expect perfection in a man because he is a Mason. If you do, you will be
disappointed. Masonry makes a man better, but no human agency can make him
perfect. If he is a Mason, you have the right to presume he is a fairly good
man, but do not condemn Masonry even if a few Masons turn out bad.
It is a rare individual who has not done something which embarrasses him and/or others. Masons are no different. Whether it's a burst of anger or some behavior which others see and remember, it's a part of being human. Regretfully, none of us have the ability to 'take back' what has happened. There have been a couple of well-publicized 'incidents' involving Masons - and we're not going to sweep them under the rug!
We've got a separate page addressing the shooting in March, 2004 at the New York Masonic Lodge here.
The "traitor", Benedict Arnold, is one of those whom anti-Masons use to show the 'evil deeds' of Freemasonry. They ignore the fact that Arnold was among the greatest of military men fighting on the side of the Revolution and without whose service, the 'patriots' might have easily lost their lives. He was one of several leaders during the American Revolution who were whipsawed back and forth by political intrigue and infighting, causing him to be both hurt and resentful at the manner in which he was treated. At times a hero and at times totally shunned, Arnold ultimately decided that the 'cause' for which American patriots were fighting was wrong and he defected to the side of the British. In so doing, he actually became a hero for the British resulting from his military actions in Canada. His later life was filled with problems and - in retrospect - Brother Arnold 'did the wrong thing'. His military actions, however, were executed in a way as to save many lives and it is because "victors write history" that he is now regarded as an arch-villain by Americans. In Canada and the UK, Arnold's stature is far different than in the United States. We would recommend for your reading "Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor" by Willard Sterne Randall (1990, William Morrow & Company, Inc., NY). There's some information including more books about Arnold shown on a web page of the state of Maine here.
Paul Bernardo - A serial rapist and killer, it appears that this individual joined Freemasonry for the 'cover' and air of respectability it provided. For some time now we've been trying to get some accurate information about his Masonic membership: when it began and how active he was in his lodge. We've received MANY e-mails from Masons in and around the areas in which he lived but sadly, none have provided first-hand factual information. One Mason has responded with dismissive comments that we should not, as Masons, speak ill of another member. WHAT? This is a man who ABUSED and KILLED not only women but perhaps used Freemasonry as part of his enablingl! We feel most emphatically that 'stonewalling' information in such cases serves to not only reinforce a public perception that Masons protect 'their own' but to also create the idea that Masons knew about this and never spoke up. The latter is absolutely inexcusable and if there was anyone who knew about Bernardo's activities, they surely would/could/should have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law as well, and be serving time as accessories. What we have learned from e-mails from Masons who were in Bernardo's general area was that he was not actively involved in lodge activities. It's unfortunate that the Grand Lodge has not made a statement on this particular matter because, we feel, choosing to 'keep it secret' only adds to the horrid rumors that such things might be sanctioned by Freemasonry in the cause of 'protecting a Brother'. It also appears that it was only after a guilty verdict that his membership was suspended although, arguably, as Masons we should give EVERYONE the 'benefit of the doubt'. Sadly too, Masonic processes tend to be glacial in speed even when there is overwhelming evidence. We believe that the Bernardo case has much to teach Freemasonry but sadly those who know the specific details refuse to speak - and not being in Toronto, we have found it impossible to further research. If you have information that could help provide a full description of events, we'd like to hear from you! In 2008, we've learned that the Detective who was pursuing Bernardo was himself a Mason and at some point, we hope to learn specifics of that aspect of that as well. You can read more about Mr. Bernardo at Wikipedia.
Described by the press as perhaps the biggest swindler who walked the streets of Boston, Massachusetts (USA) since Charles Ponzi (after whom the Ponzi scheme was named), the financial scandal surrounding Brad Bleidt was large although perhaps somewhat over-hyped. Mr. Bleidt, following a suicide attempt, admitted to bilking people of millions of dollars (current estimates between $25-35 million) over a number of years. A local radio owner and financial advisor, Bleidt's scheme was simple: pay investors with money obtained from newer investors. The Boston Herald newspaper in Boston reported that in 2000 Bleidt began managing his Masonic lodge's $1.2 million in trust funds which are now gone. They also reported that a second group of Masons lost $125,000 and a third lost $686,000. Bleidt was suspended from Freemasonry by the Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts pending the outcome of his state/federal trials. In December, 2005, he was sentenced to eleven years in prison for bilking $27,000,000 USD from 125 investors, many of them fellow lodge members but also his church, family, etc.
Some have noted that while Ty Cobb is recognized as one of the greatest American baseball players ever, his career is sometimes mentioned by sports purists for its 'unsportsmanlike' conduct. A story, often repeated, is that Ty would sit in the dugout filing his cleats and pointing with them at opposing players in order to intimidate and gain an advantage. Like so very many of his contemporaries, he reportedly had racist tendencies as well. Despite this, he was the very first player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame so it's difficult for a conclusion to be drawn regarding claims of bad sportsmanship. Playing at a time when there were few rules (and STRONG racial divides), his behavior may seem inappropriate only in retrospect, particularly when he was SO well received by those of his own time. When one compares Cobb's behavior with that of players who spit on umpires or who have made a career out of 'trash talking', it seems difficult to believe such a thing would become part of his history. For the record, we have included Cobb on this page but it appears that those who write to remind us of his 'reputation' really have not considered that there was apparently a very hateful press at the time and there seems to be incontrovertible proof that they exaggerated and even lied about Cobb's actions. Though his 'bad acts' were highly popularized, in many cases they might be more myth than reality. There was a Scottish Rite Class named in his honor in 1955 and he received an honorary life membership in a Masonic lodge in the midst of his playing career (1921). Brother Cobb, whose father was also a Mason, joined Freemasonry in 1907 at the age of 21.
Black Sheep? Maybe not....
Jim Davidson, the UK comic whose 'comedy' routines filled with obscenities brought him to celebrity status resigned as Master of Chelsea Lodge in England in July, 2002 after telling a string of off-color jokes at a ladies' night gala. The TV funnyman shocked 850 members and guests at the £70 per person party with his blue routine. Davidson was hosting the star-studded event at London's Hilton Hotel but his 20-minute performance, in which he used obscenities and poked fun at blacks, Jews and the establishment, went down so badly that a string ofcomplaints were sent to Grand Lodge. John Hamil, Director of Communications for the United Grand Lodge of England said: "There was an incident at the party and Jim was challenged about it. He has now apologised unreservedly to those concerned and resigned from the lodge in view of the embarrassment. His behaviour was not what it should have been because he has upset lodge officials."
Generation Show host Davidson, 47, helped raise £8,000 for the British Forces Foundation that night. He had downed several bottles of white wine and port with 23 of his guests on the top table before launching into his controversial one-man show. There were no complaints about his behavior during the evening, but afterwards seven complaints were made to the Grand Lodge. Four-times married Davidson credits the Masons with helping him beat alcoholism and he was active with the celebrity-packed Chelsea Lodge for more than 10 years.
Tony Chaperlin, 55, who helped organize the party said: "There was a little naivety regarding his act - people should know what the contents are by now." Davidson said: "People always complain about me but we had a brilliant night.I may have upset some of the wives when I told them they would p*** themselves at the silly things we have to do as Masons." Davidson also commented "A good time was had by all but I've had enough. I've got the hump with them so I resigned."
Henry Ford claims to have invented the first gasoline powered automobile in 1893 (although arguably there were others before this), founded Ford Motor Company in 1903 and mass-produced the first widely available and affordable motorcar. He changed the world. For the first two-thirds of his life, he achieved amazing things unequalled by men before or since but as he aged, his behavior and activities cast a dark shadow which caused all of his former good to be questioned. Believing that bankers and financiers were part of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy (something many non-Masonic conspiracy theorists who are against Freemasonry believe today), Ford's thoughts and activities were nearly totally orchestrated by one of his lieutenants and it is thus difficult to know where his independent thoughts began and ended. Ford's erratic behavior is also said to have driven his son Edsel to the illnesses which caused his death. Put simply, his later life was not lived in accordance with Masonic principles. An very intriguing book about Ford's anti-Semitism which also provides much background information about events of the times that explain (although do not excuse or rationalize) Ford's behavior is a book by Neil Baldwin titled "Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate". We recommend it highly!
In 2007, the Grand Lodge of Maine and other charitable (non-Masonic) groups were shocked and dismayed to find that their member and a "model citizen" Robert Libby had embezzled more than $430,000 in what ultimately was the largest non-profit embezzlement in the state. A couple of Masons who are highly supportive of 'fake masonry' but don't have the moral courage to leave their membership in regular/recognized Freemasonry couldn't wait to express their glee and to share their ignorant thoughts on their blogs, explaining how this all could have been avoided. Yeah, right! Isn't hindsight wonderful? And obviously THEY never made a mistake in their lives.... (Oh, wait: they never had any authority for anything either....)
The Grand Master of Masons in Maine in both a letter and e-mail sent to all the Masons of Maine wrote this:
Whether it was the need to fund care for his disabled wife in order for them to stay together or whether he was, as a high school classmate asserted, "the biggest con man", it will probably never be possible to unravel why 76 year old Bob Libby did what he did. Is it Freemasonry's fault? Maybe it was the fault of, for example, the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association, a non-Masonic group to which he belonged as well and which was also a victim? People sometimes do bad things - and sometimes those who do them are Masons. It's a fact. The story from the Portland Press Herald is here.
Stopped by police for drunken driving in October, 1974, U.S. Congressman from Arkansas, Chairman of the influential Ways and Means Committee and Mason Wilbur Mills had as a companion in his car: a stripper named Fanne Fox who jumped into the nearby Washington Tidal Basin, an act that has been commented on and parodied a million times since. Although re-elected to his Congressional seat a month later, Mills lost all hope for a presidential bid and did not run for re-election in 1976. Mills was taken to task for his unseemly behavior by his Masonic Lodge and admitted his long struggle with alcoholism. He entered a rehabilitation program and recovered from a disease which had plagued him for decades. From the heights of power, Brother Mills fell - but he admitted his shortcomings and overcame them. He was welcomed back to the Fraternity.
(Masonicinfo Note: For at least four years, the above note on Brother Mills indicated, erroneously, that he was from Alabama. We knew better and apparently just typed the name of another US state that began with the letter 'A'. Thanks to Bro. Don Langston of Arkansas for catching that error. He notes that Bro. Mills devoted many, many years of service to his state and his nation. Indeed he did!)
In an event that
at the time made headlines everywhere, comedian Michael Richards
during a live comedy sketch in Los Angeles on November 17, 2006 engaged in a
very offensive racist 'rant' (self-described as "rage"). The results of that
action will reverberate for years to come. Unlike other actors and
personalities who have immediately apologized and headed to "rehab",
Richards has been alternatively apologetic and defensive. Many have said he
was totally insincere in his apologies and the typical publicity rush has
law suits flying, celebrity attorneys trying to gain attention, and a media
tired of war looking for a new news story.
A Hollywood rumor magazine reports that his crisis-management publicist said "He doesn't practice Masonry anymore." Clearly, to Masons at least, the publicist is NOT a Mason! While it could definitively be stated that racist behavior is certainly NOT Masonic in nature, and that practicing charity and temperance are manifestations of a 'practicing' Mason, Freemasonry is a membership-based organization and there's no "practice" involved.
In April, 2006 former Governor of Illinois (USA) George Ryan was found guilty of racketeering and fraud. Prosecutors had accused him of steering big-money state contracts and leases, including a USD25 million IBM computer deal to friends and political insiders during his tenure as Secretary of State (of Illinois) in the 1990s and continuing as Governor starting in 1999. In return for his largesse, Ryan was rewarded with annual winter vacations in Jamaica, trips to Cancun, Mexico and Palm Springs, California, and gifts ranging from a golf bag to $145,000 in loans to his brother's business, prosecutors said. Ryan had achieved huge public acclaim when he had commuted the sentences of every prisoner on death row in Illinois and was a highly acclaimed and lauded politician. The corruption scandal that led to Ryan's downfall began over a decade ago with a federal investigation relating to a 1994 fiery van crash in Wisconsin that killed six children. During the investigation, it was found that unqualified truck drivers could obtain a driver's license through the Illinois Secretary of State's office through bribes. Prosecutors later argued that thousands of dollars of payoff money from the license sales went into a Ryan campaign fund. During the trial, however, a key point of the defense was that the defendant was never seen taking a bribe. In November, 2007, Ryan was imprisoned and is not expected to be released until 2013 when he will be 79 years of age.
John Shirley was arrested in 1997 for photographing teens "mooning" (showing their buttocks) his camera at a Masonic camp. Regrettably, instead of removing Shirley from his voluntary position as a DeMolay Chapter Dad, national and state DeMolay officials investigated the complaints and concluded Shirley had used "bad judgment." In 1998, at least 11 boys in his DeMolay Chapter told police Shirley gave them alcohol and drugs, fondled them or had sex with them. Most of the sex-related activities happened over three years. Shirley, a Mason aged 48 at the time of conviction, was sentenced to life imprisonment being found guilty on 27 of 36 felony child sex abuse charges. He was also convicted of 13 misdemeanors, including charges he contributed to the delinquency of minors. Since this incident, The Order Of DeMolay has instituted a strong and aggressive Youth Protection Program which is now a model for other youth groups throughout the United States. It involves criminal background checks on all Advisors along with a 'zero tolerance' policy for any improprieties, regardless of how seemingly insignificant.
Robert Taylor, 47, (England) was the Secretary of his Masonic lodge and a Provincial Grand Junior Warden (a high position within England's Masonic structure). He was also a respected schoolteacher in Peterborough. In September, 2007 he was sentenced to six years in prison for abusing two young boys between 1980 and 1987. Defense counsel raised the point that Taylor, then a Scout leader, was a victim of abuse himself. This tragic story is not unlike hundreds of others we read about each year and, sadly, many of these perpetrators are family men, active in their church and well-respected in their jobs and their community. We would suggest to those who are quick to criticize Freemasonry for condoning such behavior, they also look at the Catholic Church scandals in America. NO action of this type can ever be explained fully. We grieve for those involved in this horrendous situation, knowing it will haunt them their entire lives. News story is here.
George Wallace, a Mason, came to the nation's attention when he barred Blacks from attending the all-White University of Alabama. While he was defending the laws of his state, emerging social conscience judged his actions wrong. A product of his times and his environment, Wallace did what he deemed appropriate legally and morally: it was, however, wrong. Now anti-Masons point to Wallace as a (bad) example of Masonry. What they fail to acknowledge, however, is the constant pain and suffering Wallace endured after the assassination attempt during his presidential candidacy AND MOREOVER the fact that he subsequently apologized for his actions, an apology accepted by all those involved - including the Blacks who were at the center of that firestorm! George Wallace was wrong but he paid for his error in a way even the most cruel should not wish on anyone.
Mason Locke Weems (1760-1825) is a name most readers of this site won't recognize. However, if you have heard the story of George Washington cutting down the cherry tree, you've known of Weems who was one of America's first door-to-door salesmen. A book agent, in the wake of Washington's death, he was the first person to have a biography in print (in 1800) and in order to do so, he simply invented stories to enhance its sales. A member of Lodge #50 in Dumfries, Virginia, he used his Masonic membership to falsely claim a close affiliation with Washington. The lies this Freemason wrote still live on today.
Bobby Wilks was not the first and, sadly, won't be the last person in the funeral industry to defraud families and defile the dead. He was a Mason in Orlinda, Tennessee and appears to have been holding membership when he was sentenced in October 1989 to 28 years and 11 months in prison for burying the dead with trash in their coffins or without prepaid vaults. He had pleaded guilty Oct. 11 to 48 counts of burial fraud, opting for sentencing by a judge rather than face a jury, prosecutors said. Exhumations had revealed that Wilks' business had improperly buried more than 25 bodies in Tennessee and Kentucky. It is reported that Bobby got into more trouble while he was in prison (some said the charges were "trumped up" to make sure he never again saw freedom) and it is doubtful that he will ever be freed. During the investigations, he was suspended for non-payment of dues but it appears that no action has ever been taken to expel him from the fraternity - though were he to petition for reinstatement after his incarceration, it's very, very unlikely he'd be voted 'back in'.
The Winnipeg, Canada Khartum Shrine Motor Patrol in 1999 at an Annual "V.I.P. Gentlemen's Dinner" were charged with lewd sexual behavior. In a situation which could HARDLY be described as gentlemanly, there were a number of accusations which will not be repeated here. Suffice it to say, the event came to the immediate attention of the press and anti-Masons had a 'field day'. The unit was immediately disbanded by Shrine officials and some of its members were ordered to take sensitivity training. It is an example of how unrestrained 'fun' can lead to unexplainable excesses. Shrine Masons who should have known right from wrong apparently didn't! If they were teenagers, such abhorrent behavior might have been understandable but these were adults who stained Freemasonry and Shrinedom, casting a pall over the excellent work done by Shrine Masons. While it is simple (and accurate) to explain that this was not a sanctioned Shrine event but rather a private fund-raiser for the Motor Patrol and that likely the majority of those in attendance were not Shriners, this horrid incident has nevertheless created a stain on the fraternity that will be impossible to erase. It would be easy to compare and contrast this to the frequent and persistent immoral behavior of various religious leaders but the obfuscates the facts: this was shameful!
Damned if you do....
In May, 2001 and again in December of 2002, we received e-mails from one Mason chiding us for 'airing our dirty laundry'. Part of his complaint appears to be from a perception that these references have in some way denigrated certain leaders of the Southern US, something we don't believe we've done at all. We've chosen to not take the suggestion of this one individual - the sole person who has written wanting this page removed in the three years it's been here. We believe that Masons, non-Masons, and anti-Masons all recognize that there can be a bad apple in every barrel - although anti-Masons (particularly those who attack Freemasonry for so-called 'religious objections') often seem loathe to admit it.
Masons feel horribly about these 'bad apples' since they reflect on each and every one of us as an organization - and further, these things shouldn't have happened at all if the ballot process proceeded correctly. In fairness, it should also be noted that sometimes people do change (markedly, in some cases) over time and for reasons that no one can fathom. Someone who was a 'good man and true' at the time of his selection for membership could have taken a wrong turn along the way - related to Freemasonry or not! Non-Masons seem to accept the fact that there might be one or two 'bad actors' as simply a matter of course. Anti-Masons, on the other hand, gloat. While this page can give the latter group some cause for celebration, others should fully realize that we're not trying to hide our 'dirty laundry' as another of those 'Masonic secrets'. We're sorry that this one Mason has been so offended but facts are facts and anti-Masons know about them.
In this 'damned if you do and damned if you don't' world, we also found the following comment on a website which commented about this particular page on our site as follows:
For the record: we're not trying to downplay or beg forgiveness for ANYTHING here and frankly, political correctness is FAR from our minds. Take a look around the website where this comment was made and you'll quickly conclude that they'd be hard pressed to correctly name five Revolutionary War generals, battles, or even identify the years during which the war was fought. It's a slur designed to denigrate Freemasonry from a Masonophobe. Nothing more and nothing less.
We want the record to be fair and honest: it's what Freemasonry is all about! Besides, we could have just as easily not even published this page.... Anti-Masons, though, seek every opportunity to demean and debase the fraternity in any/every way possible.
Last updated November 27, 2010
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