Saturday, August 28, 2010

Boise Masonic Trial in Freemasonry for Dummies Blog

The Masonic trial of Praxis Lodge Venerable Master has made it to the Blog for Freemasonry for Dummies, which coincidentally, and perhaps comically, was one of the references cited in the charges against Bro. and V.M. Hartung, among the Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry. So much for scholarly works.

The Blog is viewable here, and includes comments from Chris Hodapp (author)and Bro. Hartung himself.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Results of Masonic Trial Against Praxis Lodge Venerable Master

Today, August 13 at 10am, a history-making Masonic Trial was held in Boise, Idaho with charges against Freemason, Krispen Hartung. Brother Hartung was charged with "unmasonic conduct", and in particular for establishing and being a member of a "irregular" lodge of Freemasonry (Praxis Lodge, a Modern Lodge of Freemasonry, under the Grand Orient of the United States, and in amity with the Grand Orient of France) that does not require its members to believe in God or gods, does not use the Bible in lodge rituals and meetings, and allows discussion of politics and religion in the lodge setting.

During the trial, Brother Hartung pleaded "Not Guilty" to the charges and read a formal response and explanation to his plea. That response can be downloaded or viewed here.

Brother Hartung's argument was multifaceted, but the most powerful points made were in his closing paragraphs:

"In closing, I will admit that I have built and am currently a member of a Modern lodge of Freemasonry, but I cannot sincerely and with any rational basis admit to this trial committee that this lodge is "irregular", let alone an indication of any unmasonic behavior, based on the charges and explanations presented to me. I reject your misguided definition and concept of irregularity. I reject it for the same reasons that I reject the uncivilized and dogmatic beliefs that black people cannot run for office, that women can't vote, or that human beings do not have the right to free speech and expression. I reject it because it is inherently flawed and out of date, and the ever-changing history of Freemasonry does not justify the notion of regularity as a principle of Universal Freemasonry and brotherhood. I furthermore reject your notion of irregularity because I regard it as morally suspect, and the charges made against me, rather than providing a moral argument for my alleged unmasonic conduct, rely solely on definitions, semantics, and out of date principles.

Any fraternity that judges the worth of a member or potential candidate based on his private theological beliefs and not his character, or forces him to compromise his freedom of conscience, is not a fraternity that I want to be associated with in any way or form. I regard such behavior as myopic, uncivilized, and absurd. This is based solely on territorial politics and on drawing superficial and arbitrary boundaries of class membership, not the principles of universal brotherhood."

I therefore request that you do whatever you deem appropriate. If that means that you have to put me on trial for so-called unmasonic conduct, then so be it; but I will state for the record that this is not an act of justice, an act of morality, or one of a fraternity that embraces brotherhood, but an act of ignorance and stubbornness, and a refusal to evolve to a higher standard of humanity and Freemasonry."

The trial committee discussed the charges and Brother Hartung's response for over an hour. They voted and the verdict was that Brother Hartung was guilty of the above mentioned charges, and will be expulsed from Boise Lodge #2 and the Grand Lodge of Idaho. Note, this is actually what Brother Hartung wanted last November, but they did not acknowledge his request, but instead decided to charge him.

The outcome of the trial was as expected. Based on the rules, regulations, and definitions of the Grand Lodge of Idaho, Brother Hartung is indeed a member of an irregular lodge of Freemasonry, which is a sufficient basis to warrant unmasonic conduct. However, Brother Hartung's response to the charges raised several philosophical issues around the moral implications of Anglo-American or "mainstream" Freemasonry's requirement for members to believe in God, among other religiously rooted requirements and principles that render them a non-secular Fraternity.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Background Behind the Masonic Trial of Praxis Lodge Venerable Master

Below is a detailed background behind the upcoming trial of Praxis Lodge Venerable Master, Krispen Hartung.

In August, 2009, Brother Krispen Hartung submitted a simple request to the officers of Boise Lodge #2 of the Grand Lodge of Idaho, wherein he stated that he wanted to demit because the Lodge was no longer meeting his needs and he was potentially interested in joining the Idaho Research Lodge. He was sent a confirmation of his demit within days with no questions asked; however, before the demit documentation was sent to the Grand Lodge of Idaho, he was informed that in order to remain a member of the Shriners (of which we was currently a member), he had to maintain membership in a standard lodge under the Grand Lodge of Idaho, and a research lodge could not serve this purpose. Consequently, Brother Hartung decided to hold off on his demit until he was certain of what he wanted to do. He did not at this time, however, let Boise Lodge #2 know that he was building a new Modern Lodge of Freemasonry in Boise, Praxis Lodge, as this work was too premature to announce.

On November 10, 2009, after careful deliberation on the matter, Brother Hartung sent a second an final demit request to Boise Lodge #2, wherein he revealed exactly what he was doing with Praxis Lodge and his detailed reasons for wanting to demit. A digital copy of that request can be viewed or downloaded here. Brother Hartung's reasons for demit are summarized as follows:
  • Lack of personal needs being met
  • Irreconcilable philosophical differences with Blue Lodge or “Antient” Freemasonry
  • Membership of Masonic obediences and orders deemed “irregular” by Blue Lodge Masonry
  • Leadership of two Modern Lodges
  • Acceptance and establishment of co-gender Masonry
After approximately one month, and having not received a confirmation of his demit, Brother Hartung sent a letter to the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Idaho, wherein he stated that he was still waiting for a confirmation and that once he received the confirmation, he would request that he be taken off the books of the Grand Lodge of Idaho (in other words, removed from the order completely). Additionally, Brother Hartung stated that in order to dispel rumors about his intent and motivations in building a Modern Lodge of Freemasonry, he was open to having coffee with any of the brothers of the lodge, to explain his objectives and the nature of Modern Freemasonry. A copy of this letter can be viewed or downloaded here. Attached to this letter, Brother Hartung also included key documents, including a history of the Grand Orient of France and the Grand Orient of the United States, as well as an address to the 2002 California Masonic Symposium, presented by Alain Bauer, past Grand Master of the Grand Orient of France. Brother response received no response from the Grand Master.

Praxis Lodge Venerable Master put on Masonic Trial by Boise Lodge #2 of the Grand Lodge of Idaho

On August 2, 2010, Boise Lodge #2, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons, of the Grand Lodge of Idaho, summoned Krispen K Hartung to appear at a Masonic Trial on Friday, August 13 at 10am. The summons included an explanation of charges made against him, which had been submitted to the Worshipful Master of the Lodge on December 29, 2009.

The summons and explanation of charges are viewable or downloadable here and also below, but in summary, Brother Hartung was charged for "unmasonic conduct", specifically that he had built and was a member of an "irregular" lodge, namely Praxis Lodge, a "Modern" lodge of the Grand Orient of the United States, who is in amity and regular communication with the Grand Orient of France.

The charges further state that Praxis Lodge is "irregular" because a) it does not require members to belief in God, b) it does not require the "Volume of the Sacred Law" (normally a Holy Bible) as an "indispensable part of the Furniture of the Lodge", and c) that it allows discussion of religion and politics in the Lodge. These three practices are described as in violation of the "Ancient Landmarks" of Freemasonry and of the Masonic Idaho Code and Digest.

In short, Praxis Lodge was deemed "irregular" because of its secular nature. This irregularity is based on the standards of the Grand Lodge of Idaho in opposition to the to the principle of Freedom of Conscience, which is a key principle of the Grand Orient of the United States and the Grand Orient of France, allowing freedom of speech, expression, and thought by all Freemasons.