Masonic Censorship and the end of Freemasonry for the Next Generation


Censor / Censorship
pronounced – cen·sor n.

  1. A person authorized to examine books, films, or other material and to remove or suppress what is considered morally, politically, or otherwise objectionable.
  2. An official, as in the armed forces, who examines personal mail and official dispatches to remove information considered secret or a risk to security.
  3. One that condemns or censures.
  4. One of two officials in ancient Rome responsible for taking the public census and supervising public behavior and morals.
  5. Psychology. The agent in the unconscious that is responsible for censorship

Lost this week was a great Masonic web site, by the hand of censorship. The facts and details are unclear, but what remains of a great web site is a message stating:

“BY ORDER OF THE GRAND MASTER OF FLORIDA THIS SITE HAS BEEN SUSPENDED.
Effective 12/2/2005″

A great voice in the Masonic community has been silenced by censorship. Through channels of my own, I did find out that it was though an order to cease and desist, which if applied in the legal sense could mean that there was a legal penalty assessable for the sites operation. From a Masonic view, the only thing valued enough to threaten with is the individual’s membership. Both are very drastic in their own way, and both are demoralizing to the member when threatened with losing. There were more than a dozen sites that were managed, maintained and edited by Brother Tim Bryce, from message boards to lodge web-sites, all functioning as beacons of light in the vast darkness of the internet.

I thought about how to approach this subject and wondered if there were any rational judgment I could muster to address the Grand Lodge of Florida, but after careful reflection, and letting the compass circumscribe my passions, I decided to narrow it down to this:

If a particular site is of so offensive, request it to be edited, do not just shut it down.

Put simply, you do not chop off the nose to spite the face because in doing so, much more is lost. By closing so many sites, these little harbors of light are now dark turning away interested parties who may of stumbled in on them. What they offered to the world at large was a virtual face to Freemasonry, a presence to get someone an insight to our fraternity.

Looking at it from another perspective, many Grand Lodges do not offer sites with vast quantity or content. Many have a look and function like the web did 10 years ago in its infantacy. The problem is that if someone is interested in the fraternity, this is where they land. Is this the presence we want project to potential members, an out of style and out of date group who can scarcely maintain their presence, let alone a schedule on the web? This is not to cast stones at any one particular lodge or lodges, but the internet has evolved at such a rapid rate that Freemasonry has fallen dramatically behind in it’s web presence, and any sites that offered light and insight to the fraternity are assets to be valued and kept.

I can only hope that future Grand Masters consider this and think carefully before squashing something of such great value to Freemasonry. Our assets are few in this realm, and often a simple edit can remedy the most annoying itch. I look forward to the day that Freemasonry for the next Generation returns.

Back channel to the site

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~ by Greg on December 7, 2005.

24 Responses to “Masonic Censorship and the end of Freemasonry for the Next Generation”

  1. We all suffered a great loss in FL by this cease and desist order. Yes, along with the loss of the eZine, we lost all the services of W:. Bryce – the web hosting, the newsletters, the yahoo discussion groups, the email broadcasts of pertinent information, all maintained by him for dozens of lodges throughout the district, state, country and world, totally and graciously free. The loss of Br. Tim’s free web hosting AND management for ALL the lodges in the local districts alone has been a tragedy.

    But perhaps as important was the gag order. AFAIK, W:. Bryce violated no obligation and no code in the FL Digest of Masonic Law. With bare justification for silencing Br. Tim, who will be silenced next, under threat of suspension, for whatever whim of the sitting GM?

    I could be next, just for writing this.

  2. I think that for one to be offended by such a positive article is being a little too sensitive.

    To censor in such a way is very heavy handed indeed.

    However, it does initiate greater discussion worldwide of the attitudes of some Grand Lodges.

    Doesn’t it…

  3. To overreact to the order, soil your diaper, pick up your marbles and stomp off is also inappropriate!

  4. It is my understanding that W:. Bryce was ordered to stop discussing GL business and pending legislation (where is a scan of the original order so we can have all the facts???). *IF* that is correct I think W:. Bryce could have been a bit more “surgical” about his removal of information. It seems as though he may be stirring the pot even more by making the specific Lodge sites pay the penalty when he could have simply deleted some links etc..thereby complying with the GM order. Was the GM right? IMHO NO! BUT, perhaps W:. Bryce is not right either. To fan the flames is just as bad as starting the fire.

  5. I was ordered to cease and desist all publications pertaining to the Grand Lodge of Florida. I do not know how else to interpret this other than to take everything down. This has resulted in an unbelievable reaction by the world Masonic community.
    – Tim Bryce
    timb001@attglobal.net

  6. http://larry-bernard.blogspot.com/2005/12/wee-bit-of-masonic-blogging.html

  7. If this were the first such incident, it would be too bad but we wouldn’t see it as a trend. But it’s not. Websites have been shut down in Missouri and Indiana because GMs didn’t like the content. To the brothers who are talking about “overreaction,” these are your rights at stake. Overreaction? Hardly. Underreaction if anything.

  8. I’ve been talking to Tim direct and have only just been referred here.

    I suspect that the GM is infuriated by the implication that the GL finances or financial reporting are corrupt, that the process of achieving promotion within the GL is corrupt and so on. The quote from “the Emperor’s new clothes” could quite clearly have been taken as a direct reference to the GM so it’s hardly surprising that he (the GM) is somewhat less than pleased.

    I think that Tim’s choice of language in his Manifesto has not been appropriate and certainly not constructive.

    I hope that he can resurrect his Masonic career after this debacle and continue his contributions to world Freemasonry.Ã

  9. Nowhere in “The Masonic Manifesto” is there a reference to the GL of FL or to the WGM. If the GM chose to read an implication into that document, that is his choice.

    However, his reaction reminded me of an old Bill Cosby routine.

    Bill tells an anecdote of his metal shop class. During one class, a troublesome student threw a .22 cal bullet into a melting furnace. After a while, the bullet went off with a loud BANG.

    The teacher asked: “Who threw that bullet in the melting furnace?”

    No one raised a hand.

    The teacher then said: “Well, whoever did it sure didn’t receive a very good upbringing by his parents.”

    Suddenly, a kid in the back of the class jumps up and says: “I didn’t do it and quit talking about my parents that way.”

    The WGM actions remind me of that kid.

  10. An odd thing about human communication. It is so often filled with assumptions and personal judgments that it fails to result in actual communication.

    Brother Bryce, by his own admission, interpreted the GM of Florida’s order. I understand that Bro. Bryce is not and has not been a Grand Lodge Officer, yet he personally defined the phrase in the order as broadly as possible. No mention has been made of Bro. Bryce’s response to the GM, his attempts to discuss the matter with the GM or his attempts to seek interpretation of the order. I am assuming that those steps occurred, because they would seem to be consistent with Masonic principles.

    If Bro. Bryce did not seek dialogue with his brother, the GM of Florida before he plastered his assumption over the internet, then I must ask him as a Mason, why not?

    The message could have been “these sites are temporarily down.” In the meantime, he could have sought true communication. Maybe he did. I do not assume that he did not, I merely recognize that as a Mason, in my opinion he should have, before opening the box of “censorship” to the world.

    The world is enamored with the Internet. We can all type a response faster than we can reflect on what information we are responding to. My Masonic teachings tell me that to respond to accusations about a Brother Mason without personally knowing facts (not assumptions) is not the way I should be acting. If the Internet promotes that type of rapid responses, is it always helpful to us in Masonry?

    Bloggers condemn Grand Lodges for not having a “better internet presence,” yet these same men rush to judge the GM of Florida based on the assumptions of one man, Brother Bryce? How Masonic is that?

    Perhaps as Masons we should reflect on the fact that the Internet might not be the best method for circumscribing our passions. If we rush to judgment and throw around words like “censor” and refer to the “vast darkness of the Internet,” do we overlook the “vast darkness” of our own ability to live up to our obligations to another Mason?

    Any Mason pounding a keyboard about this topic should first realize that the GM of Florida is a Mason and deserves to be treated like one, “behind his back” (ie, on the Internet) as much as Bro. Bryce.

    Bro. Bryce has spent a lot of time promoting what he perceives as a need for a worldwide congress on Masonry. Imagine how that would work. A thousand men, all together in one place, each assuming that what Mason A says to Mason B about Mason C is true, then Masons D, E and F each taking those assumptions and responding to them, then others hearing those assumptions responding to them and……. Gee, what a great example of Freemasonry for the world.

    But, that scene has already come true.

    Masonry is about seeking the goodness between men and promoting it. Laboring in our quarries is first done in one’s own heart.

    Speaking or typing on the Internet is best done only after reflection. I cannot judge Bro. Bryce or the GM of Florida except based on what I see from them directly or from what I hear from their mouths to my ear.

    To do otherwise would be for me to fail in my own Masonic obligations.

  11. There have been some serious issues of concern with Grand Lodge finances. And while -I- personally have no knowledge of questionable actions in the leadership of the Grand Lodge I have heard second and third hand stories from brothers who are not prone to idle gossip.

    I think anyone in the Grand Lodge line when such a serious political problem exists governing finances may possibly take any implication more seriously then we who are not in that position in this climate would have

  12. As to my correspondence with the GM,
    at first I thought of resisting the order and drafted a lengthy response to it. I then slept on it overnight. The next morning I reread the GM’s letter and reviewed the sections of the Digest of Masonic Law pertaining to all of this. I then realized the futility of the situation and simply took everything down in compliance with his order. I wrote a different letter to the GM informing him that I had complied with his order. I am still bewildered as to why this all happened. I suspect the GM had been given some bad information which I tried to correct in my letter. Let the chips fall where they may.

    S+F,
    Tim Bryce
    timb001@attglobal.net

  13. I’ve known of Brother Tim ( never had the opertunity to meet him) online for a while. Indeed he also posted in the same issue a rebuttal.

    as a Blogger I want to go into some more detail onto my own thoughts and feelings about this, But I think Brother Tim did the right thing… I think the Grand Master did what he felt to be the right thing ( though I respectfully disagree)

  14. Brother Tim,
    Maybe you should meet with the GM and discuss this like Masonic Brothers should.

  15. http://larry-bernard.blogspot.com/2005/12/fleshing-out-my-masonic-blog-posting.html

    And Brother Tim has worked on communicating this situation with the Grand Master in more detail from our discussions.

    What amuses the dickens out of me is I am the only FLorida Mason posting here under my own name (and logged in to)

  16. You’re not the only one. My blog name just doesn’t have my full name.

    I suspect many of the posters were linked/directed here and are not members, and did not bother becoming members… so they are posting anonymously.

    either that or they don’t want the GL coming after THEM.

    -W:. Joe Duhamel

  17. W:. Brother Joe;

    Yeah I guess they didn’t want to make an account. But I think it might be a good idea at least to sign off on things.

    But thats just me….

    Glad to know I am not the only one signing off on these things.

  18. Seems to me like just one MORE piece of evidence that grand lodges are virtually NOTHING more than a millstone around the necks of serious Freemasons.

    The sooner they finish crashing and burning the better! Who needs ’em?!? Certainly not Freemasons!

  19. Everything is subject to interpretation,

    the site was not ordered to be shut down.

    there is certain segments that were ordered to be removed.

    post the letter, let us make up our own mind. don’t continue to beat the drums of disharmony

  20. If only you were correct my Brother. The following is the correspondence between the Grand Master and myself (warts and all). No other communications have been made prior to or after
    the following correspondence (verbay, telephone, e-mail, fax, face-to-face). As you say, draw your own conclusions.

    S+F,
    Tim Bryce
    timb001@attglobal.net
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    November 22, 2005
    (received by certified mail December 1, 2005)

    Mr. Timothy L. Bryce
    P.O. Box 128
    Palm Harbor, FL 34682-0128

    Mr. Bryce:

    It has come to my attention that you are again assuming authority you do not have. The Digest of Masonic Law of Florida clearly states the procedure of the legislative process of this Grand Jurisdiction. I do not find any reference to a review by Tim Bryce & Associates of proposed legislation from Zone 6 or anywhere else in this Grand Jurisdiction before being submitted to the Grand Secretary and the Jurisprudence Committee for review.

    I, therefore, order you to “cease and desist” your tampering with the Legislative Process of the Grand Jurisdiction of Florida. Be further advised that any legislation submitted through Tim Bryce & Associates will not be accepted by the Grand Secretary for review by Jurisprudence.

    In regard to Tim Bryce & Associates selecting a Craftsman (Mason) of the year, be advised that a Lodge may, by vote of its membership, elect a Mason of the Year for that Particular Lodge. A District, by vote of its membership, may elect a Mason of the Year for that District. Tim Bryce & Associates may not choose, appoint, or elect a Craftsman (Mason) of the Year without the authority of the Grand Master. I have not given you that authority.

    I, therefore, order you to “cease and desist” with your program for Craftsman of the Year. Be further advised that a Craftsman of the Year made by Tim Bryce & Associates will not be recognized by the Grand Lodge of Florida. I suggest you review Chapter 4, Regulations 4.06, 4.08, 4.09 and 4.10.

    I am sure you are proud of your “Masonic Manifesto,” after review, I feel some of your comments about the Grand Lodge of Florida are abusive. I feel your comments are an affront to the Grand Lodge of Florida and its Officers. As the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Florida, I feel that you show a clear contempt for me as your Grand Master. As to your Website, I can find no record of your authority to publish information about the Grand Lodge of Florida, its Officers, Membership, Committees or Programs.

    Therefore, I order you to “cease and desist” all publications concerning the Grand Lodge of Florida, its Officers and Members. I refer you to Chapter 4, Regulations 4.06, 4.08, 4.09, 4.10 and 44.2 of the Penal Code.

    Any and all response to these orders will be made through the U.S. Postal Service, in writing, signed by you. No E-Mail.

    With regards,

    John F. Kazanaugh
    Grand Master
    740 E. Cornell Street
    Avon Park, FL 33825-4414
    Res: (863)453-5292
    Email: jkav33@strato.net

    cc: M:.W:.Richard Lynn, Chairman of Jurisprudence
    R:.W:.Denver Crabbs, Chairman, Penal Affairs
    M:.W:.Roy Connor Sheppard, Grand Secretary
    R:.W:.Robert D. Trump, Deputy Grand Master
    R:.W:.Roberat P. Harry, Jr., Senior Grand Warden
    R:.W:.Joe Fleites, Junior Grand Warden
    M:.W:.John R. Givens, P.G.M., Advisor to Grand Master

    ======================================================================

    M:.W:.John F. Kavanaugh
    740 E. Cornell Street
    Avon Park, FL 33825-4414

    December 2, 2005

    Dear Bro. John,

    Thank you for your letter of November 22, 2005. I have always considered myself a loyal and true Freemason. As such, I was somewhat bewildered to see my character and integrity questioned. Nonetheless, let me see if I can answer your letter.

    First, as a point of clarification, my company is M. Bryce & Associates (MBA), a division of M&JB Investment Company (not Tim Bryce & Associates). My company has absolutely no interest in the legislative process of the Grand Lodge of Florida. As an individual Freemason though, I have been working with several other Brothers from Zone 6 to draft legislation for consideration by the Grand Lodge. Frankly, the discussions have been some of the most stimulating and productive that I have listened to as a
    Freemason. The resolutions being formulated, therefore, are being presented to the Grand Lodge by Masons and not by any company. Nonetheless, I have terminated the free on-line discussion group we were using to discuss these issues.

    As to my publication, “FREEMASONRY for The Next Generation” (FFTNG), I have never tried to pass the publication off as an official publication of any Grand jurisdiction, particularly the Grand Lodge of Florida. As is clearly displayed on my web site
    and printed in each issue, “FREEMASONRY for The Next Generation is an independent publication not affiliated in any way with a Masonic Grand Lodge or other Masonic body.” Nor have I tried to pass myself off as a representative of any Grand Lodge. Nevertheless, to comply with your order, I have terminated all Masonic publications I am responsible for:

    FREEMASONRY for The Next Generation
    Masonic Update
    World Map of Freemasonry
    Zone 6
    SunCoast Masters & Wardens Association
    SWAT Team
    Widows Hotline
    Grand Lodge of Florida Calendar
    SunCoast Masters & Wardens Association Calendar
    District 22/23 Calendar
    Tropical Lodge No. 56 F.& A.M.
    Tarpon Lodge No. 112 F.& A.M.
    Clearwater Lodge No. 127 F.& A.M.
    Pearl of the West Lodge No. 146 F.& A.M.
    Sutherland Lodge No. 174 F.& A.M.
    Dunedin Lodge No. 192 F.& A.M.
    East Gate Lodge No. 355 F.& A.M.
    FFTNG Discussion Group
    SWAT Team Discussion Group
    Zone 6 SunCoast Discussion Group

    I am truly sorry you are offended by my “Masonic Manifesto” cover story in the September issue. I can assure you that it was not directed at any specific Grand Lodge, least of all the Grand Lodge of Florida. You must understand that I participate in dozens of Masonic discussion groups on the Internet including Australia, Canada, Japan, the Philippines, and of course the United States. As such, I am in daily contact with literally thousands of Masons from around the world. Between this and my experiences in other
    nonprofit groups and my management consulting business, I formulated the “Masonic Manifesto” which is simply a list of suggestions for improving the fraternity. I humbly apologize to anyone offended by the article but it was not directed at any one person or Grand Lodge.

    I most definitely do not hold you in contempt. Quite the contrary. If I did, why would I have personally initiated the effort to make you an Honorary member of the SunCoast Masters & Wardens Association? Or for that matter, an Honorary member of East Gate Lodge No. 355 (which I am a plural member of), and my
    home lodge, Sutherland Lodge No. 174 (my signature appears on the
    dues card and certificate presented you by our Worshipful Master). I am fully cognizant that you are the Grand Master; you are the boss. Because I do not want to cause you any embarrasment, I am hereby tendering my resignation as District 20 Chairman of Publicity & Public Relations and will notify our District Deputy, R:.W:.Anthony E. Rhodes accordingly. Further, I will not accept any Lodge office at Sutherland Lodge No. 174 in 2006; and since my tenure as President of the SunCoast Masters & Wardens has come to an end, my activity there will diminish. As to our Craftsman of the Year program, like FFTNG, it is an international award and not dedicated to any specific Grand jurisdiction. It is intended to
    recognize a worthy Mason who is not a current sitting officer, yet goes above and beyond the call of duty to serve Freemasonry. Last year’s winner, however, happened to be from a Florida lodge and M:.W:.Elmer Coffman, PGM was pleased to make the presentation. Nonetheless, because of your order, this program has also been terminated.

    Bro. John, all of these efforts have been dedicated to serving the best interests of the Fraternity over all. If someone is interested in locating a Masonic lodge to visit, I help them find it, regardless of the jurisdiction (today, for example, I was asked about a Masonic Lodge in Guatemala). If someone is interested in joining the fraternity, I point them in the
    direction of who they should talk to, regardless of the jurisdiction. If there is a Brother in need of some advice on a web page or newsletter, I freely give it. I also monitor the deaths of northern Brothers in our area and advise their home Grand Lodges accordingly.

    I think Freemasonry is a beautiful concept and, as such, consider myself one of its best promoters. However, I am confident my visibility has resulted in detractors who do not speak well of me. This is unfortunate. Nobody likes to have their name besmirched behind their back for some unknown reason. As is obvious from your letter, my services are no longer desired by the Grand Lodge of Florida and, as such, I am looking forward to becoming a sideliner.

    Sincerely,

    Tim Bryce
    727/786-4567 (Office)
    timb001@attglobal.net
    3181 Harvest Moon Drive
    Palm Harbor, FL 34683

    ======================================================================

    December 6, 2005

    Hon. Tim Bryce
    3181 Harvest Moon Drive
    Palm Harbor, Florida 34683

    Dear Brother Tim:

    Thank you so much for your letter of December 2, 2005 in response to my letter of November 22, 2005. We appreciate your cooperation with us and the excellent manner in which you are willing to work with us in the best interest of the Grand Lodge of Florida and to avoid any conflict or misunderstanding among our Brothers. Your cooperation is truly a sign of your interest in Freemasonry.

    Again, thank you for your response and cooperation.

    Sincerely and fraternally,

    John F. Kavanaugh
    Grand Master
    740 E. Cornell Street
    Avon Park, FL 33825-4414
    Res: (863)453-5292
    Email: jkav33@strato.net

    JFK/gkm

    cc: Roy Connor Sheppard, P.G.M., Grand Secretary
    Buzz Crabbs, Chairman, Penal Affairs Panel
    Richard E. Lynn, P.G.M., Chairman, Jurisprudence

  21. Some brotherly love the GM has… that is why the craft is going down hill… power hungry men like him that have nothing better to do. He should spend more energy on getting all the lodges covered by insurance rather than each lodge doing it individually. Wait, that might require leadership….mmmmm

  22. Esoteric Freemasonry

  23. When I discovered the Lodge was sending out Dues notices not approved by the Grand Lodge nor sign by the Grand Master of Florida,That made me a Trouble Maker!Then the DDGM for that year Ordered the lodge to refund to it’s members the over-payment:I was told my MASONIC career was over. Oh it gets Better.
    We voted in a new Member with 1/4 of the Members present not knowing lodge was taking place(In Dining area during so called VOTE),Then when I objected to this I was Ordered By the Grand Master thru the D.D.G.M. to (DEMIT) or be removed by them,to my suprise I was sent TWO Dimits one from the lodge and one from G.L.
    Still it gets Better!
    Now im under the threat by our D.D.G.M. that im to be BLACK BALLED if I try to join any Lodges in the District,This threat was told to a Brother and his Wife heard it.
    Now this is what I did Wrong in the Lodge.
    1.Discovered while re-writting the ByLaws the Dues were wrong!
    2.Objected to a vote during a call meeting!
    3.Reported the property tax’s didn’t get paid and the tax certificate for the Lodge was SOLD!
    4.Was subject to a Masonic Trial in the Parking Lot with three plus and the THEN present D.D.G.M. present with law enforcement there,And the Brothers who told their stories to start all of this off recanted their stories.
    So Brother Tim keep up your work to get the word out.
    To the Brothers who support me,Thank You.

  24. I have been conducting Masonic Research for nearly ten years, the information I have uncovered has been met with outright hostility on at least three seperate occasions
    I now allow my brethren to wallow in their ignorance.

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