As a born again Christian, a member, and a leader in a Southern Baptist church for more than 47 years, I was deeply saddened to see the May 17 issue of The Baptist Courier used as a vehicle to bash and to try to discredit such an old and honorable institution as Freemasonry.
I feel certain that our late Christian brother James A. Hoyt, who served as the third editor of The Baptist Courier, would have also been saddened, considering that he served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina during 1874-75. We, as Christians, have been concerned over the national media being used as a platform to try to discredit the teachings of our Lord Jesus through slanted and bias reporting. It now appears that we are adopting similar techniques in our Baptist Courier to discredit that which we may personally dislike or disagree with.
I am chairman of the deacon board and the adult men’s Sunday school teacher at Bethel Baptist Church in Prosperity. Through the years, my family and I have been faithful to serve and support our church and the Southern Baptist Convention.
In Columbia on April 27, I was installed during a public ceremony as Grand Master at the 270th annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina. The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina is comprised of 43,315 Masons, of which a conservative estimate would be that more than 20,000 of our members are currently members in Southern Baptist churches in South Carolina and many of them serve as leaders and pastors.
The individual who wrote that he was offended at the pictures of Christian Free Masons attending church in their aprons during a Masonic recognition service misrepresented Freemasonry and the findings of the NAMB report, which concluded: “Membership in a Masonic order is a matter of personal conscience.” Below, I would like to respond to several misrepresentations made by the offended writer.
? The writer indicated that Christian Freemasons do not even know that the tenets of Freemasonry were not compatible with Christian beliefs. The tenets of Freemasonry have been published since the 17th century and are friendship, morality, and brotherly love. Our teachings are the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God.
? Freemasons never refer to God in a blasphemous manner. Freemasons always refer to God in the most reverent manner as a creature to his Creator. We refer to God as God and as the Great Architect of the universe, the Creator of all things.
? There are oaths and promises made in Freemasonry just as there are oaths of office, oaths for citizenship, and oaths taken in many organizations. My pastor Lynn Peters and I both agree that the Bible verse quoted as prohibiting oaths is actually dealing with those who take oaths for show and then break those oaths. In Freemasonry, oaths are taken seriously. Freemasonry teaches its members to be men of their word and to keep their commitments made to God and man.
? Every Bible verse used by Freemasonry is found in the King James Version of the Holy Bible. The Holy Bible is referred to as the Great Light of Masonry. Light is a term used by Freemasons to describe knowledge, with the greatest light coming from the Holy Scriptures. The Bible, or Holy Scriptures, is referred to as the Great Light of Masonry because from the Bible comes the greatest knowledge. In my 33 years as a Mason, I have never heard a pagan reading in a Lodge.
? Referring to the Bible as the furniture of the Lodge is not a disrespectful term, but rather a term of honor because no Lodge can ever open or conduct a meeting without the Holy Bible being present. ? Freemasonry is not a religion, and therefore does not teach any form of salvation. Freemasonry directs its membership to seek those teachings in the house of worship of their choice. Freemasonry teaches men to be men of their word, to be of good and moral character, and to aid and assist their fellowman in need. In today’s society, these teachings are needed as much now as ever before.
? The tenets and teachings of Freemasonry are the same as those that our great country was founded upon – that all men (people) are equal regardless of their station in life, their religion, their race, or whether they are rich or poor. George Washington – a great man, the father of our country, and a great Freemason – used his Masonic teachings in his everyday life and as the President of this country. He was Master of his Lodge while serving as President of the United States.
? Masons are taught never to discriminate, but to treat all men (people) equal “on the level.” Men of all races, religions, and stations in life are Freemasons and hold high offices in the Masonic Fraternity.
? Freemasons contribute more than $2.5 million per day to the fraternity’s many charities, which include helping children with burns, orthopedic issues, and language disorders. Those same Freemasons contribute even more daily to support their houses of worship and their communities.
Churches that are members of our South Carolina Baptist Convention should be able to share pictures of their church’s events in the Courier without fear of being criticized from members of another church.
On June 10, my church, Bethel Baptist, is planning a Masonic recognition day where my Masonic brethren will join my church family in listening to the word of God and hearing about the salvation available through our Lord and Savior, Jesus. How can that be offensive to any Christian? On June 24, Jamestown Baptist Church in Conway will also hold a Masonic recognition service. On Aug. 12, Jordan Memorial Baptist Church in Greenwood will hold a Masonic recognition day. There are other recognition services scheduled at Baptist, Methodist, and other churches in South Carolina and around the country.
I sincerely hope that you will provide an unbiased approach by also publishing this letter in the “Your Views” section of the Courier and continuing to publish the provided pictures of all the events held by our member churches without prejudice.