Row after ‘sexist’ Freemasons article is rejected by Petworth Pages

The Leconfield Hall where Petworth Freemasons hold their meetings
The Leconfield Hall where Petworth Freemasons hold their meetings

A furious row has broken out after an article submitted by the Freemasons for publication in Petworth’s town journal, was rejected.

The article submitted by the Petworth Masonic Lodge for publication in ‘Petworth Pages’ has been condemned as ‘opaque, sexist and inappropriate’ at a town council meeting.

Town council chairman Chris Kemp reported to fellow councillors on Thursday after every member of the council received a letter from the Master of Petworth Masonic Lodge, Simon Hamilton, claiming discrimination.

Mr Kemp said the editor, Julie Aguillar, was an employee of the town council. It was her right to reject articles and he supported her decision.

Fellow town councillor Rosa Pawsey said she thought the article was “incredibly opaque, badly written and sexist.”

She did not feel it was appropriate to publish it.

Vice chairman Roger Hanauer said he felt it was inappropriate for the town’s journal to ‘promote a particular organisation of that kind’.

Alan Copus said he thought it was ‘patronising.’

In his letter to councillors Mr Hamilton said: “We are wondering why there is this discrimination in our case.”

He said it was intended as a ‘general interest’ article telling people of the local good causes the Petworth Lodge had supported and raising its profile.

Other organisations, such as the Petworth Community Minibus, had had items published, he said, without questions of acceptability.

“We are of the opinion the article falls well within the remit of the Petworth Pages management group in promoting community news in a meaningful and timely manner,” he told town councillors.

But he said when a member had contacted the editor he had been told Mr Kemp had rejected the article because he felt ‘it was not appropriate for the Freemasons to be advertising themselves’.

The article begins by trying to dispel the myth that the Freemasons are a ‘secret society’.

“If it were, it must be the worse kept secret in history. Freemasonry is in fact one of the oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations in the world,” said the writer J A Chin.

The article said the core values of freemasonry were based on ‘integrity, kindness, honesty, fairness and tolerance’ and outlined its history, listing charities supported by the Petworth Lodge including Macmillan at Midhurst, Petworth Community Garden and Petworth Primary School.

It urged women to feel included: “by supporting your partner in the many and varied social activities you can make a valuable contribution.” The article added: “You may even by interested in becoming a Freemason yourself. Presently there are two Ladies’ Grand Lodges and Ladies’ Lodges that are open exclusively to women.”

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