]]>position:absolute;

Revelations

"The Jewish people as a whole will be its own Messiah. It will attain world domination by the dissolution of other races...and by the establishment of a world republic in which everywhere the Jews will exercise the privilege of citizenship. In this New World Order the Children of Israel...will furnish all the leaders without encountering opposition..." (Karl Marx in a letter to Baruch Levy, quoted in Review de Paris, June 1, 1928, p. 574)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Is Freemasonry a Cover for Satanists?

The Devil in Disguise

Extracted from The Brotherhood, the secret world of the freemasons, CHAPTER 25 - The Devil in Disguise?

By Stephen Knight, 1984


Enemies of the Brotherhood have been denouncing its rituals as devil worship for more than 250 years. One of my purposes was to discover if these denunciations were true or false. Another was to try to resolve, by taking an entirely new approach, the continuing problem of whether or not Masonry was compatible with Christianity

For the average reader, the difficulty of overcoming any religious objections to Freemasonry is increased rather than lessened by the very abundance of printed matter on the subject. Much of the vast literature of Masonry is devoted to religious issues. The problem is further aggravated by the extreme unreliability of a large portion of this bibliography, wherein scurrilous tirade frequently masquerades as learned treatise.

Almost everything written so far on Freemasonry and religion has fallen into one of two categories: arguments attacking Masonry by non- or anti-Masons, and arguments defending Masonry by committed Masons. There is virtually nothing from neutral outsiders. This, then, would be my approach: as a neutral investigator holding no brief for Christianity and no automatic aversion to devil worship.

For the purposes of the investigation, I would suspend moral judgment, admit no good, bad, right or wrong because these could only confuse the issue further. The questions were: Is Freemasonry compatible with Christianity? and, is masonic ritual, or any element of it, diabolism? By sticking to these and looking unemotionally at facts, both questions were surely capable of a yes or no answer. The reader could then make his or her own moral judgments.

Another part of my 'new approach' was to avoid the sophisticated theological arguments which have inevitably entered - in fact dominated - the debate.

In fact the answers can be arrived at simply and on strictly logical grounds

One does not have to be a theologian - nor even a Freemason or a Christian - to recognize that Christians and Freemasons would have to worship the same God for the two to be compatible. The question simply, then, is do they? If Freemasonry were found, despite its protestations to the contrary, to be a quasi-religion and to have a different god from the Christian god, then the two would naturally be incompatible.

It has been said that these issues are of no concern to Freemasons, but hundreds of members of the Brotherhood have spoken to me of the turmoil they experience in attempting to reconcile their religious views with the demands of masonic ritual. It is of obvious importance to a section of those interested in Freemasonry, whether they be initiates or among the ranks of the 'profane', to attempt to find some answers which can be understood without profound religious knowledge.

First, then, is Freemasonry a religion? The Rev Saul Amias takes the official masonic line in saying that Freemasonry is neither a religion nor a substitute for religion.

'There are Christians, there are Moslems, there are members of every religion in Freemasonry,' he told me. 'Catholics are not allowed by their own church to become masons, although some do come in. There's nothing incompatible with my religion as a Jew, as an orthodox Jew, in Freemasonry, nothing at all. It is not a religion.'

Other Masons told me that Freemasonry is no more a religion than are Rotary Clubs or tennis clubs. Amias agreed with this.

'But,' I objected, 'the Rotary Club and the tennis club do not meet in such solemn environs. You have a masonic temple. You have an altar.You kneel before your deity, the Great Architect. You swear oaths on your Volume of Sacred Law - the Bible, the Koran, whatever is deemed most appropriate. All these are surely religious trappings?'

He replied, 'Agreed. But these are to enhance the individual Mason's belief in his God. Vouchsafe Thine Aid, Almighty Father, Supreme Governor of the Universe, to our present convention, and grant that this candidate for Freemasonry may so be endowed. . . and so on. This is a prayer to the Almighty that is said by the chaplain, in the case of my Lodge, by myself. A prayer to Almighty God in whom Jews and Christians believe. This is to enhance it, to encourage it. But we do not pray and worship to a masonic God. There is no idol.'

A former Freemason, City of London merchant banker Andrew Arbuthnot, was also able to speak on the question with the knowledge of an initiate. He told me: 'If you take a purely objective view of religions in the plural, one has to accept that Freemasonry is a religion. It induces a sense of brotherhood and togetherness by means of a secret society, which always gives that sense, but it leads people towards the thought of a Supreme Being, to the transcendental. It is at least as much a religion as the average, dry Church of England conventional matins service.'

When Walton Hannah's Darkness Visible appeared in 1952, it caused a sensation. This book alone deals conclusively with the matter of whether or not Masonry is a religion as well as reproducing word for word the entire ritual of Freemasonry in the three Craft degrees and concluding that Masonry and Christianity are not compatible. Following its publication, an Anglican vicar who, unlike Hannah, was a Freemason, wrote a book under the pseudonym Vindex, which was entitled Light Invisible.

This was subtitled: The Freemason's Answer to Darkness Visible, and sought to disprove Hannah's assertion that Masonry and Christianity were incompatible. Where the book is valuable, however, is in confirming that Masonry does in fact regard itself as a religion, whatever it might tell outsiders: We now come to the core of the matter. What is the religion of Freemasonry? It is the oldest of all religious systems, dating from time immemorial . It is not in itself a separate religion, and has never claimed to be one, but it embodies in itself the fundamental truths and ancient mysteries on which every religion is based. Taunts that it worships a 'common denominator' God are rather wide of the mark if the phrase indicates any inadequacy or limitation in nature or tide of the God we worship, for we worship and believe as a first principle in the fullness of the Godhead of which other religions see only in part.

This 'Total God' which Freemasonry claims for itself is not presented to potential initiates as such. Thousands of practising Christians in Britain today worship the Freemasonic God believing it to be precisely the same as the Christian God, if they will it. This is perhaps the most prevalent misunderstanding by the average Freemason of his own" Brotherhood.

Candidates for initiation are told that one of the basic qualifications for membership is belief in a Supreme Being of some kind - Jehovah, Allah, the Holy Trinity of Christianity, it does not matter. So long as this belief is present, then whichever divine creator an individual Freemason wishes to follow can be accommodated under the masonic umbrella term for all Supreme Beings (the impossibility of more than one Supreme Being is ignored), that of Great Architect of the Universe, [Denoted in printed masonic rituals as TGAOTU], or sometimes the Grand Geometrician, who created everything with one sweep of His divine compasses. As Vindex puts it in his general downgrading of all the Faiths as mere parts of the Masonic Whole: As Masons, we believe in God, the Father, Almighty. As Christian Masons we may believe in a symbolical triune essence, and that Jesus Christ is His Son, Our Lord. As Moslem Masons we are equally entitled to believe that Mahomet is His prophet. With these subsidiary and secondary beliefs Masonry has nothing to do, giving her members a perfect liberty to interpret the Godhead as they please.

This is what Freemasons are taught, and this is what the majority of Freemasons believe. Even if it were true, there is enough in this statement to show that Masonry and Christianity are mutually exclusive. Because in this official view propounded by Vindex for public digestion, the very essence of Christianity is obliterated. In Masonry, we learn, Christ is not God but man - in Vindex's estimation the man who showed 'more than any other man who ever lived' what God is like. He later adds: 'I for one can never understand how anyone who takes an exclusive view of Christ as the only complete revelation of God's truth can become a Freemason without suffering from spiritual schizophrenia.

' There are many people who would agree with this non-exclusivity of Christ's teaching. But Christianity does not agree with it. The definition of a Christian is one who believes in Christ's teachings. And Christ taught, rightly or wrongly, '. . . no one cometh unto the Father, but by me'. Therefore Vindex, although an Anglican cleric, was not a Christian. And the Freemasonic God he describes is not a Christian one.

Earlier I used the words 'even if it were true' when referring to the statement made by Vindex and by Freemasonry of the nature of the Masonic God. I did this because the assurance given to candidates that the name Great Architect of the Universe can be applied to whatever Supreme Being they choose is worse than misleading: it is a blatant lie.

In fact the Masonic God - cloaked under the description Great Architect - has a specific name and a particular nature, which has nothing to do with Christ, Vishnu, Buddha, Mohammed or any other being recognized by the great faiths of the modern world.

Two-thirds of Freemasons never realize the untruth of the line they are fed as to the identity of the Great Architect, because it is deliberately kept hidden from them. It is no overstatement to say that most Freemasons, even those without strong religious convictions, would never have joined the Brotherhood if they had not been victims of this subtle trick.

The true name, although not the nature, of the Masonic God is revealed only to those Third Degree Masons who elect to be 'exalted' to the Holy Royal Arch. The Royal Arch is often thought of as the Fourth Degree (but as explained in Chapter 5, the Fourth Degree is that of Secret Master), by others as a 'side degree'. In fact the Royal Arch is an extension of the Third Degree, and represents the completion of the 'ordeal' of the Master Mason. Only about one-fifth of all Master Masons are exalted. But even these, who are taught the 'ineffable name' of the masonic God, do not appreciate its true nature.

This is basically because of deliberate obfuscation of the truth by some of those who know, and a general acceptance that everything is as they are told by most members of the Brotherhood.

In the ritual of exaltation, the name of the Great Architect of the Universe is revealed as JAH-BUL-ON not a general umbrella term open to any interpretation an individual Freemason might choose, but a precise designation that describes a specific supernatural being - a compound deity composed of three separate personalities fused in one. Each syllable of the 'ineffable name' represents one personality of this Trinity:
JAH = Jahweh, the God of the Hebrews
BUL = Baal, the ancient Canaanite fertility god associated with 'licentious rites 'of imitative magic'
ON = Osiris, the Ancient Egyptian god of the underworld
Baal
Baal, of course, was the 'false god' with whom Yahweh competed for the allegiance of the Israelites in the Old Testament. But more recently, within a hundred years of the creation of the Freemason's God, the sixteenth-century demonologist John Weir identified Baal as a devil. This grotesque manifestation of evil had the body of a spider and three heads - those of a man, a toad and a cat.

A description of Baal to be found in de Plancy's Dictionary of Witchcraft is particularly apposite when considered in the light of the secretive and deceptive nature of Freemasonry: his voice was raucous, and he taught his followers guile, cunning and the ability to become invisible.
Albert Pike
In 1873, the renowned masonic author and historian General Albert Pike, later to become Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Supreme Council (of the 33rd Degree) at Charles ton, USA, wrote of his reaction on learning of Jah-Bul-On. He was disquieted and disgusted by the name, and went on:

'No man or body of men can make me accept as a sacred word, as a symbol of the infinite and eternal Godhead, a mongrel word, in part composed of the name of an accursed and beastly heathen god, whose name has been for more than two thousand years an appellation of the Devil.'

I have spoken to no less than fifty-seven long-standing Royal Arch Freemasons who have been happy to talk to me, to help me in my ambition to give Freemasonry 'a fair crack of the whip'.

Most of them spoke quite freely, explaining without hesitation their views, reactions and answers to the criticisms and queries I raised. However, all but four lost their self-assurance and composure when I said, 'What about Jah-Bul-On?'

Some, although they had previously told me they had been exalted to the Royal Arch, and therefore must have not only received the lecture on the name but also studied the passages and enacted the ritual relating to Jah-Bul-On, said they had never heard of it. In most cases the interviewees very rapidly brought the meeting to a close when I asked the question. Others laughed unconvincingly and extricated themselves from having to reply by jauntily saying such words as, 'Oh, that old chestnut', and passing quickly on to some other subject, normally going on the offensive with something like, 'Why are you so interested in Freemasonry in particular? Why don't you look into Christianity or something? Why do people always pick on Freemasonry?' thereby diverting the conversation from the course I had plotted. If I insisted on returning to Jah-Bul-On, almost invariably the interview would be unceremoniously terminated.

Others said that although they had heard of the word, they did not know what it meant. To them it meant Go~ previously erudite Freemasons, with a precise knowledge of every other aspect of Masonry we had discussed, suddenly became vague and claimed ignorance of this most central of all Freemasonic subjects. While professing an almost total lack of knowledge of Jah-BulOn, several dismissed it as of no real importance.

Charles Stratton, one Royal Arch Freemason for whom I have the utmost admiration, told me this of Jah-Bul-On:

'No one ever has time to think about its meaning, you're too busy trying to remember your words. As far as I know it's just another name for Jehovah.'

Acute silences, chiefly of embarrassment, followed my question on many occasions, as happened when I spoke to a most co-operative officer both of Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter.

We had been discussing whether or not Freemasonry was a religion, and I had run through my customary list of religious terms used in Freemasonry. Then I added, 'One comes across the phrase, "the sacred tenets of Freemasonry"

This seems to imply that Masonry thinks of itself as a religion.' The Grand Officer replied, 'No, I haven't said that. . . the sacred tenets?' 'Yes.' 'Well, the word sacred means holy.' 'Yes. Then there's the "Holy" Royal Arch.' He paused. When he began to speak again it was much more slowly

'Yes. The Holy Royal Arch. They are all expressions of . . . religion in its fullest sense, not in a masonic sense. I cannot stress too strongly the fact that there is no masonic religion, no masonic god, deity or someone or something to which a Freemason must swear loyalty. No.' '

What about Jah-Bul-On?' He was obviously taken off-guard. He said nothing for nearly ten seconds and looked most discomfited. At length, proceeding with the extreme caution of a man feeling his way through a thicket of thorns, he said:

'These are. . . Hebrew words which are. . . murdered from their original. And Jahis the Hebrew word for God, so it's God again. You come back to God, the real God. But these - ha! [he chuckled] - these are ways in which we express our loyalty to God.'

'It's interesting you should choose only to define the first syllable, which is of course the most acceptable to those with religious convictions. But what about the other parts of that word which are, are they not, Baal and Osiris?' Another long pause. 'I don't know them. That's the higher echelons of Freemasonry.' 'That's in the Royal Arch, isn't it?' 'I don't do Royal Arch. I do Chapter, but not Royal Arch. '

This was the first lie he had told me, and I could see it was unpleasant for him. [See Mackey' s Revised Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, Volume 1, P 191.]

I continued: 'It is established that Jahbulon is a composite name for God, made up of Jah---' 'What's Bul-On?' 'Bul is Baal and On is Osiris, the Ancient Egyptian god of the dead.'

'Well...' 'Pike was outraged when he heard that name for the first time and saw it associated with Freemasonry, which of course was so dear to him. He said that nothing would induce him to accept as the name of God a word which is in part the name of a pagan god and for more than two thousand years an appellation of the devil.' 'I agree on that, but I . . . I . . . I don't know about it. It's not that I don't want to. I don't know about it so I really can't comment. You'll have to ask someone who knows. '

'Does it worry you?' 'In one of the higher degrees they use Jesus Christ.' 'Yes, there are several masonic orders which are exclusively Christian - the Knights Templar, the Ancient and Accepted Rite, the Societas Rosicruciana, the Knights of Malta, the Order of Eri. But does the name Jah-Bul-On worry you?'

'Many Masons wouldn't subscribe to those Christian degrees. ' The implication was clear: if Christ was an acceptable part of Freemasonry even to a non-Christian, why not the devil as well? Unacceptable though he might be to most initiates, he has his place.

The Church of England has been a stronghold of Freemasonry for more than two hundred years. Traditionally, joining the Brotherhood and advancing within it has always been the key to preferment in the Church. This situation has altered in the past twenty years and today there are fewer Masons within the Church than ever before. Even so, the Church is still rife with members of the Brotherhood. This is why, despite overwhelming evidence of Masonry's incompatibility with Christianity and the shattering revelation as to the nature of the Masonic God, no amount of pressure from inside or outside the Church has so far succeeded in forcing an inquiry into the subject.

Thirty years ago a thirty-eight-year-old Anglican clergyman, the Rev Walton Hannah, gave up his living in Sussex to devote himself to studying and writing about Freemasonry. In January 1951, Hannah launched his attack on clergymen Freemasons in an article in Theology. The article created a fissure through which poured the pent-up anxieties and suspicion of non-masonic Anglicans, which had been rumbling beneath the surface for years.

The controversy spread far beyond the pages of theological journals as spin-off 'shock-horror-sensation' pieces appeared in the popular press. The furore led to a debate in the Church Assembly and it began to look as if the whole subject of Freemasonry in the Church might be brought before the Convocation of Canterbury. But as the Archbishop of Canterbury himself (Fisher) was a powerful Freemason, the Brotherhood had little trouble in blocking the attempt, and it was ruled out of order on a technicality.

Hannah later published his condemnation of Freemasonry and his arguments against its compatibility with Christianity in his book Darkness Visible, in which he pointed out that every Christian Church that had studied Freemasonry has declared that it was incompatible with Christianity. These condemnations ranged from the famous papal pronouncements, the first of which was in 1738, to an instruction of (Rothschilds' man) General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army , that 'no language of mine could be too strong in condemning an Officer's affiliation with any Society which shuts Him outside its Temples'.

The Greek Orthodox Church, pointing out that Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian communities had also declared Masonry incompatible with Christianity, condemned the movement formally in 1933 in part and significantly because 'it constitutes a mystagogical system which reminds us of the ancient heathen mystery-religions and cults - from which it descends and is their continuation and regeneration'

Dr H. S. Box, author of The Nature of Freemasonry, attempted to raise the issue of Freemasonry in the Canterbury Convocation of the Church of England in 1951. 'Due largely,' Hannah says, 'to the persuasive influence of the Masonic Bishop of Reading, Dr A. Groom Parham, this was never debated.' There was, though, a debate in the Church Assembly in 1952. Hannah records that the 'critics orMaSOnry were frankly out-manoeuvred by the unexpectedness and speed with which masons acted': the motion for an enquiry was overwhelmingly rejected. The Church of England has still never considered the matter officially.

Hannah's conclusion, echoed today by several deeply concerned Church of England clergy and bishops in private conversation, is that 'the Church. . . dares not offend or provoke thousands of influential and often financially substantial laymen by enquiring into the religious implications of Freemasonry'

The present Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie, is not a Freemason and a recent survey suggests that many fewer bishops are Freemasons today than in the 1950s, when it would have been hard to find half a dozen bishops who were not Masons.

One great difficulty, today as in the 1950s, is for non Masonic clergy and laity - and indeed the general reader to obtain reliable information about the religious implications of Freemasonry. The vast - though often inaccessible - masonic literature is contradictory and full of gaps. It is all but impossible to know which books and what parts of them reflect the inmost beliefs of the masonic leadership.

To take one striking example: in the first three degrees the 'blue' Craft Masonry conducted in Lodges - the initiate is introduced right away to 'The Great Architect of the Universe' as the masonic deity. He will doubtless assume according to his upbringing that this is merely a quaint way of referring to Jahweh, Allah, or the triune God of Christianity. If he should wonder why this title is a masonic secret and why masonic texts therefore cryptically refer to the 'GAOTU' instead of simply to God with a capital 'G', he will probably see no more than a little harmless clandestinity, maybe guessing (incorrectly) that it is a time honoured vagary deriving from the days of 'operative' masons.

The average Christian man who has not studied the theological implications of the oaths, rituals and lectures usually experiences a certain initial moral and religious disquiet about what he has done in joining. Many have admitted to being somewhat ashamed by the initiation ceremony they have undergone. But all this is allayed by the reassurance that so many of the eminent' and reputable have for centuries done the same and that the masonic system somehow enjoys an immunity in these matters sanctioned by tradition.

As already stated, it is only when a Master Mason is 'exalted' to the Royal Arch and becomes a member of a Royal Arch Chapter, that the real name of the 'GAOTU' - Jahbulon - is communicated to him. Even then, carried so far by his experience of the first three Craft degrees, and being used by that time to the ambivalence surrounding all masonic ritual and symbolism arising from the fact that the one masonic dogma is that there are no immutable truths, most fail to appreciate that they have been deliberately misled into thinking 'GAOTU' is the one God of the great monotheistic religions. No one will enlighten the duped Royal Arch Masons for no one has the authority to do more than sketch his own personal interpretation of what the attributes of Jahbulon may be.

Those that have a feeling for the occult - the true adepts - recognize each other: they appreciate the real significance behind the deliberate masonic ambiguities. They develop a confidence in drawing their own deductions, making their own interpretations of symbolism and ritual. Such people come slowly to be accepted into the inner sanctum of the Brotherhood. But even among themselves - to judge by what senior masonic defectors have reported, and by the rare esoteric literature solely for advanced Masons - there is no mention of anything openly suggestive of satanism. There is no need: long practice of the masonic system ensures that the understanding is on another level. In just the- same way, in worldly matters, all Masons at their initiation are required to 'declare on your honour that - uninfluenced by mercenary or other unworthy motive, you freely and voluntarily offer yourself... for the mysteries and privileges of Freemasonry'. Most candidates fully understand that this is humbug: they know full well that many join primarily or at least partly in the hope that membership will forward their worldly ambitions.

But they give their word - and so, right from the beginning, they enter into the double-speak of Masonry. A doublespeak some learn to talk like a guided missile homing on its target. It is a double-speak the student of Masonry must learn to recognize and not allow to confuse him
Against all this, the Church of England's Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK), for example, even today carries no literature examining Freemasonry and discussing whether a Christian should be a Mason.

Hannah states that the SPCK issued a directive to their bookshops that his book Darkness Visible, probably still the most accurate and scholarly general work on the matter, should not be stocked. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the President of the SPCK. The Archbishop of Canterbury responsible for banning Hannah's book was Dr Geoffrey Fisher - a Freemason of long standing/

There is no doubt that Freemasonry is extremely anxious to have - or to appear to have - good relations with all Christian Churches and, knowing that no serious masonic scholar and no Christian theologian has been prepared to argue compatibility, the Movement remains silent. There is evidence of very considerable efforts being made by Masons - including pressures on publishers, distributors and libraries - to suppress works critical of the Brotherhood
[This even extends to the Brotherhood's own publications. When the British Library applied in the normal way to Freemasons Hall for two copies of the Masonic Year Book for the Reading Room in 1981, it was informed that it would not be permitted to have copies of the directory then or in the future. No explanation was given. See also pp. 9-12 on the prepubliction adventures of The Brotherhood.] - Hannah related how a mysterious gentleman invited him to the foyer of the Savoy Hotel where he offered the author £1,000 in notes for not publishing Darkness Visible or any other attack on Masonry. It should be stated that there is no evidence of this particular incident except Hannah's word.

Hannah ends his review of the attitudes of the Christian Churches towards Freemasonry by remarking: 'There is fear on both sides, hence the search for truth is stifled, and the religious bigamy continues. Only Rome can afford to smile at the situation, and continue to win converts.' For once, Hannah - who became a Roman Catholic after the Church of England had failed to examine Masonry and pronounce upon it - was wrong.

The Church of Rome, traditional arch-enemy of Freemasonry, is even more the object of masonic attention than the Church of England.

Roman Catholics of the older generation remember pamphlets published by the Catholic Truth Society (the Roman Church's equivalent of the SPCK) about the incompatibility of Freemasonry and Catholicism at every church bookstall.

They understood that a long line of Popes had declared Freemasonry illicit and that Catholics who were Freemasons were automatically excommunicated by the mere fact of membership
The situation today has mysteriously changed. Like the SPCK, the CTS has ceased publishing any guidance on Freemasonry. Priests, although perhaps better trained today than ever before, are commonly ignorant about the subject and are themselves unaware of their Church's present position.

I have discovered that there is a deliberate policy in operation within the English hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church to keep its members in ignorance of the true standing of the Church on the question of Freemasonry. This policy is intended to cover up a huge mistake made by the English Catholic Bishops in 1974 which led to Catholics in Britain being informed that after two hundred years of implacable opposition from Rome, the Holy See had changed its mind and that with the permission of their local Bishop Catholics could now become Freemasons. As well as covering up what I can now reveal as this blunder on the part of the English hierarchy, the wall-of-silence policy conceals, perhaps inadvertently, a more sinister situation in Rome, where I have evidence that the Vatican itself is infiltrated by Freemasons.

In 1982 I asked a trusted friend, a Roman Catholic and like myself an author and journalist, to raise the matter of the widespread ignorance of Catholics with the present Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume. The Archbishop's response was: 'I think it would be wise to wait for the publication of the new Canon Law before taking any public stance on the questions of Freemasons.' His General Secretary, Monsignor Norris, wrote in amplification: '... we have been informed that Freemasonry in this country has no connection with Freemasonry of an unpleasant kind on the Continent'. He went on to add that a Catholic's Bishop could give permission for a man to join the Brotherhood if 'convinced [membership] will have no bad effect on the person's Catholicity'

Only now, after independent investigation by my Roman Catholic friend and myself, and contact with the Roman Church's hierarchy in Rome, can this statement be revealed as inaccurate. Norris's comment that'. . . we have been informed...' begs the question - who convinced the English hierarchy that English Freemasonry is fundamentally different? What happened to the Canon Law automatically excommunicating Freemasons? The story is a strange one

By the 1880s eight Popes had already condemned Freemasonry when Freemasons urged that these condemnations had been based on erroneous information and were excessively severe. This led Pope Leo XIII to issue his famous encyclical Humanum Genus in 1884. Leo XIII classed Freemasonry as a grouping of secret societies in the 'kingdom of Satan' and, like the Greek Orthodox Church half a century later, stated that it wished 'to bring back after eighteen centuries the manners and customs of the pagans'. He qualified Masonry as subversive of Church and state, condemned it for its rejection of Christian revelation, and for its religious indifferentism the idea that all religions are equally valid. He warned against the effectiveness of masonic organization, its use of figurehead leaders, and its subtle use of 'double-speak'. He urged the bishops to whom the Encyclical was addressed 'first of all to tear away the mask of Freemasonry, and let it be seen for what it really is'

There were further condemnations in 1894 and 1902. Then the Canon Law promulgated in 1917 provided in Canon 2335 that 'ipso facto excommunication' is incurred by 'those who enrol in the masonic sect or in other associations of the same sort which plot against the Church or the legitimate civil authorities'. One reason for the unusual frequency of these papal condemnations is that Freemasonry has always had sympathizers, even members, clerical as well as lay, in the Roman Catholic Church.

From the 1920s Freemasons increasingly urged that British Freemasonry (and indeed other Freemasonry which did not accept the avowed atheism of the French and certain other 'Grand Orients' which had cost them recognition by the British Grand Lodges) was different from what the Popes had had in mind and so was unjustly condemned: they insisted that this British-type Free masonry did not plot against either Church or state. The Vatican paid no attention, but three Jesuits with masonic contacts (Gruber, Bertheloot and Riquet) successively urged study of the possibility for a rapprochement.

Then came Vatican II and the great impetus this gave to the ecumenical movement - the reconciliation of all Christians. Senior members of the Brotherhood saw an opportunity to exploit this enthusiasm and used its ecclesiastical contacts to renew its call for an end to Catholic hostility. In America, France and Germany, notably, there were a number of small indications that the Catholic attitude to Masonry was softening. These were enough for Harry Carr [Past Junior Grand Deacon; Past Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076 and of four other Lodges - 2265, 2429, 6226 and 7464; Hon. Member of six Lodges - 236, 2429, 2911, 3931, 7998 and 8227; Hon. Member of eight Lodges in France, the USA and Canada.], one of those leading Freemasons who, like Dr Theophilus Desaguliers in the eighteenth century, exercise immense influence from a discreet position some rungs below the top of the Grand Lodge ladder.

Carr spoke of the possibility of reconciliation to the London Grand Lodge Association in February 1968.

As related in his book The Freemason at Work, a questioner asked Carr how there could be any such move while 'defamatory and inaccurate' anti-masonic literature was on sale at Westminster Cathedral bookstall. Carr wrote to Cardinal Heenan, then Archbishop of Westminster' who undertook to have the offending literature, if indeed inaccurate, withdrawn. It was. Heenan saw Carr on 18 March 1968.

Carr stressed the old distinction between British and atheistic Continental Freemasonry and said that both as a Jew and a Mason he hoped the time had come for a reconciliation. According to Carr, this led Heenan to offer himself as 'intermediary' between English Freemasonry and the Vatican. Carr says he saw Heenan again on the eve of the Cardinal's departure for Rome. There was talk of a revision of Canon 2335 and of meetings between the Brotherhood and the Holy See.

On the surface nothing happened for nearly three years until the spring of 1971 when the Jesuit Father Giovanni Caprile, a leading and very hostile Catholic expert on Freemasonry, changed tack and wrote a number of conciliatory articles in the quasi-official Civilta Cattolica. It was widely believed that Caprile's new line was backed by none other than Cardinal Villot, then Vatican Secretary of State. The story is that Villot, dubbed a 'progressive', used Father Caprile's articles to overcome the resistance to any change in the Church's teaching on Masonry by Cardinal Franjo Seper, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

Against this background Carr saw Heenan a third time on 26 April 1971 and Heenan related how the Holy See had granted dispensations to two English Masons to remain members of the Brotherhood after their reception into the Roman Catholic Church.

On 12 June 1973 Heenan felt able to warn his priests that a change in Rome's policy towards Masonry was imminent. He was right. After years of procrastination Cardinal Seper felt obliged on 19 July 1974 to authorize the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to write a confidential letter to certain Episcopal Conferences, the English among them, commenting on the interpretation to be given to Canon 2335.

Seper said no more than he had to: someone had pointed out that, as there was no comma in the definitive Latin text of Canon 2335, it was not clear whether all Freemasons were automatically excommunicated, or onlythose Freemasons whose particular group plots against Church or legitimate civil authorities. Wherever a Canon provides for penalties, Seper was obliged to point out, the most restrictive interpretation had to be given in the case of ambiguity. Therefore, the Canon reserved automatic excommunication only for the plotters.

Of itself the cautious letter signalled no change in the Church's attitude to the Brotherhood. But Caprile in Civilta Cattolica published what was allegedly an 'authorized commentary' suggesting that the Church now officially accepted that there were masonic associations which did not conspire against Church or state, that the Church now intended to leave it to local Episcopal Conferences to decide whether their local Masons were in this category - and if they were, there need be no ban on Masonry.

The English bishops accepted this view and issued a statement of general guidance which reads in part: Times change. The Holy See has reviewed the Church's present relationship with Freemasonry... the Congregation has ruled that Canon 2335 no longer automatically bars a Catholic from membership of Masonic groups. . . And so a Catholic who joins the Freemasons is excommunicated only if the policy and actions of the Freemasons in his area are known to be hostile to the Church.

The Catholic News Service announced that the effect of this guidance 'is to move from a ban on Catholics belonging to the Masonic Movement to a cautious procedure whereby such membership may in some cases be sought'

For Carr and for Masonry this was the definitive breakthrough: the reconciliation so long sought by the Masons had been achieved. As Carr puts it, 'There must be hundreds of dedicated Masons all over the world who have played some part in the achievement of this long desired end. We have seen masonic history in the making. . . the sad story which began in 1738 is happily ended.' Masons hastened to spread the word that Catholics could at last be Freemasons without incurring their Church's displeasure.

Inside sources have informed me that behind all this disarray in the Vatican there may well have been a small number of masonic prelates - specifically an Archbishop who in July 1975 was dismissed from his post when 'unquestionable proof' of his being a Freemason was submitted to the Pope. Prima facieevidence of a few such cases does certainly exist, but as Paul VI, fearing scandal, ordered no enquiry to establish the truth, rumour has taken over and spurious lists of high-ranking 'masonic prelates' have been passed around, making the facts more than ever difficult to establish.

Everywhere there was confusion. In Brazil, on Christmas Day 1975, at the request of the Masonic Lodge Liberty, Cardinal Abelard Brandao Vilela, Primate of Brazil, celebrated Mass to commemorate the Lodge's fortieth anniversary.

For his attitude towards the Brotherhood the Cardinal next year received the tide 'Great Benefactor' of the Lodge.

All this happened under Pope Paul VI who, whatever his other virtues, is widely considered to have been a weak man unable to face scandal if need be to keep masonic influence out of the Vatican and national Episcopal conferences.

With the advent of Pope John Paul II it soon became clear that Harry Carr had been over-sanguine in suggesting that the story was at an end. On 17 February 1981 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a 'declaration' stating that the 1974 letter had given rise to 'erroneous and tendentious' interpretations. It insisted: '. . . canonical discipline regarding Freemasonry remains in force and has not been modified in any way, consequently neither excommunication nor the other penalties envisaged have been abrogated'

The 1974 letter had merely drawn attention to the fact that the Church's penal laws must always be interpreted restrictively. In evident reproof of the English bishops, the Congregation declared that it had not intended Episcopal Conferences to issue public pronouncements of a general character on the nature of masonic associations 'which would change the position of the Church in regard to Freemasonry'

The 1981 declaration pulls the rug from under the new understanding of the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and Masonry. Yet it has had virtually no publicity and the myth that canon law on the subject was changed in 1974 persists.

Roman Catholics seeking a true answer to the question of the Church's position on Freemasonry can find it only in the pages of this book. A high Vatican official, well qualified to explain the present position of the Holy See, said I should "make four points: First: the purpose of the Vatican letter of 19 July 1974 was simply to point out that only the restrictive interpretation of Canon 2335 should be applied: in other words only those Freemasons whose organization plots against the (Roman Catholic) Church, or the legitimate civil authorities are automatically excommunicated, a matter which it is of course extremely difficult to determine in the case of a secret society where the thinking of its clandestine leading members is not known to the ordinary membership/

Secondly: the Church wishes to reduce wherever possible the offences that incur automatic excommunication. Consequently the new Canon Law now before the Pope may very well end automatic excommunication for Freemasons even under the restrictive interpretation of the present Canon 2335.

Thirdly, and most important: it does not follow that because some action may no longer attract automatic excommunication it becomes licit. If something is contrary to Divine Law it is illicit even though the Church may apply no extraordinary sanctions. The Vatican draws particular attention to the findings of the German bishops as recently as May 1980. After prolonged study in co-operation with German Freemasonry of only the first three 'Craft' degrees, the German bishops concluded that 'Masonry has not changed' and can in no way be reconciled with Christianity. The position of the Catholic Church is thus that, as Freemasonry is essentially similar in Britain and Germany, the German bishops' conclusions that Freemasonry is contrary to Divine Law applies to British as much as to German Freemasonry.

Fourthly: there are moral as well as theological and political' issues. It is unChristian to join any secret organization which systematically benefits its own members to the detriment of the legitimate interests of non-members.

Insofar as Freemasonry is guilty of this, Roman Catholics obviously should not join it
The Vatican's position is thus plain enough for anyone able to travel to Rome and obtain an audience with an eminent official. As most Catholic clergy and laity are not in a position to do this, it is curious that the English hierarchy have left English Catholics in ignorance. It is impossible to guess how long they would have remained ignorant had not New English Library decided to commission this investigation into Freemasonry.

An eminent prelate in Rome, who enthusiastically welcomed the prospect of this book and described the project as 'work of great importance', disclosed how the English Roman Catholic hierarchy, far from hastening to 'tear away the mask from Freemasonry' as urged by Pope Leo XIII, is in practice out on a limb in its toleration of Freemasonry and its unwillingness to give any guidance to Catholics, even to its own priests. He explained, 'The English bishops are anxious to give an English face to Catholicism. So, because Freemasonry is so English, they feel they must come to terms with it. The bishops wish for silence. ' Effectively, then, the true position of the Roman Catholic Church is not unlike that of the Church of England. Faced with the prestige, influence, and prevalence of Freemasonry in British society, both are similarly paralysed
The Vatican contact said, 'The Catholic hierarchy are well aware too of the pressures on the Roman Catholic laity in many walks of life to join Freemasonry if their worldly interests are not to be too gravely prejudiced in an increasingly masonic world. If the English Bishops do not consider they should demand that the faithful make the sacrifice required by the official Vatican position, it is hardly surprising that Freemasonry among Catholics is on the increase. It is certainly no longer safe to assume that Roman Catholic professional men are not Freemasons.'

The people and places in the following episode have been given obvious pseudonyms to make identification impossible and so to protect my informant, an Anglican vicar. For more than five months after I first heard of this man's plight, he was guarded about what was happening to him. Eventually, though, he decided that the disturbing events which took place in and around his parish during 1981 should be widely known - if only to warn other clergymen of the trouble in which they might become embroiled if they did not handle their local Freemasons skilfully. At this time the vicar requested that I did not disclose his name. Less than two days later, after much contemplation and soul-searching, he decided that he must stand up and be counted even if it meant placing himself in jeopardy again. But his fear overcame him once again and the pseudonyms were inserted into his story.

The Parish Church of Epsilon lies between the Berkshire villages of Zeta and Theta. From the porch there is a beautiful view of the Kappa valley and the highway beyond. For the Vicar of Epsilon, however, all beauty ends when he enters his church. He strongly suspects, from his experiences since taking up the living in 1980 and from his own observations and research, that the building called Epsilon Parish Church is not a church at all, but a pagan temple. It .is full of masonic symbols. The Rev Lamda Mu says he came close to being driven out of his p4rish and his livelihood after opposing plans, on Christian grounds, for a service in the church for members of the two local masonic Lodges. When I met the Rev Mu he told me, 'In May 1981 I knew almost nothing about Freemasonry, but I have since come to understand the spiritual implications of this whole secret society, religion, or whatever you may care to call it.' On 5 May 1982, before deciding finally that it would be too dangerous to be named, he wrote to me, 'Apart from my testimony, there are two principal reasons why I have decided to contribute to your work on Freemasonry.' He asked that I list these reasons in full in his own words:

(1) A number of people for one reason or another in contributing to this book were unwilling to give their names and I am told that some of the evidence had to be disguised. This in fact would make it possible for people to criticize the book as sheer fabrication. I was impressed by the author's motives in preparing this book on Freemasonry as he wanted to examine the subject from all points of view so that the reader might be able to make his own judgement on Freemasonry. I have learned that Freemasonry is very big indeed and I am only describing my contact with Freemasonry

(2) I am contributing as a member of the established Church, that has had strong contacts with Masonry for a very long time. In this day and age it is fashionable to criticize the establishment, and my very real fear is that should anything vaguely comparable happen in this country with regard to Freemasonry as happened with the P2 Lodge in Italy [see Chapter 26], it could not only seriously undermine but possibly destroy confidence in authority and the use of authority in this land. I therefore wish to dissociate myself from all those who desire to use criticism of Masonry for their own ends.

Mu wished it to be said that he bore Masons no animosity or ill-will. He said that in whatever contacts he had had over the events so far, the Freemasons themselves had been courteous and polite. 'I must also add that there are a number of Masons in my parishes, some of them are very close friends of mine, and some of them played a very active part in saving one of my churches from certain closure. ' This is the Rev Mu's story.

'I remember as a small boy that my mother announced after seeing a postcard that somebody had gone to the "Grand Lodge Above". She then showed me my father's masonic apron. In 1967 at theological college, there was a discussion about Freemasonry among some of the students. I had no idea what Freemasonry was. I was given a book on heresies by one of the students which contained eight pages on Freemasonry. I read it and this in fact has coloured all my thinking on Masonry. I felt, as a Christian believing in Jesus Christ, I could not become a Mason as this would mean denying Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world.

'Before I became Vicar of [Epsilon] in Berkshire in 1980, I was told that the Freemasons had an annual service once a year in [Epsilon] Church. I raised this with the Bishop, who advised me to allow the Masons to have their service but ask to see the order of service beforehand and to insist on every prayer being said "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ". In May 1981, I received a letter from the [Theta] Lodge requesting a service in [Epsilon] Church.

The letter gave no indication as to what exactly the Masons wanted and I was concerned that I would be involved in all sorts of bizarre rituals. I later discovered that they had only wanted Prayer Book Evensong. The surprise for me on the letter was a masonic symbol, which I recognized immediately as being like a sign in [Epsilon] Church. I had to reply to the letter fairly quickly, but I had no idea what to do. The one person I felt I could talk to about this was away on holiday. I did not know who were Masons and who were not. I did not know what the feelings of the local clergy were on Masonry, and I was not absolutely certain if even the Bishop was a Mason.

(As it turned out he most certainly was not.) I remembered hearing something of a clergyman who was driven from this country to Canada or somewhere because he opposed Masonry. I later discovered that this was Walton Hannah. I had no wish to follow him but I was extremely reluctant to be involved in any way with a society that wanted a service in church but wanted the Founder of the church excluded. It took me four or five days to summon up enough courage to reply to the Masons. I said that all my knowledge of Masonry was second hand, I knew very little about Masonry, except that Masons had services which did not allow the name of Jesus Christ to be used, and for that reason I was not happy about them having a service. I did not flatly refuse to give them a service, but made the same conditions as those suggested by the Bishop, only adding that I should preach the sermon. Had I known then the kind of hymns Masons sing, I would have wanted to see those in advance as well.

'Over a period of time, I became aware of a gathering storm, and I began in desperation to search for books about Masonry. I found one which only confirmed my views and made me even more aware of the true nature of Freemasonry.

Also I began to find out who were Masons in all three of my parishes, and this provided me with many surprises. I sensed a major storm was brewing and I felt totally ill equipped to face what was about to happen. I had become aware that a number of Popes had condemned Masonry and I discovered a number of books on the subject at Douai Abbey. I had practically no time to read them before I was given six days' notice that the only subject on the agenda for the next Parish Church Council meeting at [Epsilon] was the Annual Freemasons' Service. In that brief period of time I tried to prepare as convincing a case as possible as to why I knew a Christian could not be a Mason. I used some information from the recent 'Credo television programme, and I even quoted from the 39 Articles the relevant articles which should convince any Anglican that he cannot be an Anglican and a Mason. I was not allowed to explain anything about the rituals of Masonry as the meeting suddenly exploded in uproar. Some of the members were very angry with me and felt that I had insulted their relatives dead and living. In the end the PCC passed a resolution asking me to consider writing to the Masons inviting them back again. If I did not do this, I was told that they would all resign, and one person warned me that I might become" a Vicar without a Parish"

They then decided to have a further meeting two weeks later

'What surprised me most of all was that they could not accept or could not hear me say that Masonry was contrary to the first three of the Ten Commandments and denied Christ. They said that as many clergy were Masons, including bishops, there was nothing wrong with it. I do not recount all this in order to criticize the way the PCC reacted. I felt that for many decades the PCC had been badly let down by the clergy who have been Masons and believed that it was compatible with their allegiance to Christ. It grieves me to think of those times and the only reason why I relate all this is hopefully to spare some other vicar and PCC the kind of experience we all suffered at that time. The next morning, I wrote to the Bishop and said that I had no intention of sending any letter to the Masons. One of my churchwardens came to see me. He was greatly distressed by all that had happened and asked me to reconsider writing to the Masons and he told me how upset many people were, and that unless I wrote a letter they would all resign. I wrote a further letter to the Bishop suggesting how I proposed to resolve the crisis. The Bishop replied with a very tough letter condemning Masonry in no uncertain terms. He supported my actions, adding that had he been in my position he would have done as I did. The letter displayed his deep loyalty to Christ. Nevertheless at the next meeting, I did produce a letter which was not accepted. I produced another letter, in which I regretted the upset I had caused everyone and that I had not realized that all they wanted was Evensong. I also said that I thought that they had wanted a masonic service. Even with the letter that I finally sent to the Masons I had to omit the one and only reference I made to Jesus Christ. One of my churchwardens worked overtime to restore peace and harmony, and he succeeded

'I felt very puzzled by all that had happened. I could not understand why the PCC acted in the way it had. Why had they been so angry and upset? What puzzled me most of all was that none of them were Masons! There had to be a reason behind it all and I just did not know the reason. The Bishop came to see me. At first I was worried as he had told me before I became a vicar that he would support me in my parishes but if he felt that I was wrong over something he would tell me privately. I need not have worried, his real concern was how I had taken everything, and he only came to support me and my wife.

In retrospect I feel she suffered most of all through the crisis. We had a long and happy time with the Bishop over a meal discussing all that had happened; he also told me to expect further consequences of my actions. I did not understand at the time what he meant, and to a certain extent, I still do not understand. I had only just weathered a major crisis. Without the firm support of the Bishop, it is unlikely that I would still be Vicar of [Epsilon ]. I was still very puzzled by all that had happened and I just did not appreciate the spiritual implications of Freemasonry.

'If ever I faced another crisis over Freemasonry, I felt that I had to know what Freemasonry was. I came up against another problem: nearly all the books that I had borrowed on Freemasonry had been out of print for many years.

It took many months even to obtain one or two of the books. Someone lent to me a copy of Richard Carlile's Manual of Freemasonry. This was the first masonic book I ever saw that gave full details of the rituals of Masonry.

Although produced early in the last century, it remains a very important document on Freemasonry. I also wrote to London Weekend Television in the hope of obtaining a copy of the German Bishops' Report on Freemasonry from James Rushbrooke, a scholar who had appeared on the Credo programme.

On the same day, I received not only James Rushbrooke's translation of the Report, but also another translation from some other source. Not only that but the Rev John Lawrence, who had also been involved in the Credoprogramme, contacted me, and not long afterwards, I was also visited by James Rushbrooke. James impressed upon me how large a thing Masonry was and considered that I had acted bravely in taking the action I did, "

. because you know they will put your name down on their list of clergymen who are actively opposed to Freemasonry"

'There were two other things that happened. One was that the local Masons went to another church and the preacher at the service made some unpleasant comments about my attitude towards Freemasonry. The Vicar of the parish came and apologized to me afterwards. I felt very sorry for him and tried to ease his conscience, but I also pointed out that I as a Christian could not accept Masonry. The other incident was that a member of one of my parishes, a Mason, asked to see me. I had made a point of seeing the churchgoing Masons and I thought I had reassured them that I had no intention of driving Masons out of church. The minute you drive any sinner out of church you go against the principle that the church exists to reform penitent sinners through our Lord Jesus Christ. Freemasonry does not operate on that principle and therefore I explained that I was against the system but not the people involved in it. This parishioner was still worried and confused by my actions. We had a very long conversation in which I began to have the feeling that Masonry really did have a false spirit behind it. The fellowship of Masonry was a counterfeit of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. I was taken by surprise for a moment when he told me that if I wanted to join a Lodge, I would be made very welcome! 'I have only told you the bare bones of what happened. I have deliberately avoided as far as possible giving theological opinions about Masonry or indeed details about the rituals of Masonry as there is plenty of information available to anyone who wishes to find it. The books on Masonry are endless. During the following month:, I learnt more and more about Masonry and discovered many more symbols of Masonry in [Epsilon] Church to the extent that now I really wonder if it is a church at all.

'I have also learned that the last family owner of [Epsilon] Court had been a top Mason. I found this out from an old masonic book which listed two pages of his many masonic connections. I have also become alarmed by the deep occult connections there are in Masonry.' The one fortunate discovery Mu has made, he told me, was the testimony of former Masons who have renounced the Brotherhood and turned 'wholeheartedly to Christ'

In May 1981 - a month of controversial masonic activity in a number of disparate areas - another clergyman was sacked from his church and ordered to leave the manse. He later claimed before an industrial tribunal that the Presbyterian Church of Wales had dismissed him purely because he had preached against Freemasonry. The Rev William Colin Davies of Whitchurch, Cardiff, requested through his lawyer that there should be no member of the Brotherhood on the tribunal, which was agreed.

The minister's duties called for him to preach thirty-six Sundays of the year at his own church and twelve Sundays in other churches without a regular minister. In August 1979 Davies wrote to the Church's rota secretary stating that he did not wish to be seen to be helping in the teachings of tenets of Freemasonry, which he believed to be 'a challenge to the discipleship of Jesus Christ'. He enclosed a cheque for £108.00 to cover his absence from certain churches where he felt his presence had been both unexpected and unwanted because of his views on Freemasonry. When I spoke to him about his case in May 1982, Davies said that the Presbyterian Church of Wales was particularly strongly influenced by members of the Brotherhood among its own members and administration. He explained, 'I became a minister in 1974 and Cardiff was my first pastorate. I had two churches. In one of them I encountered some Freemasons. I did not know then what I know now. I researched into Masonry and found it entirely incompatible with faith in Jesus Christ.

I spoke privately to some men in the church, and without making it a bee in my bonnet I did some comparisons between Freemasonry and Christianity during the course of some sermons. I compared, for example, the meaning of faith in Christianity and the masonic meaning of faith
'In February 1980 I discovered a booklet called Christ, the Christian and Freemasonry which I circulated among the members of the church.

'By this time I had been reported to the local church governing body - the presbytery - and a committee of seven men came to see me. I know now that some of them were Freemasons. They accused me of being an evangelical Christian, which I am, 'intolerant of un-Biblical teaching and in particular Freemasonry'

They accused me of being un-compassionate, which presumably meant I had upset Masons' and their relatives' feelings. It was said that membership of my church was going down, but I had had about fifty of the elderly members die and had introduced twenty-six new members. They said I was not ecumenically minded enough in that I didn't join in local services of other churches, which was not true. It is true that I have reservations about the present moves towards church unity but we did have ecumenical meetings with local churches roundabout. And I was accused of allowing the children's work to decline when it is actually expanding. I knew then that the rest of the charges had been trumped up by Masons determined to end my opposition to Masonry.

I was not allowed to answer the charges. And then when I next met them a month later on 20 June 1980 they presented a report before the governing body without any warning - and I was dismissed.

'I received information several days later from a member of my other church who made some enquiries of some masonic friends that a Lodge meeting had taken place in March at which it was decided that pressure had to be brought to bear to have me removed. I have made this charge in public and it has never been rebutted.

'I was dismissed from the pastorate, not from my ministry. These are technically different, in practice the same. I then appealed to the highest body in the church, the Association, which appointed a panel of men to look into it.

They said that a period of twelve months should be allowed to see if a reconciliation could be achieved between me and the local people who wanted me sacked. I agreed to this but they made no attempt at reconciliation.

'I won my appeal but it was not implemented because my local church would not accept it. I was sacked and told to leave my house within six weeks.' The elders of the church claimed before the industrial tribunal that Davies had not been an employee of the Church but self-employed, and as such ineligible to claim unfair dismissal. They cited the case of a minister dismissed from Scunthorpe Congregational Church in 1978 as a precedent. But the non-masonic tribunal decided that Davies had been an employee and therefore had the right to seek a ruling.

Meanwhile, after six months on the dole, he works (at the time of writing) as minister for an independent church he has formed at Whitchurch along with members of both his former churches.

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