The Southern Baptist Convention's Study of Freemasonry

IN EARLY APRIL, 1993, the Interfaith Witness Department of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention issued the result of its nearly year-long "A Study of Freemasonry." The publication includes a six-page "Report on Freemasonry" issued March 17, 1993. The report summarizes the 75- page "Study" and concludes membership in Freemasonry is what Masons and the heretofore autonomous Southern Baptist Churches have always said it was, "a matter of personal conscience." Masons will certainly disagree with many of the study/report's conclusions. It contains several criticisms of Freemasonry, some already considered by the Craft. The final study is a third version. The first and second versions were substantively revised due to the pressure of anti-Masonic elements within the Convention and the Home Mission Board. Because of these changes, the original author of the first report requested his name be removed from the study. His subsequent demotion from head of department to a staff position was, in our opinion, clearly the result of his pursuit of an objective, fair, and impartial study. Significantly, despite all these anti-Masonic pressures and resulting changes in text, the final report vindicates Freemasonry from the charge of being a religion or of being anti-Christian. In fact, the report advocates Masonic membership by Christians as an opportunity to witness in Lodge for Christ by their example of Christian living. The "Study" concludes (pages 70-71): "What better opportunities [to witness] present themselves than those where they [Christians] become friends in Freemasonry." Despite its criticisms of Freemasonry, the length and depth of this new study, plus its overall positive view of the Craft, make it "must reading" for every Freemason concerned about Freemasonry's relation to religion. The Southern Baptist Convention is providing copies at cost ($6.00, plus $1.56 S/H) of the "Study" with its "Report" to anyone who calls the Home Mission Board's customer services toll-free number, 1 800 634-2462. Ask for the "Freemasonry Kit," product number 511-37P. Also, written orders may be sent to: Home Mission Board Customer Services, 1350 Spring St., NW, Atlanta, GA 30367-5601. Be informed. Get a copy of this important report and review it before the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston votes on Freemasonry, Wednesday, June 16, at 10:25 A.M. Also see "Correction," page. 13.