Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Grand Lodge of West Virginia Withdraws Recognition of Ohio

This was posted today on the Grand Lodge of Ohio's website:

The Grand Master of West Virginia, Gregory A. Riley, Sr., issued an edict on April 19, 2010 withdrawing fraternal recognition from the Grand Lodge of Ohio because Steubenville Lodge No. 45 elected Frank Haas to membership and conferred the three degrees of Masonry on him on Saturday, April 17, 2010.

There is no information on the Grand Lodge of West Virginia AF&AM website, which has not been updated, apart from the Grand Master's name, in at least four years.

27 comments:

james vien said...

Why for?

Nathan said...

And so it begins.

All you guys who think Ohio did a great thing, get back to me in about a year and we'll compare notes.

zanesfriend said...

I was in Lodge Monday when this decree was announced.

Later, when the Secretary said that there was deaths, someone yelled, "Of whom? Freemasonry in West Virginia?"

I am disgusted and ashamed of my Grand Lodge.

The GL of Virginia should (a) withdraw recognition from WV, (b) reassert jurisdiction over the region, and (c) tell the old lodges that were originally chartered from VA that they can have their VA charters back if they want them.

Bruce Alan Wilson

J said...

Under what authority does the WV GL think it has to prevent the OH GL from making an OH resident a member of their jurisdiction?

Is not this Haas fellow a resident of OH now? So he is now no longer under WV jurisdiction, correct?

So now the WV GL thinks it can try to forcefully threaten the OH GL about who they let in?

I'm new in the ways of the Craft. So I appreciate any and all answers regarding the Craft.

Jim

Chris said...

I believe that when a jurisdiction accepts a member from another jurisdiction who has moved into its territory, it would normally take into consideration any history that member has with the former jurisdiction.

Now, I believe that WVa has done a terrible injustice, and I am happy that Ohio has chosen to accept Bro. Haas. However, as there is no "Supreme Court of Freemasonry", there is no way to compel WVa to recognise Ohio and also no way to compel Ohio to recognise Bro. Haas's expulsion from WVa. All that being said, it is interesting that Ohio has chosen to initiate, pass, and raise Bro. Haas as though he had never been a regular Freemason. Does that mean that, de facto, Ohio no longer recognises WVa as regular?

The good thing about all this is that it is now not just a WVa problem, but a problem for Freemasonry as a whole. Will WVa Freemasons be obliged not to sit in a Lodge attached to a Grand Lodge which recognises GL Ohio? It's unthinkable that Ohio lodges should be shunned by most other GLs.

There are consequences to every action. Bro. Hass's expulsion has now turned into a national problem, and an international one too: if a brother from WVa and a brother from Ohio should turn up at my Installation as Master next month, we will happily sit and work with them both. However, the WVa brother would probably be obliged to withdraw. (Not that they are likely to turn up, although we would love to see them: we already have my brother and another Brother from Massachusetts scheduled to attend, volcano willing).

Perhaps UGLE could step up as a relatively neutral arbitrator and as "custodian" of the international recognition process to knock some sense into WVa.

Bro Chris Hansen, Master-Elect
Goliath Lodge #5595 UGLE
(but not speaking for the Lodge or for UGLE)

2 BOWL CAIN said...

Ah, Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth at work.
Tolerance?
This is the Adult masonic group, right?
This is not the kids group doing this, is it?
learn to Subdue one's Passions?
Etc......

Jim, you ask how can the GLoWV try to force the GLoOH into doing something? That is because they are used to making demands and members jumping. It is becoming fairly new for members to take stands now.

It is refreshing!

Redbeardpa said...

WOW! For a fraternity that has endured for hundreds of years and numerous wars that have pitted brothers against brothers but always remained cordial towards each other, this is quite sad. It stinks of politics and they should all be ashamed of their behavior. I wonder what the GAOTU thinks of this.
Glenn W. Henry, P.M.

Scout32 said...

While what the GL of Ohio seems to have done a good thing, it doesn't make it the right thing. I wholeheartedly disagree with the treatment Bro. Haas has received from the GL of WV. This is the problem as I perceive it - Ohio has just allowed an expelled Mason from another jurisdiction to become a member of one of their lodges. Through this action, they have interjected themselves into the business of the GL of WV.

I hate to sound like I'm defending the GL of WV, but I don't see this ending well.

Chris Kimmel

Steve said...

Nathan, it has been 46 years since the Civil Rights Act. Exactly how long did you think this situation should continue?

Mark Koltko-Rivera said...

Is the text of the edict itself posted anywhere? If not, could it be?

The question behind this question is: what was the rationale given, if any?

In addition, what can be said about the actual residence status of the former GM of WVa? Is he a resident in West Virginia, Ohio, or both?

And, most importantly: Were you, Chris, and Lady Alice able to "Escape from Europe"? Perhaps with the help of 'Snake' Plissken? (A little "Shanghai Rules" at the ticket counter, perhaps?)

Pressing Towards The LIGHT said...

Fraternal Greetings All,

I think this situation is indicative of the divide in mainstream Masonry. A lot of brothers in different areas of the country don't realize that there are two types of mainstream Masonry: Southern and everybody else. Being a Virginia resident, I have seen both at play.

Now I think a more interesting question should be: are the southern lodges that do not recognize Prince Hall and/or forbid african americans from joining their lodges then "irregular" masonic bodies.

The United Grand Lodge of England has this to say:

http://www.ugle.org.uk/static/masonry/freemasonrys-external-relations.htm

"It must adhere to the established principles and tenets (the 'Ancient Landmarks') and customs of the Craft, and insist on their being observed within its Lodges.

Irregular and Unrecognised Grand Lodges

There are some self-styled Masonic bodies that do not meet these standards, e.g. which do not require a belief in a Supreme Being, or which allow or encourage their members to participate as such in political matters. These bodies are recognised by the Grand Lodge of England as being Masonically irregular, and Masonic contact with them is forbidden."

And since we know that, even in the EA degree, the qualifications for membership are:

"Being a man, freeborn, of lawful age, and well recommended"

And that authors such as Mackey have defined one of the "ancient landmarks" as:

"~ 22 ~

THE EQUALITY OF ALL MASONS is another Landmark of the Order. This equality has no reference to any subversion of those gradations of rank which have been instituted by the usages of society. The monarch, the nobleman or the gentleman is entitled to all the influence, and receives all the respect which rightly belong to his exalted position. But the doctrine of Masonic equality implies that, as children of one great Father, we meet in the Lodge upon the level-that on that level we are all travelling to one predestined goal-that in the Lodge genuine merit shall receive more respect than boundless wealth, and that virtue and knowledge alone should be the basis of all Masonic honours, and be rewarded with preferment. When the labours of the Lodge are over, and the brethren have retired from their peaceful retreat, to mingle once more with the world, each will then again resume that social position, and exercise the privileges of that rank, to which the customs of society entitle him."

Then isn't candidates who meet those qualifications then a Masonically irregular practice? How about having statutes in place, for example WVA and GA, which clearly stat that MAsonry is the prerogative of Caucasians, and that "negros" have no place within it's confines? Isn't this Masonically irregular? Then are these lodges irregular? If lodges such as GOdF are irregular for not acknowledging the "landmarks" then aren't lodges as well?

All food for thought,
LJ

Warbard said...

Well, normally I would say that this will be resolved by all the GMs during the GM Conference, but in this case, the Grand Lodge of West Virginia does not participate.

That being said, what do these cadre of WV "selects" fear by giving a voice back to their members?

Thanks to MW Haas, we now know and we also learned how drunk with power the Grand Lodge of West Virginia has become that they believe that they can belt out one edict after another to dictate / discipline / subjugate not only those that they disagree with within their own membership, but now they will dictate their own wants outside their Grand Jurisdiction upon another Grand Lodge? I don't think so.

Bravo for the Grand Lodge of Ohio; do not cow-tow to this childish tantrum. I personally feel that we as a universal fraternity do not do enough to correct these internal problems; we get so involved with the politics of a thing that we forget that we are supposed to stand for what's right in all things regardless.

Those who feel Ohio did the wrong thing I say this: If you feel that the GLofWV is in the right then why did they reject the vote of their own members and why did they remove a brother without a fair trial?

Ohio did the right thing and in the right manner; the reason why Freemasonry endures is because every grand jurisdiction keeps the other in check. If Ohio did wrong, then other Grand Lodges will reject Ohio, but if WV is wrong, then Ohio will retain her status amongst her peers. Gestapo tactics are not masonic and just maybe Ohio was just correcting an error as seen base upon the will of our WV brethren and not their Grand Lodge. I for one will remain an advocate for both Ohio and MW Haas here in Fredericksburg and will be working with my circle of contacts here in Virginia to keep this issue in play; but in the end, I feel that only the brethren of West Virginia can fix this problem; they will need to reclaim their own Grand Lodge. But they will have support.

MP said...

I believe that when a jurisdiction accepts a member from another jurisdiction who has moved into its territory, it would normally take into consideration any history that member has with the former jurisdiction.

Yes, but.
Expulsion means the man is no longer a Mason, and thus not subject to the laws of the GL which expelled him.

He is like a profane.

Now, I believe that WVa has done a terrible injustice, and I am happy that Ohio has chosen to accept Bro. Haas. However, as there is no "Supreme Court of Freemasonry", there is no way to compel WVa to recognise Ohio and also no way to compel Ohio to recognise Bro. Haas's expulsion from WVa.

Ohio DID recognize the expulsion - they recognized it as meaning, as do most GL's, that WV had relinquished all authority over Haas, and stripped him of all rights and privileges accorded unto him as a member.

All that being said, it is interesting that Ohio has chosen to initiate, pass, and raise Bro. Haas as though he had never been a regular Freemason.

What the heck does an expulsion by a GL mean, if not that?
It means that Haas was no longer a Mason - that means he is Mr. Haas, who, of his own free will and accord, and desirous of learning the mysteries of Freemasonry, petitioned an Ohio Lodge in whose jurisdiction he lives.

Does that mean that, de facto, Ohio no longer recognises WVa as regular?

No, and why should it mean that?

Once WV expelled him, they quit their claim on him - he isn't theirs anymore, and it is as if he never was.

MP said...

This is the problem as I perceive it - Ohio has just allowed an expelled Mason from another jurisdiction to become a member of one of their lodges.

No, no, and a third time, no.

They allowed Mr. Frank Haas, who was not a Mason at the time, to petition, like any other profane, for the degrees of Freemasonry.

They investigated him thoroughly, and considered his former status as a Mason, and consulted their jurisprudence committee, which found that an expelled Mason cannot claim the rights and privileges of Masonry ... and that the jurisdiction which expelled him no longer has him as a member, and thus, has no legal standing over him or his actions.

Through this action, they have interjected themselves into the business of the GL of WV.

NO.
Answer this question, if you will: is Frank Haas a member of the GL of WV?

Is he a resident of WV?

If the answer to both of those is no, then what business of WV's has been disturbed?

Tom Accuosti said...

They investigated him thoroughly, and considered his former status as a Mason, and consulted their jurisprudence committee, which found that an expelled Mason cannot claim the rights and privileges of Masonry ... and that the jurisdiction which expelled him no longer has him as a member, and thus, has no legal standing over him or his actions.

This is, near as I can determine, how it works in Conn. I've been searching our GL rules, and there is surprisingly very little on "expelled" or "expulsion," presumably because expelled Masons rarely re-apply. I should add that everything that I found pertains to the reinstatement of Masons in Connecticut, and that there is nothing specifically to cover a case like this.

The salient point in Conn is that the lodge needs the approval of the GL in order to allow an expelled Mason to apply for membership; a lodge simply can not accept an expelled member.

Significantly, I can't find anything to the effect of the rules of some other jurisdiction affecting our own; in fact, our constitution expressly states that the Grand Lodge has the final say in the area of it's territorial jurisdiction.

The only contact with another jurisdiction that is required is in the case where a plural member (say, somebody originally from another state who affiliated with a lodge in Conn) is suspended for non-payment of dues; Conn will send a notice to his GL.

So, as far as I can see, MP has it exactly right - assuming that the rules governing the re-application of expelled Masons in Ohio are similar to those in Conn.

Chris Hodapp said...

Just as a point of history, the Grand Lodge of West Virginia has withdrawn recognition of other states before in recent memory. MW Charles E. Forsythe, WV's Grand Master in 1991, issued two edicts forbidding members of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, A.F.&.A.M., to be present in mainstream lodges in Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Washington state, and Wisconsin.

Why?

Because those states had recognized their Prince Hall counterparts.

I have not determined whether those edicts are still in force.

West Virginia, BTW, remains one of ten US grand lodges that still does not recognize Prince Hall Freemasonry, and in fact, Frank Haas' very brief public conversation (little more than a greeting) with the Grand Master of Prince Hall Masons in WV during his year as Grand Master was cited as improper.

MP said...

Br. Tom, as I commented in another one of Chris' posts about the situation, Massachusetts sees it differently:

Once suspended or expelled the person cannot re-apply to Masonry in any jurisdiction until he has been Re-Instated by vote of the Grand Lodge.

Yes, we (and most all jurisdictions) claim jurisdiction over Suspended or Expelled members.


I find that odd, as it could lead to someone being expelled because of their religion, or skin color, and never being able to be readmitted in another GL, due to the expelling GL refusing to clear him.

I find it to be dangerous, in fact.

Gregory Wentzel said...

Drunk with power is the correct information. MWB Haas was expelled without the benefit of trial. What is forgotten is that two other brethren were also expelled. One was summonsed to MWB Haas' lodge and expelled along side him for being a part of the Masonic Crusade, a fact that I have under oath testified is untrue. Another was removed from his office (WM) and expelled without edict or any form of paperwork. I understand the concern about sovereignty, but I also know that whatever your lodge experience is, it is NOT like it is here. It is hard for you to understand how cultish and repressed it is. There are good masons in WV but they are afraid.

It is interesting to note that in 1865 when the Grand Lodge of Virginia was unwilling to allow the GLWV to go forth, the GLOh sent a PGM to install the Grand officers... GM Posey made mention of this historic fact when he spoke after Frank's raising. Ohio has always been willing to step in and do the right.

S&F
greg

slkinsey said...

As far as I am aware, most MM obls in the US contain language to the effect that one will not have Masonic intercourse with, among other things, a Mason who has been suspended or expelled and has not been restored.

Presumably, when one GL recognizses another GL as regular, then part of what they are saying in effect is that the way the other GL regulates the Craft under its jurisdiction is legitimate and correct. Part of this would include the mutual understanding that if one jurisdiction decides with respect to an individual that they will either make him a Mason or suspend/expel him from the Craft, the other will respect that decision and abide by it.

Therefore, I have to believe that it is extremely rare that one jurisdiction would allow a man to join the Craft who had been expelled from Masonry in another jurisdiction with which it is in amity.

In allowing Bro. Haas to (re-)join the Craft in Ohio, that Grand Lodge is effectively saying that they believe the GLWV acted improperly and unMasonically in expelling him. It is inevitable that the GLWV would react negatively to this challenge.

Rolf1960 said...

@ MP
If a GL is an independent body and if we see the system of exclusive territorial jurisdiction -(in my understanding one big point in the PHA Recognition debate)- how (and for what reason) can a GL claim jurisdiction over an expelled member in another state or country?

There is no such a thing like a masonic world court, as far I know.

What we do have is "basic princibles of GL Recognition, as quoted by"Pressing towards the light".
Mackey List of Landmarks is very questionable and plays no role here in europe.


If John Doe is not longer a citizen in WV, he is living now in Germany for example. Then all furrther acions fall under the jurisdiction of the UGLsG

Tom Accuosti said...

Once suspended or expelled the person cannot re-apply to Masonry in any jurisdiction until he has been Re-Instated by vote of the Grand Lodge.


I suddenly realized the implications of this. Mass is claiming jurisdiction over a member, even if he moves to another geographic jurisdiction.

Didn't the early residents of Mass throw some tea into Boston Harbor to protest just this kind of thinking?

Chris Hodapp said...

Are you saying there is a tea party movement afoot in the fraternity?

Or should be?

Rolf1960 said...

i've stumbled about this quote,which could have been a comment about the situation.
In 1858 Albert Pike gave an address at the annual meeting of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana. In it he offered the following as the timeless motto of Freemasonry:

"Devotion to the interests of the People; detestation of Tyranny; sacred regard for the rights of Free Thought, Free Speech, and Free Conscience; implacable hostility to Intolerance, bigotry, Arrogance and Usurpation; respect and regard for labor, which makes human nature noble; and scorn and contempt for all monopolies that minister to insolent and pampered luxury."

So mote it be!
Rolf

WM 609 2009 said...

Brothers of the Craft,
Hello from the Great State of Ohio and juristiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ohio. I am greatly saddened by the decision of the GL of WV to decree the GL of OHIO and all the brethren to be clandestine.

I humbly served as Worshipful Master of Belpre Lodge 609, Belpre, OH in 2009. Belpre Lodge has had a rich tradition of accepting our brethren from West Virginia lodges while in labor and refreshment. Since we are a river town across from Parkersburg, WV we work, play and worship in our churches with each other. I am personal friends with many WV Masons and have a stepbrother who is a WV Mason.

The actions of the GL of WV are radical, political, archaeic in basis and damaging to the furtherment of the Craft. The only thing they serve to do is hurt Freemasonry for everyone. How distressing that brothers only minutes away from one another can no longer fellowship as Masons lest they be censured or expelled.

After speaking with a brother from WV at church today he was dumbfounded that he would not be able to visit our lodge or vice versa. He even questioned whether we would be allowed to talk. I told him that no one will dictate who I can and cannot associate with outside of a tyled lodge. It is just most unfortunate that we cannot "...dwell together in unity!".

The brethren of WV have an opportunity to correct a wrong. They can elect a new Grand Master who will vacate this edict and hopefully restore the brotherhood to it's previous more harmonious state.

God Bless all the thousands of Masons affected by this decision and Masons world-wide, bring peace to this organization so we can dwell in harmony once again. Amen

So Mote It Be.

Tim Rice, PM
Belpre Lodge #609

Steve said...

@Tim Rice,

As a brother from WV, I will address more of this later. For now, just to clear the water respecting your comment, the edict declared by the GLofWV does NOT state that WV Masons cannot associate with our Ohio Brethren. Quite the contrary, however, it DOES state that we cannot hold Masonic communication with Ohio brethren. We have a brother now a member of our lodge that demitted from Ohio when he and his family moved here. His demit was caught in the midst of this unfortunate mess. We had already elected him and the paperwork was on the desk of the GLofOhio when the edict was declared. So, for those that say or think that the GLofWV is drunk with power or unwilling to work with the GLofOhio, I say, the GLofWV was willing to allow this brother to be accepted, because his petition had been voted on and accepted by our lodge. They could have just as easily allowed this brother to be a man without a lodge!

BorderTownMason said...

Any word yet on whether the GL of WV will be revisiting their decision in this matter and possibly reversing the edict?

S&F, BorderTownMason

Chris Hodapp said...

None.