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I grew up in a town in Arizona where it seemed as though virtually all of the “pillars of the community” were Masons.
I did not know, at the time, what went on inside a Masonic lodge room, but judging from the caliber of men who I knew of as being members of the organization, I always thought it must have been something pretty special.
Being a respected law enforcement officer, serving in both appointed and elected capacities throughout his career; as well as being a businessman, my father was a pillar of the community. And, he, at least one uncle and an assortment of cousins, were all Blue Lodge Masons. My mother and all three of my aunts were members of the Order of the Eastern Star, which is basically an affiliated adult women’s organization for wives, sisters, mothers, daughters, etc., although not exclusively so. In high school, I became actively involved in DeMolay, and my wife is a former member of the International Order of Rainbow for Girls.
My father passed away in 1963. He was so much more to me than just my dad. When I lost him, I lost my very best friend. And before my best friend died, one of his final wishes, that he made known to my mother, was that his two sons become Masons. I still didn’t know what went on inside a lodge room, but dad had always said that being a Mason made him a better man. He wasn’t a “church-going” man, as the expression goes – ours was not a churched family–but he was indeed a good, honest, decent man, well-respected by even many of those who had been on the opposite side of the fence from him when he was in law enforcement.
Some fifteen years later, after leaving Arizona, my father’s wish was fulfilled. In May of 1978, I was initiated an Entered Apprentice into the Blue Lodge that my brother was already a member of, and officer in. In September, I was passed to the degree of Fellow Craft, and on November 10, 1978, I was raised a Master Mason. I was presented that night with a Masonic pin that had belonged to my father, and with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart, I was finally able to say, “You rest well now, old friend. Both of your sons are now Masons.”
I still had no idea what Freemasonry was all about. I had always heard that it was a fraternity of men, the teachings of which were based upon the Bible. I wasn’t told that much about it, even on the evening of my initiation, when prior to being admitted into the lodge room I was required to declare in the affirmative that I would “cheerfully conform to all the ancient usages and established customs of the Fraternity.”, even though I had absolutely no idea what all these “usages” and “established customs” were. I didn’t remember that dad had ever gone to lodge all that much, at least not in later years; I didn’t remember it ever being a topic of discussion at the dinner table. But I had never heard him speak in any negative terms about the lodge, nor had I heard any such remarks from any other members of the family with the exception of one uncle, but even that had nothing to do with the inner workings of Freemasonry. As I was to learn later, there was no way the one uncle could have been expected to know, anyway, being an “outsider”. So many people from WITHIN the ranks of the Order don’t even know. Besides, I trusted most of the Masons I knew before becoming a member, and as long as I wasn’t invited to a “snipe hunt,” or something similar, I wasn’t going to give it much thought.
There is a great deal of work involved in blue lodge Masonry, to allow you to advance from one degree to the next. “Proficiencies” are to be memorized, and they consist of a series of verbatim questions that are asked of you, to which you must furnish answers that are very close to being word-for-word themselves. Some places require that these proficiencies be delivered in open lodge, in front of the membership in attendance. We were only required to complete these examinations on the premises while a lodge meeting was in session.
I turned in my 3rd degree proficiency on the evening of December’s stated (business) meeting, which was just in time to be appointed by the Worshipful Master-elect for the ensuing year (1979) as his Junior Steward. No speaking parts were involved in this position, so I was asked to begin learning to deliver the Working Tools lecture in each of the 3 degrees, as well as the charges. In l980, I served as Chaplain. There is a substantial amount of memorization work involved there, with circumambulations, prayers and various other things that go along with the chair. I also went to work learning the Senior Deacon’s roles in the various degrees, etc. That summer, I set out to learn the First Degree Lecture, which I began delivering in the fall, when summer break from lodge was over with. Somewhere along the line in those first two years, I also memorized the Apron Lecture. In 1981, I was Junior Warden, one of the three principal officers of the lodge, my first elected office. To the best of my recollection, I began obligating candidates that year, which means administering the obligations in each of the degrees, assuming the role of Worshipful Master during the ritual of initiation or advancement of the candidate(s). By the time my year as Senior Warden was completed (1982), I had pretty much learned all the degree work I would learn, leaving me with more time to hopefully serve the brethren well, in 1983, as Worshipful Master of one of the largest blue lodges in Nevada.
And at the end of my year in the East, when I was presented with my Past Master’s apron and dubbed with the very distinctive title that accompanies it, I don’t know if there had been any particular point in my life, other than marriage to my wife and the births of our two children, when I had felt more humbled and yet prouder.
The Past Masters of ANY blue lodge, regardless of how large or how small the lodge may be, is indeed the most august body of men that lodge has, and I had now become one of them. But in January of 1984, something else happened in my life that was to change me and my circumstances forever, and that very special something, Praise God, was Jesus Christ!
In the latter part of December, 1983, immediately after my term of office had come to an end, my Lord and Savior began to reveal to me the truth about Him and the truth about the lodge. He began to show me that by following the teachings of Freemasonry, instead of becoming stronger in my Christian faith and closer to Him, I was following false teachings of an organization where something called the Great Architect of the Universe is prayed to, and that GAOTU, as he is called, is not the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but rather some sort of a composite “deity” that Moslems, Buddhists and other non-Christians are equally comfortable praying to. He began showing me that instead of receiving the Truth of His Holy Word, I was receiving skillfully, sometimes not so skillfully, crafted distortions of it.
My decision to leave the lodge was not an easy one to make, nor was it based on any one single event. I went through a period of a couple of weeks or so with my whole world being turned upside down. Pros and cons were tugging at me from both sides, in a spiritual battle that was taking place inside me. I would think of past events that had been upsetting to me at the time, but which I managed to rationalize on; and some that had never been resolved, such as:
- Early in the year when I was Junior Steward, a Past Master of the lodge, who was also a Grand Lodge Officer at the time, would sit on the sidelines during lodge, conversing with a friend or two of his. Unfortunately, the Lord’s name in vain was often a part of the dialog. One night in particular, I heard those words come out of his mouth on several occasions, in a very short period of time. When the craft was called from labor to refreshment, I confronted the individual in the lobby. In so many words I told him, “If I hear those words come out of your mouth one more time during lodge, I will file Masonic charges against you and have you drummed out of Masonry.” In all honesty, I didn’t know if such a thing was possible, but when I opened my mouth to speak, that is what came out. You could have heard a pin drop. Everyone who overheard the confrontation was upset, but for most of them(at least for those who spoke directly to me about it), it wasn’t what that man had said that was unsettling. Rather, the statements that were being made to me were, “After all, Duane, he is a Past Master.” “After all, Duane, he is a Grand Lodge Officer.” In all honesty, if I had been able to take those words back, for the purpose of stating them to him in private rather than publicly, I surely would have, even though his words had been spoken audibly in lodge. That would have been the Christian thing to do, but in all honesty, I wasn’t much of a Christian in those days, even though I professed to be. That situation was a puzzler for me from that moment on, because it was as if his Masonic titles somehow over-rode his totally blasphemous utterances. I couldn’t buy into it then, and I still don’t to this day.
- As Chaplain, a part of my duties was to say grace before meals at our monthly potluck dinners, which were always held on the fourth Friday of the month, said Fridays being reserved for Entered Apprentice degrees. This gave members and their wives an opportunity to meet the new Initiates and their families. I was unable to fulfill these duties at the beginning of the year due to the travel time involved with the out-of-town job I was working on. The first potluck dinner I made it to proved to be educational as well as discomforting. I said grace before the meal and partook like everyone else. After dinner, a Past Master asked me to step into the adjoining lodge room. It was there that he expressed his concern over the “error” I had made that evening. I told him I had no idea what he was talking about. I asked him what the problem was, and his answer, which should have been a wake-up call for me and for any Christian was, “You prayed in the name of Jesus Christ.” When I asked him how that could possibly be a problem, he said, “It may be offensive to our Jewish members.” I then looked over at the altar, where the unopened Holy Bible was resting. I said, “PM (no need for names), in a few moments, we are going to be opening lodge with the Holy Bible on the altar, complete with New Testament. How do our Jewish brothers feel about that?” He said, “It doesn’t have to be the Bible on the altar. It could just as easily be the book of Koran.” I said, “But, it ISN’T the book of Koran. It is the Holy Bible.” I was upset, so I walked away. This “instruction” had also been confirmed, by the way, by one of the principal officers who walked up to us during our conversation. I thought later, “What have I missed here?” This was my first realization that there is no mention of Jesus Christ in any of the prayers I was still in the process of learning as Chaplain. Looking back on it now, I can attribute a combination of things contributing to my lack of discernment on this issue. First of all, I know now that I was only a professing Christian at the time. Yes, I had been baptized several years earlier, but as I look back on it now, had I been baptized for the right reason? Maybe it had only taken place because it was what I was supposed to do, not because of true acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Additionally, I had been so involved with memorizing as much of the rituals as I possibly could, that I was not taking the time to study the ritual – only memorize it. I truthfully have to say, no thought at all had entered my mind that I WASN’T praying in the name of Jesus Christ during lodge prayers, until I was told that I COULDN’T pray in His name, even at a potluck dinner, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the rituals of the lodge. In a strange way, I also was not looking at the prayers as actually being prayers, so much as it was just more ritual I was memorizing, and we were trained to memorize the rituals as absolutely letter-perfect as we could. I wasn’t praying in the name of Jesus Christ during lodge, because none of those prayers made mention of His precious name; it was a part of the ritual; and I was just learning ritual. Besides, I rationalized, when I prayed in lodge, I knew who I was praying to. And as for the Koran? I didn’t care what they did in other lodges. “In MY lodge, the Holy Bible is on the altar!” At the next month’s potluck dinner, I offered up a “universal” prayer so as not to “offend” anyone present. After dinner, I engineered the occasion to call that same PM aside and ask him if the prayer was okay. He said it had been done very nicely. I asked if he thought any of our Jewish brothers had been offended by the prayer. He said no, that I had done just fine. Then, feeling a little mischievous, I asked him about the baked ham the lodge served for the main course that night. I said it to him jokingly, but then I posed another situation to him. I said, “PM, tonight, during the lecture, when our newly made Masons are in the northeast corner of the lodge, it is going to be explained to them that all lodges are dedicated to the Holy Saints John – St. John of Jerusalem, and Saint John the Baptist. And when it comes to the matter of Jesus Christ, we know EXACTLY where they stood, don’t we?” This time, the PM was the one who walked away.
- I thought back to when I was Senior Warden. I had begun to look toward the time when I would be assuming the title of Worshipful Master. That in itself had been troubling to me. I had never considered myself as being anybody’s Master, and I certainly wasn’t Worshipful. Shouldn’t a title like that be reserved for God and God alone?
- There had been an incident at church one Sunday, right after services had concluded. My wife and I were walking towards our car when we met a young man who fellowshipped with us, and who our son was a team mate of on the church’s slow-pitch softball team. Being “proud as punch” as I was about becoming a Mason, I had somehow managed to make my lodge membership a part of the conversation. The young man looked at me in a quizzical fashion, and said something about Freemasonry being a cult. Almost immediately, the urge came upon me to slap him, but then I thought better of it, saying to myself, “It’s all right, Duane, he just doesn’t understand.” I now realize that if there was any misunderstanding that day, it certainly was not on his part.
- I thought of the blood oaths I had taken; I thought of the numerous times I had administered them. It had been revealed to me that such oaths are against God’s written word. This same Written Word that the Order supposedly based its rituals on, says in the Book of Matthew that we are not to make any oaths at all; and it particularly spells out that we are not to swear an oath that would change even the color of one hair on our heads. Yet those hideous penalties to the obligations: “..that of having my throat cut across, my tongue torn out, and with my body buried in the sands of the seas at low-water mark…”; “..that of having my left breast torn open, my heart and vitals taken thence, and with my body given as a prey to the vultures of the air…”; and, “..that of having my body severed in twain, my bowels taken thence, etc, etc, etc.,..” I was told by some that it was no big deal; the penalties were only meant to convey to the candidate how important it was to take the obligations seriously. No big deal? If the penalties of the oaths were that frivolous, then that was all the more reason we should not be swearing them to God.
With the spiritual battle going on inside me, I was experiencing more “peaks” and “valleys” than at any other time in my life. I would go to certain Christian writings and see negatives about the lodge, but then I would go to my Masonic Bible and read about these same items, with the lodge’s slant on them, and it didn’t sound so bad, but then I would go to the Word of God, and it was confirming what I was reading in the Christian writings. But then I would tell myself, “It’s only a fraternity. It isn’t church. I go to church on Sundays, and I go to lodge on Friday nights. There is a difference.”
But then something else came to mind. I recalled a couple of conversations I had with a man who was ahead of me in the line of officers. Over “refreshments” we would talk about Freemasonry, lodge activities, etc.. One night he asked me, “What is lodge to you?” I thought for a moment, and then I said, “I don’t really know how to explain it, except to say, If a man can’t be in church, he should at least be in lodge.” He nodded his head, and smiled. On another such occasion, he asked me, “What does the Second Section of the Master Mason Degree mean to you?” I said, “You know what? I’ve been thinking about that lately, and all that comes to my mind is death, burial, and resurrection, just like baptism in the church.” Once again, he nodded and smiled.
Then one day I fell to my knees alongside my bed and cried out to God, in the name of Jesus Christ, to please show me the truth. With my eyes closed, I heard a roar, and I saw the words “Blood Oath”, in big red letters. That was His answer.
I got up from my knees, walked into our dining room, and sat down. I was shaking. I knew at that moment, it no longer mattered that most of my family was in the lodge. I knew it didn’t matter that so many of the people I worked with, and worked for, were Masons. I knew it didn’t matter that virtually all of the people who I had associated with for the past 5 ½ years would probably turn their backs on me on account of the decision I was about to make I knew that because we were all Masons, that didn’t mean we were right; it only proved that we were fallible.
I got out of my chair and went to my knees again. I was crying, and I was scared. I cried out to God, in the name of Jesus Christ, and begged Him to forgive me if I had wronged him. He said, “Yes, Duane, you have wronged Me, and yes, you are forgiven.”
I submitted my letter of withdrawal from the lodge, and within a day or two, I began receiving phone calls, mainly from Past Masters whom I had always had a great deal of respect for. They were pleading with me to not go through with this decision I had come to. The first one who called made some startling statements. After I had explained to him that my reasons for leaving Freemasonry were because of the Bible and my newfound faith in Jesus Christ, he proceeded to tell me three things, basically:
- You can’t necessarily believe everything you read in the Bible.
- Christianity was a religion invented by the people in power at the time(I presumed this to mean the Roman Empire), as a tool to keep the common people subdued and pacified so they wouldn’t become rebellious.
- There was no historical evidence that anyone by the name of Jesus Christ ever existed.
A day or two later, another Past Master called me. He spoke for a while about how important my knowledge of the rituals was to the lodge, etc.. We talked for quite a while, and in all honesty, he just about had me turned around. But I mentioned to him what had been said to me by the first Past Master who phoned me, and his response was, “Oh no, Duane, oh no. No, he is so wrong. Of course Jesus Christ existed, and he was a good man.” Of two of the three Past Masters that I had held in such high regard up to that time, one of them knows Jesus Christ only as having been a good man; the other doesn’t even know He exists; which means that neither one of them know Him at all.
I know who He is, and there is no doubt whatsoever that He is alive. He is my Lord and Savior, and He lives in me. I don’t know for sure to this day what my status was that one Christmas Eve night, several years earlier, when I experienced the symbolic death, burial and resurrection in a baptismal font inside a church in Yuma, Arizona; and I shudder to think of the intended purpose of the symbolic death, burial and resurrection I experienced in a Masonic lodge room in Las Vegas, Nevada; but there is one thing I do know. On Friday, January 13, 1984, on my knees, in the dining room of my home, when I cried out to the True and Living God for His forgiveness, He forgave me – unconditionally, no strings attached; and when I asked Jesus Christ to come back into my life, He came.
I am not perfect. Only God knows how totally corrupt and sinful I have been. On my best day, any attempt to imitate the example of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and have Him accept me for my good works, is but an offering of filthy rags. But even on my worst day, by His grace and His love, I am forgiven. Amen.
He may on occasion be spoken of by lodge members as being “a good man”, “an eminent reformer”, ” a great human teacher”, etc., outside of the lodge room, but He is never spoken of as Mighty God, Lord God Almighty, Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of All, or King of Kings, inside the lodge room, and thats why I dont go there anymore. The prayers are not the only issue – not be a long shot. But for any believer in Jesus Christ it should suffice to say that “forgetting” to pray in His precious name is one thing, but DELIBERATE OMISSION of His name is utter rejection.
I am sorry, Father God, for ever deliberately omitting Your name in prayer. My prayers, Precious Jesus, whether they are my own private supplications, or asking for Your blessings upon a group of people who have gathered together in Your name, will never again be done for the pacification of non-believers, but only in seeking the presence of Your Holy Spirit. I will pray for the souls of those who surely grieve You, but I will not deny Your Supreme Authority Over All in the process. I once again beg Your forgiveness, with this promise to You. It will never happen again. In the name of Jesus Christ, and for His sake; in the name of Lord God Jehovah; in the name of precious Adonay; in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.
My name is Duane Washum. I am an Ex-Mason For Jesus. This is my testimony.
Thank you, Jesus.
Written by: Duane Washum
Duane Washum may be contacted by email or by writing:
In Search of Light Ministries
Las Vegas, NV 89126