A Birmingham councillor has revealed: “ I’m a Freemason and proud of it ” – insisting the organisation did not “fake Moon landings or topple Governments”.
Gary Sambrook spoke up amid suggestions that cronyism and secrecy surrounded the movement, following disclosures that two lodges were operating at Westminster.
The National Union of Journalists said both journalists and MPs should openly declare their membership of Freemasonry.
And MP Sarah Wollaston asked on Twitter why “anyone would bother with all that claptrap if not for the chance to weasel an unfair advantage”.
But Coun Sambrook, a Tory who represents Kingstanding , said Freemasons did a great job for charities and its members were ordinary people – despite the “funny handshakes”.
“For a long time Freemasonry has been on the receiving end of whispering, stigma and discrimination,” he said.
“I have never made a secret of the fact that I am a Mason, and proudly tell anyone who asks.
“It was probably easier to come out as gay than as a Freemason.
“The generalisation is often of a secret society, meeting in anonymous buildings with accusations of controlling Governments and faking the moon landings.”
Coun Sambrook has been a member of the Goldieslie Lodge in Sutton Coldfield for five years.
He said his membership of the group had given him confidence, developed his public speaking and was “enormous fun”.
He said that the group was welcoming and friendly.
“Yes there are parts of our ceremonies that we don’t talk about.
“These can be easily found within a few seconds on Google or YouTube.
“The reason we don’t talk about them is it’s not much of a surprise or fun for new members if they know everything about it, before they enter.”
“My Lodge has a Twitter account, meets in a building with a big sign on the door and is opened up to visitors.
“I joined after a conversation with a friend and out of pure curiosity.”
Freemasonry has come under severe criticism in recent weeks with allegations that secret Lodges were working in the upper levels of the police force and Parliament pushing hidden agendas for its members.
Freemason police chiefs were resistent to reform of the force, a former head of the Police Federation has claimed.
Now the Grand Lodge, which oversees the institution nationally, has launched an “enough is enough” campaign to give members the confidence to speak up and highlight their work.
Coun Sambrook said the Warwickshire region lodges had raised £3.2 million for charity in five years.
His own lodge helped provide rebound therapy facilities at Wilson Stuart Special School in Erdington.
“I find my Masonry enormous fun, it’s an enjoyable hobby and I’d encourage anybody with the smallest of curiosity to find out more about it,” he added.
By Neil Elkes https://www.birminghammail.co.uk