Music by Brother J. L. F. Mendelssohn.
THE SHORT TALK BULLETIN
Published monthly by the Masonic Service Association of North America, 8120 Fenton Street, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910-4785. Tel: (301) 588-4010, under the auspices of its member Grand Jurisdictions.
Masonic publications are invited to reproduce, extract, copy or reprint the contents of this Bulletin, providing that the source be indicated and that M.S.A. be provided with courtesy copies of the reprinted materials.
(FOR YOUR INFORMATION)
This monthly Short Talk Bulletin is furnished to all elective, most appointed Grand Lodge officers and to selected Committeemen in each Grand Lodge which is a member of The Masonic Service Association of N.A. "A LODGE COPY" is sent to each constituent lodge of member Jurisdictions through the lodge officer (Worshipful Master, Secretary, Warden, or Lodge Education Officer) designated by the Grand Lodge.
Individuals and other Masonic bodies may subscribe to The Short Talk Bulletin at current subscription rates, which are computed on the actual cost of preparation, printing and postage.
To keep the cost of The Short Talk Bulletin at a minimum, your cooperation in providing timely notice of changes in address and changes of lodge officers, is greatly appreciated. Six weeks notice is needed on changes of address. Back issues of The Short Talk Bulletin are available at 500 each.
To U.S. Addresses (including APO & FPO) $5.00/yr.
To addresses outside the U.S. $6.00/yr.
SPECIAL NOTICE TO SUBSCRIBERS
The expiration date of your subscription is indicated on the address label by the month and year, i.e." 1299" shows that your subscription expires with the December 1999 issue. Renewals or extension of subscriptions can be made at any time. Send the complete address label when extending/renewing subscriptions.
THE MASONIC SERVICE ASSOCIATION
OF NORTH AMERICA
Silver Spring, Maryland 209104785
That support for the Masonic Information Center continues to grow is clearly evident by an ever-increasing number of Freemasons who send information to us. This information may consist of articles seen in newspapers or magazines, or an inquiry about statements made on a television or radio show, or calling attention to something that has been seen on a website. We want to extend our thanks to all who support us in this way.
We are also receiving many inquiries and questions about the fraternity. These often result in our being interviewed by newspapers and, occasionally, by radio or TV shows.
Anti-Masonic material continues to be distributed, however, there seems to have been a lessening of attacks during 1999. Many of the Anti-Masonic TV shows that had been concentrating on Freemasonry now seem to be going in other directions and finding new enemies to focus on.
The Masonic Information Center has produced three booklets and three brochures. They are listed as follows, together with the numbers of copies that have been distributed through the end of 1999.
What's A Mason? 550,000
Get A Life 100,000
There Is No Sin In Symbols 163,000
Facts About Freemasonry 335,000
A Response To Critics Of Freemasonry 190,000
Who are the Masons? (New in 1999) 300,000
It is truly exciting to realize that over 1,638,000 copies of the brochures and booklets published by the Masonic Information Center have been distributed, literally, around the world. Who Are The Masons?, a new color brochure introduced in 1999, has already reached the 300,000 figure in sales, and has been reprinted, with permission , in several Masonic publications. This brochure is an attractive, easy-to-read, introduction to Freemasonry.
The MIC's quarterly newsletter, Focus, was published four times during 1999, and as previously mentioned, many publications reprint material from this newsletter. Focus is also posted on the Masonic Information Center website (shared with the Masonic Service Association) at www.msana.com
Statement on Freemasonry and Religion
We again urge those Grand Lodges who have not adopted this statement to do so, so that Freemasonry may have one response to present to the public and to the media about Freemasonry's position concerning Religion. The statement is printed, in its entirety, on the inside back cover.
Binghamton New York To fill out a story, MIC was requested to give general information on Freemasonry. The thrust of the story was declining membership and why we thought this was occurring and what was being done about it.
Danville Register This Danville, Virginia newspaper called and wanted statistical information on Freemasonry, and, again, the question was why there was a drop in membership.
London Free Press, London, Ontario A reporter specializing in religious affairs feature articles wanted information about Freemasonry and requested one of the media kits provided by the Information Center.
Voice of America During an interview with a representative of the Voice of America concerning American presidents who were Freemasons, the Information Center was asked to comment on why we thought these presidents became Freemasons and what the influence of Freemasonry was on them. This was a five-minute segment aired on President's Day 1999, both in English, and then translated into many languages and broadcast around the world. As a follow-up to this interview, a representative of the Voice of America attended the Masonic Information Center's Steering Committee meeting in Washington, in March 1999, for a more in-depth interview.
Summary of Media Contacts
You will note that in a number of instances, the interview was centered on the declining membership in Freemasonry. It should be pointed out that the interviews were part of a larger question; why there was declining membership in service organizations, volunteer organizations, and fraternal organizations? It is not only Masonry that suffers a membership decline. That is a point we should always keep in mind.
Many inquiries were received during the year wanting us to send information to ministers who had voiced objections to the fraternity; in one case, a treasurer of a little league team returned a donation from a local lodge because he objected to Freemasonry; an elected official had received a very negative letter about Freemasonry from a constituent; and numerous individuals who had encountered Anti-Masonry either through the mail or by an individual expressing negative feelings about the fraternity. Of course, all of these inquiries were responded to immediately.
Interestingly, we did hot have the number of reports about negative comments concerning Freemasonry in movies and TV shows as we have had in the past. Part of this may be due to the televangelist's attention being drawn to other organizations or religious bodies with whom they disagree.
Of Special Note
George Washington's Burial Reenactment. The Washington Post reported on Sunday, December 19, 1999 about the reenactment of the funeral service held for George Washington in 1799. A small mention was made of the Masonic participation in this event. But, MIC later learned that C-SPAN videotaped the entire Reenactment Ceremony, including the Masonic Funeral Service. The tape is available for purchase at a cost of $19.95 plus $7.50 shipping and handling. Call CSPAN at 1-877-662-7726, and ask for Tape #154157, "Reenactment of George Washington Funeral."
Albert Pike It was very pleasant to see in the Washington Post Comic Section of Sunday, December 12, 1999, a strip titled "Flashbacks" by Patrick Reynolds from his book A Cartoon History of D.C. The information presented was very positive about Albert Pike and Freemasonry.
New Hampshire Magazine The Grand Lodge of New Hampshire requested permission to reprint the brochure Who Are The Masons? in a two-page spread in New Hampshire Magazine. The information will be noted as being presented by and paid for by the Masons of New Hampshire. New Hampshire Magazine is extremely well-done and very attractive, and we have had comments that the Grand Lodge is pleased with the response they have received so far.
Presbyterians Today A recent issue of Presbyterians Today, a publication of the Presbyterian Church (USA), included an article which contained an inaccurate statement about Freemasonry. When this inaccurate statement was called to the attention of the Editors of Presbyterians Today, a letter of regret was sent to the Masonic Information Center, together with a commitment to print a portion of the material sent to them by the MIC.
The text of the letter sent to Presbyterians Today follows:
In the July-August 1999 issue of Presbyterians Today, there is an article called "Touched by Another." On page I I titled "He was there for me," Marjorie D. Tyler says "Mother and father were members of the Eastern Star, and Masons, and that was their faith."
The impression given by this statement is that Freemasonry considers itself a religion, and on an equal with any other religious faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. This statement by Marjorie Tyler may leave many of your readers with a mistaken impression of how the Masonic fraternity views its relationship with religion. To that end, we would like to ask that you publish the enclosed statement titled "Freemasonry and Religion." We feel your readers need to know this information.
The response from Presbyterians Today said:
Thank you for writing about the "Touched by Another" piece by Marjorie Tyler (July/August issue of Presbyterians Today). A couple of our other readers have also written objecting to the inference that Ms. Tyler's parents consider Masonry their religion. She may not have intended this literally, but we regret that the implication was there.
Although because of space limitations we cannot print all of the "Freemasonry and Religion" statement you enclosed, we are planning to include a portion of your letter and the statement in the "Readers Write" department of the November issue (the October issue is already being printed). We trust this will clarify the inaccurate implication.
The Whydah In April 1717, a storm off Cape Cod destroyed the treasure-filled pirate galley the Whydah. Artifacts have been recovered for many years. However, more recently, it is believed the actual remains of the sunken ship have been found.
The May 1999 issue of National Geographic tells the story of the Whydah and shows a photo of a pewter plate recovered along with many other items. What appears to be a Masonic Square and Compasses have been carved into the plate. The mystery-Where did it come from? Remember, the ship sank in April 1717, and the first Grand Lodge was formed in June 1717. Of course, we know Freemasonry began earlier than 1717, but the intriguing questions about the plate are: Did it belong to a member of the crew? Was it part of the booty stolen from another ship? We don't know. You are invited to visit the website of the Whydah Museum in Provincetown, MA, at www.whydah.com.
At the most recent meeting of the Masonic Information Steering Committee in August 1999, we had a conference call with Mr. Ken Kincor of the Expedition Whydah Museum. So much early history of Freemasonry is unknown that we feel encouragement should be given to those in the public sector doing research, especially research involving Freemasonry.
Mr. Kincor has written an article about this subject which is currently under review by several members of the MIC Steering Committee.
We invite you to visit us at http://www.msana.com. We are constantly adding information to the site and are really encouraged by the number of people who visit us. If you have not done so, please check our website and give us your comments.
The report of the MIC Activities is simply meant to be representative of the kind of activities that we have experienced during the year. The points of contact we have with Masons are from personal discussions, phone, fax,,regular mail, and e-mail. It is also interesting to note that we are having visits to our website from all around the world and in particular, are hearing from people in Europe and Australia.
The Masonic Information Center would like to thank the Grand Lodges and those individual Masons who support us financially and by using our products. Thanks also to the many, many Shrine Temples, Scottish Rite Valleys, and York Rite Bodies who are using our materials, particularly at public functions.
We also thank those who have enough interest to contact us for more information about the fraternity. Please note that the Masonic Information Center is committed to providing accurate and factual information about Freemasonry to the media, to the general public, to members of the clergy, and to members of the Masonic Fraternity and their families.
This is our pledge to you.