On April 22, 2010 the following was sent to those member Grand Lodges of the Conference of Grand Masters of North America.
I write to provide some explanation of the actions taken by Steubenville Lodge #45, regarding the Masonic membership of Frank J. Haas.
Frank J. Haas was Grand Master of The Grand Lodge of West Virginia in 2006. The following items were proposed by him and passed at the 2006 Grand Lodge Session held in Wheeling, but the vote was abruptly set aside less than two weeks later. This was and is again the current Masonic law under The Grand Lodge of West Virginia.
1. The Grand Lodge of West Virginia forbids the Pledge of Allegiance at lodge meetings.
2. The Grand Lodge of West Virginia is the only Grand Lodge to refuse by law to allow DeMolay, Rainbow, or Job’s Daughters to meet in any lodge rooms. Their lodges are forbidden from donating any money to any charitable organization, including Masonic youth organizations or permitting them to earn money on the lodge premises.
3. The Grand Lodge of West Virginia is the only Grand Lodge in the United States not to belong to the Masonic Service Association.
4. The Grand Lodge of West Virginia forbids the charter of a Royal Arch Chapter to hang in its lodge rooms. No Masonic art that includes symbols of any other Masonic organization except the symbolic lodge can hang in West Virginia lodge rooms (this includes portraits of Past Grand High Priests and Past Grand Commanders). The Grand Lodge of West Virginia has banned books, movies, slideshows, songs, CD’s, an Ohio singer, and websites.
5. Family members cannot be pallbearers at a Masonic Funeral in West Virginia unless they are Masons. The ashes of a deceased brother cannot receive a Masonic Funeral in West Virginia, because it is by their Masonic law declared “undignified.”
6. Almost no one with a physical disability can be elected to receive the degree of Freemasonry in a Lodge under The Grand Lodge of West Virginia. The cause of the injury, be it military service or anything else, does not matter.
The above-referenced reforms were passed as part of the “Wheeling Reforms” at the 2006 Grand Lodge Session of The Grand Lodge of West Virginia but were set aside by the succeeding Grand Master less than two weeks later. That action has brought about the turmoil in the Craft in West Virginia and ultimately resulted in the expulsion of Frank J. Haas, the Grand Master who proposed the reforms.
All of these topics have been the subject of much discussion on the websites, including http://freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.com and masonic-crusade.com and blogs and the Philalethes publications. This has also been widely reported in detail in the popular press by the Associated Press and with a color spread in the New York Times.
I have observed the situation for two and a half years. In a most respectful tone, I wrote to three Grand Masters of West Virginia and offered my good offices to mediate its conflict. All offers were ignored or rejected.
Steubenville Lodge #45 regularly received and investigated a petition from Frank J. Haas to receive the degrees of Freemasonry in that Lodge.
He made a full disclosure of the Notice of Expulsion by the Past Grand Master of West Virginia and answered all questions presented to him by the Steubenville Lodge's Committee of Investigation. The Lodge did the necessary background work, including a home visit. They were convinced that he was a good man and true, and he met all requirements, including residency for the requisite time, for membership.
I thoroughly researched the Code of The Grand Lodge of Ohio and determined that there is nothing to prevent his receiving the degrees. Inasmuch as he is an Ohio resident, the Constitution of The Grand Lodge of Ohio confers jurisdiction over his membership to The Grand Lodge of Ohio.
After he was unanimously elected to receive the degrees by Steubenville Lodge #45, I concurred with the Lodge that the laws of The Grand Lodge of Ohio had been complied with, and the Lodge proceeded to confer the three degrees of Freemasonry on Frank J. Haas, who for years had been an honorary member of that lodge. On April 17, 2010, he received the three degrees of Freemasonry in Steubenville Lodge.
On the next business day, the Grand Master of West Virginia withdrew fraternal relations with The Grand Lodge of Ohio because of the action taken by Steubenville Lodge.
The Grand Lodge of West Virginia has withdrawn its fraternal recognition of other Grand Lodges before. In 1991, Charles E. Forsythe, then Grand Master, issued two edicts regarding Prince Hall Masons. His edicts forbade members of The Grand Lodge of West Virginia to be present in Lodges under the Grand Lodges of Connecticut, Wisconsin, Nebraska, State of Washington, Colorado, Minnesota, and North Dakota, all of which had recognized the regular Prince Hall Grand Lodges in their states.
Despite the unfortunate action taken by The Grand Lodge of West Virginia, I am convinced that Steubenville Lodge #45 acted consistently with the Code of The Grand Lodge of Ohio, and I find no fault on their part or that of Brother Haas.
The Grand Lodge of Ohio acted consistently with Ohio law. We ask our sister Grand Lodges to respect our law.
Terry W. Posey
Addendum to Blog Article on 4/23/2010:
I have been informed by the Grand Master of West Virginia, that this withdrawl does NOT interfere with fraternal relations of appendant bodies and that members can continue those relationships.
A quote by Martin Luther King: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about those things that matter."
Below is an edict dated April 19th, 2010 by West Virginia Grand Master Gregory A. Riley, Sr., affirming that Frank Haas remains an expelled Mason, as far as the Grand Lodge of West Virginia is concerned. Click to enlarge.