Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Arkansas Yanks Recognition of the Shrine

Here we go again. The Grand Master of Arkansas has joined Michigan in declaring the Shrine clandestine in his state, for a similar reason.

His letter (of December 8th, I believe, although the date was partially obscured) reads:

To: Shrine International
To: All Subordinate Lodges in Arkansas
To: All Master Masons of Arkansas
To: All Grand Jurisdictions
To: All Appendant Bodies in Arkansas

This letter is to inform you of the actions of Shriners International as it pertains to the M.'. W/. Grand Lodge of Arkansas. Shriners International has in their writings at the very least indicated that they believe that the laws of Shrine supersede that of Arkansas Grand Lodge, along with the authority to govern Master Masons within its jurisdiction.

Shortly after the Grand Lodge Session in February, 2011,1 was presented with significant evidence that a Master Mason in this Grand Jurisdiction had acted in an un-masonic manner. On June 1, 2011, I appointed a Grand Lodge Investigation Committee to look into the above allegations. On July 5. 2011, after receiving the report from the Grand Lodge Investigation Committee, as Grand Master of Masons in Arkansas, I charged the above Arkansas Master Mason with Un-masonic Conduct. His general behavior was unbecoming of a Master Mason, in violation of Section 2.1.46 of the Arkansas Masonic Digest of Laws. He was informed of these charges and that he was suspended from all rights of a Master Mason in this Grand Jurisdiction pending outcome of a Grand Lodge Trial Commission.

Following a Grand Lodge Trial, the above Master Mason's charges of Un-masonic Conduct were upheld and a penalty of Expulsion was assessed.

After reviewing the report sent to me from the Grand Lodge Trial Commission, a letter was sent to him on August 31, 2011, informing him of his immediate expulsion from the Fraternity. In accordance with historical practice a copy of the above referenced letter was sent to the Appendant Bodies of Arkansas. The Grand Lodge of Iowa, and Shriners International.

On October 25, 2011, I was made aware of a letter from Shriners International approving this individuals request for a stay, and a letter from the Imperial Potentate, informing him that he was to remain a member and continue as Potentate of Scimitar Shrine Temple.

As Grand Master of Masons in Arkansas, I therefore order: All reference to the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North America hereby be removed and declared clandestine and illegitimate.


[snip]

As Grand Master of Masons in Arkansas, I further order that Master Masons within this Grand Jurisdiction shall not participate in any Shrine activity that in any way presents itself as being part of the Masonic Fraternity. Further, Master Masons within this Grand Jurisdiction are not permitted to display any Masonic emblem on a Shrine Fez or as a part of a Shrine uniform. The Worshipful Masters and all Appendant or recognized bodies are ordered to immediately remove, from their Lodges, and/or meeting facilities, any and all references, pictures, articles, or other paraphernalia, that contain any Shrine emblem, or any connection between the Shrine and Freemasonry. All Shrine Clubs within this Grand Jurisdiction, and other related organizations and units, are not permitted to utilize Masonic properties for any purpose. No Master Mason within this Grand Jurisdiction is to promote or indicate the existence of any form of relationship between this Grand Jurisdiction and the Shrine. No Master Mason within this Grand Jurisdiction shall engage in the solicitation of, or permit a Shriner to solicit, any member of the Fraternity for membership in the Shrine while in attendance at any Masonic Function The provisions of this order apply to all Master Masons residing within this Grand Jurisdiction and to Master Masons who are members of Subordinate Lodges within this Grand Jurisdiction while visiting or residence of another Grand Jurisdiction.

Violations of any part of this order will be deemed punishable by a penalty of expulsion from the Fraternity. Such penalty will be administered without the benefit of a trial.

Myles A. Oliver, Grand Master

33 comments:

Benjamin Bannaker said...

Violations of any part of this order will be deemed punishable by a penalty of expulsion from the Fraternity. Such penalty will be administered without the benefit of a trial.


Glad to know the Grand Master can make up no trial rules.

Carters of Maine said...

Wow. How on earth did out come to this? Seems like this could have a long-lasting negative impact.
Kelley of Maine

ward said...

This is the second time in the last decade that an Arkansas GM has declared the Shrine to be clandestine. That time, IIRC, a Potentate was found to be violating Arkansas Masonic law by owning an establishment that sold alcohol (he claimed the business was in his wife's name). he was expelled but Imperial supported him and allowed him to retain his office. The GL and the Shrine must have gotten that spat sorted out.
No matter who is at fault, these kind of arguments do neither group any good.

TexasMason32 said...

WOW !!!

Scott Bond said...

Isn't this the same GL that doesn't recognize Price Hall?

Chris Hodapp said...

One of nine.

Unknown said...

Seems to me that all kinds of crazy things are afoot within the Arkansas jurisdiction lately.

I chatted with Imperial Potentate Severe via our Facebook group today, and he is planning a full accounting of this current situation in the coming days via shrinersvillage.com

I'm going to hold my opinion back until I hear both sides of the story. Although I have my own personal feelings on the Michigan case, I have a gut feeling that comparisons of the two situations are like comparing apples and oranges.

Noble Brian Crowder
Director, Public Relations
El Kalah Shriners of Utah

Matt Shelton said...

Both this issue and the one in Michigan stem from an issue that every Grand Lodge has with Shrine Law Article 23, Section 323.8, which was passed by the Shrine in 1978. Every Grand Lodge has a law or edict against the provision, which permits a suspended or expelled Mason to remain a member in good standing of the Shrine pending a decision from the Imperial Shrine and requires that all appeals, procedings, etc be complete before they will acknowledge the suspension or expulsion. Unfortunately, while this Shrine Law is unquestionably fair for its members, the Shrine has no authority to make a determination of the Masonic standing of any member. And, because they require Masonic membership (in good standing) they are overstepping thier bounds. An organization that requires Masonic membership of its members must, by virtue of that requirement submit to the decisions of the Grand Lodge involved...whether they like it or not.

Joeb212 said...

@ Scott, it's "Prince" vice "Price" Hall and what's that to do with the issue.

Many Shriners have been wanting to drop MM requirement, now's a good time then Freemasonry can shed itself of many less than honorable masons.

Apologies to True Blue Masons who are also Shriners.

Bolin of Georgia

joe said...

Where can one find information on which Grand Lodges recognized Prince Hall Masonry? Thanks Brethren!

Jane's Daddy said...

Why was the letter also sent to the GL of Iowa?

Warbard said...

Do not have much to go on, but it sounds similar to the issue with Michigan that Imperial is attempting to trump Grand Lodges. I do not know about the part with the GM offering no trial, but it goes to show the length that Grand Lodges are willing to go to ensure that Imperial will respect their decisions. My regards to the brethren of Arkansas.

Arthur B. Eggler said...

Well, it seems the Bible - Belt has struck again. Here we are still staying in the 19th Century in some forms while still trying to bring in younger men.

KMH said...

I realize Grand Masters have pretty much carte blanche in their respective Grand Jurisdictions; but can a Grand Master just expel a Brother Mason without the benefit of a Masonic Trial?

RON said...

I'm up here in Mi., it's nice to see that Shriners International is trying to throw its weight around

Shabad Gyan Singh said...

I find all of this in-fighting disgusting. I am a Mason & member of the Scottish Rite. I'm *not* a Shriner so I will not make comment there.

I think the worst is the comment about NO trial. What is up with that?

JED said...

I would like to know what the unmasonic activity was. Arkansas has in the past expelled members for engaging in legal and state licensed professions. If this is similar then I think the Shrine is right to not expel the Noble.

cfcurtiss86 said...

The Shriner in question in Arkansas is purportedly also a member in an Iowa lodge.

The Grand Master of your jurisdiction is in fact all powerful. If you are a Master Mason you take an obligation to that effect as your constitutions or rules outline his powers and rights. This is not a true democracy and either you missed it when you came in or someone lied to you.

The Grand Lodge of your jurisdiction is the absolute authority. The Imperial Shrine insists on calling the Shriners a Masonic organization therefore the Grand Master is responsible for dealing with whatever happens within the bounds of the Grand Lodge and his sovereign rule, with the backing of the Grand Lodge and Masonic Law, supersedes any subordinate body like the Shrine.

The Grand Master in my state gave an edict that those members who had be convicted of a felonious act could be summarily removed. Its cut and dry. Masons shouldn't be convicted felons while they're Masons. It looks incredibly hypocritical if the Grand Master didn't take action.

The Grand Masters in both Michigan and Arkansas seem to be well within their rights and are executing due diligence in defending their jurisdiction and the good name of Masonry across the land.

Jay Simser said...

I STILL would like to know why the letter was posted to Iowa. Was the member also a member of an Iowa Lodge?

Chris Hodapp said...

My understanding is that the Brother in question is a member of an Iowa lodge and is living in Arkansas. Iowa did not suspend him, Arkansas did.

Jay Simser said...

Interesting. If he is still a member of an Iowa Lodge he would still be eligible to be in the Shrine.

Jane's Daddy said...

I wonder if Iowa will be next.
What do these organizations gain from being associated? Perhaps it's time for the Shrine to be its own entity unrelated to Free Masonry.

-Mike

San Diego Freemason said...

As an outsider looking in, I have never understood the relationship between the Shrine and Freemasonry. The Shrine was founded in 1870. a full 50 years before the Children's Hospitals were established.

My understanding, from what I have read, is that the Shrine was originally established to provide Masons with a venue for partying and merriment, something that was unavailable in the local Masonic lodge at the time. It was to be "the playground of Masonry".

I have nothing against the Shrine, or the charities that it supports, but I have never seen any reason for it to have a connection to Freemasonry. As it was created long before prohibition became the law of the land, I can only surmise that the decorum required at Masonic meetings did not provide an outlet for those that wished to "have fun," therefore the Shrine was created.

There are, or have been, many fraternal groups that would have filled that need.

It is unfortunate that the Shrine was tied to Masonry from the start; perhaps it is time to sever the organizations, since their reason for existing is so unrelated.

One is about "making good men better," through a "system of morality, veiled by symbols," the other was conceived as a group to party with, long before there were any charitable aspirations.

As a foot note, apparently that did not satisfy some, since the Royal Order of Jesters grew out the Shrine in 1911, forty years after the Shrines foundation.

With all due respect, what does any of this have to do with Freemasonry?

wizzo said...

No matter how either of these sordid issues shake out, there will be no winners this time. We (Masonry) have taken a giant leap backwards.

EFA said...

The fundamental issue I see is that the Shrine is basically trying to define who is qualified to be a Mason. With all due respect that is the province of the Grand Lodge.

mountainmason said...

Sometimes I think the Shrine has an
ego problem. I was told just a few years ago that it was the intention of the Shrine to have every Grand Masters be a member of the Shrine.As far as the Grand Master of Ark. expelling a Mason without Masonic trial that isn't Masonry neither.

Raymond said...

after the debacle in GL West Virginia concerning PGM Frank Haas, I would be surprised that any Grand Master would make reference to expulsion without trial of any Master Mason. Just SMH

W Br. Raymond Sean Walters
Silver Lodge 35 F&AM PHA
Pinewood, South Carolina

chrid said...

If the GM master can exspell a mason just because he wants to then why are there any Masonic laws? I know the situation and it is a joke. The GM is doing as he wants. The trail for this mason in question was a joke. No members from this jurisdiction was even allowed in the trail and the GM himself wasn't even there. If that is not act of unmasonic action what is. Membership is declining nation wide in both the shrine and blue lodges and the old hands wonder why. What reason does any young man have to become a mason when the GM who is supposed to be in charge of the whole deal does as he please's with out regards to rather or not his action are for the good of masonry. It's terrible what this has come to what's worse is it's just a show of power. No regards to anything else.

genegoldman said...

Sad, this blustering. Truly sad.

David C said...

In my opinion it is about time that the various Grand Lodges deal with The Shrine and their transgressions If an organization predicates membership on being A Master Mason in good standing then that is exactly what it means.an expelled mason is not a member in good standing and therefore can not hold membership in any of these groups, and that includes the shrine as well.

Tennessee mason said...

As a Masonic Past Master, 33 degree Scottish Mason, York Rite and Shriner, it is very upsetting to see this happening in our Fraternity. I do not participate in Shrine social activities due to the excessive drinking and partying that goes on but work diligently to support the Hospitals. I have said for the past several years that the Shrine will separate from Masonry. It won't be long before you will be able to be a Shriner without being a mason. It will start out as letting men join as a social member without voting rights. Then finally full membership. They will do this under the guise of needing members to support the Hospitals, which is a valid point. A majority of Masons are not Shriners. And I would say a majority of Shriners are Masons just to be in the Shrine. There are numerous members of our Lodge who never attend Blue Lodge meetings but never miss a Shrine function. If this separation happens Masonry will lose a few members but not one Mason. Old Hickory Tennessee Mason

GeorgeOfTampa said...

Any definitive news whether the Shrine in Arkansas is making non-Masons into Nobles yet?

Some of my correspondents say "It is already happening".... I am skeptical.

Please advise!

S&F,

Br. G. B.

GeorgeOfTampa said...

Any definitive word on whether the Shrine in Arkansas has started making non-masons into Nobles?

I have correspondents who say it has already started happening.

I'm skeptical.

Does anyone have definite word?

S&F,

Br. G. Brooks