Eric mentioned Fr. Nathaniel (Ingram) Irvine, an early American Orthodox priest. The following is from a letter he wrote in 1917, opposing the proposed consecration of Aftimios Ofiesh as bishop. (I transcribed it exactly as it is written; all typos and emphases are in the original.)
Who is the candidate for the Syrian Vicar Bishoprick? A Freemason. It may be said that, he has given up Masonry. While I doubt it, it makes the matter more terrible than if he persisted in being an active member. And why?
First: Because by being an in-active member for the sake of a chance of being made a Bishop he must have lost the respect of both the Masonic Order and loyal Orthodox Christians.
Second: There is an old and well authenticated fact to wit: —"Once a Mason always a Mason." An ignorance of the watchword because of delinquency of a member etc., for the time being, does not hinder the opportunity of having that ignorance remedied and the knowledge granted at an opportune moment. Insincerity under the first point would suggest the second idea.
The history of Freemasonry is a night-mare to Christianity in the West. Pardon a little bit of my own knowledge being interjected. Practical knowledge after all is the best.
The Anglican Episcopate is blighted with Free Masonery. I have known an Anglican Bishop to have traveled one hundred and fifty miles to a Masonic Lodge to be introduced to a District Court Judge, who was also a Mason, to influence him against one of the Bishop’s priest who had a valid case against the Bishop for the most infamous conspiracy. The Master of the Masonic Lodge condemned the whole proceeding on the part of the bishop and judge, nevertheless the Chaplain of the Lodge with the latter’s (Chaplin’s) wife, partakers in the Conspiracy with the Bishop gained the point. The judge contrary to all sense of justice when the case was on trial, took the consideration from the jury and dismissed the case in favor of the Conspirators, Bishop etc.
Freemasonry, today, is a mixture of spurious Christianity, agnosticism, infidelity, aethism, Judaism, and in very many instances, immorality. I have carefully studied it for over fifty years. It’s nobility of long ago, while it has still some noble men as members, has long since departed. It has damned the State and the Church by its under-hand influence and corruptive practices.
If a Bishop of the Church is a Freemason then every priest had better be a Mason in his Diocese, for otherwise it may follow that a Jew, an Infidel, an Aethiest etc. or the lowest saloon keeper, or house of ill fame manager, as a member would have more influence as a mason with the Masonic Bishop than the priest who was not a member of the Order.
One of the questions asked of me when I was a candidate for the Russian Orthodox Priesthood was "Are you a Freemason?" My reply was "I am not" Have we changed? Are our conditions variable?
Now if the Episcopate is one, any member of it affects the whole. And if the Church is one, any member of the same may feel agrieved if he believes that a member of an alien and pernicious organization is permitted to rule in the high and sacred office of a Bishop in the Church of God Almighty.
The Orthodox Church has gained the Confidence and love of right-thinking people. Let us not tarnish her banner now by inserting amongst the title letters "Masonery" Rome is marveling at our success and Orthodox Catholicity. Let us not give her a chance to say that, we have retrograded to rationalism and chicanery. Above all things let us guard the Episcopate from that which is wordly and earthly.
Therefore if all other keep silent, I for one, as a faithful priest of the Russo-Greek Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, most solemnly protest against the admission of Archimandrite Afiesh or any other Mason into the Episcopate.
And if he is admitted or any Mason, even under pain of Ecclesiastical penalties, I will never recognize him as a Bishop. I can not serve God and Mammon in the Episcopate. Masons as Laymen may be sinners, but as Bishops hypocrites and creatures of circumstances.
In other words, one of the problems with Freemasonry, according to Irvine, is that it creates conflicting loyalties. This would be in addition to whatever dogmatic or ritualistic conflicts there would be between itself and Orthodoxy. My understanding is that Orthodox Christians are forbidden to be members of any secret society, not just Freemasonry, in part because of the inherent conflicts of loyalty.
I don't think it had anything to do with Freemasonry, but Ofiesh proved to be a disaster as a bishop.