The Deaf and Freemasons, Rotary, Lions, Roundtable, etc.

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Freemasons

Once upon a time I read an article in a local newspaper about the Freemasons.

I noticed that in order to be admitted to this exclusive order, you must have Y chromosome in your body cells, believe in a single god, be solvent financially, and be happily married. In addition to the above, you must also be able-bodied.

The article specifically mentioned the example of blind people who wouldn't be admitted.

I reached the conclusion that I have three reasons to be disqualified from being Freemason:

  1. I am not happily married at present. Matter of fact, I am divorced.
  2. I hold atheist beliefs.
  3. I am not able-bodied according to their criteria.

Oh well, at least I have the Y chromosome.

I wonder what happens if someone is member and later loses his hearing. Will he be expelled from the order once he is no longer successful in hiding this condition?

Responses from Freemasons

Over the years, since publicizing the above item, some Freemasons took issue with what I said about admitting only able-bodied people.

A nameless Freemason's response

One Freemason, whom I'll leave nameless, explained at March 2006:

  • It is true, that to become a Mason, one must be able bodied. If after joining, he becomes disabled, we will help him.
  • Also, you do not have to be happily married to be a Free Mason.
  • I do not see that to be a problem, though. Why can't some club decide who may belong?

After I explained to him what does discrimination mean, he resorted to namecalling:

  • Omer, you are a seriously disturbed fellow. Did you know that Freemason lodges are one of teh only places where an Israeli or American Jew can sit with a "Palestinian" Arab and call teh other brother?
  • You and Hamas have something in common, you both think ill of Freemasonry.
  • Goodbye Omer, there is no point in discussing this with you further.

Nathan S. Bendel's response

Nathan Bendel responded at December 2009 and gave me permission to quote him:

I am a freemason myself, and while not completely deaf, I have profound hearing loss. I'm not sure where you are located or where you found your information but being married is not a qualification of becoming a Freemason. There are quite a few single or divorced guys in my lodge. Also, it's not really an exclusive order, as you say. Our membership is very diverse as we admit all religious faiths and ethnicities. You are correct that we require a belief in a Supreme Being but the interpretation of that is up to the individual since Freemasonry doesn't have any religious dogma and the discussion of religion and politics are forbidden in lodge.

Able-bodied is also open to interpretation and is simply a remnant of the medieval stone masons guilds we originate from. Most lodges have begun to remove or amend this requirement and have made accommodations for certain disabilities. No man would be expelled from the lodge for developing any kind of disability, rather, the lodge would come to his aid and do whatever they could to support him and his family.

As for being solvent financially, as long as you are able to support yourself and your family (if any) and pay the annual membership dues (which is usually $100 or less) you are fine. There is no requirement that you be wealthy. We have a saying that no matter what our stations in life, in lodge, we "meet on the level."

I share this because there is a lot of incorrect information out there concerning Freemasonry and I wouldn't want someone who qualifies to abstain from trying due to being misinformed.

How about references which support the above claims?

I can't provide a link to any page that supports what I say about being married or the fact that one doesn't have to be wealthy. This is because those requirements don't exist, therefore no page about Freemasonry that I've ever seen addresses them.

As for our diversity and the acceptance of people with certain disabilities, I would direct you to the website of any Grand Lodge in the US, such as my Grand Lodge in CA: http://www.freemason.org/. Most of these have an FAQ or About page.

Also, Wikipedia has a great article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemasonry.

Other than that, the things I've told you are based on 12 years of research on Freemasonry, 4 years of which I have been a member myself and served in the officers line. I am also a 32nd degree mason of the Scottish Rite. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.


Lions

The Lions Club is exceptional in that it has had "Deaf Lions" chapters. There is a story about one deaf man who became very involved, rising in the Lions hierarchy at the same time.


Other organizations

At present, I have no information about the attitude toward deaf persons of other organizations, such as Rotary and Roundtable.