Testimony of Duane Washum
A Former Worshipful Master Of Freemasonry
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 womenís
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 didnít know what went on inside a lodge room, but dad had always said
that being a Mason made him a better man. He wasnít 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 fatherís 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 wasnít 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 didnít remember that dad had ever gone to lodge all that much, at least not
in later years; I didnít 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 donít even know. Besides, I trusted most of the Masons I knew before
becoming a member, and as long as I wasnít invited to a "snipe hunt", or something
similar, I wasnít 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 lodges require
that these proficiencies be delivered in open lodge, in the presence of those members
who are 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 Decemberís 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 Deaconís 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 Masterís
apron and dubbed with the very distinctive title that accompanies it, I donít 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:
1.††††††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 Lordís 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 didnít
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 wasnít 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 wasnít 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 couldnít buy into it then, and I still donít to
2. †††††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