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Masonic membership restrictions, in the past or present, based on religion or race

Grand Lodges that now restrict, or in the past have restricted
Masonic membership – based on religion or race


Country Grand Lodge Comments
Sweden Swedish Order of Freemasons – Grand Lodge of Sweden I believe this Grand Lodge openly states that it only accepts Christians as members
Denmark Danish Order of Freemasons – Grand Lodge of Denmark I believe this Grand Lodge openly states that it only accepts Christians as members
Norway Norwegian Order of Freemasons – Grand Lodge of Norway I believe this Grand Lodge openly states that it only accepts Christians as members
Finland Grand Lodge of Finland
I believe this Grand Lodge openly states that it only accepts Christians as members
Iceland The Icelandic Order of Freemasons – National Grand Lodge of Iceland I believe this Grand Lodge openly states that it only accepts Christians as members
Germany Grand Landlodge of Freemasons of Germany I believe this Grand Lodge openly states that it only accepts Christians as members
Grand National Motherlodge “To the Three Globes” I believe this Grand Lodge openly states that it only accepts Christians as members
Grand Lodge of All German Freemasons (I am not sure about this Grand Lodge, if it exists or is another translation of one of the lodges above) I believe this Grand Lodge openly states that it only accepts Christians as members
United States several Grand Lodges There is no longer any written policy prohibiting African Americans from becoming Freemasons (see below for examples of such written policies in the past), but some Grand Lodges with thousands of members do not have any African American members, and in some of these jurisdictions all African Americans who have petitioned for membership have been blackballed. 



According to A Prince Hall Masonic Quiz Book (pages 78-94), and Black Square & Compass: 200 Years of Prince Hall Freemasonry (pages 134-138), both books by Joseph A. Walkes, Jr., and both published by Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co. in Richmond, Virginia, several U.S. Grand Lodges have in the past had specific prohibitions against Black men becoming Masons, and in some there is still a de facto policy against Black men being allowed to become Masons.

Examples of explicit statements or actions include the following: (statements in quotation marks have been personally read and checked by Paul M. Bessel; some of these, plus others, are cited in Joe Walkes’ books)

<td “=””>1851 Proceedings – Meeting of June 7, 1851 – pages 141-142
Although it is not precisely clear from the Proceedings, it appears a report was presented by the Committee on Foreign Correspondence, that included a section on Masonic Jurisprudence that contained many numbered paragraphs including those shown in red below. However, it should be noted that on page 172 the Proceedings  indicate that the Grand Lodge “Resolved, That the thirty four Articles in the Report of the Committee on Foreign Correspondence, commencing on page 141, and ending on page 150, are not considered as binding upon this Grand [Lodge] or any of its subordinates.”:
“. . . we will repeat some of the opinions we have heretofore expressed . . .
“I. It is not proper to initiate in our [lodges] persons of the Negro race; and their exclusion is in accordance with Masonic law, and the Ancient charges and regulations. Because of their depressed social condition; their general lack of intelligence, which unfits them as a body, to work in or adorn the Craft; the impropriety in making them our equals, in one place, when from their social condition, and the circumstances which almost every where attach to them, we cannot do so in others; their not being, as a general thing, free-born; the impossibility, or at least the difficulty, or ascertaining, if we once commence, their free-birth, and where the line of intelligence and social elevation commences and ends, or divides portions of the race; and, finally, their not being, as a race, persons “of good report,” or who can be “well recommended,” as subjects for initiation, and their very seldom being persons who have any “trade, estate, office, occupation, or visible way of acquiring an honest livelihood, and working in his Craft, as becomes the members of this Ancient and most honorable Fraternity, who ought not only to earn, what is sufficient for themselves and families, but likewise something to spare for works of charity, and for supporting the Ancient grandeur and dignity of the royal Craft; eating no man’s bread for nought;” and their general positive deficiency of natural endowments.
“All which would render it impossible, as a general thing, to conciliate and continue between them and us, that good will, and private affection or brotherly love, which cements into one united body, the members of this Ancient Fraternity.
“We make these remarks, because, during the past year, an application has been made to one of our subordinate [lodges], No. 109, by a ‘colored man,’ to initiate him; recommended by two brethren; which application was not, however, complied with, as it did not come in the form prescribed by their rules. For authority in support of our views, we cite, the Ancient Charges, as prefixed to the Constitutions of this Grand [Lodge] of 1785, 1801, 1832, and 1845; and also to Anderson’s Constitutions of Masonry of 1723.
“II. No person of the Negro race should be examined or admitted as a visitor, in any [lodge] of Masons under this jurisdiction, if made in an African [lodge] in North America. Because, all such [lodges] are clandestine, and without legal authority.”
“There is one or more such [lodges] in New York city; one in Boston; one in Cincinnati; one in St. Louis; and we are informed, one or more in New Jersey, and one in Chilicothe, Ohio; and others in Philadelphia. Some of them pretend to charter [lodges]; and in New York they have what they call Royal Arch Chapters and Encampments of Knight Templars. How this has come about we cannot say; tbut the African charter in Boston, was derived by the practice of a deception, from the Grand [Lodge] of England.
“We presume, no regular Grand [Lodge] will grant such charters knowingly; or allow its subordinates to make such persons Free Masons; and should they do it, we would in general advise their rejection as visitors, on the ground that they were illegally made.
“III. It is inexpedient, as a general rule, to initiate persons of the Indian race; or constitute [lodges] among them, because, while some few educated Indians may be qualified to receive the Masonic degrees, the mass of them are too illiterate and debased in morals, habits and religion, to allow of their being worthy and creditable members.
“Two initiations of Aborigines have taken place, by dispensation from the D. Grand Master, in one of our [lodges], No. 199, the past winter, Tecumsah and Peewauk, sons of Maungdwais, of the Ojubbeway tribe; who is engaged with his family in giving travelling exhibitions of Indian manners and customs, and therefore, of transient residence. These initiations may have been very proper. We allude to them distinctly, in order to say that we do not apply our remarks to those cases, particularly, as we are ignorant of their qualifications; and as their father, we understand, is a Mason, and a very intelligent and well informed man. What we say on this subject, we sayt with reference to a general practice, and would earnestly recommend great caution and circumspection therein.”

State Date  Details & Citations
Alabama 1898 Masonry being pre-eminently social, the social equality of the White and Blacks is imperiously asserted by the former.
1963 Proceedings, page 59:  “…Grand Chaplain and former Grand Chaplain, both asked and were permitted to address the delegates in behalf of endorsing the stand of Illustrious Bro. George Wallace on his staunch leadership.”
1964 Proceedings, page 66:  “The following resolution was…adopted:  …this Grand Lodge go on record complimenting the Honorable George C. Wallace, Governor of Alabama, for the stand he has taken in leading our people back to the principles upon which this great country was founded and upon which it has existed down through the years….He is a great leader, wonderful man, and a Good Mason.”  (submitted by 6 Brethren, including the Grand Master, 3 PGMs, the Grand Chaplain, and the Grand Secretary)
Arizona January 5, 1952 Associated Press story:  Body of a Negro who had been killed in the Korean War was not allowed to be buried in a cemetery owned and operated by an Arizona Lodge until letters were submitted by veterans’ organizations allowing that body to be buried beside those of white veterans in that cemetery
Delaware 1867 Proceedings:  Obligation of MM stated that the initiation or visitation of any Negro, mulatto, or colored person of the United States is forbidden
Florida 1899 Proceedings, page 307, Grand Master’s address:  “Negro Masonry”  Reported on a report of a Washington Grand Lodge special committee on Negro Masonry, which recommended that certain negroes “claiming to be Masons” be recognized.  “…in my humble opinion, Washington has put herself on record, as recognizing a body of men that have no rightful claim to recognition from us…has made a serious mistake.”  Appointed a special committee “in order that the Grand Lodge may act at once, and advisedly on the same.”Proceedings, pages 334-350:  Grand Lodge adopted a report of the special committee, including a resolution that the GL of Florida “suspends all intercourse with the Grand Lodge of Washington,” because Washington had, in the view of Florida, invaded the rights and territory of the GL of Florida by talking of recognizing a negro who stated the “he was initiated in a Lodge chartered by the colored Grand Lodge of Florida.”
1955 Proceedings, page131 – Grand Lodge approved a report of the Jurisprudence Committee, that was reporting on rulings of the Grand Master: “The Grand Master ruled that the Masonic Lodges of our grand jurisdiction will be composed of members of the white race only, and we should by all means keep it so. The committee approves this ruling and the committee states that under the act of incorporation the law plainly states ‘Consisting of Masons exclusively of the white race.’ Therefore, the committee is of the opinion that the Grand Master followed the letter of the law. (Approved)
Georgia 1990 Proceedings, pages 176-177, Grand Lodge adopted a resolution that included: “…the Grand Lodge of Georgia … has always considered … Prince Hall affiliate, to be totally irregular and clandestine, having absolutely no Masonic authority, and the members thereof not to be Masons … the Grand Lodge of Georgia … most strongly disapprove and condemn in the strongest terms available that action of any other Grand Lodge that may hereafter extend fraternal recognition to any Prince Hall affiliate organization at any time and anywhere located … any contact or communication whatsoever between a Georgia Mason … and any Lodge under the jurisdiction of any Grand Lodge that does now or may hereafter make any fraternal recognition of any Prince Hall affiliate organization, or between a member of any Lodge under the jurisdiction of such a Grand Lodge … shall be cleared through the … Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Georgia … and approved by the Grand Master of Masons in Georgia, on a case-by-case basis.” (also see 1991 Proceedings, pages 152-153, which supported a continuation of this policy)
Idaho 1916 Proceedings, page 16, Grand Master’s Decision:  “Our Ancient Landmarks and Regulations do not necessarily mean that the candidate must be naturalized citizen [sic], for Masonry is universal while our citizenship is not universal. However, he must be ‘A man free born and of mature age,’ and in Idaho he must be a white man.”
Indiana 1899 committee reported that the GL of Washington was ill advised and actions uncalled for (pro Prince Hall report by GL of Washington), and resolved to sever fraternal relations with Washington1899 Proceedings, page 18, GM’s address: “Is it lawful to confer degrees upon a black man having the necessary qualification? Yes” (This is included because is it not clear why this question was raised.) 

1899 Proceedings also includes a long discussion of Prince Hall Masonry, and the actions of the Washington Grand Lodge, at pages 101-107. It concluded by adopting a resolution that included, “Resolved, That the Grand Lodge of Indiana does not recognize as legitimate, any colored Grand Lodge of Masons established within the territorial jurisdiction of any Grand Lodge in the United States formally recognized by this Grand Lodge.”

Illinois 1846 Proceedings:  Master of a lodge was punished because he had conferred the degrees upon a gentleman whose mother had been a Cherokee Indian and his father a mulatto
1851 Proceedings:  A resolution was adopted forbidding the initiation or visitation of a Negro in any lodge
1852 Proceedings:  Grand Lodge is opposed to the admission of Negroes or mulattoes into Lodges under this Jurisdiction.
1899  Proceedings:  to have Lodges exclusively of Negroes, would be dangerous to the high character of our Order. And, to associate them in Lodges with white brethren, would be impossible.Proceedings, Appendix, pages 92-171:  Very detailed report on Grand Lodges’ reactions to Washington Grand Lodge report that was deemed favorable to Prince Hall or Negro Masonry
1912 Proceedings:  A Past Master of a lodge, and a Past Senior Warden and another member, assisted as pallbearers at the funeral of a Negro Mason. The Master was expelled and the two others were suspended for one year.
Iowa 1852 1852 Proceedings, page 383: Brother Parvin, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Correspondence, quoted with approval the report in the New York 1851 Proceedings of its Committee on Foreign Correspondence: “Masonic Jurisprudence. — From the able report of brother Hatch [of New York], chairman of the committee on foreign correspondence, we quote his thirty-four articles, under this head, and ask the grand [lodge] to re-affirm all except the sixth, twenty-second, twenty-third, and twenty-ninth.” (thus asking for “reaffirmation” of the articles saying Negros and Indians should not be made or accepted as Masons). It is not clear if the Iowa Grand Lodge acted on this recommendation.
1899 regretting the action of Washington in renewing the agitation and regarded such action as ill advised and calculated to disturb the harmony of the fraternity
Kentucky 1914 Proceedings, page 39, Grand Master’s Opinions:  “Held that a Lodge cannot receive a petition for initiation from a man one-eighth to one-sixteenth negro. Constitution, Section 114.”
1919 Constitution 1919 edition, page 28:  A candidate must be a free-born white man.
1947 Proceedings, page 139:  “Sec. 105 Book of Constitutions states, ‘a candidate for initiation must be a free-born white man.'”
Louisiana 1924 Grand Master’s Decision:  A mixture of white and Negro blood made a man ineligible for the degrees of Masonry.
Maryland 1940’s I have been told that this Grand Lodge included a statement in its obligation, until the 1940’s, stating that a Negro could not be made a Mason.  I do NOT know if this is correct.
Mississippi 1899 A Mason who discusses Freemasonry with a Negro should be expelled from his Lodge.Proceedings, page 43:  Severed fraternal relations with the Grand Lodge of Washington, because that Grand Lodge declared that if Negroes established lodges and a Grand Lodge, they would not consider that an invasion of territory
1909 Proceedings, pages 24-26, Grand Master’s Address:  “New Jersey Grand Lodge and Negro Masons.  Information came to me that New Jersey was initiating and affiliated negroes in their Lodges….Masonry never contemplated that her privileges should be extended to a race morally and intellectually totally incapacitated to discharge the obligations which they assume….We hold that affiliation with negroes is contrary to the teachings of Masonry….Grand Master of Masons in the State of Mississippi, do order that fraternal correspondence between the Grand Lodge of Mississippi and the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of New Jersey, be and is hereby discontinued until such time as … New Jersey shall see fit to desist from her present practice of initiating and affiliating negros as Masons….if we open out Lodges to a promiscuous mixing up, then we destroy Masonry….The negro is our land is unfit to assume the responsibilities and obligations of Masonry. It is an open secret that virtue and morality, which are indispensable qualifications to membership, are foreign to the race. I felt it my duty as your Grand Master to cut loose from any who would dare open the door of Masonry to a people whose standing for virtue and morality is a mockery to civilization.” A candidate was denied advancement in his lodge because he had been instructed in his previous degree by a Negro.
1914 Proceedings:  A member of a lodge visited a lodge of Negroes. He said this was in error, so he was acquitted of any wrongdoing. The Grand Master arrested the Charter of the Lodge because he stated the member should have been punished.
New York 1851
1890 Proceedings:  That to initiate Negroes into Lodges would disrupt the Fraternity throughout the country.
North Carolina 1915 Constitution, 1915 edition, section 110, page 50:  A candidate must be a free-born white man.
1957 The following is what the Code USED TO say (it is no longer in the NC Code):
North Carolina Code, Reg. 94-01.
“A clandestine lodge is one which . . . .
1. African or Negro Masonry is declared irregular and clandestine.   [74-01(8)].”
[italics were in the Code]
“Reg. 74-01
Each petitioner for the degrees in Masonry must possess certain qualifications which are as follows: he must:
…(8) Obsolete. (This subdivision repealed, effective 4-18-73)”
The 1948 North Carolina Code shows that this section used to say:
“(8) Not be of Negro descent.”
The North Carolina 1973 Proceedings do not indicate why this provision was repealed, and the reference to it in Reg. 94-01(1) remains in the current Code.
Ohio 1847 Proceedings:  Admission of persons of color should be inexpedient and tend to mar the harmony of the fraternity.
Oklahoma 1910 Proceedings, pages 78-81, Grand Master’s Address:  Referred to and quoted letters concerning the “Mississippi-New Jersey incident,” and said, “It is indeed unfortunate…that the negro should be the means of causing disarrangement and discord within our institution….I am not willing to recognize fraternally, correspond and exchange representatives with any Grand Jurisdiction in which negroes are recognized as Masons….I am unwilling to meet upon the level individuals of a race who are the moral and intellectual inferiors of the most inferior of the Indian and Anglo-Saxon; then shall we allow our noble fraternity to become contaminated by their association with it….I object to fraternal relation with a jurisdiction that places itself and its members in such a degraded and degrading position….I recommend that the Grand Lodge of the State of Oklahoma decline to form a fraternal relation with the Grand Lodge of New Jersey…so long as the Grand Lodge of New Jersey adheres to its present position…upon the negro question.”Proceedings, page 133:  Special Committee reported: “We…most heartily sustain and endorse the position of our Grand Master, and recommend that the Grand Lodge of the State of Oklahoma refuse fraternal relationship with the Grand Lodge of New Jersey … so long as the Grand Lodge of New Jersey adheres to its present position upon the negro question.”  This report was “adopted unanimously.”
1940 Proceedings:  Again severed relations with the Grand Lodge of New Jersey because of the racial composition of a lodge in New Jersey, but resumed relations in 1942.
1953 1953 Proceedings, page 45, Grand Master’s recommendations, #9:
“I recommend that our Most Worshipful Grand Lodge declare that it is unlawful for any constituent lodge in this Grand Jurisdiction to receive the petition or application for affiliation of one known, or believed to be, of negro blood. The presence of negro blood is declared to be sufficient disqualification to prevent a man from receiving the Masonic degrees or to affiliate with a constituent lodge in this Grand Jurisdiction.”
1953 Proceedings, pages 144-145, Report of the Committee on Law and Usage, reporting on the Grand Master’s recommendations:
“Recommendation No. 9. The sentiments expressed in this recommendation are in full accord with our usage and is unanimously approved by your committee. We recommend that Edict No. 21 be enacted and propose the following:
Edict XXI
It shall be unlawful for any constituent lodge in this Grand Jurisdiction  to receive a petition for the Degrees, an application for affiliation from or permit the affiliation or visitation of any one of African descent.
South Carolina
Tennessee 1957 Proceedings, page 115:
“With reference to the three resolutions submitted by a Past Master of Highland Park Lodge #734, all of a similar nature, proposing: (1) That the Grand Lodge go on record as being opposed to integration; (2) That the officers of this Grand Jurisdiction make public the stand of the Order on this matter; (3) That it shall be unmasonic conduct for any Brother to do any act or aid and abet any person or persons in the performance of any act tending to further integration other than those actions which may be required by law: Our Institution has … steered clear of political … entanglements …. We do have the power to regulate our own Institution and in our opinion this has been done and is adequately covered by Item 9, page 5 of the Code which says in part: ‘All associations of negroes, organized in the state of Tennessee, claiming to be Free and Accepted Masons, are without legal Masonic authority and are spurious, illegal and clandestine.’”
Texas 1948 Constitution, 1948, article XV, page 34:  This Grand Lodge does not recognize as legal or Masonic any body of Negroes working under any character of charter in the United States, without regard to the body granting such charter
Virginia 1869 Proceedings, pages 9-10, Grand Master’s address:
“It is our right to exclude, not only individuals, but classes or races . . . . I allude to the subject of colored organizations, claiming to be Masons. . . . Believing that the recognition of colored Lodges would be fraught with the most serious consequences to the Order . . . .”

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