Irish Freemasonry in crisis
Observers of Irish Freemasonry have noted a stark decline in the size and influence of the Lodge over this past 2 decades. The Masonic Grand Lodge of Ireland has tried to paper over the alarming free-fall of Lodge numbers so as not to unsettle its aging membership. To combat this deterioration, it has undertaken a number of high profile PR exercises with the Irish media in order to generate interest and give a semblance of business-as-usual.
Freemasons have boasted for years that there are 45,000 Masons in Northern Ireland alone (where the bulk of their members are drawn from). Whilst, there may have been a day when that was so, those in-the-know today have dismissed that figure as a gross exaggeration today. It is only in recent years that Grand Lodge has been forced to publicly admit that their membership has fallen to 22,000 Freemasons in the whole of Ireland (across the country’s 550 lodges). This is about a third of the size it used to be.
Assistant to the Irish Grand Secretary, Morgan McCreadie, recently admitted to the Irish Times (Apr 30, 2013) that the collapse has become so significant that the fraternity only recruited 20 new members the previous year. This is startling and unsustainable for an Institution with the expanse, influence and overheads that Freemasonry has!
So what is happening?
The Order is getting hit from several angles at the one time. One of the biggest factors in this decline has been the fact that the Masonic Order seems to have become irrelevant to this generation. Irish Freemasonry seems to hold little appeal to this current high-tech upwardly-mobile age of young Irishmen. The organization is looked upon by many today as a tired old antiquated society that eccentric grandpas joined in the old days (before televisions and computers), because they had nothing better to do. Many young men consider the Lodge and its practices to be weird and arcane.
Morgan McCreadie doesn’t do anything to allay their disaffection with, and suspicion of, the Lodge, in his recent interview with the Irish Times. He actually amazingly encourages them to avoid the Masonic Lodge. He counsels: “I would discourage people who are young, when I say young I mean under 28, from joining. I mean, they can join when they’re 21, but it’s far too young. They should be chasing women, getting drunk and failing exams.”
These derogatory sentiments are symptomatic of how out of touch this terminally-ill institution is with this generation, and reality. After years of decline, the Lodge still isn’t recognizing that it has totally disconnected from it’s target base.
Equally hurting Irish Freemasonry is the fact that a lot of its most devoted members are dying off. The old are not being replaced. These 2 issues have combined to have a crippling effect upon the moral of the surviving members. They are suffering from growing fatigue, disillusionment and waning interest in the whole Masonic system.
32° Mason W. E. Gutman lamented in an article in Masonic publication The Trowel: “As I see it, the issue is not attracting more Masons but making Masonry more attractive to Masons. This requires turning Masonic proceedings into meaningful, stimulating, relevant happenings in Lodge.”
This aging organization has also had its credibility decimated in recent years through the many media exposures of the dark internal procedures and philosophy of Freemasonry. This has had a stifling effect upon recruitment. It has certainly hurt the reputation of Freemasonry, causing many to question the very reason for its existence.
Revealing the sense of paranoia that pervades Freemasonry today, and the defensive way they represent the Order, Assistant to the Irish Grand Secretary, Morgan McCreadie, contends: “No, we don’t eat babies and, no, we don’t kill anybody.” Well, that should certainly put a lot of concerned minds at rest and cause a major upturn in recruitment!
With its waning influence, it is no longer considered advantageous to join the Lodge. Equal opportunity legislation in recent years has nullified much of the advantage Masonic membership carried in by-gone days. Discriminatory favoritism is legally prohibited by modern laws. A funny handshake is not enough to secure a job today. Its once-strong stranglehold on power, position and decision-making in the land has largely disappeared. For this reason, Irish Freemasonry has been desperately trying to re-invent itself and make itself more appealing to this modern generation.
A combination of internal decline, external equal opportunities and public awareness has neutralized the underground influence of the Masons within business, politics, the Police and the Judiciary. The objective onlooker cannot fail to see that Irish Freemasonry is fighting for its very survival.
The frustrating thing for the leaders is that there is nothing they can do to stem the dramatic demise of the Lodge. All they can do is watch on helplessly as they observe this terminal decline. Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland Eric Waller made some frank admissions to this effect in a speech made in Belfast on 30th October 2004, which he entitled: My vision for the future. This speech came on the back of an RTE TV documentary about Irish Freemasonry which this secret group had desperately hoped would be a PR coup for the Order. Through behind the scenes pressure it succeeded in persuading RTE to air a programme on the Lodge. For this purpose, it swung its Lodge doors wide open and invited the TV station in to do an investigative documentary. Freemasonry had its spokesmen well oiled-up and an impressive plan arranged to sell the Order. It hoped this would breathe life into the ailing Order. Unfortunately for Irish Freemasonry, the programme ended up back-firing badly on the Institution. The journalist, through deep and objective research, ended up exposing the dubious nature, practices and teaching of Freemasonry.
In his oration, which was clearly designed to rally a dejected Irish Lodge, Mr Waller lamented the perilous condition of Irish Freemasonry. He censures the Irish brethren on several fronts for their apathy, anxiously trying to motivate the ageing body into action.
Mr Waller bemoaned the sorry state Irish Freemasonry finds itself in today, admitting that the Masonic Lodge suffers from a dismal reputation among the general public throughout Ireland. He puts the blame for this widespread perception squarely (to use a pun) at the door of the membership. He laments, “It is almost entirely our own fault that the public see us as sinister, secretive, sectarian and self-interested.”
This notable admission shows that Irish Freemasonry has finally recognized its poor public standing and the fact it is self-imploding. Waller’s frustration at the apathy of the Irish Masons is seen throughout his speech. He concedes: “Most of our Brethren for years past have been overly defensive about their membership.”
He rebukes the membership for concealing their membership of the Lodge from others. He said, “Brethren will talk freely in public about their membership of the Rotary, Round Table, Lions, Probus, and sports clubs but most will not admit to being Freemasons and indeed many will go to great lengths to hide that fact.”
To be fair to the members, with all the bad press the Order gets and the many public exposures of late, in regard to Masonry’s degrading and blasphemous practices (especially through TV and the internet), it is fully understandable why Irish Masons would lie low and conceal their membership. Boasting of one’s membership could actually back-fire on Masons, who are aware of the negative connotations that attend Masonic membership. Why even go there? Anyway, many of Irish Masonry’s members are old and are weary of flogging a dead horse.
Whilst Mr Waller stops short of admitting that Irish Freemasonry is in free-fall, he did acknowledge that American Freemasonry is in crisis. He confirmed, “There is serious concern that American Freemasonry is totally preoccupied with fund raising for non-Masonic causes presumably in a desperate attempt to achieve popularity and reverse the trend of drastically falling numbers.”
Mr Waller then tries to rationalize why the Masonic Lodge membership in Ireland is in such a rapid decline in recent years, explaining, “There have been dramatic changes in society in recent times. There are fewer so-called ‘9 to 5’ jobs. Work practices have changed to the extent that many folks work long hours and often shifts at anti-social times. Both partners work and there is constant pressure on limited leisure time.”
Mr Waller seems to be trying to bring some justification for the lack of interest in the Order, however, he misses the real issues. Whilst some of these may be true, they are surely only the thin edge of the wedge.
Mr Waller oversaw a major PR offensive for the Lodge in 2004 that ended up back-firing big-time on the Institution: PR debacle
Mr Waller then acknowledges that both the Church and the media “are highly suspicious and even antagonistic” towards Freemasonry. He challenged the brethren to change that perception.
Does Mr Waller ever truly consider why this is so?
Christians object to Freemasonry on the grounds that it is anti-biblical in its structure, teaching, practices and innovations. The whole secrecy aspect is anathema to true Christianity. After all, if the Masonic Lodge is spiritually laudable, and if it supposedly possesses the truth, why does it feel the need to stringently conceal its teaching and practices from the public eye?
The reality is, it is distinct and contrary to Christianity as it is a religion that brings worship and praise to its own composite-god. It has its own teaching, its own practices and its own symbolism – a concoction that is (when examined) more akin to ancient witchcraft than biblical Christianity. Also, it is an extra-biblical brotherhood unknown to the pages of Scripture. The Word of God only knows of one brotherhood – the brotherhood of redeemed saints throughout time. Every other brotherhood is a counterfeit of the real. In short, Freemasonry is a man-made religion designed to propagate secret anti-biblical esoteric teaching. It is deeply occultic.
With the average age of Masons creeping up from 60 years of age towards 70, the future looks far from rosy for Freemasonry.
Irish Freemasonry suffer financial collapse
Whilst Irish Freemasonry has not had its sorrows to seek, it has sustained a massive financial loss with gambling with its members contributions. The Masonic Trust Company, which represents the Freemasons and invests money on behalf of Masonic Lodges around Ireland, has lost a fortune on its Bank of Ireland investment shares. It is nursing one of the biggest investment losses of the Irish financial collapse, with its shares reduced from a high of €12.7 million (US$17.8 million) to just €338,000 (US $474,000). This is a massive blow to this ailing Order.
Further financial hit
On Tuesday Aug 29, 2017, Masonic Grand Treasurer, Stanley William Murphy, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of stealing £121,504 from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim, which has its headquarters in Rosemary Street, Belfast. His defence barrister confirmed that “no restitution” would be made in the case.
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