The MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia was founded in 1875. The national Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North and South Jurisdictions Inc. was founded in 1893, and is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. (It is not related in any way to the Tampa-based mainstream Shriners International). The AEAONMS in Virginia today has 718 members, and another 309 members of the related Daughters of Isis. Just like their mainstream Masonic counterparts, to be a member of the Shrine, one first has to be a Prince Hall Freemason.
According to the lawsuit, the trouble stems from an incident in 2006 at a benefit football game in Norfolk sponsored by the Shriners. Then-Grand Master Curtis S. Vaughan Jr. allegedly became upset that he was not treated with proper respect by the Shriners. As a result, the Grand Lodge exerted a claim that Shrine Chapters in Virginia were required to seek the Grand Lodge's permission to meet and hold programs in the state. The Shrine has ignored the GL's authority. Vaughan and his successor, MW Larry D. Christian are now accused by the plaintiffs of illegally suspending more than 100 Masons who refused to give up their Shrine membership. Likewise, the PHA-related Order of the eastern Star has suspended members who refused to give up their Daughters of Isis memberships.
A May 11th, 2009 letter posted on the Shrine's website from Imperial Potentate Oliver Washington Jr. reads, in part
Many of the members of the Imperial Council and the Imperial Court Daughters of Isis
have inquired as to the Imperial Council’s response to the various actions and edicts of
those Grand Lodges “terminating fraternal relations” between A.E.A.O.N.M.S., Inc.
and the respective Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodges and summarily
suspending certain Master Masons and Eastern Stars because of their service in
Shrinedom. Please rest assured the Imperial Council is ascertaining an appropriate
reply, to squash the unlawful actions of those Grand Lodges, and their Officers
wrongfully suspending Master Mason, Eastern Stars, and interfering with the
sovereignty and business affairs of the A.E.A.O.N.M.S., Inc.
This implies that there are more Prince Hall grand lodges than just Virginia's that are attempting to put pressure on the Shrine's independence.
In mainstream jurisdictions, this kind of turf war is a rare, but not unheard of, situation. It will be interesting to see who blinks first, or indeed if the Court steps in to solve the matter.