Daily Herald - Chicago Il.
Church can remove Masonic symbols
By Jeffrey Gaunt | Daily Herald Staff
The council voted 5-2 to let members of Family Life Church remove two markings from the former Masonic temple they bought on East Chicago Street.
The decision reverses an Elgin heritage commission ruling that the church could cover, but not remove, the symbols.
At issue are a compass and square symbol on the front face of the building, and Masonic dates etched on the temple's cornerstone.
Church officials have said the symbols conflict with their religious beliefs.
Council members disagreed, but on advice of their legal counsel, they said they couldn't stop removal of the symbols because city code is vague on whether the markings are ornamentation or a significant architectural feature of the building.
"I'm very conflicted about this," Mayor Ed Schock said. "What tenant of their church is offended by the Masons?"
Pastor Jamal Turner from Family Life Church told the council he wasn't prepared to answer specific questions Wednesday about how his religious beliefs conflict with those of the Freemasons.
Turner declined comment after the council's vote.
Council members Mike Powers and John Steffen voted against overturning the heritage commission's ruling.
"I view this building as a landmark, architectural landmark for the city," Powers said. "I think that changing the facade would be a serious mistake."
"It's fundamentally part of the building," he said. "(The compass and square) is the focal point of the front of the building."