"To want fame is to
prefer dying scorned than forgotten."
The "Ex-Worshipful Master"
Telling everyone who'll listen - a handful at most
Duane's 'Testimony' citing his reasons for leaving Masonry a decade ago has circulated far and wide on the internet. After being a Mason for several years, serving as an officer in several stations, and then being elected to serve his lodge as Master, it appears that Duane suddenly noticed that prayers in the Lodge were not given in the name of Jesus Christ - and decided that they should be.
When other Masons pointed out the disharmony sectarian religious positions can cause in a non-sectarian fraternal organization, Duane decided to leave. Because of his strong belief that everyone should be a Christian, however, he has set about spreading the information that he was apparently oblivious to during during his years of Masonic membership.
On first reading this 'Testimony', nearly any Mason comes to the same conclusion: it's a lie. Ironically, however, it's not - even though the average Mason would think that this person had obviously made all of this up. It is awfully hard to believe that anyone paying a modicum of attention could have been as 'hoodwinked' as Duane was.
But those who think it's a hoax would be wrong. Duane is a real ex-Mason and his claims are quite well known to those in Nevada. In a 'Rodney 'No Respect' Dangerfield'* sort of way, however, Duane has been unable to persuade even his own family members of the authenticity of his claims. His brother, who sponsored his application initially, has continued with active involvement in the fraternity. Jim is a Past Master of that same lodge yet - strangely - he saw none of the anti-religious things Duane claims are so rampant in Freemasonry. He too served that lodge as its Master following dozens of others who had done likewise but strangely, it was only Duane who found these many 'irreligious activities'. It's a shame that such screwball behavior by one family member can bring so much embarrassment to the rest but Duane is not alone: another anti-Mason, Ken Mitchell, has a nearly identical family situation.
Duane blazed into electronic notoriety when he obtained a CompuServe account and began to post defamatory messages about Masons and Masonry in the mid-1990s. Reasoned, rational rebuttals by Masons, however, kept Duane and several of his supporters off-guard. Duane has since moved on to other methods for proselytizing, realizing that only in a one-on-one situation does he have a chance of pulling the wool over someone's eyes. Duane's 'prayer requests' were regularly included by a self-created "minister" and air-conditioning contractor and who posted such things (along with input from another anti-Mason involved in the Promise Keepers movement) for a time. They've now faded into oblivion but Duane continues his internet crusade.
Duane now receives 'billing' as the founder of an organization called 'Ex-Masons for Jesus'. The organization doesn't appear to have more than a half-dozen members who exist on paper, if at all. None of them, Duane included, were identified on their web site as of June, 1998 - or at any time in the decade since! Wouldn't you think all of these (imaginary) ex-Masons would be just as proud as Duane to proclaim that they've escaped the clutches of Freemasonry? Apparently not....
Time passes but not much changes
2001 Update: Despite the many claims by both Larry Kunk (whose website is paid for by US taxpayers through his ability to claim it as a tax deduction - registered as a "charity" under the U.S. Tax Code) and Duane that the Ex-Masons for Jesus 'outfit' has converted "thousands", there are STILL the same SIX people listed there that they had three years ago! Wouldn't you think they could have found at least one or two more names from the supposed "thousands" to add to their claims?
And just who do they list as members? Well, one of the six (Lora Burton) is not even a Mason: she was a RAINBOW girl (Rainbows are aged 11-20)! Ex-Masons for Jesus with one non-Mason brings it now down to five meager names! There's Jack Harris, another person like Duane who spent years attending meetings and didn't have a clue as to what was going on there apparently. For several years, Jack never seemed to publicly acknowledge Duane but apparently now he does.
And in a very interesting twist, there's a listing for Bill Schnoebelen who is described as follows: "Bill Schnoebelen was the High Priest of a coven of witches and a member of the Church of Satan when he joined the Masonic Lodge. Bill was able to embrace the teachings of Masonry wholeheartedly; he immediately recognized the symbolism." That's interesting - because that's not how Bill relates his life. Of course, the chronology of Bill's life seems to change with the audience so who knows.... There's Mick Oxley and Harmon Taylor and there's Duane himself. Five years and five members - all of whom were against Freemasonry before this organization began. Quite an impressive list - and even more so since they've supposedly gotten THOUSANDS to leave Freemasonry. And just think: if you're a US resident, your tax dollars support their activities!
2002 Update: Curiously another name now appears on the notice for the "Missions to Masons" conference in September, 2002, billed as a co-founder of Duane's organization. He must have wanted to keep an awfully low profile during the past decade: we wonder why.... And, strangely, the testimonies of the supposed thousands of ex-Masons who're so very eager to embrace Duane's beliefs still has only four 'testimonies' - one of which is from what appears to be a totally phony doctor (see next paragraph) and one from a "Chuck H.". Why is Chuck's surname hidden? Is this a version of "ex-Masons anonymous"? And why isn't there a 'testimony' from Duane's co-founder, Thomas Hilton telling us all about HIS Masonic career and personal history, such as it was? Very, very strange, isn't it?
2006 Update: And now it's FOUR! The individual whom we had previously had here and whom we described as an apparently phony doctor has written to us. We were wrong and he is, in fact, a medical doctor as confirmed by a US medical licensing board through an online link which he provided. The real reason for his message, however, was to tell us that he has since returned to Freemasonry and rejoined the fraternity. He asked Duane to remove his name from their website and but it took this site writing about it to make that happen. For folks who seem particularly proud to 'crow' about Freemasonry's dwindling numbers, we'd suggest that the 'Ex-Masons for Jesus crew isn't doing too very well themselves....
So here's the February 2006 scorecard:
Five persons willing to be listed as providing 'testimony' for the Ex-Masons for Jesus:
One of them is Duane Washum - the founder. Back (apparently to replace that of the doctor) is the testimony of his co-founder.
One is "Chuck H." Yeah, now THAT'S something anyone could certainly validate, isn't it?
One is that of Jack Harris whom we've described above. Curiously, Bill Schnoebelen's listing is missing. Was he embarrassed by Duane's bizarre claims? Bill makes many of his own so we must really wonder why these 'birds of a feather' wouldn't want to cooperate.
And the final one is a supposed former Rainbow Girl who has never been and would never be eligible to become a Mason.
That's pretty scrawny list of "Ex-Masons for Jesus", isn't it - out of a couple of million Masons?
They have a website, Duane flogs his group at every opportunity, and they have (almost-) annual meetings - yet only four Masons, one of whom could simply be a figment of their imagination and two of whom by their actions appear congenitally obtuse, have 'testimonies' on the subject. GOSH! The millions of Masons are all out of step except them, huh?
After only ten years, it's apparently time to start manufacturing more fake identities to bolster their ranks. As the Ephesians 5-11 message board clearly shows, only Duane and Skip Sampson really do much to bang their tax-exempt drum any more. Nevertheless, Duane is not one to go without attention for more than a decade so it would see that he's invented one "Ed Garner" to provide testimony against Freemasonry. In a post made by Duane (doesn't Ed have the ability to use a computer?), he brags about his youth and accomplishments, making vague claims about participation in various places around the globe, none of which - not surprisingly - have enough details to provide evidential or circumstantial proof of this individual's existence. A statement is made that he was a member in some of the several states he mentions yet two of them that I've checked (out of 5 - 2/5ths) fail to show an individual with that name at any time during the past few decades. To give his testimony even more weight, he adds " I even wrote an article criticizing inactive lodge members." Must have been pretty important since there's no connection whatsoever online with the name or anything to do with Freemasonry - not that having something online proves or disproves an individual's existence but in light of Duane's many and frequent misrepresentations in the past, he really should provide some bona fides here.
Do we even need to mention that the invisible Mr. Garner once again recites Duane's favorite old saw, the Taxil Hoax - as described in the story below which appeared in U. S. News & World Report? Naw.... You could have seen that one coming a mile away!
Don't these guys EVER learn????
One lies and the other swears to it
We also find the descriptive material relating to the proven liar Jim Shaw quite interesting as well. They report that "a number" of people were led to become "Ex-Masons for Jesus" as a result of his work. Curious: which of the five were so deceived by a liar and - despite proof of those lies - remain committed to the path they've chosen? Only Duane and Jack Harris, it would appear - and NEITHER has said that Shaw was a part of their own decision-making process. More obfuscation? You'll have to decide....
An Excellent Rebuttal!
Åke Eldberg, a Mason with extensive religious training, has a really great web site which debunks the "Ex-Masons for Jesus" and demolishes the claims made by Duane on a point by point basis. Do visit his site: we think you'll agree that it's one of the most sensible and definitive there is - and written from a very unique perspective!
Recognition at last!
He should be just THRILLED!!! Duane received national recognition in the pages of the highly respected U. S. News & World Report. Well.... sorta.In the August 26-September 2, 2002 issue, the lead article was about the greatest hoaxes of all times giving #3 billing to the Taxil Hoax and explaining how it was perpetrated. They go on to state:
"Taxil's work informs today's extremist Christian literature as well." They continue "In his 1991 bestseller New World Order, evangelist Pat Robertson implicated Freemason "occultism" in a supposed international financial conspiracy. And a Mississippi group called Ex-Masons for Jesus brands the order a "pagan religion"."
They didn't say how wonderful Duane's group is - or how correct they are? No, on the contrary: they point out that the Taxil hoax has permeated society in such a way that the Duane's of the world have been 'suckered' into the foolishness. Poor Duane: the Rodney Dangerfield* of anti-Masonry. He can't get no respect! He's not in Mississippi for heaven's sake: he's in Nevada!!!
Just to set the record straight, we wrote to USN&WR telling them that Duane is not really a 'group' and that he's really not in Mississippi. We're sure they'll be pleased to know! Poor Duane.... (The article, sadly, is no longer online.)
*Rodney Dangerfield is an American comedian who's act is to claim that "I can't get no respect." He elaborates this with broad humor, placing himself as the brunt of vignettes in which he is the totally downtrodden through - ostensibly - no fault of his own. His name has become synonymous with a broad caricature of the fool who creates his own problems and wonders why bad things just always happen to him. You can visit his hilarious official website here.
Updated several times, most recently
19 October 2009
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