Masonic Rites and Wrongs

"Masonic Rites and Wrongs:
  An Examination of Freemasonry"

Some brief comments on the book by

Steven Tsoukalas

Some will remember the song lyrics, "I heard it on the radio...." and 'hearing it on the radio' is exactly how the author came to his position that Freemasonry was evil. As he describes it, just after hearing a radio program in 1985, he called his Father who was a Mason and tried to convince him to leave the organization. In fact, Mr. Tsoukalas seems to take great pride in having convinced his father to give up his membership shortly prior to his death in 1989. (Why, we wonder: was Steven raised poorly? Was his father guilty of ill behavior? Was there some problem in the family as a result of his father's membership? The author is mute on this point - and the author has failed to elaborate in the several messages he's sent us complaining about other parts of our critique....).

Using extensive selective references, Tsoukalas' religious arguments against Freemasonry are stated in his book as the "Biblical Response". Recognizing that the author has a degree in theology (although we are led to believe that he is not an ordained minister and earns his living playing with a band), we believe he has every right to assert his view of whatever Biblical references are appropriate. However, it should be obvious to all that nowhere does the Bible speak of Freemasonry or its teachings and therefore, there is NO 'Biblical Response' to Freemasonry - except in the interpretations of a small handful of religious intolerants.

The author challenges readers to define a religion differently than himself but indicates that they will still come to the same conclusions he did. We used three different reference works in seeking definitions for religion and our conclusions were far different! Feel free to do it yourself: whether it be Strong's Bible Concordance or your handy computer encyclopedia, you're not going to find the types of dogmatic and exclusionist thought that intolerants like Tsoukalas would have you believe.

The author also tries to name/discredit virtually every Masonic author in an apparent attempt to 'touch all the bases'. The result is a difficult to follow, often fitful, attempt which ignores the major conventions of writing. Taking pieces from here, there,  and everywhere, the ultimate woven fabric of writing in this book is little more than a turgid and exaggerated restatement of familiar religious arguments buffed up with current names and exhaustive footnoting which often fails to disclose all of the relevant information.  

As but one example of this, the chapter on "The Masonic Burial Service" contains this quote: "Freemasonry has a religious service to commit the body of a deceased brother to the dust whence it came and to speed the liberated spirit back to the Great Source of Light. Many Freemasons make this flight with no other guarantee of a safe landing than their belief in the religion of Freemasonry. If that is a false hope, the Fraternity should abandon funeral services and devote its attention to activities where it is sure of its ground and its authority." - Henry Wilson Coil, Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia. In our initial presentation of this review, we couldn't find that reference anywhere in the cited book; since then Mr. Tsoukalas has provided the cite - along with a plea that we discuss theology with him. We have no desire to do that since matters of religion are beyond the scope of Freemasonry.

Brother Coil is a noted and well-respected author. He is entitled to his opinion that the funeral services should be done away with since - in his opinion - they could create the wrong impression; others feel, conversely, that their purpose is to provide one last opportunity for members of the fraternity to gather and reinforce their beliefs that, sooner or later, death will conquer all and that each day of our lives should be lived with appropriate behavior and attention to our religious duties that we will not be found wanting at the time of final judgment. Millions of families over the centuries have been comforted by these services although we're sure that Mr. Tsoukalas would condemn them as being a false religious hope. In this age of 'political correctness', every word, syllable, and comma must be carefully considered in order to avoid an outcry from some quarter. In some small pieces of Masonic ritual, a mention may be made of war, for example. Surely there will be at least one person who could take exception to such a mention and argue that Freemasonry encourages such barbarity because of that mention. The fact is that neither a mention of a centuries-old battle or the existence of a memorial service for a departed Brother can be taken out of context by anyone except those who are looking for a 'bone to pick'. Henry Wilson Coil has long since passed to the other shore so we cannot ask him for his opinion today. It is our understanding that he had such a service at the time of his death. Every author (including Mr. Tsoukalas) is entitled to their opinion of whether a particular thing is good, bad, or indifferent. Mr. Tsoukalas chooses to take objection to something and then finds a sole Masonic author to agree. We commend him for his ability to 'pick and choose'. Perhaps he would also care to cite Brother Coil's positions on Freemasonry being a religion? We doubt it because they are so diametrically opposed to his own. Typical of anti-Masonic authors, this 'cherry picking' method of quoting is used by Mr. Tsoukalas very extensively. <See additional commentary below!>

Convinced, apparently, that any organization which can unite men of different faiths must be somehow evil, the author also provides a brief appendix as to how a 'Christian' can share the messages of his book with a Mason. We wish him well with his book sales.

Masonicinfo Note: On April 3, 1999 we received an e-mail from Mr. Tsoukalas indicating that we had left out the fact that after 'hearing it on the radio', he then studied Masonry exhaustively for nine years. His study, however, appears to have been far less than objective because - as he states in his book - from the moment of hearing that radio program, he determined that his father should not be a Mason. One wonders why the nine years were really necessary since its outcome was clearly predetermined.... We believe this his claim shows just another example of the lengths some anti-Masons will go to when attempting to prove that they're fair-minded and forthcoming. The truth shows something far different. They lie to others as they lie to themselves it appears.

Mr. Tsoukalas has again written to us during the summer/fall of 2000 hoping to engage in a dialogue about his book - and Freemasonry. We feel that he has sufficient opportunities for this at the annual 'Mission to Masons' conference sponsored by Larry Kunk where he's regularly one of the primary participants. Frankly, we just don't have the time or interest to debate theology.

And in 2001, such pleas to debate have continued, this time even offering to pay our airfare to the laughably titled "Ministry to Masons" Conference in 2002 * where anti-Masons hope to earn their 'stripes'. We've tried to explain that we discuss Freemasonry, not religion. The contrived hypothesis ("Is Freemasonry compatible with Christianity") requires an agreement on religion before proceeding to discussion of Freemasonry. Clearly, there would be no possibility that I or millions of others would agree with Mr. Tsoukalas' definition of Christianity so his bleating about not being given an opportunity to 'prove' his points fall on deaf ears. We find it curious too that we've begun to receive e-mails from others (a supposed Belgian Theology Student who writes that he and Steven are troubled by my page) and referring ONLY on the comments appearing on this page while ignoring the nearly three hundred other pages on this site. Interestingly, those messages bear the exact same (and very unique) formatting of messages we have received from Mr. Tsoukalas himself. Peculiar, isn't it - but not atypical activity from anti-Masons who wish to sell books.  This 'other identity' has even begun to contact other Masonic sites who link to us. Looks like somebody's really trying to get some attention, eh?

*And Mr. Tsoukalas has written to us yet again <sigh> encouraging us to acknowledge that we incorrectly described this particular event as "Missions to Masons" Conference when first mentioning it on this page. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa....  Apparently he believes that this error negates any further comments we've made regarding his work. You, gentle reader, may decide for yourself.  


January, 2002 - Yet again, Mr. Tsoukalas has taken exception to our comments about his "cherry picking" of quotations and indicates that he did use what he claims is Coil's opinion of religion via the quote he has used on pages 20-21 in his book which cites Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia's entry on page 512. 

What he neglects to recognize, however, are two key factors: first, that Henry Wilson Coil's work was never his own exclusively. It was subject to the Editorship of three additional Masons - a 'committee' - which reviewed the work and exercised editorial control that, according to the subsequent editor Allen E. Roberts, impacted on much of the work. More importantly, however, is the quote at the end of the entry on religion which, we note, extends over 10 pages of this work:

"In closing this dissertation on an important subject, one on which opinions may differ widely, it must be concluded that no matter how filled we may be with religious fervor, we must give up any idea that Freemasonry was intended to be another religious sect and that, containing as it does a large proportion of men who have already espoused some church or denomination, any such career would be plagued by internal discord or submerged in the large number of existing sects.  On the other hand, Freemasonry, as a universal moral society open to all men of good report and intentions, has performed and will continue to perform a valuable and necessary function in the world." - Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, 1961 (same edition as used by Mr. Tsoukalas), p. 522. 

So does Mr. Tsoukalas agree that one must give up the idea that Freemasonry was intended to be another religious sect? Does he agree that Freemasonry has performed and will continue to perform a valuable and necessary function in the world?  Frankly, we doubt it.... Accordingly, we stand behind our comment that "Masonic Rites and Wrongs" uses selective quotations, often out of context, to further their illogical argument.

We'd also note that Mr. Tsoukalas' surrogate, a Belgian Theology Student who indicates that he lives in Florida, is now writing angry messages demanding that all of their criticisms of these comments be listed on this site as well, threatening to advise others of our "shameful" behavior in severely editing them when we respond here. When we've looked around at other anti-Masonic websites we - strangely - couldn't find a single one which had 'rebuttal comments' from Masons. One wonders if the same complaints have been made to their associate Mr. Kunk who's received MANY messages from Masons demanding that he acknowledge violations of copyright law and other matters.  

Mr. Tsoukalas and Mr. Dennis seem to feel, however, that they're uniquely entitled to such treatment. "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.", we'd think. Apparently not so in the amazing world of anti-Masonry.

Should Mr. Tsoukalas and his knight in shining armor Mr. Dennis feel that they want to publicize their complaints about our opinion of this work, they're certainly free to do so. Everyone is entitled to opinions, after all. We aren't going to waste any further time on this unexceptional work simply because its author and his friend/associate/whatever have their 'knickers in a snit'....

And we aren't going to be updating this site every day based on your whining e-mails, fellas! Get over it!!!  

 

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