The Roman Popes set up systems of censorship long before the invention of printing, and when even hand-written manuscripts were very scarce and were too expensive for general use ; it censored also symbols, statues, pictures, music, speeches, ceremonies and pageants-it even tried to censor games and dances, and more than once went so far as to undertake the censorship of women's dress!-one of the favorite subjects of many of the bachelor Popes, and a principal theme of the sermons of the great preacher, Chrysostom. From the early days of the Christian religion down to the present moment the system of censorship of the Roman Church has rested on a single principle : it claims for itself the exclusive right to decide what is true and what is not true. Kings, princes, barons, Lords, the heads of great commercial companies, and the heads of colleges and universities, these also have employed censorship as a means of control and of preventing unorthodox words or practices. The American Revolution and the French Revolution between them were the first to overthrow this system which is as pernicious and inhuman in its own way as slavery was in another way. Today the bureau of the Roman Censorship publishes thick volumes of its Index, which are little more than titles of condemned books; many Masonic titles are among them, as also are titles by Luther, Melanchthon, Erasmus, Sir Isaac Newton, John Locke, and a long list of names equally celebrated of men who have believed that facts and realities decide what is true and is not true (the many Papal condemnations of the doctrine of the sphericity of the earth had no effect on the shape of the planet)!
When the Mother Grand Lodge of England (1717) set up a censorship of Masonic books, that is, books about Masonry written by Masons, it was acting according to received custom. That censorship continued until late in the century, when it went by default, and is not likely ever to be revised, because a censored Mason and a Freemason are a contradiction in terms; for if a Mason can be trusted to be loyal to the Craft in his behavior, so can he be trusted not to betray or to misrepresent it in what he says and writes. (On Church censorship the standard work is Censorship of the Church of Rome, by George Haven Putnam; S. P. Putnam's Sons; New York; 1906.)
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