The Annual Shrove Tuesday Debate
Tuesday 17th February 2015
at the Church of St Margaret of Antioch, St Annes.
The annual debate was held on Tuesday 17th February and chaired by the Lord Bishop of Lancaster, the motion before the House being “The House believes that Freemasonry and Christianity are incompatible”. Approximately 200 attended.
Proposing the Motion were three clerics from the Church of England Diocese of Blackburn, Rev. Simon Cox PhD., Tony Webber, The Chaplain to the Bishop of Blackburn and John Howley, Archdeacon of Blackburn,  and against the motion W.Bro. Steven Reid, Rev Nancy Goodrich, and W.Bro. Bill Hembrow.
The main points raised by the Clerics in proposing the motion were that Freemasonry allows membership to non-Christians, by only requiring a belief in a Supreme Being. 
That the candidates for membership take their obligations without knowing their detail in advance, although with the assurance of the Worshipful Master that they contain “nothing incompatible with their civil, moral or religious duties”.  
That the Freemasons, and similar organisations (including Rotary) would be better helping the Church to spread the doctrine of Christianity.
That discussion of religion is not allowed at Freemasons’ Meetings.
In opposing the motion Steven Reid spoke in his usual erudite manner explaining why these points were of no consequence to the Christian attitudes of the Brethren. 
The Rev Nancy Goodrich informed the house that the Past Provincial Grand Master Colin Penty Wright had been a member of the congregation of her own church, and a Parish Councillor, and had done considerable work in advancing the cause of Christianity. Her experience of Freemasons was that they were in no way incompatible with Christianity.
W.Bro. Bill Hembrow gave a resume of his own Masonic experience, particularly in a Lodge of mixed Christian and other religions, and explained that they all mixed freely and in a brotherly manner setting an example to many parts of the world, displaying ‘Christian’ principles in other ways than those of established Christian Churches.  He stressed that Freemasonry is not a religion.  He drew attention to the millions of pounds of Charitable giving for the benefit of maintaining and preserving Churches and Cathedrals; to organisations such, as the Red Cross for Disaster relief in the UK and all over the world; and for Medical Research.
The result of the final vote was a defeat for the motion by a factor of 7 to 1.
Previous years motions have included:  This House believes that Scotland should have full Independence (defeated);
This House believes that the United Kingdom should withdraw from the European Union (carried)
And next year:  This house believes that the Church of England should be disestablished.

W.Bro. John Ogden