According to the EUobserver are the EU administration in Brussels to hold a summit with Freemasons and atheists later this year, and will invite them to participate in a political dialogue parallel to the annual summit with Europe’s religious leaders.
“I find it rather odd.”
And I find Mr. Pollock’s statement rather accurate. But not just because the EU leaders wants to talk to the Freemasons; it’t the way the whole thing has come about. This, my friends, is the European Union in a nutshell, and an illustration of why we have the the term “Tragedy of the Commons.”
The three European presidents, of the commission, parliament and EU Council, alongside two commissioners, met Monday with 24 bishops, chief rabbis, and muftis as well as leaders from the Hindu and Sikh communities.
This was the annual dialogue, which has taken place since 2005. This year for the first time as a legally obligatory meeting under Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty.
A Mirror-Image Summit
Under pressure from Belgium, which constitutionally protects and financially supports humanist organizations as well as churches, the EU has now been forced to hold a so-called mirror-image summit with atheists. The atheist summit is scheduled for 15 October.
However, in a move that perplexed and annoyed humanist groups, the EU atheist summit will also welcome under the rubric of “non-religious group” – the Freemasons – the secretive fraternal organization, according to commission spokeswoman Katharina von Schnurbein.
The Great Architect Of The Universe
“I find it rather odd,” David Pollock, president of the European Humanist Federation, tells the EUobserver.
“Some of the Grand Lodges are secularist organizations, and strongly for separation of church and state, but they also retain all sorts of gobbledygook and myths such as the Great Architect of the Universe.”
Emerging in the late 16th century in England and subsequently spread throughout the world, the Freemasons split in 1877 between the English-speaking lodges and their continental counterparts over the question of god.
Anglophone Freemasons require that their members believe in a deity, while continental Freemasons do not.
“Their public face is that they do charitable work and they do indeed engage in this, but there are also rituals involving blindfolded candidates with their trouser-legs rolled up during initiation,” Mr Pollock says.
“It’s boys’ games sort of a thing.”
Community of Conscience
Mr Pollock adds that humanists have opposed any inclusion of the”‘religion clause” in first the EU Constitutional Treaty and subsequently the Lisbon Treaty, arguing that “no one has any right to some special summit any more than any other type of organization, and we should wait in line to speak to commissioners, to access at the highest level, like any other NGO, which is what churches are.”
“Neither religious groups nor non-religious ones have any greater claim to taking up the time of commissioners.”
“But sadly we lost that battle, and so with the atheist summit, at least we’re being treated equally, although I’d rather if we were there along with the churches. Instead we’re being bundled off with the Freemasons.”
According to the commission’s Ms von Schnurbein, Brussels views the Freemasons as a “community of conscience interconnected throughout Europe,” and “a form of humanist organization.”
She dismiss concerns that while churches and atheist groups are free for anyone to join, membership in the Freemasons, a private organization of men, with some separate Grand Lodges for women, is by invitation only and requires initiation fees and an annual subscription.
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