Judge bans Freemason headstone engraving in Cumbrian churchyard

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Freemason symbol
Freemason symbol

A judge has banned a family from having the Freemasons’ square and compass emblem etched into the gravestone of a relative.

William Kenneth Wilson, who died in July 2012 and who had devoted more than 40 years to Freemasonry, is buried in the church yard at St Oswald’s Church at Dean in west Cumbria.

His niece, Dorothy Stubbs, had appealed to the Church of England’s Consistory Court, which has to approve matters such as what is put on gravestones, for permission to have the Freemasons’ square and compass emblem put on her uncle’s stone. He had held major offices with the

Freemasons and been a Provincial Grand Master representing the country at home and abroad on a number of occasions.

There are an estimated six million Freemasons world-wide.

The Parochial Church Council for St Oswald’s had no objections to the emblem being included on the gravestone.

But Geoffrey Tattersall, chancellor of the Diocese of Carlisle in his capacity as a Consistory Court judge, has said: “No.”

He said it would be “detrimental” and “inappropriate” to allow it.

He said a report on Freemasonry entitled “Freemasonry and Christianity : Are They Compatible” had been debated by the General Synod of the Church of England in 1987.

He continued: “The report stated that it was clear that some Christians have found the impact of Masonic rituals disturbing and a few perceive them as positively evil.”

Despite the fact there had been “no formal developments” since the 1987 debate, he rejected arguments put forward.

It was pointed out that the emblem was to be found on gravestones throughout the area.

Mrs Stubbs argued that it was extremely difficult to understand why, as a badge or insignia of the Armed Forces is permitted on gravestones, the set square and compass, should not be. She said the symbol was “inoffensive”

However, Chancellor Tattersall said when the General Synod had debated the compatibility of Freemasonary and Christianity, a very sizeable majority had decided that there were a number of very fundamental reasons to question whether they were compatible and it was an approach shared by other Christian denominations.

He said that gravestone epitaphs “may reflect the life, work, interests or concerns of the deceased.”

But he continued: “These must be entirely compatible with the Christian faith.”

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edd   , Sunday, 23 October, 2016 at 4:42PM
There is some very interesting history to be found in grave yards. There are some really interesting details on head stones the odd carvings. I am not a mason nor really religious however a family is wishing to have a design placed on a head stone which can be found right across the UK and beyond. The precedent has already been set. Are we not in the 21st century? The design itself is not outrageous as some that can be found in the US. People in this position can appeal a link below may help to set them on the right track. https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2529413/gs_2031_-_draft_ecclesiastical_jurisdiction_and_care_of_churches_measure.pdf
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Mary   Johnstone , Kirkoswald Wednesday, 19 October, 2016 at 12:00PM
I agree with the decision. The rites and rituals of the secretive higher degrees of Freemasonry seem incompatible to me with Christianity. What about the worship of the entity named Jahbulon, for example?
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Ted   Mason , Kendal Friday, 21 October, 2016 at 7:42PM
I think the rites and rituals of the church have little to do with christianity if we are to believe what Jesus Christ was trying to preach two thousand years ago.The rites and rituals of any organisation be it Freemasons or the church are made up by people,they are,no doubt,important to those that practice them and bunkum to those that don,t.
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Me   , Cumbria Thursday, 20 October, 2016 at 6:01AM
Ah yes Jahbulon, what some believe to be a masonic name for God, not their own God either, but the same God worshiped in a CoE church, Methodist church, Catholic Church...... It's also worth noting that the name hasn't been used for a few decades by the Masons but don't let that stop you using the term as an excuse why this family can't mark their loved ones grave as they want. I thought Christians were supposed to be compassionate but in reality we see practicing Christians constantly looking down their nose at others, imposing their views on others and basically going against everything that Jesus told them about love and understanding. Out of curiosity I googled CoE vicars convicted in the last decade and was astounded as to what has gone on by those that are supposed to be representing God, Christians on here and those responsible for saying a symbol isn't allowed to be used on a gravestone should really look at themselves and their church before claiming other organizations are evil or go against the word of God when their own church has done far worse < don't imagine that will get by the moderator, but hey, it was worth a try, free speech often doesn't apply when you speak out against the church and the horrors they have committed using the bible as a shield for years.
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Steve   Butcher , Carlisle Tuesday, 11 October, 2016 at 10:55AM
What ever happened to Freedom of Expression? I would appeal this to the highest Court in the land. I concur with the other views that the C of E / Anglican Church is way out of touch, thank goodness I am out of it. Hippocrites of the highest order.
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Robert   Child , Adelaide, South Australia Tuesday, 11 October, 2016 at 8:34AM
What is this judge thinking about? Until the mid 18th century, Freemasonry was exclusively Christian, until Dr.James Anderson, a Scottish clergyman, re-wrote the Constitutions of Freemasonry, opening it to those following "that religion in which all men agree", which enabled the increasing Jewish population of the country to join. Let us not forget that the Archbishop of Canterbury between 1946 & 1952, Lord Fisher, was a prominent Freemason, as were Kings Edward VII, George V and George VI - and they were the titular heads of the Church of England. Admittedly, the last Archbishop of Canterbury, (Rowan Williams), thought Freemasonry was "sinister" but his ignorance is only exceeded by that of the judge who denied a family their right to place a harmless symbol on a relative's gravestone. How can an organisation that distributes millions of £s every year to non-Masonic charities be described as "evil"? I would suggest that it is the judge who is evil, with his malicious, twisted prejudices and he should be dismissed as soon as possible.
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Agnostic   atheist , workington Tuesday, 11 October, 2016 at 7:28AM
Strangely the cemetery off Lorton Road in Cockermouth features a giant freemasonry cenotaph, the floral arrangement even planted in the divide and rule pattern. Also, the police display masonic symbolism on their day to day garb.
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Larry   S , United States Tuesday, 11 October, 2016 at 1:45AM
First a belief in God is mandatory in becoming a freemason,agnostic or atheist ate not allowed, the charity work we do stems from that foundation
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Jeff   Steel , Melbourne, Australia Monday, 10 October, 2016 at 11:55PM
Not a Freemason but this is a poor decision. It was an important part of the person's life and that should be respected. Freemasonry demands religious faith in its adherents, for which the slowly-sinking Church of England should be grateful. It was the influence of Freemasons in 1688 which got rid of the Catholic King James II, brought in William of Orange, established the paramountcy of Parliament and put the Church of England in a strong central position in British politics. Google 'John Locke'. It's interesting! This decision should be changed.
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John   , Carlisle Monday, 10 October, 2016 at 9:15PM
No wonder churches are empty
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Real   Christian , Cumbria Monday, 10 October, 2016 at 6:01PM
Although I do think Mr Tattersall is overreacting here. I do have to admire his stand in speaking out against Freemasonry. Ephesians 5:11 reminds Christians to; Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. The true Church is made up of faithful men and women of God, who are not afraid to speak the truth, even if that means losing bums on seats! Almighty God is building His Church and all we are asked to do is be faithful and warn every man women and child to flee from the wrath to come.
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Andrew   P , Carlisle Monday, 10 October, 2016 at 5:14PM
An unbelievably ignorant decision. This act of discrimination should not be allowed to stand.
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David   O'Connell , WORKINGTON Monday, 10 October, 2016 at 4:47PM
It seems that following a religion makes one more intolerant rather than accepting people for who they are and how they choose to live their lives.....
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  , London Monday, 10 October, 2016 at 3:41PM
I am a Freemason and I have never come across anything in our rituals, publications or events which are incompatible with ANY religion that believes in a Supreme Being. Judge Tattersall should list those parts or portions of or in freemasonry that helped him arrive at his ruling
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Ted   Mason , Kendal Monday, 10 October, 2016 at 2:56PM
It sounds like Mr Tattersall is interpretating the synod discussion to fit in with his own views to me.This tramline attitude simply damages the church yet more,little wonder that people have,and continue to,abandon it in droves.
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tap   loader , carlisle Monday, 10 October, 2016 at 12:46PM
Talk about living in the past!
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Nobby   Knowitall , Carlisle Monday, 10 October, 2016 at 10:16AM
Out of date judge. This sort of xenophobia should be a thing of the past. Get with it Tattersall
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Me   , Cumbria Monday, 10 October, 2016 at 8:41AM
Well done Geoffrey Tattersall for keeping the Church of England well and truly in the past and ignoring not only the wishes of the family but that the deceased spent 40 years in the Masons which probably involved quite a bit of charity and work for the local community. Mr Tattersall should also ask why a number of CoE bishops were/are Freemasons if being a member is so frowned upon by the church. People wonder why attendance at church is so low, then we see articles like this, it shows that that church isn't inclusive at all but just as blinkered and stuck in the past as always. I'm not a Freemason, nor am I ever likely to be, it just appears to me to be hypocritical of the church to deny a simple logo on a gravestone when there are numerous examples of it being used on other gravestones.
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Sue   Mcentire , Worthing Monday, 10 October, 2016 at 11:19PM
Freemasonry is not all about charity and community work...They have associations with the Illuminati. ..(look on the Internet if you are unaware of what the illuminati is)....and it has associations with evil...Mr. Tattershall made the right choice and right decision.
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Terry   Windermere , Windermere Friday, 20 January, 2017 at 3:07PM
Wow, Sue! Do you believe everything you read on the Internet? I saw that aliens were taking over the World and had put their deranged leader in charge of the USA... oh no, wait, that bit's true.
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Me   , Cumbria Thursday, 13 October, 2016 at 3:42AM
Sue, maybe you've been reading too much Taxil, or maybe Dan Brown, I'm well aware of the illuminati however there are no proven links to the Freemasons but plenty of links to the church trying to make it look like the two are connected. If the Freemasons are so evil as you believe then why we're/are high ranking members of the church members?
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a.n.other brother   , carlisle Monday, 10 October, 2016 at 4:19PM
How sad, here is a man who gave his life long service to God and mankind, and this is what he receives . How is it the church can't allow this yet the Cathedral in Carlisle displays two brass plaques for thanks to the Freemasons? Would this be the same for other organisations? I am thinking Rotary the Buffs the scouts etc etc
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Nigel   Asbridge , Wigton Monday, 10 October, 2016 at 3:50PM
Once again the Freemasons are the target of "out of date" thinking, I am wondering why Mrs Stubbs had to ask for permission anyway. As rightly stated, other gravestones have masonic images, so why not this one. I met the Kenneth Wilson on many occasions and can confirm his commitment to charity was without question. How sad that someone resorts to"The CofE synod's decision" as an answer, why not use common sense and consider the feelings of the people left behind after the passing of a well liked and generous person. Ask the question, how much does Freemasonry do for the church. Shame on you Mr Tattersall, not the way to encourage diversity within the church. Let's face facts, you need all the support you can get at the moment. God bless you .
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