Spiritual Life
Reasons to Believe
Religions & Sects
Church History
In the News
Faith & Reason Press Speaker's Forum Links Resources About Us

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 this day.

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