The blog Masonic Crusade today reported a situation in West Virginia arising over the confusing actions of the sitting Grand Master Charlie Montgomery. Two brothers, if you are following events there had the "bad sense" to stand up and question the actions of Grand Master Montgomery in setting aside the will of the brethren as expressed by their votes at their 2007 Grand Communication. The Grand Master demanded that the master of M.W. Haas' lodge prefer masonic charges against him, which he refused to do, and as a result, both men were expelled without a trial.
The latest confusing actions reported to have been undertaken by Most Worshipful Montgomery and reported in the Masonic Crusade are that after the recent visit to a West Virginia Lodge by an out-of-state brother, who spoke in support of PGM Haas', a letter was sent out to the Lodge Masters across the state, instructing them on what can, and cannot, be discussed in lodge in regard to these issues.
In this letter, M.W. Montgomery reportedly noted the issue of MW Haas and the legislation as issues not to be discussed. More worrying than this letter even going out (if one can imagine such, seeing as Freemasonry was FOUNDED upon the principles of freedom of thought, speech, religion, etc) Most Worshipful Montgomery reportedly warned the masters of his lodges that they may NOT even reveal the contents or even the existence of this letter.
The following is an excerpt from the Masonic Crusade forum:
As you can imagine, given the support that MW Haas still enjoys among his West Virginia brethren, and the outrage that is simmering to a rolling boil in the lodges, that demand to keep the letter secret has been... ignored by many Masters. Copies of the letter, suitably redacted, are making their way throughout the brethren of West Virginia, and of course, across the blogosphere. There are some edicts of a Grand Master that, when calling for actions that violate the conscious of a good, honorable and true mason, MUST be violated.
In this letter to the Worshipful Masters, Charlie informs them that permitting any such activities or discussion in the future shall be considered unmasonic conduct. He also issues a warning to them, to the effect that the Master is forbidden to read the letter in open Lodge or show it to anyone. This, my brethren, is a tyrannical tactic designed to fracture the Lodge, to keep it in a state of disarray, so that it cannot possibly fight back.
It is frequently employed by terrorism groups, to ensure loss of minimal amount of information should one person be captured. Most WMs I have spoken with have been afraid to tell their own Lodge that they have even received the letter, let alone read it in open Lodge. In WWII, when we were sent behind enemy lines, we were told about the critical aspects of the larger plan for which we were gathering intelligence.
We were also told that we would not be forgotten and to be patient if we were captured. Now, regrettably, I am reminded of those on the other side in Germany, who were simply told to blindly do something (i.e. without daring to question) otherwise be instantly shot by a Luger pistol. I thought my generation had already fought and won that war.
Apparently, like the US Civil War, it too is not over.
One thing that confuses even this mason... what does GM Montgomery think is going to happen the day AFTER he is replaced by the next duly elected Grand Master? Does he seriously think that his actions will be upheld? Does he think for a moment that HE himself, may be subject to summary dismissal from our ranks, the ignominy he has visited upon MS Haas? If not, WHY has he NOT considered it? I am not here to pass judgment on anyone, but the questions have to be asked.
I have not weighed in on this looming crisis in West Virginia for several reasons. The first and foremost reason is: Lack of information. One side of an issue is hardly a justification to set aside an obligation to charity, brotherly love, and to not injure a brother. HOWEVER, over time, I have done my research, talked to West Virginia Masons, and find myself more and more appalled at the state of Freemasonry IN WEST VIRGINIA. The good news here is that its just one Grand Lodge. Out of 101 Regular Grand Lodges in the United States... and if you include the other grand lodges that have similar, though not as egregious, problems, you have about 15 out of 101 lodges, or just over 14%.
Bro. Chris at Freemasons for Dummies noted that situation in his recent blog: West Virginia: The Continuing Crisis
It is difficult to divine the truth from WV Masons at this point, as many feel threatened over any internet communication whatsoever. But it is clear that the standoff between the GM and supporters of Frank Haas has not cooled. In the end, that's bad for Freemasonry in West Virginia. The old school belief that what happens behind a GM's closed office doors stays there is no longer true, and the Internet can send details of such situations around the world in seconds. Likewise, when WV Masons compare their laws to the jurisdictions across the country and seek to make changes, ignoring or threatening them won't work forever.
A vow to the Masons of West Virginia to reintroduce the rule changes of MWBro. Haas individually so proper votes can be taken in October would go a long way to start re-building bridges. Such action would take bravery and the abandonment of some ego for the greater good. Such are the qualities of strong leadership. The Masonic world continues to watch.
If your Grand Master is indeed telling your lodges what they can and cannot discuss, and forbidding Masters to disclose his communications, then Masonic tyranny and terrorism has truly arrived (in West Virginia).It is my opinion that it is highly unlikely that any other grand lodge will take any kind of official action against the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, and how could we? Any action we take against the Grand Lodge would injure the brethren of that state still more. And yet, Masonic Ritual tells me that there is hope.
To my brothers worldwide: I encourage you to contact your grand lodge, express your brotherly concern, and ask them to take some kind of action in the face of these actions by Grand Master Montgomery, even if its just a letter.
To the brethren of West Virginia: We stand behind you and support you.
May the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us.