Tuesday, April 20, 2010

PGM Frank Haas Initiated, Passed and Raised In Ohio

The following was posted on the official Grand Master of Ohio's blogsite last night:

Frank Haas is a Judge in West Virginia and until several years ago was Grand Master of West Virginia. The story of his being expelled from the Grand Lodge of West Virginia is well-documented in various Masonic and other publications. I have reviewed as many as were available, including West Virginia's Proceedings, the New York Times and www.masonic-crusade.com .

He moved to Ohio last year. After that, he petitioned Steubenville Lodge # 45 for the degrees of Freemasonry.

I thoroughly researched the Code of the Grand Lodge of Ohio and there is nothing to prevent his receiving these 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 and the lodge's membership.

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 Lodge's Committee of Investigation. The Lodge did the necessary background work, including a home visit. They were assured that he was a good man and true, and he met all requirements, including residency for the requisite time, for membership.

Steubenville Lodge # 45 gave a unanimous ballot approving his membership.

On April 17, he received the three degrees of Freemasonry in Steubenville Lodge.

Terry W. Posey
Grand Master
Grand Lodge of Ohio


Meanwhile, Hass' lawsuit against the Grand Lodge of West Virginia is still going forward, and is scheduled for July. I have been told by more than one West Virginia Mason that the grand lodge has spent nearly $100,000 in its court battle to keep their Past Grand Master out of the fraternity. That may or may not be an exaggeration, but it seems like an awfully big price tag for the brethren of WV to shoulder. Now that Ohio has taken Haas in, my personal hope is that West Virginia will not try to retaliate against them, and that surrounding states will simply remain neutral.

Recaps of the expulsion of Past Grand Master Haas in 2007 and the subsequent actions can be found here.

20 comments:

Nathan said...

I suspect the GL of Ohio will end up regretting this.

Chris Hodapp said...

I don't think any other GL wants any part of this. I hope not.

2 BOWL CAIN said...

I hope MWPGM Haas gets into the line of the GLoOh

Ken said...

I applaud the Grand Lodge of Ohio in taking this step. It is just and courageous.

Bro. Haas is, from everything I've read and heard, a credit to the Fraternity and a shining example of what it means to be a Mason.

I believe the next step all, let's say "progressive", Grand Lodges need to take is dropping of recognition of those Grand Lodges who insist on upholding the immoral policies of exclusion that fly in the face of true Masonic values.

Steve said...

Good for the Grand Lodge of Ohio.

I appreciate their integrity.

Ken, I doubt that will happen. We do not even call racism by name, let alone take a stand against it.

I fear we are going to do nothing. The courts will eventually enforce the law of the land, and none too soon.

Masonic Traveler said...

Good to hear Br. Haas is back in the books of the Fraternity. It does seem a bit of a snub to W. Virginia and I wonder what it will do to future relations.

Nathan said...

What Ohio has done is not a snub to West Virginia, but a slap in the face to Masonic tradition and jurisprudence.

Sorry I can't applaud it, but I know what my obligation says.

Addison_II said...

This will probably have some repercussions from W. Va's side. However, I think this is a time when the true principles of fraternity are being listened to. IMHO, Bro. Haas should have never been expelled in the first place.

Chris Hodapp said...

Masonic history is filled with violations and selective application of jurisprudence, tradition, and unwritten laws. I know what Nathan is saying about precedence. Tomorrow what if the Grand Lodge of West Virginia decided to grant a new WV charter to Halcyon Lodge in Cleveland - how could the Grand Lodge of Ohio possibly object to such an infringement of their territory now? I don't have a good answer for that.

But life is full of 'on the other hands'. OTOH, US Masonry (and worldwide Masonry, for that matter) is in a period of dramatic change. What I am hearing a lot of from active Masons moving into officer and grand officer positions is that what is morally right needs to start trumping bureaucratic defenses of "I don't make the laws, buddy, I just enforce 'em." Giving GMs the power to suspend without trial is increasingly seen as an easily abused weapon that needs to be curbed.

The new crop of internet-savy brethren and young men moving up in our ranks are tired of grand lodges that move like molasses, behave unprofessionally, stifle legal attempts at change, and worst of all, waste their time. Their businesses don't behave that way, and being told "You just don't know how this all works" reeks of a brand of good ol' boy cronyism that they dislike intensely. They want transparency, and attempts by entrenched groups to stamp out internet communications of activities and decisions they hope stay hidden are seen as hypocritical, futile, and in direct opposition to what is morally right. Freemasonry is supposed to be about big ideas of brotherhood, not the whimsical application of rules, propelled by clashes of egos.

So yes, I agree, that Ohio may have opened a can of worms. WV may retaliate, and put pressure on other surrounding GLs to isolate Ohio. Hopefully, such entreaties will be ignored, just as the New York/Washington DC imbroglio was ignored by other GLs. Frank was legally an Ohio resident, and the Grand Lodge of Ohio can certainly decide to interpret its own rules as to who is eligible for membership without getting West Virginia's permission. I don't think Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky have any desire to line up and let WVa dictate who they can confer degrees on.

The Freemasons of West Virginia have the rules and management style that they deserve because they have not demanded changes and improvement forcefully enough to overcome the fear of being punted to the curb. When there is a critical enough mass of dissent there, when the rank and file members and officers finally have had enough of being referred to as the North Korea of US Freemasonry, another Frank Haas will find himself in the Big Chair and make the changes so desperately needed, and make them stick this time.

In the meantime, Steubenville has a fine new member.

Masonic Traveler said...

Was how this all started any less a slap to Masonic Tradition? how is the GL of O any more or less at fault for exercising their will in welcoming Haas back in? Does WVa's decision trump Ohio's? Shouldn't they stand on equal footing?

I think "tradition" is held in to high esteem when one cannot see its errors or flaws and work to correct them. At some point tradition had a source, and to assume that its source is any less flawed than anything assembled today is itself folly.

When rules (or laws) are flawed, we change them, and if the change is not to the liking of some, then they need evaluate their position in the body that constituted that change. This goes for anyone subject to the changes made around them.

Steve said...

Nathan, with all due respect, I know what my obligation says, too.

The flagrant disregard for Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth have left the fraternity in this position, not the corrective actions of the G.L. of Ohio.

Racism is racism. Let's move on.

2 BOWL CAIN said...

It is good to see the GLoOH handle this situation properly!

Holding true to an Obligation in the face of Truth and Justice is nothing more than being a Slave. Freemasonry's Obligations were in no way to make an American a Slave in any manner.
Duty to Country, God and Self is dictated to us to come first before any masonic obligation.
America is about Truth and Justice, so then it should be a duty of all American Masons.

Good Job GLoOH

MP said...

Tomorrow what if the Grand Lodge of West Virginia decided to grant a new WV charter to Halcyon Lodge in Cleveland - how could the Grand Lodge of Ohio possibly object to such an infringement of their territory now? I don't have a good answer for that.

Apples to oranges - Haas is a resident of Ohio, and therefore Ohio automatically has jurisdiction over him. WV has relinquished jurisdiction by expelling him.

Halcyon, however, is NOT in WV.

Regardless of my opinions on the Halcyon matter, WV's derecognition of OH does not mean that all OH Lodges are up for WV to grab.

Ted said...

It warms my heart that the Grand Lodge of Ohio put the principles of this great fraternity above all else. It's high time that someone takes a stand against this type of injustice. I know what my obligation says as well, and it seems to me that what was done to PGM Haas in the first place violated that very obligation. That's where this whole situation started and that is exactly where blame belongs. Ohio is following it's own rules as a sovereign jurisdiction and taking a political risk by standing up for what is right. That is very admirable. That makes me believe in Freemasonry again.

Chris Hodapp said...

Albert Mackey has been quoted a lot in this discussion in a variety of places, specifically from his Principles of Masonic Law. To wit:

"Section VI: Of Expulsion.

"Expulsion is the very highest penalty that can be inflicted upon a delinquent Mason. It deprives the party expelled of all the masonic rights and privileges that he ever enjoyed, not only as a member of the lodge from which he has been ejected, but also of all those which were inherent in him as a member of the fraternity at large. He is at once as completely divested of his masonic character as though he had never been admitted into the institution. He can no longer demand the aid of his Brethren, nor require from them the performance of any of the duties to which he was formerly entitled, nor visit any lodge, nor unite in any of the public or private ceremonies of the Order. No conversation on masonic subjects can be held with him, and he is to be considered as being completely without the pale of the institution, and to be looked upon in the same light as a profane, in relation to the communication of any masonic information."


[snip]

"The severity of the punishment will at once indicate the propriety of inflicting it only for the most serious offenses, such, for instance, as immoral conduct, that would subject a candidate for initiation to rejection.

"As the punishment is general, affecting the relation of the one expelled with the whole fraternity, it should not be lightly imposed, for the violation of any masonic act not general in its character. The commission of a grossly immoral act is a violation of the contract entered into between each Mason and his Order. If sanctioned by silence or impunity, it would bring discredit on the institution, and tend to impair its usefulness. A Mason who is a bad man, is to the fraternity what a mortified limb is to the body, and should be treated with the same mode of cure--he should be cut off, lest his example spread, and disease be propagated through the constitution.

"The punishment of expulsion can only be inflicted after a due course of trial, and upon the votes of at least two-thirds of the members present, and should always be submitted for approval and confirmation to the Grand Lodge."


Frank Haas received no Masonic trial, nor was his expulsion upheld by a 2/3 vote of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia.

Expulsion, by Mackey's definition, means "he is to be considered as being completely without the pale of the institution, and to be looked upon in the same light as a profane, in relation to the communication of any masonic information."

Ohio took that to mean he was no longer a Mason.

Ohio conferred the degrees upon Haas all over again.

He lives in Ohio.

Ohio's petition does not say he cannot have received the degrees elsewhere: it merely asks if he has done so, with no prohibition.

Nathan, I love ya, and you and I see eye to eye 99.9% of the time. But not this go round. West Virginia gave up any Masonic claim over Haas by expelling him. It violated longstanding jurisprudence tradition by failing to allow his lodge to give him a trial, and by failing to vote as a body on his expulsion. Ohio followed its own internal rules. Ohio has not tried to pressure WV into reinstating Frank Haas. It has simply taken in a man no longer wanted by WV. Grand Lodges are sovereign—isn't that the argument everybody uses against pressuring the GLs in the Old South over the racial issue? Isn't that the argument we all use over Minnesota's unfair persecution by others over the Grand Loge de France issue?

Yes, I fully expect WV to do all they can to seek allies and to punish Ohio as best as they are able. But Freemasonry is not merely a collection of rules to be used to paper over brotherly love, relief and truth. Are we to be nothing but scribes and Pharisees, straining out the gnats while swallowing camels?

MP said...

"The punishment of expulsion can only be inflicted after a due course of trial, and upon the votes of at least two-thirds of the members present, and should always be submitted for approval and confirmation to the Grand Lodge."

Frank Haas received no Masonic trial, nor was his expulsion upheld by a 2/3 vote of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia.


You have quoted Mackey on how someone is to be expelled.

Do you have the relevant citation from WV Masonic Code?

If not, while I agree with your end state, you are comparing apples to oranges as well.

Chris Hodapp said...

MP, you and I have no disagreement. The ghost of Mackey has been cited in several places about this issue, so that was why I brought up the whole quote here. I don't have any idea what is in WV's code. (Surprise! It's not online.) But you and I do not disagree here.

Haas was expelled as a Mason in WV. That means they regard him as a non-Mason. He moved to Ohio. He didn't hide anything from the investigative team in Steubenville. He met Ohio's requirements. They conferred the three degrees on him. He is now an Ohio Mason. WV and Ohio are sovereign jurisdictions, and WV cannot dictate to Ohio who they can and cannot initiate, pass and raise. End of story... sabre-rattling notwithstanding.

MP said...

I asked someone at thje GL of MA for their take on expulsion:

The initiation of the Expulsion is either from a Lodge or from the Grand Master. This is described in Section 512 of the Grand Constitutions. The Grand Master will then investigate the charges and will suspend or expel accordingly. Final approval of the Suspension or Expulsion can only be made by vote of the Grand Lodge at the next succeeding Quarterly Communication.

The status after expulsion is that he is expelled. 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.

Massachusetts (and most all jurisdictions) claims jurisdiction over Suspended or Expelled members.


Interesting to note.

Chris Hodapp said...

Some have claimed this marks a slippery slope in fraternal relations, and that by ignoring the "expulsion in one means expulsion in all" tradition, grand lodges across state lines will start reinstating expelled ne'er do wells, willy-nilly. But Haas was not expelled for vile and pernicious crimes, felonies, or infringement of local, state or federal laws. He was certainly not expelled in WV for reasons that Ohio found to be exclusionary.

It would be no different than if some grand master invoked the "one drop rule" and expelled a Mason for being "descended from slaves", claiming it violated the obligation in his state.

Most of us would be cheering in that circumstance if Ohio took that man in.

Tom Accuosti said...

Massachusetts (and most all jurisdictions) claims jurisdiction over Suspended or Expelled members.

I have always been fascinated by the topography of Freemasonry, and this is one of those odd little examples that make you wonder how they come up with such things. Essentially, they are saying "We booted you from the membership, but we still maintain some claim upon you."

I can't find anything on this in Conn, but is the Mass rule written with respect for an expelled Mason that now lives in another geographic jurisdiction?