Freemasons dispel 'the myths'

FREEMASONS are shrouded in mystery and secrets.

Their members are known as the brethren, they wear tuxedos to all monthly meetings and the leader of the fraternity in Queensland is known as the grand master.

However, this fraternity is not a cult and members are adamant they are not a religion either, even though to be a member you need to pass a secret initiation ceremony and believe in a supreme being.

The fraternity of course is the Freemasons and recently members of the Warwick Lodge opened their doors to the Daily News for a chat in a bid to dispel some of the myths about them.

There are three lodges which use the Warwick Masonic Centre on Guy Street - the Cunningham, St Georges and Warwick lodges.

Long-term Freemason Ron Bryant said his was not a secret society, rather “a society with some secrets”- a message modern Freemasons have been pushing in a bid to change public perception about the fraternity.

“It's what we call a progressive science - Freemasons are very disciplined,” he said.

“We have what is called the little black book, in that is wonderful prose about how you should conduct yourself in life. It is a ritual, not a cloak and dagger thing.

“The book is just a guide to how you should conduct yourself in life; Freemasonry is a way of life.”

Mr Bryant said there were about 45 members of the Warwick Lodge brethren.

Only men are allowed to be Freemasons.

“You have to believe there is a supreme being, you can't be an atheist and you can now join when you are 18 - it used to be 21,” he said.

“We have an initiation ceremony for new members. You have to be a good citizen - we will throw you out if you're not.

“Freemasonry takes good men and makes them better.”

There must be something in the water at the Warwick Lodge - on Saturday night at the annual change over banquet and installation of the new master, Robert Swaine, a member who was initiated at Warwick in 1944, returned.

Mr Swaine has also been a member for 28 years and another member, Percy Cutmore, has been a member at Warwick for 49 years.

“If you want to become a member, then I give you some papers and you have to get six people to give you good references and then these references are given back,” Mr Bryant said.

“Interested people find out that there are certain procedures, someone proposes you to become a member, someone seconds you as long as you are of good character.

“Many people don't know about all of the charity work we do.”

The Freemasons of Warwick are currently selling a raffle to raise money for the United Grand Lodge of Queensland grand master's push to replace money used to buy a special microscope for cancer research. The money was taken from the Board of Benevolence - the charitable arm of the Freemasons, which runs masonic aged care centres across the state and has about $80-$90 million worth of assets in this sector.

Grand master Graeme Ewin was in Warwick for the banquet - a very prestigious event that only happens every few years.

Mr Ewin insists Freemasonry is not a religion.

“Freemasonry has no dogma, no creed, no sacraments and does not speak of or promise salvation,” he said.

“Indeed, it fails all tests to prove it is a religion.

“(Freemasons) are men who believe in a supreme being, who want to be able to assist their fellow man and wish to make themselves better people in their homes, in their churches and in their everyday life.”

The founder of the North Australian Lodge in Brisbane - the first lodge in Queensland - 150 years ago was buried in the Warwick Cemetery when he died at the age of 29 in 1963.

James Watkin Jackson was the first master of the North Australian Lodge and on October 17 Freemasons from right across the state will gather together to launch a book, 150 years of Queensland Freemasonry and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first lodge in the Sunshine State.

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