Many years ago my husband became a Mason. So here I was, a wife of a Mason not knowing anything about these men or the organization they represented. Over the years I got to know many and found them to be men of honor who love God and country. Respectful caring men with a great sense of purpose, that of helping children in need.
When the unthinkable happened and my family was involved in an automobile accident that left my grandson, Austin, paralyzed at age 7, we became the recipients of that caring help. Masons were there for many, many weeks doing anything they could to make the worst time in our lives a little more bearable. Everything from mowing our grass to fundraising to wheelchair purchasing; nothing was too much.
I watched in awe at their eagerness to help and the joy it gave them to be able to do so. We will forever be grateful to them. So the answer to who are the Masons would be true men of valor for me and I was proud to be the wife of one of their own.
My son was equally impressed and wanted to join as well. So he did. My husband and son were now both Masons together. Over the years my grandchildren became part of the lodge through visits at family functions, cleanup time and special occasions. They grew up with the members as we formed personal friendships with many of them. Austin mentioned several times he could not wait to become of age to join the lodge to be, as he said, just like them. He turned 21 last month and petitioned the lodge for membership.
A letter of dispensation had to be obtained from the Grand Lodge because Austins paralysis did not meet Masonic requirements to be able to stand upright. The letter of approval came immediately. All was good. Hurdle one cleared. The investigating committee of three appointed members came to check him out, talk with him and deem his character to be worthy or unworthy to be a Mason. The committee found him to be worthy and wrote a favorable report. Hurdle two was cleared.
The next step was approval or disapproval by members of the lodge by secret ballot. White ball means approval, black cube disapproval. It only takes one black cube to reject a petition.
Some overheard questions how can a man in a wheelchair become a Mason but no attention was paid to it. After all, how could this be an issue in todays world?
What happened next completely blindsided us. Austin was rejected. I cant find words to describe the hurt we felt. How do you tell a young man who only wanted to be like them, son they dont want you. You are not fit to be a Mason. This is so wrong on so many levels. It is appalling and morally unacceptable. It is discrimination.
By these laws and traditions every soldier who lost his legs in battle fighting for the freedom that allows Masonry to be practiced would be deemed unfit as well. The one black cube cast in secret by one small man with a bigoted mindset allows this to happen. That is wrong. Yes, I am biased. Austin is my grandson. Neverthe-less, wrong is wrong.
As an outsider looking in, I feel the organization has a choice to make. Either continue as always, or right this wrong by purging these archaic 17th century rules and traditions from Masonry so small men with bigoted minds cannot hide behind them. Join the 21st century where discrimination is no longer tolerated.
Monika Childers is a resident of Calhoun.