Tuesday, June 01, 2010

GL of Florida F&AM Votes No on PHA Recognition

Back in March, it was reported that a resolution was proposed for the 2010 annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Florida F&AM to recognize the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, Prince Hall Affiliated, Florida; Belize, Central America; St. John United States Virgin Island, Incorporated, which had already voted several years ago to recognize their mainstream counterpart.

The vote on the resolution was held over the weekend, and failed by what has been reported as an overwhelming majority (3 or even 4 to 1, by one estimate). Volume 3, Issue 1 (Spring 2010) issue of The Florida Mason magazine noted in its publication of the resolution that the Jurisprudence Committee recommended rejection.

The slogan of the GL of Florida F&AM's immediate Past Grand Master Dale I. Goehrig over the last year was "Unity In Masonry."

Currently, in the U.S. and Canada, ten mainstream, predominantly white grand lodges do not recognize their predominantly black Prince Hall Affiliated (PHA) grand lodge counterpart: Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

29 comments:

2 BOWL CAIN said...

they seem unified in Fla at least?

47th Problem of Euclid said...

I can't say I'm not disappointed. Don't give up. It may take many tries before this will ultimately pass.

Bro. J.Luis Castañeda, 32º said...

Sad,
I was a Florida resident for 25 years and I didn't petition a Lodge until I moved to Oregon (a state the recognizes PH)I am glad I waited and became a Mason in a jurisdiction that is in accord with my conscience.

Michael said...

How very sad.

Justin said...

Sadly it seems the tenets of masonry only apply in that state if you match the specified skin color. Keep working brothers truth will prevail.

MAN said...

How terribly sad. I am in the process of becoming a F&AM and this is disturbing to know. I was hoping that this passed becaused my best friend since we were kids is a P.H.A. Makes you think twice about joining...

burntloafer said...

145 years after the Civil War, and 46 years after passage of the Civil Rights Amendment, and apparently we as Free Masons are just now admitting to ourselves that this behavior is Racism.

We all bear a responsibility. How long will we, as purportedly "good men", stand by idly?

Or, do we just mumble and wait for the courts to finally enforce our touted 'brotherly love'?

How utterly disappointing.

This is a mockery of the obligations we all made.

2 BOWL CAIN said...

That is one of the problems with attempting to "make good men better", it can fail, then those who do not get better, still get into positions that can effect the Craft.

maybe the Masons on the Continent of Europe have it right: only accept Men who have already made themselves better on their own accord. Then only high caliber individuals will represent the Craft.

maybe we should set our standards higher on who we make Masons?

Bobby said...

I am thankful that there are still jusrisdictions that have the guts to uphold tradition and exclusive territorial jurisdiction in spite of the rediculous application of polictical correctness to Freemasonry by those that are only interested in appearances.

Chris Hodapp said...

Yes, higher standards.

Who will decide what those are? What does that really mean?

Essays as part of the petition? Who "grades" that?
College graduates only? Masters? PhD?
Income level?
Nobel laureates only?
No truck drivers allowed?
No fast food workers, but chefs okay?
No motorcycle drivers?
No smokers, unless they smoke meerschaum pipes?

Yes, by all means, lets keep out the NOKDs.

I'm being only a little facetious. Not a lot. There's a certain breed of cat in Florida who thinks by not recognizing PHA, that's keeping a higher standard.

Bro. J.Luis Castañeda, 32º said...

@2 bowl Cain
It is every Mason's responsibility to guard the west gate.

I can't imagine what kind of test could "prove" a man's worth better than a thorough investigation.

The problem is that at one time even good men held racial prejudices, not as a product of malice but of ignorance.

Since I don't believe in sweeping generalizations I can't accept that There is a higher percentage of "good men" in European Lodges as opposed to American ones.

The problem is cultural. Racial discrimination has been ingrained in Southern culture far too long. Even though I believe the vast majority of Masons in Southern Lodges to be good men, I have trouble accepting that the GLs who refuse to recognize Prince Hall today all being from former Confederate states is just coincidence.

As is evidenced by the overwhelming majority of comments on the web, Most Masons find racial discrimination abhorrent, even in the South.

The point being that there is more to this problem than meets the eye. For example, the first time I ever heard about this debate I was just inquiring about the Craft and the Brother I was speaking to went on at length explaining to me how and why Prince Hall is clandestine. He was a black man, from a predominantly black mainstream Lodge and I can assure you none of the reasons he gave were racially motivated. This is a much more complex problem than it is made out to be.

With that being said I think that something has to give. I am to the point where I wonder if the situation will ever change for the better. If not I think some rather severe consequences should be considered.

Rolf1960 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fla.mason said...

I guess my main question is: Did anyone care to inquire why the Florida Grand Lodge's Jurisprudence Committe recommend rejection????
The second question would be: Did anyone asked the PH Lodge if they actually wanted to join with FL of Florida??? I has the PH Grand Lodge filed ANY paperwork requesting any of this????

For the record, I was there and heard both sides of the debate.. and I believe the general thinking came down to this.... IF PH Lodge wants to be recognized by the GL of Florida, file the proper petition and follow the same steps as any Grand Lodge wishing to be recognized. Why for this Lodge and only this Lodge should they be allowed to bypass procedure??

ghetout said...

To claim racism on the outcome of this resolution is nonsense. Florida's new Grand Master and Senior Grand Warden are both Hispanics, both elected unanimously. Plenty of non-white Brothers were present as delegates, i.e. elected by a majority of their Lodge's members, to be Masters and Wardens.

Our Digest strictly prohibits any Lodge actions that are based on race. Edicts have been made by recent Florida Grand Masters overturning Lodge decisions and even charters have been pulled for racial actions.

Our Digest also states that for any other Grand Jurisdiction to be recognized, they must petition our Foreign Relations Committee. None of the PHA Grand Lodges have done that in Florida's history.

Apparently, the PHA Grand Lodge of Florida, Central America, and Belize didn't feel the need to ask us for recognition, the same way we require candidates to ask Lodges for the Three Degrees.

The primary argument against this resolution to recognize this particular PHA GL during discussions at Grand Communication was made by none other than then-Junior GRAND Warden Jorge Aladro, who received a standing ovation for a speech that had NOTHING to do with race, but centered on formal methods of recognition (which have yet to be pursued by ANY PHA GL) and our GL's inherent sovereignty.

The vote was approximately 3:1 to reject the resolution. If it had passed, it would've been the first GL in Florida's 180 year history to be recognized by such a method.

I was there, I saw it with my own eyes, and the racial comments only came from those who advocated the passage of this resolution as a guilt trip to those who opposed the resolution for any number of reasons.

Some of you politically correct Brothers immediately resort to cat calls of unmasonic behavior, and yet, by jumping to conclusions based on predispositions with little anchor in the facts, you yourselves are violating your Charges and Obligations.

Chris Hodapp said...

Ghetout's point is well taken. If the resolution was introduced in a vacuum without consulting the MWPHGL of Florida et al, there is a problem. Masonic recognition in virtually every case throughout the world occurs when the "younger" GL petitions the "older" GL in a region for recognition, or the two GLs jointly propose mutual recognition.

The longstanding story is that the Prince Hall GL in Florida voted to recognize the mainstream GL of Florida F&AM several years ago. But that's not the same thing as them asking for recognition.

Unfortunately, in some states (West Virginia springs into my mind), this Catch 22 has been used to thwart Masons who try to negotiate just such a solution. One of the accusations against a PGM was that he had "communicated Masonicially" with clandestine Masons by just introducing himself and shaking hands with the PH GM in his state.

The other roadblock in these cases often has to do with egos. Prince Hall officers in the South can easily be made to feel like they are forced to grovel by asking for recognition, after two and a half centuries of being told they were clandestine, and in some states knowing full well such a request will be rebuffed by the mainstream GLs. I'm not saying that's the case here, I am simply saying it is a human and emotion hurdle that exists.

Ghetout, there have been a couple of notorious incidents in lodges in Florida over the last couple of years. If what you say is true, perhaps they have been very isolated situations. Sounds like somebody in Florida needs to make a discrete phone call to the MFPHGL of F and see what might transpire.

burntloafer said...

In negligent behavior, there is a traditional legal doctrine called 'Res Ipsa Locquitor'.

The literal translation is 'The thing speaks for itself'.

There are ten states that still refuse to recognize PH Masons.

Whether this is excused by cries of 'political correctness' or obfuscated behind 'tradition' or 'exclusive territorial jurisdiction' rhetoric, the question remains on the table:

How and When will these ten states finally embrace Brothers who happen to have dark skin?

Deal with it, or our courts will.

Bro. J.Luis Castañeda, 32º said...

Ghetout:

I believe that crying racism is an oversimplification of this matter, and as I have stated before on this thread I have personally had a black Florida mainstream Mason explain to me in depth why he believed that Prince hall was clandestine. However the fact there there were Hispanics among you proves nothing to me. I am Cuban born raised in Florida and I would say that older Cubans are generally much more likely to be prejudiced against blacks than white people. Also I don't think that the term political correctness is applicable here. Those who oppose racial segregation don't do so in order to appear "politically correct" we do so because it is the right thing to do period.

koltkorivera said...

I was raised in a group of three brethren, one a Black man, at Winter Park Lodge #239 F&AM, in Florida. Other Black men have been raised in that lodge since, and in other lodges, as well.

I appeal to the PHA GL(s) of Florida to follow the set procedure and petition the F&AM GL of FL for recognition. This will be the beginning of the end of non-recognition in the Southeast.

Levi said...

I'm a little disturbed by these threads. This seems more divisive than the thing we're discussing. Res Ipsa Loquitor indeed.

After the 2010 session of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, I was one who voted to accept the resolution to investigate PHA regularity. What I learned is this:

1. There is an undercurrent of men who wish to never let black people in. Most of them are elderly or approaching that status.

2. There is another undercurrent of men who want to investigate it and see whether or not they may be regular. These are all ages.

3. There is yet another undercurrent of activists who wish to force change on us against our consent through intimidation and guilt-inducing tactics. For about five minutes, I was one of these people.

The first two factions want to keep the debate private so that we can work out our differences in an amicable way and not sully the reputation of the Fraternity.

The third faction loudly badmouths their own Brethren in public forums.

When it all comes down to brass tacks, ghetout's points are valid: do not throw jurisprudence out of the window in order to loudly proclaim a sense of unity that will be here eventually anyway. When another generation vacates this Earth, younger Brethren will guide these changes naturally.

There's a right way to do it, and there's a covert way to do it. It'll happen... we just have to give it time. Working against one another is not the solution, and I am disheartened to see the implied suggestion.

I can't help but think that for some men on both sides, the aim is not to create that unity across mankind, nor is it to preserve tradition... it is to win. When we only worry about winning, we have lost the soul of Masonry.

burntloafer said...

Br. Levi, I appreciate your civil tone, and I respect your opinion.

I am also quite aware of the distinctions between legal jurisprudence and 'Masonic Jurisprudence'. It is not my intent to 'badmouth' Brethren in a public forum - just bad behavior.

How then, would you have us resolve the conflict between evil behavior, supported for generations by good men? What you suggest, or at least validate, is ghetouts' opinion that we wait for yet another generation to die.

Given how many generations this has taken already, being told to wait while yet "another generation vacates this earth" is a bitter pill to swallow.

These arguments we are having are old. In another setting, they are commonly called 'states' rights' arguments, and they were used to stall change and perpetuate racial bias for many years. In that setting, they were settled by two things: violence, and Federal authority. The end result of that imposition not only festers still today, but has left us with a severely weakened state authority and autonomy.

The handwriting is on the wall. If we do not clean up our own behaviors, the courts will eventually do so. Will these Grand Lodges will eventually lose their authority in the same fashion as with 'state's rights'?

I do not have the technical skills to copy this quote directly, but you can access it at:

http://mn-masons.org/sites/mn-masons.org/files/2261.pdf

Please, I ask you to read the paragraph on the upper right column of the second page, where it starts, "If, then, all objections to the recognition of Negro Masonry..."

I am not a young man, yet this was written and argued many years before I was born.

Now, in all sincerity, I ask you:

Is there truly no hope?

Levi said...

Bro. burntloafer,

I read said paragraph, and I'm amazed that the debate has gone on this long. Nevertheless, waiting for another generation to vacate this Earth is exactly what I propose. It’s the only way to preserve peace and harmony while affecting smooth change that will not alienate anyone. Why lose half of our brethren on a tenuous proposition that they may be replaced?

If you need hope, compare the social conditions of 1945 with the social conditions of today. In 1945, there were other secret societies flourishing, which actually DID actively suppress the rights of others based on skin color. That article was well ahead of its time, at least for down here. It may be a bitter pill, but it’s still medicine.

Fifteen years ago, it was uncouth to acknowledge a "mixed-race" couple. Now, hardly anyone below the age of forty bats an eye.

Sure, you have your bigots, as you always will. Still, today, social conditions are such that there is real, measurable progress. You have to remember (as I'm sure you already know) that many who are leaders of Masonry in the South were either children in schools during integration or they had children in schools during that phase. They were victims of all sorts of rhetoric. It must have been scary and confusing, for both sides. It’s a lot to ask, but I'm willing to give a temporary pass for that, for the survival of my beloved Fraternity. We are a little behind down here. Please don’t castigate us while we catch up.

When I talk to younger Masons (21-30), I have the great pleasure of hearing the same questions you ask. There is a rising tide of Free and Accepted Masons who just want to know the truth. With time, they will learn, as will I. For now, they respect their elders and they try to avoid conflict in the Lodge, as admonished by us in the First Degree. Personally, I am not willing to tear my Lodge apart by strong-arming anyone. We have the situation well in hand… we just need time. To force this would take away the democratic spirit that we sponsored into being in the first place.

This is a beautiful Fraternity with innumerable years of tradition and a slow, reliable rate of change over time. It should not be cheapened by infighting, especially at a time when we cannot tell whether the public is curious about us or fears us. These discussions should occur in a private forum. The front page of this blog and our Charges admonish us: “To preserve the reputation of the fraternity unsullied must be your constant care.” Gentlemen, this is not what we are doing.

In this thread, MAN has implied mental reservation about continuing his search for Light. He could be a tipping point in his Lodge or his Grand Lodge. Instead, we have disenfranchised him through public debate of a private matter. That's the biggest shame.

I do have a question, though... who's calling the courts?

Rolf said...

Brothers, the way this issue is discussed here, makes me proud of this ancient brotherhood. I'd like to thank Brother Burntloafer for sharing this touching article.
I am a mason from Germany - a country with its own bad history of hate in racial based injustice- in society as well as in the craft.
Brother Levi, I see your point. Peace and Harmony of the Lodge is most important.

But to wait for other generations to solve the problem, is one thing thats hard to swallow. I am the WM of a Lodge in Frankfurt, Germany.
We do have a bunch of young brothers and they teach us in every meeting, how modern technology has changed the channels of information.
Blogs like this one here have readers from every part of the world. The situation in our lodges and of masonry is discussed by less educated people in places like facebook.

So I fear, what happens - or does not happen - in the southern states, has an impact on the craft.
I know pretty well, that there is more than one site of the coin, and that there are racists in MS masonry as well as in PHA. Doesn't make it better.

Lately, I found myself talking with a newly initiated brother about the worldwide brotherhood. Then he confonted me with the Case of Derek Gordon and with other Articles from the "Burning Taper".

I've did my best to explain and I am glad, he asked and not just went to some obscure forums on the net.

I fear, that just letting the time bring change in the next generations to come, will weaken all of us. It will, because -IMHO- it is a contradiction to everything masonry stand for: the brotherhood of all men.

Andersons constitutions casme to my mind:

"All these Charges you are to observe, and also those that shall be recommended to you in another Way; cultivating Brotherly Love, the Foundation and Cap-stone, the Cement and Glory of this Ancient Fraternity, ... that all may see the benign Influence of Masonry, as all true Masons have done from the beginning of the World, and will do to the End of Time.

Amen Brothers


Rolf

Levi said...

Bro. Rolf,

From your point of view, I can see exactly what you mean, and I sympathize.

My point is that to affect these types of changes down here, we would have to rid ourselves of everyone who lived through the Civil Rights movement. It was a movement that, while well-intentioned, reverted to militancy and ugliness far too often. The politics formed the actions, and the people were the victims. I can give you some examples.

In my family, my grandfather's life was threatened by his own brother for refusal to join the Klan. What made matters worse was that his fishing buddy and neighbor was an African American man. It was a man I loved as if he were an uncle.

The day that schools were integrated, my mother was beaten by several African American girls in a school bathroom. These things are real, and you can not proselytize people with experience into changing their minds. I grew up without fear in the first age of anything approaching tolerance. I attended an integrated school and it was normal life. I have worked with people of all races and religions in the military and in the fields. However, not everyone down here was raised for tolerance in adversity.

I'm young enough to have that experience. However, some of my brethren are old enough to have different experience. I try to understand. They will not move, as you will not, and as I will not. We have reasons for the way we feel about it. I am simply trying to be a realist. I wait for the topic to arise, I hear my Brother out, and I give my views. As it stands, about 30% of my Lodge membership openly believes that the investigation should occur. Of active (every meeting) members, we are at about 50%. That's just my Lodge... imagine the change that's currently happening all over the South.

Hope piles on hope until it becomes reality. From the Declaration of Independence, It took the United States of America almost ninety years to abolish slavery, 95 to give people of African descent the vote, and another hundred and ten to get kids in the same schools. Even then, people like my mother got beaten mercilessly because nobody -on either side- was mature enough for forced integration.

Thanks to the brethren who have not attacked me over these beliefs. They aren't even mine... they're just the way it is in the world in which I live. I apologize for bringing my family's experience in here, but it's relevant.

Bro. J.Luis Castañeda, 32º said...

Brethren when someone types in “Freemasonry” into a search engine they will undoubtedly find several websites run by the anti–Masons making claims that racism is institutionalized in the Craft and that we are bound to it by blood oaths requiring us to acquiesce to some nefarious dogma. While I do feel a bit of angst at discussing this publicly; as someone who did a good deal of research on Masonry online before deciding to petition, I do think that discussions like these yield many positive results and shed light on these ridiculous yet wide spread notions.
Someone looking at the discussion on this blog with profane eyes would learn immediately that the majority of Masons are not racists. They would be presented with points of view that illustrate that this is a much more complex issue than is reported elsewhere. This discussion illustrates that although racism exists in Masonry (like it does everywhere else) it is the exception and not the rule.
Reading through these posts what stick out is that diametrically opposed points of view are being debated with civility. It is increasingly rare in present day society to see people on opposing sides of an issue discuss their differences and maintain respect for each other. This kind of comportment is virtually unknown on the internet and to the casual observer it must speak volumes about the quality of our membership.
When issues like these are openly discussed by Masons, while at the same time other Brothers make the case that they shouldn’t be, the lies spread by conspiracy theorist are certainly discredited and the virtues innate in Masonry are brought forth and highlighted.

burntloafer said...

Br. Rolf, you have said it very well. Thank you.

Br. Levi, I appreciate you making your opinion clear. We have more reasons to agree than we might have to not agree.

As far as who would be 'calling the courts', I will simply point to earlier postings from this blog for several clear examples.

With regard to MAN's comment, let's ask him directly:

MAN, Does it disturb you to know that this information is being discussed here, or were you disturbed by the FL GL's actions?

Kansas Scout said...

Is it a coincidence that these are all southern states?
It would defy common sense to deny the inference presented.
To wait for yet another generation to do the right thing is incomprehensibly un-masonic.
To avoid the demands of Masonic brotherhood in the name of peace and harmony is absurd.
I am proud to be a Kansas Mason in a GL that recognizes our Prince Hall Brothers. Not that we are perfect yet. Far from it.
We are working on it though.

Chris Hodapp said...

Brethren, the important issue here is, if the Prince Hall grand lodges do not request recognition, proper Masonic protocol has not been followed, and there is nothing to vote on. If a resolution is generated internally, solely by mainstream Masons, it is entirely possible that the reaction of a Prince Hall GL would be "Who asked you? We didn't."

If the issue is important to Prince Hall brethren in these states, they need to take that step first and call the bluff of the mainstream.

Dane KT said...

My fellow Brother Masons please forgive the lateness of this posting as I just happened to recently observe the dialog. As a Prince Hall Mason I’d like to post some observations…..
First, I am a Past Master in the jurisdiction the MW Union Grand Lodge of Florida PHA and it is true that three years ago we as a Grand Lodge unanimously voted for recognition of the Grand Lodge of Florida. I served on the Committee on Constitutions and Jurisprudence that submitted the measure, I personally helped draft the measure, and had the privilege of reading said measure on the floor. I mention this only to confirm that it did happen and but what is truly significant is the overwhelming feeling of Brotherly affection and appreciation that occurred at that moment. What also is important to recognize is that this action was done regardless of action or non-action taken by the Grand Lodge of Florida or any other Grand Lodge. This action served as a statement about “Us” as Master Masons, about “Us” as a Grand Lodge, and about the “Masonry” that we choose to practice. We chose to let our actions speak loudest for us.
Secondly, I have every respect for the members of the Grand Lodge of Florida and respect for any decisions they as a sovereign body choose to adhere to. I may or may not like it but that is immaterial. I believe the purpose of Masonry is to make Good men better. I hope that all of us shall be successful in that endeavor but none of us shall be the judge. That is the exclusive jurisdiction of the GAOTU. I am neither a politically correct person nor care for the practice but do care for wisdom and common sense applied appropriately. Masons must guard against innovation within the Craft and hasten its removal if ever introduced. Some may take this statement as vindication of recent “poorer courses of action”. What I refer to is the admittance of bigotry and intolerance within this revered institution. Fortunately I have every confidence that men of good will shall someday discover the right.

PM Chris Terrell,33°

Justin said...

Sounds a lot like those pesky voter tests they used to give them black people back in the day.

A technicality used to stop Prince Hall Lodges from being accepted by the Grand Lodge. Only the southern states with vicious histories of discrimination are doing this. Come one it's not just coincidence.