Of late, on the internet, there has been much discussion regarding the operation of various Grand Lodges. Arguments have been put forth, accusations and demands have been made for aid and assistance. This article is designed to address some of those issues.
Arguments have been put forth by members of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, Grand Lodge of Florida, Grand Lodge of West Virginia, the Grand Lodge of Alabama, the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, and the Grand Lodge of Ohio, that the Grand Masters in those jurisdictions are “out of control”, “corrupt”, “racist” and in short, not acting in the best interests of freemasonry.
To be clear at the start, it is not the intent of this author to take a stand one way or the other on the rightness, or wrongness, or the actions of those Grand Lodges or Grand Masters, nor to cast aspersions upon any of my brothers living under those jurisdictions. The author will endeavor, at all times, to keep within Masonic bounds, and offers apologies in advance for any offense his words might create.
There is a situation in many southern lodges that men of color are not welcome, or accepted as brothers. This primarily seems to be black men, though it is my understanding it extends to men of the Jewish faith, as well as any man not of the Christian faith as well.
This is seen, by many, as being in opposition to one of the primary tenets of freemasonry, to wit: Brotherly Love, whereby we are all taught to regard the whole human race as one family, the high and the low, the rich and the poor, who, as created by one almighty parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, protect and assist each other. Separation by race or religion does not seem to be found anywhere in Masonic teachings, or in the landmarks, such as they are.
This is mentioned, not to bring up the race issue, as if it ever goes away, and certainly not to enter into a discussion of the merits, and pitfalls, of the extension of recognition by Regular Masonry to lodges charted by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodges of America. The problem is, it seems that the Grand Lodges, in the jurisdictions that do not allow men of color or of the non-Christian faith to join, are pushing back pretty hard against the younger men who have joined the lodges without being trained as racists.
This “push back” takes a number of forms. As examples of this we offer:
- Most Worshipful Frank J. Hass, PGM West Virginia 2008. As of this writing, he is not a Mason. He was summarily ejected from the fraternity by his successor, Most Worshipful Charlie Montgomery, after MW Haas questioned the reversal of a vote at the 2008 Grand Communication by MW Montgomery (this apparently in violation of the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia).
- Wr. Tim Bryce, PM, Grand Lodge of Florida. Wr. Tim is a very active Mason. As of 2005 had a number of Masonic sites dedicated to Masonic Education, and an almost weekly series of articles offered for the benefit of Masonry. In early 2005, the Grand Master of Florida sent Wr. Tim a letter, telling him to shut down all his websites. He was also told to have no more to do with these types of sites without permission of the Grand Master, or he would face charges for disobeying the edicts of the Grand Master.
- Jeff Peace, formerly of Sandy Springs Lodge, was summarily expelled from Freemasonry in 2003 without the benefit of a trial. No matter the cause, every mason is at the very least entitled to a trial, with a jury of his peers, to face his accuser, and to present facts in support of his innocence.
In the past, this author has, on many forums including this one, advocated just that course of action. Over time, however, careful consideration and contemplation has revealed that my grand lodge is correct in not taking this course of action, no matter how reprehensible and unmasonic racism is and what a blemish its very existence is in any lodge: here and here.
It has been argued that the brethren of the various grand lodge named above, and others, simply cannot effect change. A brother recently posted on the Burning Taper:
Now, fully aware that the threat could not be wished away or allayed by the intervention of the other animals on the farm, the mouse collected as many twigs as he could carry and stored them inside of the house. Every night, when the farmer and his wife retired, the mouse, taking responsibility for a problem that only he could change, used the twigs to trip the mousetrap.Amazing insight. Moreover, as is often the case, these very same brethren, screaming for brothers outside their grand lodge to save them from the “corrupt” and “mean” old grand lodge, are the ones that scream that the grand lodge is “interfering” in the sovereignty of their lodge. They do not see that they are ASKING other grand lodges to twist the arm of their grand lodge, in a manner they would never tolerate by their own grand lodge toward their lodge.
So, take responsibility for the dangers in your home, for more often than not, only you have the ability to alleviate them.
What is unacceptable on the local can NEVER be acceptable on the global, and of course the converse applies. This is a fundamental test of ethics. Its time for the brothers to stand up and be counted, because realistically, there really isn’t much Masons from other jurisdictions CAN do.
We could write letters to our grand lodges, and to the affected Grand Lodges, but if the Grand Lodge of West Virginia would expel a past grand master for objecting, what attention will they pay to a non member mason?
We wish you well in your endeavor to fix your grand lodge, and support you morally. For myself, I will be writing a letter to my grand lodge about the actions in West Virginia, and a letter to the Grand Master and Grand Secretary of West Virginia. I can do that legally in California, because its personal and not official lodge or Grand Lodge business.
Before you write, be sure of the rules in your jurisdiction… and remember the example of these grand lodges. Be vigilant of your grand lodge, participate. It is, after all YOUR Grand Lodge.
May the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us!
In Case you want to write to the Grand Master of West Virginia:
Most Worship Charlie L. Montgomery
C/O Grand Lodge of West Virginia, AF&AM
107 Hale Street
P. O. Box 2346
Charleston, WV 25328-2346