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Peace and Harmony

The universality of Freemasonry which is everywhere accepted as a Landmark in principle is as yet unrealized in practice. Great Britain admits Negroes to membership in its Lodges in the Western Atlantic but in China its Lodges do not admit Chinese. American Lodges admit Jesvs, who have long been debarred by a number of European Grand Bodies, but does not accept Negroes. Some Lodges in the Near East admit Mohammedans, others do not. These " discrepancies, " or apparent inconsistencies, are found in every Masonic country, and they are made the more glaringly evident by the fact that in none of the Landmarks or Constitutions or Charters of regularly constituted Masonic Bodies are racial, social, or religious exclusions incorporated. The solution of the paradox is found in another Landmark, indubitably coeval with Freemasonry, to the effect that it is the first duty of Brethren when in Lodge assembled, and the paramount duty of the Worshipful Master, to maintain the peace and harmony of the Craft. This has been universally understood to refer not only to quarrels, schisms, cabals, etc., inside the Lodge, but also to such controversies, customs, or general social movements outside the Lodge that would, if introduced into it, disturb its peace and harmony.

A Lodge being not in a vacuum, and being composed of men who cannot wholly divest themselves of their feelings or even of their prejudices, is unable to act with absolute independence of its milieu, but must for sake of its own peace and harmony so act, at least for a time, as to exclude disturbing factors; if for this reason a Lodge in a given community excludes men of some race, language, or religion it is not because Freemasonry is antipathetic to them in principle, but because they are disturbing at a given place and time. Moreover the Craft never from its earliest years has admitted that any non-Mason has a right to demand membership; the non-Mason must petition, that is, pray for, the Degrees, and appeals to the grace of the Body to which he prays; the Body can refuse to grant that prayer for any reason of its own, and is therefore not responsible to demands set up in the world outside itself. American Grand Jurisdictions do not in fact (whether in principle or not) accept petitions from Negroes; this is solely because for the time being the Lodges are working amidst a social problem which is not of its making and which it cannot as a Masonic body alter among non-Masons; it is not because Negroes are not white; and it may easily come to pass in the future that when the "race issue" has ceased to be disturbing, Negroes will be admitted. Nothing in the Landmarks or in any Grand Lodge Constitution discriminates against them.

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