True Secrets of Freemasonry

Those who become Freemasons only for the sake of finding out the secret of the order, run a very great risk of growing old under the trowel without ever realizing their purpose. Yet there is a secret, but it is so inviolable that it has never been confided or whispered to anyone. Those who stop at the outward crust of things imagine that the secret consists in words, in signs, or that the main point of it is to be found only in reaching the highest degree. This is a mistaken view: the man who guesses the secret of Freemasonry, and to know it you must guess it, reaches that point only through long attendance in the lodges, through deep thinking, comparison, and deduction.

He would not trust that secret to his best friend in Freemasonry, because he is aware that if his friend has not found it out, he could not make any use of it after it had been whispered in his ear. No, he keeps his peace, and the secret remains a secret.

Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, Memoirs, Volume 2a, Paris, p. 33

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The "Race" Issue in Freemasonry

On Saturday, October 13, 2007, I published: What's Wrong with this Picture??, noting that there are still 12 Grand Lodges that do not recognize Prince Hall Masonry as regular Masonry. Many of these also do not allow the visitation of black men, even from jurisdictions they do hold as regular, and who certainly do not allow men of color to join their lodges.

I also noted in this article that the rest of Freemasonry, the part that keeps it obligation to ALL men, the ones the are mindful of the lessons taught to us by the Worshipful Master, when he says, in speaking of Brotherly Love in the first degree:
By the exercise of brotherly love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family, the high and low, the rich and the poor, who, as created by one almighty parent and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support and protect each other. On this principle, Masonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion, and causes true friendship to exist among those who might otherwise remain at a perpetual distance.(1)
should turn its back on our brothers who have not evolved their spirit to the point where they can regard ALL men as brothers, regardless of creed, color, or national origin.

Since that time, I have been of two minds in this regard. On the one hand, it is contrary to Masonic teachings to treat a segment of the human race (since there is no such thing as the “black race” or the “red race” or the “yellow race” or any other “race” but the human race) as less than worthy or less deserving. As such, that treatment is anathema to all good Masons, and because it is anathema, regular Masons should turn their backs on these men.

By turning our backs, I mean withdraw our recognition of them. This is precisely what we would do with any regular lodge that self forms, allows women or atheists as members or does not work with an open Volume of Sacred Law on the Altar. I have argued and held that this would force those grand lodges and brethren to step up.

Strangely enough, it was Br. Arthur Peterson, whose antics against all he considers to be non regular masons caused so many problems with some forums, that caused me to start reflecting on this. And thence the being of two minds. You see, on the other hand, there are several issues that arise from my suggestion.

The first is that most grand lodges will not do this. They see the recognition issue as an internal issue, not one to be forced on them… and I think perhaps they may be right. What I learned from Br. Peterson is that the issue may NOT be about “Black Vs. White” Grand Lodges, but may be about Grand Lodge Sovereignty. You see, it has been a tradition for, well, almost 300 years, though one not always observed unless convenient, for there to be one Grand Lodge per territory, called Territorial Exclusivity.

Most of us realize that the policy of Territorial Exclusivity arose primarily out of the desire by the White Lodges to prevent the growth of Black Lodges, Prince Hall Lodges, and to ignore them, perhaps in the silly hope they would just… go away. Hasn’t happened, won’t happen, so it’s a policy well past its prime.

That written, it is a policy, and is a concern. The larger concern, however, is that in extending recognition to Prince Hall Lodges, the mainstream grand lodges would actually be PERPETUATING racism and not curing it… strange, isn’t it, how doing what seems to be the right thing can actually be wrong? His argument is based on the reason we have Brown Vs. the Board of Education.
The 1954 United States Supreme Court decision in Oliver L. Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka (KS) is among the most significant judicial turning points in the development of our country. Originally led by Charles H. Houston, and later Thurgood Marshall and a formidable legal team, it dismantled the legal basis for racial segregation in schools and other public facilities.

By declaring that the discriminatory nature of racial segregation ... "violates the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees all citizens equal protection of the laws," Brown v. Board of Education laid the foundation for shaping future national and international policies regarding human rights.(2)
Separate but equal… isn’t. So by helping keep two separate grand lodges in a single jurisdiction, in violation of the policy of Territorial Exclusivity(3).

Is he right? Strike one.

Then there is the whole issue of racism. We certainly suspect that it is racism on the part of a few of the Southern Grand Lodges, they have SAID so. We have recently seen PGM Haas of West Virginia, who ran a slate of legislation that was approved, and included passage of recognition of Prince Hall Grand Lodge in West Virginia, kicked out of Freemasonry by the new Grand Master.

So, there IS racism in many of those lodges, its reflected in their leadership, and the fact that the brethren in those jurisdictions do NOTHING to change the status quo, like quitting their GL and joining one in an adjoining state, or asking the Grand Lodge in an adjoining state to issue them a charter in the stead of their racist grand lodge, or standing up against the racist policies. Some members of these jurisdictions have even gone so far as to ASK, well, demand really, that brothers from OTHER jurisdictions “help” them by making their grand lodges withdraw recognition.(4)

The problem with racists is you can’t FORCE them to change. You can only show them how silly and small minded they are… and that doesn’t even always work. The fact is, withdrawing recognition from them would likely have the opposite effect. It would cause them to retrench, to defend, to fight against the “unwarranted” intrusion into their sovereign affairs. In effect, have exactly the OPPOSITE effect we wanted.

On top of that, the Grand Lodges would then be forced, by their own action and the lack of action by the racist grand lodge, to start chartering lodges into those, then empty, jurisdictions, and when each of THOSE formed a new grand lodge, decide which of the many that would surely form would be extended recognition. In a word, the situation would be made worse rather than better… Strike two.

Then there is the issue of the brethren in the lodges. Not all of them are racists. They may not act because of fear, of feeling isolated, of not knowing what to do, of any one of a hundred reasons. The action of withdrawing recognition from them would injure them rather than help them, and part of our obligation is not to injure a brother in his person or good name. In taking this action, we would, in a very real sense, be labeling all of them as racists… and clearly not all of them are racists.

In this same vein, we must realize that in some jurisdictions, the brethren cannot affect their grand lodge. They cannot nominate new Grand Masters, they cannot propose legislation, in fact, as we have seen in West Virginia, anyone that rises to call the new grand master on his actions since Grand Master Haas’ Grand Communication, have been summarily ejected from the craft. No trial, just a letter informing them they are no longer Masons.

Keeping all of this in mind, we have strike three.

So here I sit, of two minds. Should we all impose our will, our standards, upon 12 Grand Lodges because it is the “right” thing to do, because we all of us oppose racism in all its forms? Or should we sit idly by doing nothing, as racism and its insidious hatred and ignorance continue in the name of Freemasonry? Because I can assure you, what they are doing does not represent MY Freemasonry!

Torn between two courses, both of which are right and both of which are wrong, and each diametrically opposed to the other. Does any other brother have anything to say for the benefit of Freemasonry?
May the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us.


1. Grand Lodge of California, F&AM, First Degree Lecture, Brotherly Love


Tom Accuosti said...

I wrote about this myself a while back, mostly out of disgust with the idea that we should "force" our brothers to do something they're obviously unready to do themselves.

And really - what's the point? If the F&AM GLs in all 12 states voted tomorrow to recognize the PH GLs, what would happen? Would PH and F&AM brothers suddenly rush to each other's lodges to mingle? I doubt it.

Instead of carping and complaining about the lack of recognition, maybe our southern brothers who are concerned should get on the phone and try to meet and get to know their PH brothers by having joint projects together. Sitting in lodge together once a year does not build camaraderie, but a joint blood drive or child ID program or weekend with Habitat for Humanity, or even a joint picnic and horseshoe match would do more to foster good feelings than a dozen chicken dinners where the purple mucky-mucks stand up to congratulate each other.

And speaking as a mucky-muck, I prefer working together on a project to speaking at a dinner or lodge meeting.

It's only by changing the culture that joint recognition will have any real effect on the population. Come on, brothers - stop asking your Grand Lodges to change, when you're not willing to change at your own Blue Lodge level.

Tubal Cain said...

Brother like to refer to our obligations when speaking about what makes masons different than other men or groups.

Before we take these solemn oaths and obligations, we are assured that they would not interfere with our duties to our God, Country or ourselves.

Excluding men on race or creed is a violation to our duties to God and our Country. I cannot speak for other countries, but here in America, we have Laws discussing seperation by race and creed. If America and Freemasons are to be the Leaders of society, the Pillars of Right, then we need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

I believe the younger generations have less tolerance towards older racists views that have rolled over from the 50's into 21st century Freemasonry.

RWB Accuosti hit the nail on the head, socialise with your Prince Hall Brethren. That is what I did and a beautiful relationship between our Lodge and a young Prince Hall Lodge developed. Some of our younger brothers felt more brotherhood from the Prince Halls than within their own district.

There seemed to be a more professional approach to being a mason than experienced within the Regular Lodges. Kudos to the Prince Halls for keeping the Spirit alive.

Tom Accuosti said...

RWB Accuosti hit the nail on the head, socialise with your Prince Hall Brethren. That is what I did and a beautiful relationship between our Lodge and a young Prince Hall Lodge developed. Some of our younger brothers felt more brotherhood from the Prince Halls than within their own district.

2BC, I'm sure that everybody must get tired of hearing me talk about how different things are in Connecticut, but I don't know what else to say. We've had joint recognition for almost 20 years, but it didn't happen overnight. It took a lot of work and diplomacy to get there. I'm proud to say that some of the members of Friendship Lodge were instrumental in making it happen, but we can't rest on our laurels.

I can think of a couple of the lodges around here that have regular projects with the PH lodges. We recently had a joint Child ID day at one of the local schools, and we have joint table lodges, dinners, etc., whenever we can all schedule them.

We also have a few PH brothers that pop into the local lodges to watch or help with degree work, but it's not every month. Still, it was nice to work with one of my PH counterparts last year on a FC degree at another lodge which needed some help.

That said, PH lodges have their own issues not unlike the ones facing F&AM lodges: declining membership, retention, ritual work, building maintenance all affect our PH lodges, perhaps even more than our own because they are already starting with a membership of 10% of ours. PH lodges are typically found in the cities, but with potential members (i.e., black men) moving to the 'burbs, it makes some members less active, or more likely to join the F&AM lodges.

It's my understanding that it's much more difficult to join a PH lodge, but I don't know if that makes them more "professional" about their Masonry - just different.

But the important thing in my opinion is that brothers who want change in their GL have to prove it to the mucky-mucks by their actions. You don't need to sit in lodge together to build relationships - you just need to get together, and to lead "by precept and example".

tao1776 said...

I am sure that all of you have seen and experienced this more than I. As a middle class, small town, white boy from the liberal state of Massachusetts, I have never thought about a person's race or religion or where they were born. These thoughts just never entered my mind.
Then, I began my employment with a NC company and I quickly learned that their thoughts did include these thoughts and more. They Hate Yankees, anyone from SC or VA, and were happy with blacks and foreigners as long as they "kept their place."
The section of the map that you show....many ARE still fighting the Civil War.

Anonymous said...

I cannot see anyone wanting to allow this resolution to remain unchallenged.

Every Grand Lodge should issue a resolution condemning the resolution below. That is the least you can do.

From the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Alabama 1876
Page 23 &24

“As to Negro Masons”

“Whereas, the question of the recognition of Negro Masons has been made more than usually prominent during the last year; and whereas this Grand Lodge has a well-settled opinion upon this subject, which she desires most respectfully and fraternally to express to her sister Grand Lodges everywhere, and especially to those of the United States; she deems the present a fit opportunity to set forth the reasons which impel her to that opinion.

1. It is indisputable that whatever theory we adopt as to the origin of Masonry- whether that which carries it back to the original Father of mankind, and his immediate descendents;, or to Enoch and Noah; or to the building of King Solomon’s Temple; or arising from the constitutions of Pythagoras; or if we trace it back to the Eleusinain Mysteries; or to those of Ceres, and the institution of the Bacchanalia; or, what is most probable of all, the incorporation of the Roman builders under Numa Pompilius that theory carries us back to the Caucasian Race.

2. Masonry was originally, what it is mainly today, a social institution; intended for those who daily mingled in the ordinary walks of life, in business, in pleasure, and in the family circle; into which it is not credible that anyone of the Negro or any other of the inferior races, could have been admitted.

3. That Negroes have of late years been admitted into Lodges of Free Masons is due, it is believed, to the sympathy which has been excited for them by anti-slavery societies generally, and particularly by those of the United States; and that any were admitted during the revolutionary war by traveling Lodges belonging to the British Army, was due to the feeling which existed at that time against American patriots; a proceeding entirely at variance with the object of the formation of such Lodges, they having no right to confer the degrees upon any citizen or resident of the county in which they might be sojourning, but only upon members of the army to which such Lodges belonged.
4. Although it is usually said that Masonry is universal, and that in every clime Masons are to be found; yet it is only universal in so far as the Caucasian Race has carried it into every quarter of the globe; and if that race has sometimes admitted Negroes, and others of the inferior races, it has done so in violation of the original and fundamental laws of the Fraternity.
5. In view, therefore, of these facts, indisputable as they are conceived to be, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Alabama seizes the present as a fit and proper occasion, to declare its purpose, under no circumstances whatever acknowledge the legality of Negro-masons, such acknowledgement being foreign to the original purpose of the Fraternity, and introducing an element of demoralization into the society.”

"Whereupon the Senior Grand Warden, Brother Henry C. Tompkins, offered the following resolution:
Resolved, That this resolution of the R.W. Grand Secretary, relative to Negro Masonry, be referred to a committee of three, to consist of the R.W. Grand Secretary, and Brothers William T. Wasball, and Henry A. Woods, with instruction to report as soon as practicable, and the resolution was adopted.
Brother Joseph H. Johnson, Chairmen of the Committee on the Grand Master's address,made the following report, and the report was received and concurred in, and the resolution adopted:-"

Anonymous said...

Any Grand Lodge that remains silent gives new meaning to hypocrisy

1999 Speech about Prince Hall Recognition

In 1999 Brother Alex Harris addressed the Grand Lodge of Alabama with these noble words:

"Most Worshipful Grand Master, Right Worshipful Grand Wardens, Brethren,

I have spent a lot of time thinking about what to say to you today. There are so many issues that could be addressed regarding recognition of Prince Hall Masonry. Eventually though, the argument always comes back to race. So I decided to acknowledge that fact and to stop trying so hard to avoid it. Some may be offended by the observations I am about to make. Some because they have watched quietly as their beloved Masonry has been used as a front for something they would never be a part of. Others because they will realize I am describing them and they have spent their lives convincing themselves they do not hold those views. And still others, who do not hide the fact they are racist, will be very upset because these statements will threaten the existence of our lodges as "whites only."
Many Masons have told me they could not support this resolution because their lodge will not support it. Others believe in recognition but are honest enough to admit they do not have the courage to stand up in lodge and say so. And still others believe in recognition but they will not support it because they feel Alabama is not ready for it.
Since when are we concerned about whether the population is "ready" to give up something that is blatantly wrong? Is not part of being a Mason having the courage to stand up for what is just and right, regardless of the consequences? Didn't we learn that from the Masonic founding fathers of our country? Of course, Alabama has been desegregated for over thirty years. We're ready. Brethren, this is 1999. The country has been integrated for a generation. The world has been integrated a lot longer than that.
Masons in the rest of the world, and the United States for that matter, can't fathom our refusal to accept Prince Hall Masons. The issue is gaining momentum. So far recognition has been granted, or is being negotiated, in thirty US Jurisdictions, seven Canadian jurisdictions and nine other foreign jurisdictions. The United Grand Lodge of England has recognized Prince Hall Masonry in eighteen jurisdictions. This means that every possible argument against recognition has already been debated and refuted in other jurisdictions and there is not a legitimate Masonic reason to deny recognition to Prince Hall Masonry.
My fear is that one day other jurisdictions will withdraw recognition from Alabama because they believe us to be clandestine since we refuse to recognize the brotherhood of all men. If you think it can't happen, talk to Masons in other jurisdictions. They are discussing it. Will their Grand Lodges take action? I do not know. If they do not address our lack of action then someone, somewhere, will do the same thing we have done here today. They will feel their Grand Lodge is ignoring a vital issue and propose a resolution themselves.
Too many Masons don't want to sit in lodge with blacks. Fine points of Masonry have been perverted to defend racism that would not be tolerated in the rest of society. You do not want to know the statements I have heard since this resolution was proposed. I am going to tell you some of them anyway because they should be heard.
You need to know what Masonry is harboring today. A Past Master told me there are lodges I should not visit because I might not make it out of there. Another Past Master stated that "My grand-children may have to go to school with them but I sure won't sit in lodge with them." He also stated that, if this resolution passes, he and all his sons would be forced to leave Masonry and that we would lose at least half our members. I have been asked "what is going on at your lodge with all this 'nigger' talk." I have been asked if I wanted to sit in lodges with "blue-gums." I have never heard that racial slur before, so I guess this has been an educational process too.I want to respond to a few of the statements you just heard. First and foremost... if, because I favor recognition, I would be in physical danger... then Masonry does not exist here anymore. Second... anyone who would leave Masonry, because Prince Hall Masonry is granted recognition, is a Mason in title only. Its lessons are obviously not in their hearts. We may lose a large number of members if the resolution passes. So mote it be. Let them trade their aprons for white sheets with hoods. We are better off without them.
There are those who are livid with me right now. They are thinking, "How dare he say that!" or "Saying things like that is a Masonic offense!" or "He should remember his obligation!" My response is this... If speaking the truth, no matter how unpopular, is a Masonic offense, I am guilty and you should expel me because I am going to continue speaking these truths until we do the right thing.
My dear brethren... We are men, but more than that we are Masons, but more than that we are the creation of the Great Architect Of The Universe. Let us not sully his creation by letting it be associated with evil actions or beliefs. Have the courage to STAND UP and say you will do what is right.
STAND UP and say you will no longer allow the order to be used to perpetuate racism. STAND UP and announce that we believe in the brotherhood of ALL men. But most importantly, remember the trowel you were presented with at your raising... remember what it teaches us... and then stand up and vote that Prince Hall Masonry is now, and always has been, a legitimate branch of Masonry that the Grand Lodge of Alabama should grant full fraternal recognition to."

Thank you.
Alex Harris

Anonymous said...

How can any Grand Lodge Officer sleep at night knowing they have failed to defend toleration?
How can any Mason of a jurisdiction that recognize Black men-Masons as their equals explain remaining silent.
Each and every Grand Lodge and their lodge members should be staying awake at night drafting resolutions to condemn these resolutions and the racist mentailty that still exists in 12 jurisdictions. Its wrong and you know it.

“Masonry in Alabama”
By Joseph Abram Jackson
(Grand Historian)
“ADMITTING NEGROES TO MASONRY. The question of admitting Negroes to the fraternity has been brought up every few years, but doubtful had it ever been handled more firmly than in 1876. According to the Grand Lodge’s Proceedings, a resolution in 1876 set forth the Alabama Grand Lodge’s position on the subject. A few Grand Lodge jurisdictions had been reported to have admitted Negroes into membership in sympathy with anti-slavery societies and also a few had been admitting the Revolutionary War by traveling Lodges belonging to the British Army due to feelings which existed at the time against American Patriots. Although the number was obviously small, the Grand Lodge of Alabama was greatly stirred and very vocal on the matter. The lengthy resolution in 1876 carries the segregation origin issue on which seems to be based the Masonry stand all the way back to “the original Father of Mankind, and his immediate descendents; or to Enoch and Noah; or to building of King Solomon’s Temple; or arising from the constitutions of Pythagoras; or- back to the Eleusinian Mysteries; or to those of Ceres, and the institution of the Bacchanalia; or what is most probable of all, the incorporation of the Roman Builders under Numa Pompilius—that theory carries us back to the Caucasian Race.” To most Masons, whatever all this means was surely for them to keep in line with the original and fundamental law of the Fraternity. It was therefore again resolved to not admit nor recognize Negroes as Masons. The issue has remained the same for 150 years among Alabama Masons.”

Unknown said...

Of the 150,000 PH Masons, the majority are not recognized by a single one of the 51 US MS GL's. Most Canadian GL's have considered them regular for 16 years. All Australian GL's have considered them regular for 7 years. The UGLE has considered them "of exemplary regularity" for 13 years. But the US MS GL's have sometimes recognized just a tiny fraction, and then "forgotten the issue". Not our "problem".

Well, how about "the good guys" simply recognizing *all* PHA GL's and be done with it.

Theron Dunn said...

My brother TMSR;

I understand what you mean, but you are incorrect. 38 "Mainstream" grand lodges recognize Prince Hall as regular, and a number of them consider all regular PH grand lodges as regular in all respect.

The Grand Lodge of California, rather than deal with this piecemeal, chose to recognize ALL grand lodges recognized by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of California, Inc. as regular and to extend full amity to all of them unilaterally.

It is VERY difficult, unless you do it the way California did it, to recognize all PH Grand Lodges. As you know, clandestine groups are, if possible, even more rampant in the PH lodges... or so I understand looking at:

Anonymous said...

"The Grand Lodge of California, rather than deal with this piecemeal, chose to recognize ALL grand lodges recognized by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of California, Inc. as regular and to extend full amity to all of them unilaterally."

This is not so, Bro. Look at our Proceedings to see which ones we do recognize. Across the board recognition had not been obtained.


Unknown said...

Theron wrote: "I understand what you mean, but you are incorrect. 38 "Mainstream" grand lodges recognize Prince Hall as regular, and a number of them consider all regular PH grand lodges as regular in all respect.

The Grand Lodge of California, rather than deal with this piecemeal, chose to recognize ALL grand lodges recognized by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of California, Inc. as regular and to extend full amity to all of them unilaterally.

It is VERY difficult, unless you do it the way California did it, to recognize all PH Grand Lodges."

I am afraid that every one of your facts is incorrect.

40 (not 38) US MS GLs recognize at least 1 (!) PHA GL.

11 (not 12) do not. They are AL AR GA FL KY LA MS NC SC TN WV. (op. cit.)

Numerous US MS GLs have had "blanket PHA recognition" for several years. Does CA? Please present your evidence, so that Paul Bessel can update this:

Not a single one of the US MS GLs with blanket PHA recognition recognizes *all* PHA GLs. None recognize the 11 that I listed above. Those 11 account for the majority of PH members!

Once you understand the above, you will appreciate why it might be a good idea to recognize all 47 PHA GL's oneself before faulting anyone else for not recognizing one.

As for the "bogus" GLs, this is a complete non-issue. The 47 PHA GLs are perfectly well-defined.

They are the 42 US-based ones, plus AB ON BS CB LR. The constitute the Prince Hall Affiliated Conference of Grand Masters.

Kyle Myers said...

While I am still quite the idealist on this & other issues, I'm nonetheless pleased to see you develop a more rational perspective on this particular issue. As I've expressed previously, one person - either within or outside a Jurisdiction - lacks the authority to change Grand Lodge rules, regulations, etc.
To be sure, I couldn't care less about Territorial Exclusivity - I do not believe it is any kind of "law" - I've heard it referred to as a "principle" or something of the sort. IMO, it has been - at most - simply a ridiculous policy. Traditionally, in Europe, Grand Lodges have shared territory & still interacted in relative Peace & Harmony. We can do the same!
I believe there should be nothing to inhibit any of your Grand Lodges from recognizing any other Grand Lodge - Wheresoever Dispersed - if your Grand Lodges believe it should be so.
Truly, I understand why you have not. As a Louisiana "MS" Mason who has always enjoyed friendships with individual PHA Masons, I work slowly & quietly within the parameters passed down to me by My Brothers Before Me to bring about the change we crave - while remaining obedient to the Law That Makes Me A Mason.
I realize that you are doing the same - in your own place & in your own way. So Mote It Be!
Kyle W. Myers, P.M., Rudolph Krause Lodge No. 433 (Louisiana);
Member, San Gabriel Lodge No. 89 (Texas)

Anonymous said...

It seems very strange to me that the so-called MS Masons are much more concerned about the divisive words of clandestine, irregular, unrecognized etc, etc. Than they are about bigotry, hate and racism.

Until MS Masonry can deal with its own problems it needs to turn their finger pointing towards themselves.

Kyle Myers said...

I honestly have trouble knowing where the line should be drawn. How do we know which Masons were made so Lawfully? Do you know? Do you believe it doesn't matter? If it doesn't matter, should we simply visit any Lodge anywhere? Perhaps hold Masonic Communication with anyone who claims to be a Mason? Feminine Lodges? OTO Lodges? Grand Orient & Atheist Lodges? Anyone with a Charter from their Secretary of State? How do we signify which ones are legitimate under our Rules & Regulations? Do we need Rules & Regulations? Should we also discard any Landmarks that we understand? And, of course, the Landmarks we don't understand...
Call it what you want - Regularity, Recognition, or you may use any other terminology - but it still stands as a similar solution to an old problem.
If my Grand Lodge permits me to visit a particular Lodge, I will do so eagerly, without inhibition - otherwise, I can only share fellowship with certain Brethren under less Formal circumstances. Please explain which parts of My Obligation should I obey & which parts should I discard? If I discard parts of My Obligation, will it make me a better Man & Mason? If I obey my Grand Lodge, will it make me a worse Man & Mason? A deep-thinking & sensitive Mason, I struggle with these - and other - questions. While I would enjoy holding Masonic Communication with the entire Masonic world, I am learning to Subdue My Passions & therefore I consider these matters carefully, with due caution, so as to Keep My Passions in Due Bounds With All Mankind.

Unknown said...

New Freemasons are given assurances that nothing in their obligations will conflict with their civil, moral, or religious duties. Therefore, anything that violates that assurance is null and void

Landmarks? Any so-called "landmark" that requires you to be a racist bigoted hateful person is obviously a perversion of Freemasonry. For example, a GM in Idaho made an edict that made it a landmark that a candidate must be a White man. (see Out of the Shadows, p.130).

You are under no obligation to do anything immoral or unlawful. On the contrary. Any decent human being must refuse to obey an immoral or illegal order, and even your country's military code *requires* this.

The history of US (and Canadian) Freemasonry is full of explicit racist rules and edicts. "Out of the Shadows", pp.114-137 documents 84 examples of explicit written "masonic" racist policies in the US and Canada, 1818-1990.

To imply that one owes it to God to be a racist because one swore an obligation on the Bible invoking God's name is a perversion of human decency.

Rmoahals said...

Violation of ones duty to God, Country or Self is subjective. No other human can really tell ME the parameters of what I find to be in violation of my duty to MY GOD, MY COUNTRY or MYSELF!

Any man of integrity could not stand for racism or religious intolernce. As some seem to state, those same GL's that do not recognize PHA GL's, also seem to have a religious intolerance towards non baptists or non christians.

I just do not get if we are to be the "Leaders" of society, how we tolerate racism and other immoral activities(jesters) in the name of FREEMASONRY?

Theron Dunn said...

Alcyone's BB: I do not know where you see that anyone is advocating sustaining or supporting racism.

Anonymous: Nothing in this article has anything to to with clandestine or irregular masonry. Its totally about MY struggle to come to grips with what I should be doing in regards to brothers in other jurisdictions and what appears as racism, and what I should not be doing. Mainstream Masonry is trying to deal with this, hence my article on this issue.

As for clandestine and irregular masons, that's an entirely different issue and I have tried to address it several times on this forum.

By the way, no one is advocating racism here, and I think we have all noted that racism = evil and intolerable. I think what we are struggling with here is HOW best to deal with this issue. You can't always call in the 101st and an airstrike.

I have never seen anyone try to change the landmarks. Can you email me with details on what you noted below, TMSR?

Kyle Myers said...

Thanks for that, Bro. Dunn, I thought that perhaps I misunderstood something. I must also caution my Brothers that certain words used by writers & speakers can be so devoid of meaning as to constitute a form of propaganda (e.g. seem). Allow me to point out that I know many fine, respected Masons in both Louisiana & the central portion of Texas who are Jewish, Mormon, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, and, yes, Deist & Pagan. In fact, the current W.M. of an old Republic of Texas Lodge here in central Texas is an excellent Jewish man, whose wife is Methodist. Religious intolerance, indeed!
Does anyone remember the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston about 15 years ago? It wrongfully condemned Freemasonry based upon a phony report written by one of its committees. That committee had commissioned a real report from an impartial researcher (i.e. non-Mason), an historian who worked for the SBC - but they did not like his favorable report. After they re-wrote his report & submitted it to the full assembly, he demanded his name be removed from it, he resigned his position, and then petitioned a Lodge for membership. Southern Baptists were ordered not to become Masons, or, if they already were Masons, to leave their Lodges. Some excellent Southern Baptist Masons abandoned their Lodges, others kept their Lodge memberships secret, and too few left the church.
I personally know some fine men who are active in Apostolic, Jehovah's Witness, and other churches that will not allow their members to become Masons. Who's intolerant?
I don't know what territory ABB travels, but in Texas & Louisiana religious affiliation "seems" to have no effect on either eligibility or Clarity in the Ballot. While I do not personally know any Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jain, or Taoist Masons, I suspect there are at least a few & I have no doubt that Petitions would be graciously accepted from any such religious believers - and the same would be fairly considered without regard for the Petitioners' particular religious beliefs.

Unknown said...

Here is the text of that Idaho GM that can be found on p.130 of "Out of the Shadows":

"Idaho 1916 Proceedings, page 16, Grand Master's Decision:  "Our Ancient Landmarks and Regulations do not necessarily mean that the candidate must be [a] naturalized citizen, for Masonry is universal while our citizenship is not universal. However, he must be 'A man free born and of mature age,' and in Idaho he must be a white man.""

Now, about the statement that Theron made about the GLCA recognizing all (of the 47) PHA GLs -- may I request that he contact his GL office and confirm that? We all want to make sure that our statements are factual, right?

Tom Accuosti said...

TSMR - Two years ago, Conn voted to immediately recognize any PH GL that was recognized by the (A)F&AM GL in that same state. I believe that this is what California has done.

Note that it is not the same as recognizing all PH GLs. However, it does serve to remove the several steps in the usual process, making recognition in Conn a faster track.

BTW, nice to see you out in the blog world, bro.

Unknown said...

Tom, the GLCT's blanket PH recognition is well known and documented. Just google pha blanket. No mention of the GLCA. I do know that in 2002 a similar resolution (02-10) was declared out of order by the GM.

Theron's statement ...

"The Grand Lodge of California ... chose to recognize ALL grand lodges recognized by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of California, Inc. as regular and to extend full amity to all of them unilaterally."

... if factual, would make the GLCA the most progressive US MS GL by far. It would also be in the 2007 Pantagraph List of Lodges Masonic, which I'm sure you have access to.

Such a policy seems inevitable, and the GLCA may well be the first (in the US) to adopt it, I just don't think it has happened yet.

Theron Dunn said...

I spoke with a Grand Lodge representative Tuesday, to clarify the position of the Grand Lodge of California. Apparently there has been no unilateral extension of recognition to Prince Hall Grand Lodges as such.

I am looking now for references in the California Masonic Code on Prince Hall Recognition and for a list of the PHA GL's we are in amity with. This will be the subject of a future blog as I get clarification.

Anonymous said...

You have Texas as recognizing PHA as regular Masons. However, this is not entirely true. Last year, GLoTX and PHA GL signed a document that, to sum it up, says that PHA has existed since a particular time, but still considers them clandestine, and disallows its members from Masonic communication or visitation. Its pretty much a step up above being seen as racist, but not far enough to consider them our fellow brothers.


A Texas Master Mason

Unknown said...

I would be interested in seeing the text of that TX document. Recognition without visitation is a huge step forward from no recognition, and it is a reasonable first step for the Deep South. It's a smaller step from this to saying "visitation by invitation", or some such.

One huge benefit of recognition without visitation is that if gives the PH GL "permission" to establish its own fraternal relations with other MS GL's, such as the UGLE.

If you look at the UGLE or the CGMNA recognition standards it is clear that what is important in North America especially, is to agree to co-exist peacefully in the same territory.

This could have (and should have) been done even during the "separate-but-equal" Jim Crow laws, and Free-Masonry could then have been a force for humanity.

100+ years later, it's still better than nothing, and would be a good step for the remaining 10 to take.

(I exclude NC form the 11, since NC is already far ahead of the rest, even though this may not be clear to those who look only superficially. It's fully expected that in 6 months there will be full recognition in NC. The leaders of the GLNC have been exemplary in doing what's right, for over a decade.)

The GLTX, BTW, has (quietly) regarded the PHGLTX regular for some time now, another thing that may not be obvious.

Kyle Myers said...

I respectfully submit the following reference for TSMR & all others who are interested in information about mutual recognition in Texas. In it, one finds dates, actions, photos, names/titles of those present, and other particulars regarding this event, although I'm unable to find any kind of similar references on the Texas MS website. However, as a Texas Mason, I have heard many very knowledgeable Brothers express the same information as is found in this Texas PHA document:

It appears to me that, after a favorable vote in December 2006 & afterward entering a "Compact" in April 2007, the Texas MS GL accepted the request by the Texas PHA GL for "Fraternal Recognition" & "a treaty of mutual consent for sharing territorial jurisdiction within the State of Texas." According to the referenced document, the two Grand Jurisdictions "recognize each other as being legitimate & regular," although Brothers of both Jurisdictions are restricted from "joining, visiting, merging, meeting, or having Masonic Communications with each other." The Texas PHA GL points out that it made this request as a "first step" leading up to obtaining "mutual Fraternal recognition with the Mother Grand Lodge, the United Grand Lodge of England."
Though I'm eager to enjoy the full benefits of mutual recognition with our Prince Hall Brothers everywhere, I'm nonetheless grateful that these initial actions are being taken by our Grand Lodges. Hopefully, our Brothers in Louisiana will take similar action soon.

Unknown said...

Just 5 days ago the UGLE did recognize the PHGLTX.

Of the 47 PHA Grand Lodges, the UGLE now recognizes 29.

bs cb

The UGLE does not recognize the following (13) which are not recognized by their predominantly white neighbours:


The UGLE does not (yet) recognize the following (5) which are recognized by their predominantly white neighbours (on the dates given):


AK 1997-05-10
NV 1999-11-08
MO 2002-09-23
OK 2004-11-08
DE 2006-03-25

Theron Dunn said...

Isn't part of this because the "Mainstream" Grand Lodges are still holding to the "we will recognize you when you ask us for recognition" principle? And some PHGLs are unwilling to ask for recognition, operating under the "why should we have to ask for recognition" principle?

I have now been given to understand that while the Grand Lodge of California will recognize any PHGL recognized by the MWPHGLOCI, it has only extended that amity to the grand lodges that have asked, and are not in the same jurisdiction as a Mainstream Grand Lodge that does not recognize Prince Hall Masonry.

Sounds convoluted, but there you are.

And frankly, the MWPHGLOCI only accepted recognition on the condition that inter visitation was by invitation only, both ways, that plural membership was not allowed, and that a brother had to renounce his degrees and take them again to switch grand lodges...

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