Gov. Terry Branstad, Freemasons and the China Ban
Masonic lodges still exist in Taiwan, but not in China. All the other chapters were eliminated after the communist revolution there in 1949. “Freemasons believe in freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of action, and I don’t think that’s what the communist Chinese government is about,” said Tim Anderson, who is deputy grand secretary of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Iowa.
Masonic groups usually run into trouble in Communist countries because of their secret meetings, said Brent Morris, who wrote “The Idiot’s Guide to Freemasonry.” It doesn’t help that Freemasonry was brought to China by the British when they were colonizing the area.
“You’ve got a dual-edged problem: part of it is the residue of colonialism and part of it is the meeting in private,” said Morris, who is a Master Mason himself. He wrote his book partly to debunk conspiracy theories about the group that were highlighted in “The Da Vinci Code” book and movie.
Branstad accepted President-elect Donald Trump’s job offer Wednesday, but he’ll have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before taking the post. The Iowa Lodge said Branstad is listed as a member of a chapter in Des Moines. His spokesman Ben Hammes declined to discuss Branstad’s membership in the Masons.
Branstad accepted the position days after Trump caused a diplomatic stir by speaking to Taiwan’s president on the phone. Taiwan split from China in 1949, but China still considers the island part of its territory and would consider it unacceptable for the U.S. to recognize Taiwan’s leader as a head of state.