Freemasonry. A rift has appeared in our ranks over the interpretation of scripture and its relevance to our Craft. Specifically, the VSL which is a Great Light of Masonry here in Franklin admonishes a man not to "lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman," so there can be no doubt that such an act is in contradiction of the moral principles of our Craft... or can it?
We cannot fail to acknowledge that not all Christian orders within our sovereign jurisdictional borders concur with this assessment of the Holy Bible and more relevant, the Grand Lodge of Franklin has many a worthy Brother who are not Christian. Even within other Abrahamic religions, conservative Judaism, for example, has ordained homosexual rabbis and obviously this Grand Lodge is in no position to question their practice of their own faith.
Rather, this Grand Lodge takes the position that these are matters of sectarian religion and of profane politics. The purpose of a Grand Lodge is to oversee the regularity of the work of its Lodges and to represent their interests in the larger community of Freemasonry. That role does not require us to peer into men's bedrooms or to adjudicate their creed. Indeed to do so would rightly be deemed un-Masonic as it tears down one of the most fundamental of Landmarks: the universality of Freemasonry; that we do not accept or reject the political or religious views of the Brother we sit next to in open Lodge, but rather love him for the Brother he is, regardless of whether we agree or disagree in the profane world.
But our good neighbors in Tennessee and their neighbors in Georgia have taken such a position. As such a call has been made from some quarters for us to suspend recognition of these two Grand Lodges. We will not take such an action. To do so every time we believe a Grand Lodge has strayed from the Landmarks would result in a state of uncertainty on the part of all Franklin Masons. Rather, we will selectively fail to recognize the suspension or expulsion of any Georgia or Tennessee Mason for the sole reason of their sexual orientation or marital status. Any such Brother, being deemed worthy in the eyes of the Grand Lodge of Franklin by a committee to be appointed, shall be given honorary status as a Brother in this Grand Jurisdiction, should the Brother so desire.
This leaves the choice of recognition entirely in the hands of those two Grand bodies. Should they desire, they can suspend recognition of Franklin over what I am certain they will see as a violation of our jurisdictional rights. This is their choice, and we will not question their right to take such action, should they deem it necessary.
However, let us always remember that Freemasonry is about more than our inter-Grand Lodge politics. Freemasonry aims to make good men better, and as such we will now return to our Craft with the hope that we can proceed with that more sublime task and leave this issue in the background where it belongs.
Washington C. R. Frater,
Most Allegorical Grand Lodge of Franklin