Vol. LXXVI No. 2 — February 1998
Many masons do not know all of The activities of the Masonic Information Center (MIC) and so we are using this STB to bring you our Annual Report for 1997.
The Masonic Information Center (MIC) makes the following report concerning our 1997 activities.
It was reported in 1996 that in addition to the two booklets and two brochures that had already been published the Masonic Information Center was working on a booklet to explain the relationship between Freemasonry and Religion and a generic brochure to be used by any Grand Lodge within the United States and Canada. The booklet concerning Freemasonry and Religion, titled "Get A Life" Thoughts on Freemasonry and Religion, has been published and is now available.
We are still working on the generic brochure. It was decided the early draft relied too heavily on pictures and is now being redone.
The Masonic Information Center has produced three booklets and two brochures. They are listed as follows together with the numbers of copies that have been distributed:
- What's A Mason? 425,000
- There Is No Sin In Symbols 33,000
- Facts About Freemasonry 235,000
- A Response To Critics Of Freemasonry 25,000
- Get A Life (new in 1997) 50,000
- Total 968,000
The booklets and brochures have proven very, very popular as you can tell by the numbers distributed. Many of these publications are being used in state and county fairs where lodges have information booths and find not only the content but also the attractiveness of the publications extremely useful.
We would like to thank Bill Borman a graphic design artist who has designed the covers for What's a Mason, There Is No Sin In Symbols, Facts About Freemasonry, A Response To Critics Of Freemasonry, and Get A Life.
The Masonic Information Center has continued publishing this extremely popular newsletter on a quarterly basis. As we have noted before, many Masonic publications reprint information from Focus, and we certainly encourage this kind of use.
Statement on Freemasonry and Religion
We again encourage all Grand Lodges to adopt the Statement on Freemasonry and Religion, originally prepared by this Center in 1993 at the request of the Grand Lodges. It is important that Freemasonry has one position on Religion and Freemasonry to present to the public and to the news media.
During 1997 the Masonic Information Center continued providing the news media with factual and accurate information about Freemasonry. Here are some examples of the requests that we received:
The Laurel Leader. This is a local paper printed in Laurel, Maryland, on a weekly basis. A letter was sent to the paper which was negative about Freemasonry. In response, a Mason called the Information Center and asked if we had any information to help him in responding to this letter. We sent a copy of the Statement of Freemasonry and Religion which the paper published in full over the signature of the local Mason. This particular example is given to show that we can use small hometown newspapers effectively.
Beaver County Times, Beaver, Pennsylvania. We were called by a reporter doing an article on fraternal organizations. It was interesting that a comment made during the interview was "Why are you a Mason?" and what is the "Draw of an organization that just does good things." The interviewer went on to say "I know you don't sell insurance; I know you don't have a national magazine; and I know you don't have a bar selling 80 cent beer. Why are you a Mason?" This is an extremely penetrating question which each of us must answer in our own way, because the question will come up, perhaps not always in interviews with the media but in talks with friends, relatives, business associates, and members of the clergy. Each must answer in his own way, but each of us must be prepared to answer this question. Numerous requests were about whether or not the Great Seal of the United States that appears on the reverse side of the one dollar bill is a Masonic symbol. It is not. To all of these inquiries we send a copy of the Short Talk Bulletin by S. Brent Morris titled The Eye In The Pyramid. But it continues to be a topic of great interest and generates many, many questions throughout the year.
Numerous requests are received during the year concerning the laying of cornerstones. There seems to be a real upsurge in this particular activity, and the media are beginning to express an interest as to why Freemasons perform this particular ceremony. An extremely helpful book on this subject was written by S. Brent Morris titled Cornerstones of Freedom. This book has proven very effective in responding to media questions.
The studio that produces the series for A & E Network titled The Unexplained contacted the Information Center for information about Freemasonry to be part of the show that was aired on January 8, 1998. It was also the recommendation of the Information Center that Dr. Gary Leazer be interviewed for this show. The show was balanced between negative comments by anti-Masons and positive comments by those responding.
We also continue to receive requests for interviews from the media in countries outside of North America. We have been interviewed by media representatives from Russia, France, and Poland just to name a few.
These examples are to give you an idea of the kinds of requests that come to the Information Center. Also written/phone requests from individuals are very numerous and have such a wide range of questions that it would just not be possible to list them all. But, we want to assure you every request that comes to the Masonic Information Center is answered and always as promptly as possible.
Media Source Guides
The Masonic Information Center continues to have its name, address, phone, fax, website, and contact person listed in the following source guides:
1) National Press Club, Washington, DC
2) Quill. (The magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists.) 3) Broadcast Interview Source. (A standard reference used by the media.)
Relations with the Catholic Church:
Following the March 1996 decision by the Bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln. Nebraska, condemning membership in several organizations including Freemasonry, attempts to work with the Catholic Church in establishing better relations have been made.
As a result of this effort a representative from Catholic University, who is the Dean of the School of Religious Studies, attended our Information Center Steering Committee meeting in September of 1997. This is only a beginning of our effort, which will continue, to establish better relations with the Catholic Church.
National Holocaust Museum
As noted in the December 1997 issue of Focus, the National Holocaust Museum is looking for information concerning Freemasonry during the Nazi era in Germany and occupied Europe. The Holocaust Museum wishes to have a display showing how the Nazis treated Freemasons in this time period.
While we are still in the process of building our Website we do encourage you to visit us at http://www.msana.com and we also request that you tell us any information you would like to see added to this site.
Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry?
1997 saw the publishing of a new and greatly enlarged edition of Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry?: by Art deHoyos and S. Brent Morris. Originally published in 1994, this updated edition contains a number of new chapters including a section with an exchange of letters between S. Brent Morris and T. N. Sampson of Cornerstone Ministries. If you have not read this book, we certainly encourage you to do so. It is one of the best sources available responding to some of the more virulent anti-Masons.
Masonic Television Forum
Four programs, lasting one half hour each. have been produced by Capstone Productions and distributed to their subscribers in 1997. The Masonic Information Center continues to support the endeavors of Jackson Polk, President of Capstone Productions, in producing these half-hour cable-ready TV or lodge programs. The forum is designed to explain Masonic history, philosophy, and current events to cable and Masonic audiences.
In addition, the Masonic Information Center has produced a seven-minute video, How To Access Cable Tv which shows, on a step-by-step basis, what needs to be done to get a program shown on Cable TV.
Summary of Activities
The Masonic Information Center continues to respond on behalf of Masonry to questions posed by the media, by the general public, and by our members. As you can see by the activities noted in this report, we continue to grow each year.
Many Grand Lodges have responded to our request for a budget item in the amount of $1,000.00 so that we can continue this work, and we are pleased to report that 1997 saw more Grand Lodge support than 1996, and we certainly hope that we will see another increase in 1998. We do, again, request that $1,000.00 be budgeted for the general operating fund of the Masonic Information Center. Thank you for your support.
The generic video we had talked about did not receive very much support and we canceled the project. Apparently, according to the feedback we received, there is a general feeling that there are many videos "out there" and another one was not needed.
The Masonic Community owes a great deal to those dedicated Brothers who are part of the Information Center Steering Committee. Their contribution in hours and labor has been invaluable. Every member of the Fraternity should render a hearty "Thanks for all you have done!" to these dedicated Brethren.
Also, we want to thank the Grand Masters and Grand Secretaries for their cooperation, help, and assistance to the Information Center.
Working together we can make a difference. THE MASONIC INFORMATION CENTER
A RESPONSE TO CRITICS OF FREEMASONRY Brochure responding to several of the alleged points of conflict between Freemasonry and Christian theology. #BR 120 $.05 each (in any quantity) plus shipping
FACTS ABOUT FREEMASONRY Brochure answering many of the most frequently asked questions about the Fraternity. #BR-110 $.05 each (in any quantity) plus shipping
GET A LIFE: THOUGHTS ON FREEMASONRY AND RELIGION. 12 page booklet discussing the relationship between Freemasonry and the religious community. $.60 each (PPD): 40% discount in lots of 50 or more copies, plus shipping. #BL 203
THERE IS NO SIN IN SYMBOLS: 16-page booklet showing pictures and explanations of symbols used in everyday life and symbols used by Masons and Masonic related organizations with explanations about their origin and meaning. $.25 each (PPD); 40% discount in lots of 50 or more copies, plus shipping. #BL 201
WHAT'S A MASON? 16-page booklet describing the Masonic Fraternity and its purposes. Explains what happens in Lodge meetings and answers many frequently asked questions about the Fraternity. $.25 each (PPD); 40% discount in lots of 50 or more copies, plus shipping. #BL 202
IS IT TRUE WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT FREEMASONRY? by Art deHoyos and S. Brent Moms (foreword and addendum by Jim Tresner). A response to some of the more virulent anti-Masons, this book takes on several of Masonry's critics and refutes their charges. For Example: Albert Pike and the "Luciferian" doctrine; James Dayton Shaw's "expose" of Freemasonry; Ron Carlson's lectures on the "Evils of Freemasonry" — all are discussed and refuted on a point-by-point basis. The 1997 Second Edition is updated with 100 pages of new material added. Available through MIC @ $7.50 (PPD) quantity purchase (50 or more) 40% discount, plus shipping. #BK-510