Saturday, June 20, 2009

Masonic Bigotry and Georgia

"There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South... Here in this pretty world Gallantry took its last bow... Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave... Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered. A Civilization gone with the wind..."


Would that that were true.

Longtime readers of this blog know how I feel about bigotry in Freemasonry. In my view, there is no place in a fraternity that prides itself on universal brotherhood, that hides its head in the sand when any of its members or lodges engage in racism. I fought it in my lodge. I've had Masons from the South tell me my lodge was destroying the Craft by allowing black men to join. I've seen a Prince Hall Grand Master shut down visitations with mainstream lodges because my lodge "stole" black candidates he felt his Grand Lodge "owned." I've had a Georgia Mason who was a cop jab me in the chest and tell me in no uncertain terms that a black man could not be a Mason, period.

Gate City Lodge No. 2 in Atlanta has been gaining national attention for its outstanding programming this year. Its officers and members are showing what dedication to Freemasonry and to Masonic education can do to make a difference in their community. And as the old saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished.

Earlier this year, Gate City Lodge received a petition from, and properly voted, initiated, passed and raised a black member. This brother came to the lodge of his own free will - he was not steered or coerced into joining Gate City. His initiation and subsequent degrees were a milestone in the history of the mainstream Grand Lodge of Georgia—while non-whites have become members of GLofGa lodges over the years, this was different. Because Brother Victor Marshall was the first African American.

The event caused enough controversy in the state that the Grand Master of Georgia, MWbro. J. Edward Jennings, Jr., issued an official statement that Brother Marshall had indeed been properly made a Freemason in Gate City Lodge No. 2.

On June 2nd, 2009, WBro. Michael J. Bjelajac, the Worshipful Master of Gate City No. 2 was served with official charges filed with the Grand Lodge by two other lodges in connection with the membership of Brother Marshall. WBro. Sterling A. Hicks, Master of Philologia Lodge No. 178, on behalf of his lodge, charged Bjelajac with violating "moral laws of Free and Accepted Masons and the moral duties as Worshipful Master" by allowing Brother Victor Marshall to be raised as a Master Mason. Specifically in the charges, the violation of this "moral law" came from allowing a "non-white" to be raised in Gate City Lodge.

WBro. Douglas Hubert Ethridge, Master of Metro Daylight Lodge No. 743, likewise charged WBro. Bjelajac with secretly forming a "Cabal" to overturn the "constitution, laws, ancient landmarks, customs and traditions of Free & Accepted Masons" in Georgia. Ethridge asserts in his charges that non-whites have "never" been raised in a lodge under the Grand Lodge of Georgia, and that Bjelajac "paraded" Brother Marshall into other lodges, shielded by Grand Master Jennings' official letter. Ethridge concludes that Bjelajac committed acts that conflicted with the "ancient customs and traditions which are the immemorial usages and fundamentals of the Craft which have existed from time immemorial and are unchangeable."

In an age when black Masons are Masters of mainstream lodges in states like Florida and North Carolina, as well as the Grand master of the District of Columbia (to say nothing of a black man occupying the most powerful political office in the world), and especially in light of the fact that the Grand Master of Georgia has already weighed in on the regularity and authenticity of Brother Marshall's raising, these charges should have been laughed out of the Grand Secretary's office with an extra helping of derision. But they weren't. The charges were properly filed, and WBro. Bjelajac was duly served. If found guilty of the charges, Bjelajac could be suspended. Worse, because Philologia Lodge No. 178 filed charges against Gate City itself, they could lose their charter, effectively suspending their entire membership.

All of this might have remained private, but Bjelajac and Gate City have decided to fight back in the courts, and the documents are now public record. They are requesting an injunction by the court to stop the Grand Lodge's trial commission from proceeding further. Curiously, the trial commission moved its initial hearing to a tiny venue, too small to hold more than a handful of people, and scheduled on a day when Bjelajac and others were known to be on vacation, with less than 30 days notice. Gate City obviously felt backed into a corner.

An examination of their complaint for a restraining order shows a massive and detailed answering of the charges against Bjelajac and Gate City. Not the least of which is the assertion that "non-whites" (Asians, Native Americans, etc) have long been accepted as members in Georgia, without complaint. No, these charges are strictly about the Peculiar Institution and efforts of a few bigots to keep black men out of mainstream Freemasonry in the Old South. ("Ancient customs" and "immemorial usages"? if that were true, how did an English Military lodge initiate, pass and raise Prince Hall and his 14 black friends in 1776? And why would the Premiere Grand Lodge in London issue a lodge of black Masons a charter, which they still have in their possession?)

I wish Gate City had not involved the courts, but they unquestionably felt squeezed. It could very well have been that Grand Master Jennings allowed the charges to go to a trial commission specifically in order to finally expose this bigotry for what it is, and definitively make the point that there is no written law prohibiting black men from joining Georgia lodges. I HOPE that was his reasoning. To risk a trial commission yanking Bjelajac's dues card and Gate City's charter is a risky way to make a point. With the civil courts involved now, it takes things to a new level. Not the least of which is the endangerment of the Grand Lodge's tax status as a Georgia corporation, if it is found that they engage in institutional racism.

I am on the road in South Dakota, and will update this post later with link to the court public documents. My deepest hope is that this sad event will drag grand lodges that discriminate openly or covertly into the 21st century (or at least 1972). It is abhorrent that men no longer find institutional discrimination in their jobs, housing, restaurants, transportation, or banking, yet can still find it within the lodge rooms of a fraternal organization that ostensibly teaches brotherly love, relief and truth to its members. The time has come to pitch the bigots out and make it known far and wide there's no place in Freemasonry for them.

Another question to be answered is, what will be the reaction of grand masters and grand lodges around the world if the Grand Lodge of Georgia (or any other grand lodge) takes the unbelievable position that black men cannot be mainstream Freemasons? Surely that's more important than which French grand lodge Minnesota chose to recognize a few years ago, or whether the GLofDC invaded the GL of New York's territory in Lebanon last year.

Isn't it?

----------------------------------

EDIT:

I'm home at last on Sunday evening. By now, many of you have seen the Masonic charges and the civil court filing in the Gate City Lodge situation—I had intended to post the now-public documents, but being on the road precluded me from doing so. In the meantime, Greg over at Freemason Information has done so. See them here.

85 comments:

Seeker of Light said...

Sadly Brother, Racism is alive and well in way too many places in Masonry. In some its a Wink and Node condoning of the practice, others its a lot more blatant and in the open.

grailquest said...

I hope this abhorrant attack backfires, with increased force.

Unbelieveable ...

Chris Hodapp said...

People are social creatures, and we all tend to socialize with those we feel most comfortable and at ease with. No law, judge, rule or regulation can alter that. But the Ancient Charges admonish us to be "to be good Men and true. or Men of Honour and Honesty . . . whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain'd at a perpetual Distance."

Those who seek to subvert that among us need to leave.

Dan said...

A sad day indeed, not because Gate City has involved the courts, rather a sad day because our own violation of our most sacred teachings of brotherly love and affection is now obvious to the whole world.

Apparently, at least in the minds of some of the brothers in the former Confederacy, black men are not men at all.

Sad indeed!!!

C.Shawn Oak, PM, K.O.T.N. said...

It is saddening and embarrassing to me as a Freemason to hear of this ongoing behavior. Especially toward men who are good and true who have elected and raised a good man to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason and a member in their local lodge.

It is regretful that these brothers felt a need to seek protection through the civil court system as they address the bigotry being foisted upon them by other lodges. It is understandable given the injustices and abuses of power imposed on brethren by grand officers in other jurisdictions around the U.S. over the past few years.

While it is regrettable that this step was taken, perhaps it is what is ultimately necessary in order to address this ongoing injustice toward all non-white males see admission into the Craft.

Personally, I have grown weary of defending Freemasonry universal against the negative reputation generated by a few bigoted jurisdictions.

In the end, we all bleed red and look the same on the inside. Further, outside of the flesh, we will all stand before the G.A.O.T.U. to receive the consequences for our choices and behaviors; those good and not-so-good.

Perhaps a counter charges should be filed with their grand lodge for unmasonic conduct and any other charges that might fit under their jurisdiction's laws and regulations.

The world will be watching how this unfolds. Let us hope that the results do not stain Freemasonry universal and yet exposes those jurisdictions and men who continue this reprehensible behavior.

Sincerely & Fraternally,

C. Shawn Oak, P.M., K.O.T.N.

Masonic Traveler said...

Chris,

I agree with you, those who wish to subvert our honor and honesty should leave, but like a guest at a party who fails to see their belligerence at staying, perhaps, needs to be shown the door.

By not addressing it, the rest of the fraternity is complicit in its behavior. Its not "racist Freemason..." that will be on the mind, it will simply be "Freemasons...".

We have a say in this.

"And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?"

Larry W. Chavis said...

It is sad that this attitude is still present in too many places. I hope that this will, indeed, bring things to a head for all of us.

Larry Chavis, PM
Mississippi

The Palmetto Bug said...

Going to the civil courts, in my opinion, was a bad mistake. Doing so seems to be an upfront acknowledgment of a distrust in the Freemasonic system. Heck, it has not even made it to a Masonic trial.

Me thinks there is more to this story.

G. L. Dryfoos said...

I hope this turns out to be good news, with the light finally shining on this moldy filthy hidden crevice in Masonry. That kind of "accepted" bigotry -- that everyone else just kind of goes along with -- lets the true bigots make co-conspirators of their non-confrontational brethren.

I wish I could concur with the brother who said "Unbelievable", but this racist b.s. is all too believable.

Bringing a Master up on charges for making a Mason of an African-American man? If the GL of GA persists in this, in clear violation of the most basic of Masonic landmarks, then other GLs around the country need to consider dropping recognition. At the very least, they should be debating it, and obligated to show why not.

The K.N.O. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The K.N.O. said...

Brother Hodapp,

I agree. This is a travesty. Our fraternity has made too great a progress with the PHA recognitions to return to older hatreds. Our state has made men of all races Masons(there's really only the human race) and I have had the pleasure to sit in lodge with men of African decent at our GL meeting. We are a fraternity of Man, not a fraternity of Caucasians. We can progress into the future and we will. I believe in the intrinsic good of Masons and that they will come to the truth. Many already have.

Chris Hodapp said...

Bug, oh, there is more. I'm driving now and steering with my feet. Will post documents when I get home. But there's no rational explanation for accusing a lodge of breaking an unwritten "moral law" by initiating a black Mason.

stoic said...

I'm so tired of this behavior in a fraternity that is based upon Fatherhood of G-d and the Brotherhood of Men [all men]!

drapetomaniac said...

I weighed whether or not to join PHA before seeking initiation. I joined non-PHA for various reasons, but one thing I looked for what exactly the morals are and where my state was in PH acknowledgement.

I did not come to the conclusion that freemasonry was systematically against racism as a part of it's morals.

It is a human institution in the United States and its patterns match the US culture (including levels of tolerance and intolerance). I belong to many institutions that are "supposed" to be against racism and have had many friends that were "supposed to be."

Going to civil courts successfully would put lodges on notice this is unacceptable at the civil level (would it still be at the masonic level?). Even from the anecdotes here and from what I know of other instances - it doesn't appear lodges or grand lodges have... We all know there are racist members out there, at various levels and at various lodge-wide culture levels. If there was immoral sexual activity or drug use at the same level, would that receive the same attention racism has?

How many grand lodge disputes have there been over being inclusive versus being discriminatory? My understanding is lodges first acknowledging PH faced problems from other territories. And those continuing to be inclusive still ask for r need back up.

The saving grace, is that there are Brother willing to acknowledge there is a problem. That's the talking the talk part...

Robert said...

As an interesting annecdote here in Scotland in the 1980s a number of Racist Groups ( British National Party, Combat 18 and I believe some elements of the Klan tried to infiltrate the Glasgow Rangers (obstensively a proestant team)football supporters because of a perceived level of bigotry with Glasgow Celtic (the equivalent Catholic team).

Not withstanding the fact that both team field players of all religions, because talent doesn't respect religions views, they were comprehensively told where to get off. One of the major reasons for this being a high level of freemasons in the supporters (on both sides) and the fact that a great number of lodge in Africa ( including South Africa) operate with the Grand lodge of Scotland and so are brethern as though they were in the same mother lodge.

Perhaps this example of brotherly love should be used to educate these misguided brethern

One Minute Mason said...

I do not understand the seeming inconsistency of MWB Jennings issuing his official statement and then allowing the charges

to go to a trial commission. Perhaps the bylaws required him to do that, but I have to believe as GM he could have avoided

that and would like to hear him weigh in on it.

I edit our state magazine and in the last issue published an almost obscure picture of a Prince Hall visitation to one of

our lodges. A nearly panicked brother called me to ensure those were not "our members." I told him they were Prince Hall

members but informed him we have several African American members in our Lodges, too. His response, "They are all

descended from slaves which makes them ineligible to be Freemasons." I'm afraid I did not respond in the spirit of

brotherly love, and he asked just what I was accusing him of. He knew.

That may be anecdotal, but the point is racism is alive and well in our fraternity. I'm afraid working to eliminate it

will be a "rough and rugged road." And a long one.

In an unrelated matter, "I'm driving now and steering with my feet." Don't do that, brother. Seriously.

The Palmetto Bug said...

Ref my previous comment where I said: "Going to the civil courts, in my opinion, was a bad mistake. Doing so seems to be an upfront acknowledgment of a distrust in the Freemasonic system. Heck, it has not even made it to a Masonic trial. Me thinks there is more to this story."

On another site and in reference to that comment, I found this:

"Of course Palmetto Bug is already trying to shift the blame. I'm sure when all is said and done they will have convinced themselves that the GOUSA is behind it all. LOL.."

Now that is a real good example of someone reading something that just ain't there. I am watching this unfold just like everyone else. Yes, I do think there is more to story. I think that simply because there are some things that just do not make any sense - from the charges themselves to the response by those charged.

Masonic Traveler said...

From reading all of the documents, which was daunting enough, it seems the civil filing is in response to an accelerated Masonic Trial in a period where the defendant had previous engagements.

In other words, the trial was slated for when the W. M. was to be out of town, so to ensure a "fair" process, they did the only thing he could,which was to take it to the civil court. That the Masonic Charges are not being given their due process, see page 25/26 of the civil filing, which is in addition to other proceedings made the only recourse a public airing.

Right or wrong, it seems that the W.M. feels cornered in a process where his avenues of redress have been closed off.

Howard Roark said...

I can't believe anyone is shocked by this. The BurningTaper has repeatedly discusses this and other irregularities with Freemasonry in Georgia.

I was questioned repeatedly by Past Grand Masters of Georgia regarding whether or not I was in communication with Prince Hall Masons. The entire issue with the RRCG was about race, and whether or not it would pave the way to admitting African Americans into Georgia Masonry.

I was made aware of what Gate City planned to do a few years ago. At that time the Grand Lodge was trying to expel their sitting Master on trumped up charges. He knew what had happened to the brothers at Sandy Springs Lodge but felt morally compelled to take action. I couldn't disagree with him. The Grand Lodge of Georgia was rotten to the core and everyone knew it.

Now it's in the civil courts like Halcyon Lodge. Halcyon raised to two African American brothers in Ohio, and the Grand Lodge immediately started harassing them.

A few months ago a brother brought one of his friends to petition another Cleveland lodge. His friend was an African American. He was asked to resign from his lodge, and his friend was told that he was not welcome.

The problem isn't just in Georgia.

It amazes me to see all of you get so upset over something you've known about for years. This isn't new and it won't be the last time something like this happens. I'm sure the Grand Lodge of Ohio will be sued as well, except by the ACLU.

I'm glad to be a founding member of the Grand Orient where all people are treated equally.

Chris Hodapp said...

Jeff, I'm NOT letting this thread turn into a GOofUSA discussion. And the Halcyon episode has zero to do with this situation.

That said, I haven't walked in your shoes, nor have I experienced what you have Masonically. If I had come to Freemasonry and been confronted with widespread racism, my life in the fraternity would have been very different today. My experience with bigoted white Masons has been, thankfully, very limited. And when I witness it, yes, it's pretty damned shocking.

The K.N.O. said...

In our jurisdiction where we have raised members in regular lodges of all colors and recognize PHA, this is as much dissappointing as it is shocking. We will work and work hard to repair this issue as we have done in the past. That is what Masonry is about-working hard.

Oldman said...

Well, it's too late. This man has been made a mason in a regular lodge. If he had been a transexual, born a woman and had a sex change,it still might have happened. (He himself was not born a slave.) I understand this may have been planned over a period of a few years. If it was preplanned to bring us to where we are now, then it also is wrong! I know that the inner door will be more closely guarded in Georgia Lodges from now on. And that it will be stopped at the ballot box next time. Go ahead and let Gate City Lodge have it's new member.It maybe the only Lodge he will be allowed sit in, inside Georgia. This has caused a problem now between Gate City and most if not all the Lodges in GLGa. Maybe Gate City can be a part of PHA. They may not want any white members in Georgia either. I have been told that even members of gate City Lodge won't be weclome to visit other lodges. Chis , please don't stir this up too much. Also, if we were a international brotherhood like many think, then we would only need one grand lodge.

David said...

These issues should have been confronted a long time ago.
The nationwide GL protection mentality must end and these things dealt with.

The K.N.O. said...

These things have been dealt with and are being dealt with.

The K.N.O. said...

It's fairly clear as well that the individual(s) who filed the charges were not and the GL. This could as easily have arisen without the existence of a GL; possibly more easily with longer staying ability. The comment concerning the GL seems non-sequitur.

Bryan said...

I haven't been in all that long, less than 2 years, but based on my understanding of the tenants of Freemasonry, and from learning the SL, I was under the impression that we were to extend our actions toward all mankind.

If the charges against GC2 and the WM prevail, I would think the GA GL needs to change some of the ritual to specify *most* people, not all. It would be quite an overhaul, but it would clear things up for newbies like me.

I hoped the GL would have squashed this early. I'm afraid that the decision of the court, though carrying the weight of law, wouldn't have the same impact as if GL would have just dismissed it and made an example of the ones bringing charges.

Bryan Garner

The K.N.O. said...

Many of us in regular Masonry have had the pleasure of sitting in lodge and/or Grand Lodge with Brothers of African descent. It is unfortunate that in a few areas this is not true as yet. This will change and this might well become something positive.

Chris Hodapp said...

Everything I learned about life I learned from the movies "1776" and "Network."

In 1776, John Adams is desperate to bring the discussion of declaring independence from Britain to the floor of the Continental Congress. But because he and the new England colonies are considered upstarts and troublemakers, the others continuously vote down the discussion. At last, Adams and Franklin convince Richard Henry Lee of Virginia to offer the motion. South Carolina's Steven Rutledge gets up and says he's never much considered the question before, thinking it was only a Northeastern fight. "But when a GENTLEMAN proposes, attention must be paid."

North Carolina and Texas have recently recognized Prince Hall Masonry, but that has had no effect on the core Southern states. Only Nixon could go to China. Likewise, only Georgia or Alabama or Mississippi can bring this sad aspect of racism in Masonry to an end by publicly denouncing it and ending it properly with their written code. When one of those states at last does it, the rest will do the same. Because, when a GENTLEMAN proposes, attention must be paid...

But if there is chicanery in the way the Gate City case proceeds, and if the result is to reinforce Georgia's unwritten white's only policy, it is the duty of all Masons to demand action by our grand lodges to see that openly racist GLs are censured and their recognition endangered. This case is a turning point. It's the last straw. And the time is up. They fling mud on the fraternity and it's long past time to call them on it.

Hyram said...

I view the civil action as an unwise move by Gate City Lodge.
Every indication is that the GM of GA is backing the Lodge's action.
If the GA masonic Code is anything like AL (where I have been a MM for 36 yrs) they can not refuse to receive any charges of unmasonic conduct.
Civil courts generally only look to see of a private organization is following its internal rules. Only if the trial rules against the WM and Gate City Lodge and the appeal to the GM fails would civil court action be proper.
After these charges are disposed of, there might be cause to charge the two men who filed against Gate City #2. THEY are the ones causing disharmony!

Wayne Sirmon, PM
Mobile, AL

Chris Hodapp said...

Historically in cases involving churches, fraternal groups and other organizations that have their own internal rules and jurisprudence procedures, the courts overwhelmingly steer clear of them, at least until the internal justice process of the group is completely exhausted.

In this case, Gate City is asking the court to intervene and prevent the Grand Lodge of Georgia from taking any action against them. That is NOT going to happen. No judge is going to issue such an order without Gate City first going through the process of the grand lodge’s trial and appeal process. The reasoning is, your side might just win. You might come out unscathed. Give everybody the chance to be honorable before you haul them into court.

You bring up a great point. The Masters of the lodges who brought charges are indeed causing disharmony. If I were at Gate City, I'd be filing counter-charges against them.

Dave Coffing said...

Unfortunately it's going to take a few more funerals before we can make significant progress on this issue......yes, yes I know, some MM's below the age of 60+ are as bigoted as their granfathers, but the percentage is, I hope, much smaller.
Here in Washington state the AASR SGIG is on record (email between B. Miller and Shrine) stating that any half-truth or untruth told in order to keep PHA from being recognized is okay. So this bigotry is not just limited to our brethren of the South.
My opinion....for what it's worth....whispering good counsel in the ears of these bigoted brothers isn't going to work. If they choose to hold to beliefs that are morally repugnant and contrary to the landmark of the Fatherhood of God, Brotherhood of Men, then they are cowans and are no brother of mine.
I would rather dimit and join PHA than sit in a lodge with men who are more comfortable in a white hood than a white apron.

augustin1813 said...

Hello!
I react to those news with my mentality of european freemason. I personaly find racism is unacceptable, everywhere and especially in freemasonry.
So I would like that freemasonry would be against racism as a part of it's morals.
Augustin, 33°.

Jim said...

What I find as shocking as anything in this discussion is the total lack of brotherly love or any attempt at understanding the whole problem. I find the tendancy to paint all Southerners with the brush of racism to be particularly unmasonic and a failure to "conciliate true Friendship among Persons."

The charges were brought by two individauls, not a grand lodge or even two lodges. Is it any less bigoted then to paint the whole state as racist than it is to object to the raising in the first place? I find both to be equally prejudiced.

And can someone address the fact that intolerance of others who are intolerant of the thing of which I approve is still intolerance? All of us are very tolerant of people who agree with us, but to drum anyone out of the corps who disagrees is the epitome of intolerance.

The "accelerated" masonic trial may well be a result of the geand master's desire to lay the issue to rest before he leaves his chair in September.

And, for a master of a lodge to adress a fraternal issue in civil court among the profane without allowing the issue to be addressed masonically is itself, in my opinion, unmasonic behavior. But I do not call for his ouster based on that fact, even when I suspect (without knowledge, albeit) that this avenue of action was planned from the beginning.

Rather than filing charges and counter charges and calling for withdrawal of recognition amidst accusations of irregularities, we might want to call first for prayerful and liberal application of brotherly love. Why not use the tools we all have to circumscribe our own passions, square our own actions, and act by the plumb in all situations.

I read here of various types of bigotry, prejudice, and even racism in other areas of the country, but, let's face it, it's politically correct and just fine to attack any and all Southerners as racists while ignoring problems in Ohio, Cleveland, and Washington state. How does that serve the fraternity? I tell you, it does not.

Maybe if we look to ourselves first and spend time in our own houses, we will all be better off. Is a PC position on race the only rule by which we approve or condemn a brother mason? What of those who only pay dues and do not attend lodge; are they real masons? What of the lodge that requires a certain mode of dress; is that not judging based on appearance? What of any lodge that does not practice and teach brotherly love?

If there is any organization that should be somewhat more open to differences and understanding of faults, it is this of ours. When peace and harmony is gone, so is the strength.

And I see far too much willingness to destroy the peace and harmony of the fraternity. Do we now move on to brothers, lodges, and grand lodges which do not support universal health care, government regulation of industry, and the green movement? This is not a path that I think we should tred.

Maybe it is those who desire sectarianism who "need to leave" as brother Hodapp suggests.

Chris Hodapp said...

Brother Jim,
Surely you do not equate racism with beliefs on universal health care, government regulation of industry, and the green movement. In your attempt to make your argument, your reach has exceeded your grasp.

I agree that it is open season on Southerners whenever this subject comes up, and that many take the unfair opportunity to swipe them with the biggest, fattest brush of tar they can find. I don't think anyone here believes that Southern Freemasonry is packed to the brim with unreconstructed overseers who long to be sipping juleps on the verandah and sic-ing the hounds on runaways. And as I have said, I have personally dealt with four of the most offensively bigoted men I know in my own lodge, way up North here in Indiana. Imbecility knows no borders.

But you surely cannot deny that the culture in the hard core former Confederate states continues to be polarized along racial lines. Three years ago, I was working on a commercial shoot in Durham. We were on a street corner and had a police officer with us for traffic control (this isn't the same cop from Atlanta who accused me of destroying Masonry by allowing blacks in). An elderly black gentleman, impeccably dressed and doing nothing but walking down the street, was stopped by the cop. "Other side of the street, boy. We're working here," he barked. The man said nothing and meekly crossed the street. The cop looked back to our shocked crew with a big grin and actually had the confidence to proclaim, "Down here, we know how to treat 'em."

This was in 2006.

It is a cultural problem. Yes, this is one individual case. It's only anecdotal, and certainly not evidence, I know. But I now have a mailbox full of email from "masons" from Southern states warning me to mind my own damned business, that blacks will NEVER be accepted as Masons in their states, that Prince Hall Masonry is a fraud, that former "slaves" are prohibited by Masonic law, and by the way, to Hell with local, state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Oh, and that Freemasonry "up North" allowing one day classes is a lot more offensive to them that any old pesky racism.

Are they a tiny group? Of course.

Do they represent the overwhelming opinion of Masons in the Southern states? I have no way of knowing, but I hope not.

Grand Lodges set the tone for Freemasonry in their states. If the top Grand Lodge officers chuckle at the latest racist jokes, stand by as Masons bandy bigoted epithets, or in any other way silently condone racist behavior, then their members think it's okay. Plenty of their members will think its unwritten policy. Maybe even "moral law."

But if Grand Lodge officers make it known on a regular basis that racism has no part in lodges or Freemasonry in their states, the culture will change (or at least scurry back into the shadows). If Grand Masters issued official proclamations every year that racism is not the policy of their grand lodges, members would get the message.

I have no knowledge as to why Grand Master Jennings in Georgia didn't squash the Worshipful Masters who brought these charges like bugs. He has his reasons. I continue to believe it is being done so this idiocy can at last be handled out in the open. But this is one topic on which the local lodges are almost powerless to control. This is abuse of the system of Masonic jurisprudence to bring charges over raising a black Mason, and wrapping themselves in the mantle of protecting "moral law" and "oral tradition" (What tradition? The oral tradition of saying "No coloreds?").

Chris Hodapp said...

Sorry Jim, but the Southern grand lodges that insist on pursuing silence on this matter, ignore Prince Hall Masonry, and engage in this silent perpetuation of bigotry, through commission or omission, are an embarrassment to the rest of the Masonic world. Sometimes when a man takes a position of leadership, he needs to lead. It's time for Grand Masters around the world to wake up and see the mud being splashed on us by a few crackers who just can't get their head out of the 1860s. I hope this trial goes in favor of Gate City Lodge. I hope the decision is definitive. I hope other grand lodges step up to the plate and make official pronouncements on the subject. I hope young men taking over officer positions in the South finally push the bigots back to their klaverns. But to pretend that there isn't a problem south of the Mason Dixon line is intellectually dishonest.

I am well aware that Georgia has some of the finest Masons in the country. Likewise in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, and the rest. I do not question that in any way. But standing by as a Brother Mason yuks it up over a nigger joke makes you a collaborator with his bigotry. Sitting as a Master in a lodge and not gaveling down a bigot or not having him escorted from the lodge when he is making openly un-Masonic remarks is cowardly. The world is filled with regular, recognized black Freemasons, Masons your Grand Lodges recognize, whether you like it or not. And to sit in a lodge and spout off about how black men cannot be Masons, or worse, IS un-Masonic behavior that a Master can eject you for.

As for destroying peace and harmony, I'm not buying it Jim. A longtime friend frequently says, "Harmony is the broom we use to sweep bullshit under the carpet." If peace and harmony means condoning a "whites only" unwritten law in Georgia or Alabama or wherever (or a "blacks only" rule in Prince Hall lodges), then Freemasonry has a very big problem.

Charles E. Martin said...

I have seen this bigotry up close and personal. I work in Iraq. My home lodge is in Kentucky. I attended a dinner meeting, of a Prince Hall lodge in Iraq. My Grand Lodge found out about it, and suspended me from Kentucky Masonry for a year.

No (mainstream) grand Lodge, has seen fit to establish any Masonic lodges in Iraq or Afghanistan, even though the US Military/Civilians have been here for over five years.

Racism is in the very "warp and woof" of Freemasonry, it is ingrained in the attitudes of individual Masons and in the leadership of many of our Grand Lodges.

The membership of all lodges should be demanding immediate change, and full recognition of Prince Hall Masonry. We need to admit men, regardless of color. Fortunately, at least two lodges in Kentucky, have accepted men of color, into Freemasonry. There has been some grumbling, but no one has (yet) filed any lawsuits, nor threatened any masonic charges against these lodges.

I pray for the day, when all Masons can judge our fellow Masons by the content of their character, and not by the color of their skin.

So mote it be,

Charles E. Martin
Camp Liberty, Iraq.

see www.cemab4y.blogspot.com

JJ said...

I thought it was the Internal and not the External qualifications that recommend a man to be a Mason. Oops...my bad! Boy was I wrong.

This type of behavior is the malignant cancer of Freemasonry. Freemasonry cannot begin to thrive again until it is exorcised of these members who keep Masonry weak by soiling its reputation and degrading its purpose.

Brother Hicks and Brother Ethridge are an embarasssment to the Craft and should be expelled.

JJ Miller, PM Plano Masonic Lodge #768; Plano, Texas

Sonny said...

Brethren, I have been a GA Mason for 25 years. I have seen alot of changes in the Craft over tha time.
I'll be the first to admit, we have a long way to go.
The thing is, you all should let us clean this up on our own before you all rail against us to put our sheets away. I am not a racist, never have been. I dont what these two WB's had in mind when they filed these charges, I dont know why they were accepted. I have faith that things will unfold as they should.
You know the members of Grand Lodge are the real power, not the Grand Master, in fact he has to answer for actions when Grand Lodge is in Session.
There are those of us here in GA who know where we must go and how we must go about it. If you all dislike us so much and wish to cut off then bring it up on the floor of your own Grand Lodge Session and vote to not recognize us.

Sonny, PM

Rob said...

Man I'm telling ya, the thought of disallowing any brother solely based on race or religious preferences is just absurd to me. Any man who wants to contribute to the craft should be permitted to. Why would one person prevent another from being charitable?

My father would tell me about times when black and Jewish men could not join his lodge (we're talking 40+ years ago). We have discussions today about how that act seems to fly in the face of Masonry's principles.

As a Mason myself, I've traveled to lodges worldwide, including two in GA. One lodge had members of several races and religion, while another was all white, by their own choice, as any brother can reject a new member for any reason. It is our right.

What bothers me the most about this is two things...1. The fact that Grand Lodge members are denying this man the gift of Masonry purely based on the color of his skin. 2. The fact that now the government of GA is involved.

As much as I believe skin color and religious preference is no reason to deny a willing man, I also believe that governments should not intervene in our craft.

timdarnell said...

In July 2003, I penned an unsolicited article for the Masonic Messenger, the official publication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia. It was entitled, "What Will Freemasonry Offer My Son?"

Basically, it was about a half- page article filled with my own personal ruminations about whether the organization (will survive long enough for my now-six-year-old son to join and enjoy.

Here are some of the questions I asked:

"Will we ever welcome men of color into our lodge rooms, or will we hold true to ancient prejudices, bigotries and intolerances that have no room in the Masonic conscience whatsoever?;

"Will we at last choose forward, progressive thinking Grand Lodge officers, or will this line of dedicated and selfless Masonic devotees continue adhering to cobwebbed philosophies of the past that would crack and fracture into dust if shown the light of day?;"

And, "In a fraternity so obsessed with antiquated rituals of the past and so intolerant of the future, who will ensure that our lodges survive for our sons? Or will anyone even care to do so?"

I've been in journalism for more than 20 years, and I've lost count of the numbers of articles I've written and where they've appeared. But I can say no sense of uncertainty that nothing I've ever written or had published generated such an overwhelming response.

Numerous letters to the editor were published in the Masonic Messenger, with statements such as "[The author] is not considered a Brother by our Brethren and would never be allowed to sit in our Lodge..."

"If it is left up to people like [the author] then Freemasonry will have NOTHING to offer the next generation."

And "The MAJORITY of Masons in Georgia do not live in Atlanta, DC, and one thing is for certain, if the DEMENTED views of this individual were ever put in place in the Grand Lodge of Georgia, many, many Lodges will CLOSE!"

As a writer, you always want to hit a nerve, and it seems I certainly did so with this piece that appeared in the July 2003 edition of the Messenger. Today, one of the issues I raised back then has come to a head, and the financial future of our organization rests in the balance.

I've met the brother at the center of this issue; indeed, I've sat in lodge with him, and am proud to have him join our organization. I also respect our own W. Bro. David Herman, who resigned his position as district deputy to the Grand Master in order to lend his support to Gate City Lodge's brethren in their effort to revitalize their lodge, and our fraternity as a whole.

But now the courts - and the media - is involved in this issue, we have allowed our own institutional racism to seriously jeopardize our survival. Every political scientist and researcher, with any reputation for inpartiality whatsoever, will tell you that the current electoral majority which elected this administration into power, isn't going to fade away. Indeed, this demographic may likely rule the nation's political scene for countless generations to come. If that's true, our organization is facing a national government that will remain desperate for funds to enable more and more social programs, entitlements and reparations.

In 1314, the Knights Templars were destroyed by a national government similarly desperate for money in order to finance its own goals and aspirations. Unless we, as Masons, make this issue right and proper, history is bound to repeat itself.

Tim Darnell
Past Master, Chamblee Lodge # 444 F&AM
32nd degree Scottish Rite
DeMolay Legion of Honor

Jim said...

Rob said: "Any man who wants to contribute to the craft should be permitted to."

Did you mean to add, ". . .unless he disagrees with my own opinions about race?"

"Why would one person prevent another from being charitable?" you ask rehtorically. I don't know; maybe you can enlighten us as to why you are being uncharitable in this situation.

I doubt you intend to be uncharitable, but your statement really did grab me attention.

Make no mistake, I do not disagree with your opinions about race. It's what appears to be a very real intolerance and a knee jerk reaction that immediately calls for expulsion based on this issue alone. It's a serious issue, and I can't help thinking that the brothers in Georgia are dealing with it. But charity and tolerance demand that we not be too quick in calling names and demanding expulsion of others.

I have to note that at least in Georgia, those brothers are dealing with the issue masonically. Can all other "wink and nod" grand lodges say the same?

Chris Hodapp said...

Tim,
I notice in the latest issue of the GL of Georgia's The Messenger (February 2009) there is a highly favorable review of Roundtree and Bessel's book "Out of the Shadows," which is a well-documented history of Prince Hall Freemasonry. I'll be curious to see the letters in the next issue.

Will said...

I am a Georgia Freemason and I am quite disturbed by what I am reading here.

Why do all of you feel you have the right to judge us?

Are other Masons not allowed to have a different opinion than you?

From what I am hearing from my fellow Georgia brothers about this whole episode there are a lot of reasons for our disdain towards what has taken place at Gate City.

One of the main reasons for the backlash against Gate City's actions is the fact that the whole ordeal was plotted and schemed, not to admit someone who would be a good Mason, but to admit him BECAUSE he's black.

It was done for the sole purpose of causing disharmony and daring anyne to do anything about it.

A lot of us feel like this whole process was rigged from the very beginning and concealed from the brethren because the powers that be knew there would be a problem.

If that's the case, this whole situation is wrong now and it has been wrong from the very beginning.

Change, if it comes, MUST come naturally. If it is forced, it is not real change and things will soon fall back to where they once were.

Remember the old adage: "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

I wasn't there, but I heard from Masons who were there that Victor Marshall came to Savannah Lodge's 275th Anniversary Celebration a few months back and was quickly escorted out.

This isn't going to go away just because some upstarts want it to.

You can't cram your way of thinking down our throats and expect us to like it.

For all of you to sit there and pass judgement on a situation you know little about is wrong.

The Grand Lodge meeting this year will turn out record numbers of attendees because we want ALL voices heard. Not just the voices of a few who are trying to bring disharmony, on purpose, to our lodges.

Many of us have lost faith in our Grand Master because he didn't pull Gate City's Charter the moment this whole conspiracy was discovered.

We should be allowed to make up our own minds without having to listen to people who don't live here.

Will Haley

Chris Hodapp said...

It's possible that when a small handful of Freemasons develop a 'tradition' that flies in the face of the very foundation and bedrock of the fraternity that shames and appalls 99% of the Masonic world, they need to have good counsel whispered in their ear.

And part of the deal with aiding in a brother's reformation is that the brother in question needs to strongly consider taking the advice.

Now you say you have lost your faith in your Grand Master because he didn't yank the charter of Gate City Lodge for raising a black brother. And yet you seem astonished that brethren from literally everywhere else in the world react with shock and revulsion over the situation in Georgia. The lodge room is literally the last place on Earth that imbecilic prejudice should ever enter, but here you sit telling the rest of us to mind our own business?

I don't know what you thought you were joining when you became a Mason. And I am the last guy who ever says that someone doesn't practice their Freemasonry correctly. But this is so wrong, and so egregious, and so completely at odds with the most basic teachings of the fraternity that go back to the very formation of speculative Freemasonry, that no other conclusion can be reached. You are wrong. You are dead wrong. Any Mason who would exclude a worthy candidate based solely on the color of his skin is wrong and has no business being in this fraternity. It is abhorrent. And any Mason who hides their prejudice behind the apron and the tyled door and uses pathetic excuses about "disharmony" to twist and pervert the teachings of the Craft needs to be shown the door.

No one is telling you that you cannot deny membership to blacks or hispanics or Asians in your own lodge, or that you cannot deny entrance to a visitor. Those rights are sacrosanct. But to rear up on your hindquarters because a lodge across the state didn't share your own personal prejudices is an outrage. To now turn on the Grand Master because he didn't support your own views would be funny if it weren't so revolting.

I now totally understand with great sympathy the position Grand Master Jennings finds himself in. I do not envy his position.

drapetomaniac said...

"Are other Masons not allowed to have a different opinion than you?"

The differing opinions seem to center around the brotherhood of man and whether or some someone with dark skin can be a good Mason.

I believe in your sincerity about Gate City causing disharmony. In (hopefully) most modern institutions in the United States, someone would not be comfortable complaining out loud against someone because they tolerated or encouraged participation by Black men. Much less, file an official complaint in writing and work with others to rally support - especially on moral grounds.

Bigotry is a moral and logical failing.
More of a moral failing than being Black.

Masonic institutions in the US seem patient in a tolerating, as you say, the "natural" decline - *if* it ever comes. It also seems tolerant of bigotry in its ranks. It's not considered a moral failing - so it doesn't keep bigots out. Known bigots in freemasonry continue to prosper in the ranks. Especially in a place where someone feels comfortable expressing their racism in formal complaints.

That's one element missing from how people are seeing this -- these men felt comfortable expressing their racism in writing and submitting it.

How many institutional environments are people comfortable complaining about the immoral presence of a Negro?

How many other basic immoralities are as widely tolerated? If lodges hosted orgies, would we shrug and wait for it to go away or simply see it as a difference of opinion and wait for it to play out over a couple of hundred years?

Chris Hodapp said...

Precisely.

Bigotry is a moral failing.

Freemasonry is a moral institution.

Men who perpetuate immoral actions, and indeed, feel bold enough to defend them, have no business being Freemasons. That goes for racists. That goes for Jesters who step out on their wives and import hookers for parties.

This is not a matter of a difference of opinion, despite attempts to make it sound like one.

Tom Accuosti said...

not to admit someone who would be a good Mason, but to admit him BECAUSE he's black.

Of course, such a thing would never, ever happen in other circumstances, right? For example, nobody would be admitted not because he would be a good Masons, but BECAUSE he was somebody's brother-in-law (son, nephew, cousin, neighbor, cow-orker, etc.)

Do you suppose that Gate City just went out and...

Aw, what's the use?

Look, in 20 years, y'all haven't found it within you to let it happen "naturally". I can (sort of) understand if your GL has some kind of thing about recognizing MWPH GLs -- it's a political thing. But to claim that it's wrong or goes against the moral grain to admit a good man simply because he's black? Especially since y'all already have men of other nationalities?

Come on, huh?

It's not so much that you're being "judged," it's that you're being judged and found wanting.

Will said...

Wow. I really don't know why I thought I could try to further explain this to people who seem to have their minds made up.

It's not the fact THAT a black man was raised, it's HOW it was done!

Read the above sentence again.

I have no qualms with good men being made Masons. Period. Is that crystal clear enough?

Probably not. I'll read more replies from people who don't want to listen because they simply cannot understand my point.

My point is it was too much too soon to raise a black man in a Georgia Lodge.

It was a "sucker punch" that has left a bad taste in people's mouths because no one knew about it until it was over and done with.

Then, instead of letting the furor die down a bit and let people get used to the idea, Gate City made Victor Marshall an officer.

He didn't start at the bottom of the line like so many of us have done. He jumped Junior Steward and went to Senior Steward.

All within a few weeks of being raised.

Too much too soon.

The people who did know about the whole operation kept mum about it until it was too late for anyone to do anything.

In my opinion, The Grand Lodge of Georgia should have started first with something that would have naturally steered Georgia lodges towards that end.

Like what? How about simply recognizing Prince Hall Lodges?

Once that's done, and it would be tough I admit, the next "natural" step would be to allow black men to be raised in a regular lodge.

Has anyone asked Mr. Marshall why he didn't want to join a Prince Hall Lodge?

Is there something wrong with a Prince Hall Lodge or was this done to stir up havoc?

I would love to hear his answer to those questions.

For those who truly are against non-whites, as mentioned in an earlier post, simply deny sitting with that brother in your own lodge. You have that right.

That's what happened at Savannah Lodge. The brethren didn't want to sit in lodge with him, I think, because they feel his raising was crammed down their throats.

A Mason can also vote against a petition. That's his right.

This whole thing is just a big mess that is harming our craft here in Georgia. Because of the way it was done (subversive and sneaky) lines are being drawn and who knows how it will end up.

Will

Chris Hodapp said...

Will wrote: "My point is it was too much too soon to raise a black man in a Georgia Lodge.

Ah. When would be the time, say the turn of the next century? Wouldn't want to rush into anything. Wouldn't want to upset anybody.

Will wrote: "It was a "sucker punch" that has left a bad taste in people's mouths because no one knew about it until it was over and done with."

Yes, I see your point. Next time they should take out a newspaper ad.
ATTENTION.
OUR LODGE WILL BE RAISING A BLACK MAN NEXT TUESDAY. SMELLING SALTS AND FAINTING COUCHES AVAILABLE IN THE LOBBY. PLEASE COME, TREAT HIM LIKE A FREAK SHOW OR A PARIAH AND PROVE TO HIM THAT FREEMASONRY ISN'T WHAT IT CLAIMS TO BE.

That should do it.

Will wrote: "Then, instead of letting the furor die down a bit and let people get used to the idea, Gate City made Victor Marshall an officer. He didn't start at the bottom of the line like so many of us have done. He jumped Junior Steward and went to Senior Steward."

That's an internal issue, and nobody else's business besides the lodge. For what it's worth, I was made SS the first meeting I attended after being raised, SW a year after joining, and WM 23 months after I was initiated. This was anybody else's business...how again?

Will wrote: "The people who did know about the whole operation kept mum about it until it was too late for anyone to do anything."

Too late for 'anyone' to do 'anything.' Like turn out en masse and blackball the man, fer instance?

I have no idea about Georgia, but in Indiana it is forbidden to publish or otherwise mention the name of a candidate in a public manner until after he is raised as a Master Mason, precisely so that the grumpy stay at home crowd who never participate in lodge don't show up as a crowd to vote out or otherwise stop the degrees of someone based on private piques and grudges. The reasoning is, if he's a bad man, you should have been at lodge to tell folks or vote against him. If he is a bad man and he's already on his way to being raised, then your accusations against him had better rise to the occasion of preferring charges against him. If not, STFU.

So, just what had Brother Marshall done to warrant 'doing anything' about him?

And on another note, the last time I checked, Masonic lodge petitions are color blind. As they should be.

Will wrote: "How about simply recognizing Prince Hall Lodges?"

Feel free to recommend this at the next Grand Lodge of Georgia session. I triple dog dare you.

Will wrote: "Has anyone asked Mr. Marshall why he didn't want to join a Prince Hall Lodge? Is there something wrong with a Prince Hall Lodge or was this done to stir up havoc?"

You mean, apart from freedom of association? And that young men these days, black or white, don't much care for the notion of "separate but equal", any more than they care for water fountains marked "For Coloreds"? Or that after a career in the military and serving his country alongside white soldiers, racial segregation seems sort of, well, insulting? Or that perhaps he has friends in the lodge he wants to associate with? Or that, because Georgia hasn't recognized Prince Hall Freemasonry as regular, if he joined a Georgia PHA lodge, he couldn't go visit mainstream lodges anywhere?

Other than that, I can't possibly think of any reasons.

drapetomaniac said...

"My point is it was too much too soon to raise a black man in a Georgia Lodge."

What Bro. Hodapp said...

Will - state the age of your Grand Lodge and then say it's too soon to raise a Black man with a serious face.

I'll be traveling through the south soon. I wonder if it is too soon to welcome Black men who didn't "sneak" in lodge.

Rolf said...

Coming from a country with a sad history of racism, i found myself shocked about the situation in Georgia. Shouldn't we all have learnend the lessons from germanys history? There is no excuse for racism anywhere and of course there can't be a place for racists in the craft.

It is my fundamental conviction that the G.A.O.T.U. doesn't see colour of skin or confession.

Remember that?
"The persons admitted Members of a Lodge must be good and true Men, free-born, and of mature and discreet Age, no Bondmen no Women, no immoral or scandalous men, but of good Report."

It doesn't say white man, does it?

If we are going to instruct our candidates about the wworld wide brotherhood of freemasonry, should we exclude Gergia? I don' hope so..

Rolf Keil
RWM Lodge Lessing No 769 Frankfurt, Germany

Scott said...

Brother Will,
I am a Georgia Mason as well, and I am absolutely appalled at the actions of the Brothers who filed charges against Gate City, and cannot believe your justifications for these actions. I think Brother Hodapp did a pretty good job of debunking your arguments, so I won't press the point any further, but seriously, Brother, it's time for the Grand Lodge of Georgia to come into the 21st century.

lightman said...

I met victor and he is a nice guy. I can't say I have met any racists. But this seems like a made for TV movie if I ever heard of one. You got a villian (racists) you got the good guys (the benevolent GL of GA) and the strong moral theme (freemasonry). In the end, I expect the good guys will win showing the whole world the strength of brotherly love, morality, and relief. I kid you not the light will shine.

Will said...

Well, once again, you have all proven with your responses that nobody's opinion matters but your own.

There are some brothers on this thread that have made some valuable points. I thank them for not attacking, but simply trying to get their ideas across with some degree of civility.

Most of you, however, especially Chris Hodapp, are more intolerant of others than anything you claim me or my Georgia brethren could ever be.

Go back and read the threads. They are nothing more than vicious attacks. Someone doesn't agree with YOUR point of view so you go on the attack.

Sad really.

Ready Chris? Let's pour some salt in your "wounds" shall we?

WARNING! A different OPINION is about to be posted here (maybe) if it doesn't get deleted...

I don't care how you do things in YOUR lodge or YOUR state. That is YOUR business, not mine. What we do in OUR lodges and OUR state is OUR business and not yours.

That's point blank and period!

Practice whatever your little hearts desire. Be happy. Stay out of our business and we will stay out of yours.

If any black man comes to our lodge, he will be shown the door. You will find this attitude prevalent among most Georgia Lodges.

Don't like it? Tough! Stay out of Georgia.

A Masonic brother visited our lodge a few months ago from the mid-west. We examined him and welcomed him with open arms.

We always eat before the meeting and during the meal, this brother started cutting Georgia down for not allowing black men to be Masons.

He was immediately shown the door and told not to come back.

Don't like it? TOUGH! Stay out of Georgia.

If there ever was a chance for blacks being excepted in Georgia, this whole debacle with Victor Marshall has killed it.

If YOU don't like it, tough! Don't really care. You mind YOUR business and I'll mind MINE.

And don't get on your soap box under the pretense of saying "this IS my business because what you're doing is not Masonic and it's hurting the craft" or some other BS like that.

You're full of yourselves and I don't want to hear it. Go paint someone else with your righteous paint brush because I don't care.

We are comfortable with the way things are and DON'T want them changed.

Good luck with YOUR respective lodges.

Will

Chris Hodapp said...

Run that by your Grand Master and see if he agrees.

natural97 said...

Wow! That was truely a powerful statement made by "Will". Unmasonic but powerful.

I'm a Georgia Prince Hall Mason. I had one instance many, many years ago when i first became a Mason. I was young and I had no idea bigotry existed in Freemasonry at that time. Call me naive. But I thought all Masons were the same.

A fellow Prince Hall and I decided we wanted to visit the Masonic lodge on North ave.in Atlanta. I would pass by that lodge often and admired the size and look of the building. (Anyone who has seen it knows what i'm talking about.) We found out their meeting days and decided we were going to visit. I didn't let my WM know what i was doing because at the time i wasn't familier with protocal on a situation like this. Nor did i expect their to be a problem. I thought a lodge was a lodge. We knocked at the outer door.
(Which was the back of the lodge building). The tyler refused us even though our dues card was up to date and we were properly dressed. I was in my early 20's at the time and we then realized at that very moment the real reason why we were not going to be admitted. It was my very first encounter with "in your face racism". It's just to bad it had to be associated with Masonry.

Over the years I have meet really good "Mainstream" masons who are nothing but good brothers to me. So i know "Will" is but a minority (at least i pray he is) in the grand scope of things. If any other Mason feels like him then they need to join another organization among like minded people because they are not practicing Masonry. Masons are worldwide. They are representing more than just themselves. But the sad thing is what they are representing (racism) is what the whole world will see. People seem to only remember the negative. All it takes is one negative action to make people forget all of the positive actions Masons do all the time. You think we got wacky conspiracy problems now from conspiracists. Thats all they need to know about to cause us more problems and misinformation about our craft.

They (GloG)are not in the practice of making good men better if they do not take a moral stance against the morally bankrupt argument of "Will" and the likeminded.

Just in case any of you are wondering Prince Hall in Georgia accepts white men and any other men of good character.

Fraternally,
Blueman

natural97 said...

CORRECTION:

The Mainstream lodge we tried to visit is on Peidmont rd. in Atlanta not North Ave.

lightman said...

Watch for the turn in a few weeks, the media furor will grow before it is announced. The glorious victory is coming. You will see. How else can the GL of Ga get the word out that Men of ALL color are welcome to join?

YOU MAKE A BIG NOISE IN THE MEDIA; and even those PH and others who claim racism when the story unfolds and the GL settles it once and for all can have nothing to say.

GET IT

natural97 said...

^Lightman... I truly hope so.

After making my post yesterday I decided to look up the name of the mainstream lodge I visited back in the early 90's, which turned me down at the door.

I have to make another correction. Come to find out the lodge was where Gate City 2 is housed. The street was Peachtree St. It's been a long time and my memory isn't as sharp as it used to be..lol. Please accept my apologies.

My post was not to offend but to share an experiance.

I'm glad times are changing. I always admired that building. My hat goes off to Gate City 2 for breaking barriers.

Fraternally,
BlueMan

JJ Miller said...

Simply pointing out where the actions of certain members of the Grand Lodge of Georgia and the teachings of Freemasonry are in direct conflict is not preaching intolerance, it is merely pointing out the obvious. It is about as intolerant as saying "That car is red."

The Grand Lodge of Georgia desperately needs to rollout a refresher course of the first three degrees to reaquaint everyone with the lessons and symbolism taught. These are universal to all Masons, everywhere in the world, Georgia included.

After that review, if anyone under the Grand Lodge of Georgia continues to ignore the fundamental rules and tenants of Freemasonry, if they cannot comply with the moral code we have all taken an oath and been charged to uphold, if they would rather continue to defile and degrade Freemasonry with such blatant bigotry, then they should QUIT. And QUIT today, because why would anyone want to belong to an organization whose rules they cannot and will not comply with.

Obviously, Freemasonry doesn't seem to be a good fit for many people in Goergia and there is nothing wrong with that. Freemasonry is not for everyone. There are hundreds, if not thousands of other organizations and clubs they could join and all parties would be better off for it.

I hope Georgia can find their way out of this darkness.

Fraternally,
JJ Miller, PM, Plano Masonic Lodge #768, Plano, Texas

PS. There are probably more "non-white" Masons in the world than there are "white" Masons.

James said...

Will tells us this is a Georgia matter, only, and then says "...don't get on your soap box under the pretense of saying 'this IS my business because what you're doing is not Masonic and it's hurting the craft' or some other BS like that."

Well, Will, it IS my business. And it's every Freemason's business.

"Jurisdictional Freemasonry" doesn't trump Masonic universality. Day to day administration of lodge business doesn't create Freemasonry. Local attitudes and practices don't create Freemasonry. When I knelt at the altar I understood that I became part of an ancient chain that is stronger than any Grand Lodge. Apparently in Georgia, at least to you and those who hold similar attitudes, your local practices are the only authority.

Well, I've got news for you. Freemasonry is bigger than any Grand Lodge. What you choose to do in Georgia - just like what I choose to do in my jurisdiction - has ramifications for every Freemason. Courtesy of what's happened in Georgia I'm now being asked by non-Masons how I can possibly belong to an organization that discriminates based on the color of someone's skin.

Thanks so much for taking all of us a giant step backwards.

Somewhere along the line somebody missed the concept that it's internal character, not external appearance, that qualifies a man to be a Freemason.

You want to ignore that idea? Fine. Just don't call yourselves Freemasons.

lightman said...

Before you tell a man he shouldn't be a mason, you may wish to consider the following: Masonry takes good men and makes them better. The real problem is a perception issue based on exposure. Many believe that all blacks are ghetto, dirt doing, rap music drug slangers. Hint: they're not. And, many blacks in Georgia believe F & AM Masons are backwoods, toothless, shine drinking rednecks. Hint: they're not. To break down these types, it requires exposure. And, that exposure will not happen at churches or any other place were people have a choice to attend. The only way to dispel these are to openly say you are against such practices (in a society that has secrets it is a tricky thing indeed). I do not place blame on these men, I simply suggest we think on how to fix the problem. Answer: focus on the solution not the problem.Introductions to good men are order. Have you met a decent white man, black man or other man? They may not have. Perhaps a little less judgment and little more sympathy for a brother with something to learn is order. I think the GL is right in line to dispel the types of F & AM. Let them prove in a public way to PH brothers and others that F & AM has now progressed and will respect all masons. This is the greatest opportunity ever.

Chris Hodapp said...

Wise words, my friend. Thanks for the reality check.

drapetomaniac said...

I found myself daydreaming this morning.

Imagine Blacks had never been excluded from lodges anywhere in the US. How much faster would race relations have progressed in this country?

George said...

I am a white Georgia mason (non-PHA) and I do not agree with "Will." I am ready for a change in Georgia - a move toward the ideals we already say we believe in - those beliefs that are part of the current veribiage in our rituals, but not part of what is currently practiced.

In my home lodge, a black petitioner would unfortunately never make it past the investigation - I hate that about my home lodge. Regarding the discussions about Gate City #2 and raising of Brother Marshall, I'd say that our lodge is split about 50/50 - those who are excited about the fact that we're finally making some progress toward universal brotherhood in Georgia and those who don't want universal brotherhood and are upset with the fact that a black man was raised in a GLofF&AMofGA lodge (I've always disliked the reference to the word "mainstream" for the GLofF&AMofGA when it is used to distinguish it from the MWPHGLofGA... as if Prince Hall Masons don't consider themselves "mainstream").

I'm looking forward to this year's Annual Communication - wondering if anything at all will be mentioned to the attendees in a formal setting (i.e. during the official meeting). The most interesting and promising (and probably sometimes disturbing) conversations/debates will likely be held afterhours... in smoke-filled hotel rooms over several stiff drinks.

-Brother George Fandam

lightman said...

I will see you there my Brother.

Rev. T. Monkey said...

I'm a relative newcomer to Freemasonry, but Will's comments simply sicken me. How in the hell do you take make a good man into a better man when you "are comfortable with the way things are and DON'T want them changed."

The entire Masonic endeavor is about working to change ourselves for the better. If you are comfortable indulging in what the majority of 21st century humans see as IMMORAL, then you don't seem to be practicing making good men better. When you insist on doing do because that's how it has always been done, you sound like an unrepentant rough ashlar, and not someone that is willing to endure the sometimes painful caress of the chisel.

I'm glad that I have not experienced in my lodge such darkness trying to pass itself off as light. I wouldn't want to stay a Freemason if I had.

That's my opinion. It also happens to be correct.

GATraveler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GATraveler said...

Its not racism, its tradition. This is Georgia, and we do things our way, the way that we've always done it, and that's the way we like it. Just because we don't want africans in our lodgeroom doesn't make us a racist. We live and work with more blacks than many of you ever have. What would happen if a white man tried to join the Prince Hall? Would that result cause the same uprising from the outside agitators? The Prince Hall is not recognized in Ga, and that is no oversight. It is the will of the Men of the State. We see them in Atlanta, with our sacred emblems on their cars. Hats sideways, music shaking the windows, drinking and carrying on. They will remain a clandestine organization as long as we see this. When the issue to recognize PH was raised at GL, not one man would stand up to second it. On the flip side, shame on the Brothers of Gate City for allowing their lodge to become this Liberal platform. The man visited for a while, petitioned, was initiated, passed, and raised. No member of that Lodge has a right to act "surprised" that this happened. One black cube could have stopped this at any time. It was never dropped, this man was raised, so he is my brother. And I would always treat him as such, but I wouldn't like it to become a regular thing. But shame on those whose masonic activities end at the reading of minutes from home for complaining that "we didn't know, they snuck him in". Take control of your Lodge back. And shame on the more progressive members of the lodge for taking this to the civil courts. We wash our own laundry. I also feel that it is wrong to carry him around to other conservative lodges just to stir up trouble and press (I've seen it with my own eyes). I think this issue should be handled at the ballot box, and that is how it will be handled. All issues on BOTH sides of this argument, as well as the outgoing MWGM's famous progressive edict were struck down at GL. Not everyone who doesnt want blacks in the lodgeroom is a racist. Many of our works benefit the troubled black youths in Atlanta. Just leave us alone, we dont do things like 'yall. We've been doing things our way in Ga Lodges before most of the other states were even formed. We don't recruit or Make Master Mason's in one day either. We hoe our own rows, the way we always have.

Chris Hodapp said...

Tradition. Why, that sounds almost like a "Peculiar Institution and cherished way of life."

You wrote: We live and work with more black folks than many of you ever have.

Kindly do not presume, because in many cases, you would be dead wrong. And in any case, it's not a contest.

You say you see black PHA Masons with emblems on their cars, behaving like "fools." Note the image at the top of this message. Is this not an officially sanctioned Georgia license plate by the state and the Grand Lodge of Georgia? Do you mean to say no white, presumably mainstream, Masons with Masonic license plates behave like "fools"? And if you see a black man in Georgia with a Masonic emblem, how do you know he's a PHA Mason, and not a member of the other 20 or more bogus grand lodges operating in Georgia—which one could convincingly argue would never have appeared if blacks had been able to join mainstream lodges in the first place? or for that matter, how do you know they are not simply part of the growing hip-hop crowd that has started wearing Masonic symbols?

As for what would happen if a white man petitioned a PHA lodge? In Indiana, that's not an uncommon situation. We have black mainstream members and white PHA members. The world has not stopped spinning on its axis. And in the military, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany, it's VERY common, because almost no mainstream grand lodges have military lodges anymore, while PHA GLs do. In many, many cases, Prince Hall Freemasonry is a serviceman's first introduction to the fraternity.

In Georgia, what do you do when a white serviceman comes home from the war with a PHA dues card in his wallet wanting to visit? Or wanting to transfer into one of your lodges? And if you treat him like an outcast for having the temerity to join a PHA lodge, do you think his PHA brethren across town make him feel unwelcome? (When he was in a war zone, do you suppose he was real concerned about "tradition" and only fought alongside white soldiers?)

The Masonic world is a much bigger and welcoming place than you imagine, Brother. Including the "liberal minority" of Gate City Lodge. Institutionalized racism in Freemasonry is wrong, and there is no way to make it proper or acceptable. Masonry's rules, petitions, and the holy books we take our obligations on are all color-blind. The internet makes the world a much smaller place, and these "traditions" as you call them don't stand up to the light of inquiry.

Chris Hodapp said...

"GATRAVELER" modified his comments after I posted my response, in case anyone thinks I put words in his mouth.

GATraveler said...

No sir, that is not a GA lic. Plate. That is some cutesy clip art job. We do not allow the S&C on a Lic plate in GA. http://motor.etax.dor.ga.gov/motor/plates/platesamples.aspx

As far as a returning Veteran with a PH membership card. He is not a member of a Regular lodge, and must petition for degrees. I am a 3 time combat veteran, so you can ease up on that rhetoric. There are black men in Regular Military lodges at Ft. Benning.

Chris Hodapp said...

I stand corrected. The image above was from a proposal for a Georgia Masonic plate in 2003, which obviously was not approved. Seen here.

GATraveler said...

I did edit my post, only because there was some trouble and a double post. I had no inention of altering my orig post, and I don't think I left anything out.

I guess I'll just try and make one point, and then I wont post again. I'm not great with words. You shouldnt paint everyone who doesnt want blacks in our lodge a racist I've actually fought to defend africans, in africa. I am a deacon in a mixed church and call several blacks my friends. Thats not a big deal, but Im just trying to make the point that its just not so simple as pointing a finger and yelling racist.

Ok Im done. I do wish the best for you all.

Chris Hodapp said...

Brother, I get hot on this issue because of my personal experiences with it. I had a member of my lodge—who I had never met or seen in lodge before—stand up in a funeral home at the viewing of his deceased wife and scream at the top of his lungs that I had destroyed his lodge because as Master I had allowed black men to join. At a funeral 6 years later, a deceased Mason's black co-worker who was a Mason in another lodge was going to take part in our service. The dead man's brother, who was also a member of our lodge, came up and told our Master to get rid of the n—— or don't bother with the service.

I have had a dozen incidents of white Masons telling me I didn't "get it" because Freemasonry has nothing to do with universal brotherhood. Well, no black Mason ever told me that. No black Mason ever told me white men couldn't be Masons, or couldn't join their lodges.

I thought our ritual says it's the "internal, and not the external qualifications of a man that Masonry regards." Or does that just get dragged out to explain wearing muddy overalls to lodge?

What offends me most about the Georgia and Gate City situation is that Masons who are not members of Gate City felt they had the right to file charges and endanger the charter of another lodge. No lodge in Georgia was denied the right to reject any visitor, but that wasn't enough. And now you say there are black men in lodges at Ft. Benning? How do those Masons get treated when they leave the lodges close to the base and go traveling? Aren't they violating Georgia "traditions" too? And if the average Georgia Mason drove past them by the side of the road and saw them making the GHSofD, what are mainstream Georgia Masons taught about that? Do you pull over and ask to see a dues card first? Do you drive right past because chances are 99.9% they are "clandestine?"

Do you understand at all why the Masonic world outside of Georgia (and Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, S. Carolina, West Virginia) reads this stuff and can't believe it still goes on? If we all agree to stop calling it racism, how then do we explain it—with euphemisms like "tradition"? It seems that it's not the activity or intent you don't like, it's just the word. And if it really is racism after all, are the rest of us simply supposed to accept it without trying to do what is best for the fraternity as a whole, as well as whispering good counsel?

Masonic Traveler said...

GA Traveler, Just to comment on the disposition of exclusion by race because of tradition, really is morally repugnant. Espicially as the father of two sons that I hope one day decide to take the degrees, but who also happen to be of half African American descent. To your states standard, they woudl not be accepted, essentially, because they are of the wrong race.

So no matter the bias, the reason for the exclusion should not cloud the enlightened mind of an institution of men that claims to be of higher moral character, tradition or not.

lightman said...

GA traveler said...."We see them in Atlanta, with our sacred emblems on their cars. Hats sideways, music shaking the windows, drinking and carrying on"...Once again I reiterate my comment that introductions are in order. I have seen our sacred emblems on 4X4's loaded down with drunk white boys, and don't even talk about how some of the GA Shriners behave out of town.

Zach Edwardson said...

I know that I am late to the party so to speak, as a mainstream NC mason who waited for his application till the PHM question was rightfully sorted, I have found that most Masons that I have spoken with in North Carolina only find the fact that there is two Grand Lodges in a boundary odd, and many felt it would of been better if the AF&A Grand Lodge and the PH Grand Lodge had merged. However, I am disappointed that many members in a most unmasonic manner tar the entire Brotherhood in the south while not looking at issues they themselves face. I have dealt with one southern brother who did not want blacks inside the lodge, but he was a product of his time (he is now in his late 80's), but I have dealt with a number of brothers from the north who have shared this same unmasonic belief that brothers should not be of African blood.

Cotton said...

I hate to tell you guys, but this controversy has not helped remove the image of freemasons as racists or secret klansmen (particularly in the south).

Forcing segregation on another group who does not want it is not only immoral, its forcing someone to bow to your will for your own prejudices.

Bro. J.Luis CastaƱeda said...

Cotton

This is a Masonic value:

"Masonry unites men of every country, sect, and opinion, and conciliates true friendship among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance."


Segregation is a Klan value.

apostlepoll said...

The African American Brothers in my Lodges are cream of the crop.
I don't go to Lodge with any Black Trash, but I go to Lodge with Plenty of White Trash.
About 5 more years worth of masonic Funerals and we'll be there.

Lee C Smith Jr
P.M. and Current W.M.
Aldine Lodge #1412 AF&AM

Chris Hodapp said...

WBro. Lee,
I don't really make that remark about Masonic funerals myself, because I figured out at some point they might be talking about me.

apostlepoll said...

My parents were old enought o be my grandparents and because of that I was raised in an environment full of bigotry. Bigotry being defined as feeling that someone is less than you because they are different. The strange part is it is not recognizable to the bigot themselves. I have to make a concentrated effort to reflect on my own feelings and actions. A young hispanic male cut me off and slowed down. I almost wanted to take his life. When it all calmed down, I asked myself if i would have been as upset if it was a little old white lady, or even an older hispanic male. The answer is no, I wouldn't have been that upset. So it reveals to me a trait, a thought process of having a contempt prior to any situation, concerning something that I assume is true about this person, based on one glance.
It is not easy to view your own stupidity.

This time in which we live, where I have never seen a "whites only" sign, is an age of enlightenment. I fear the darkness of the generation to follow, being devoid of books.

They WILL put me in the ground one day, hopefully with honor. I feel blessed not to have lived one generation before or after my own.

GTMan48 said...

I am a Geogia Mason and proud to be one. Maybe Chris can answer a question. While it's true that the Grand Lodge of England granted a Charter to Prince Hall's African Lodge isn't it true also that they were dropped from the rolls of "regular" lodges after a period of about 13 years for not submitting required information and payments of some kind? If so would that not make PH Lodges "clandestine"?

Chris Hodapp said...

They were dropped from the rolls of the newly merged United Grand Lodge of England in 1813 when the Antients and Moderns kissed and made up. Grand Lodge had not received payments and communications sent from Boston to London, but also recall there was another war going on at that time between the US and Britain. Hall did no more than the individual states did when they created their own grand lodges after the Revolution (multiple grand lodges were at work in Massachusetts for years after the Revolution ended before three came to a truce and merged together). Hall's group had a charter in their hand, sent their money and reports across the Atlantic, and were ignored for years. In the vacuum of communication, they finally expanded on their own.