A showdown on Freemasonry’s incompatibility with Christianity is coming at next month’s Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). James “Larry” Holly already has provided lots of ammunition. At last summer’s convention, delegates approved an SBC Home Mission Board (HMB) study on the issue following a recommendation by Holly, a physician from Beaumont, Texas. In March, the HMB issued both a 7-page report and a 107-page study on Freemasonry. Holly finds the investigations internally inconsistent.

Holly blasts the 107-page study as “a virtual whitewash of the Masonic Lodge.” “Southern Baptists have tragically become the first Christian denomination to exonerate the Masonic Lodge.” The HMB removed the author of the study, Gary Leazer, from his post as director of its interfaith witness department after he allowed Masons to review the contents before general distribution.

Delegates to the June 15–17 convention in Houston will vote on the 7-page report, authored by HMB trustees. It says that “many tenets and teachings of Freemasonry are not compatible with Christianity,” yet because of the SBC’s “deep convictions regarding the priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church, membership in a Masonic order [should] be a matter of personal conscience.”

While not denouncing Freemasonry outright, the report did criticize the use of Bibles in swearing of secret, “bloody oaths” in initiation ceremonies, recommended readings that are “undeniably pagan and/or occultic,” use of “sacrilegious” titles to address leaders (such as “worshipful master”), teaching of the “heresy of universalism,” and the implication that salvation is possible through good works. But at the same time, the report says the fraternal organization should be commended ...

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