CNN Headline News and Cedar Rapids Iowa Gazette
By Rick Smith
CEDAR RAPIDS -- Kingston Lodge No. 666, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, wants to change its lodge number.
The number 666 isn't a great one for a spiritually based organization to have, given that the Bible says the number is "the mark of the beast," explains Tim Anderson, senior warden of Lodge No. 666.
It's the book of Revelation that says believers in Christ will be tested in the world's last days by an Antichrist, who will persecute those who do not bear "the mark of the beast," the number 666.
"The members of the lodge felt . . . to have a number that has a negative spiritual connotation was just not the right thing. There's no deep mystery to it," Anderson said Monday.
Over the years, some who have joined Lodge 666 have ended up quitting because they were uncomfortable with the number, Mike Bonney, the lodge's master, added. "It's the devil's mark," he said.
Lodge 666 is one of five Masonic lodges in Cedar Rapids and one of 323 in the state.
Bonney said the lodge, which was formed in September 1967, is asking to be assigned the next number in line, 676, when the Grand Lodge of Iowa meets in Dubuque on Sept. 20-21.
Anderson suggested the lodge is addressing its number now because of an increase in the number of people in American society who embrace a literal, fundamentalist belief in the Bible.
"Some are very aware of the book of Revelation in the Bible and place more emphasis on it than maybe in the past," he said. "In the time when we need good men to join the Masonic fraternity, any small thing that would keep them from joining should be removed as a roadblock to membership."