Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Special Order Issued by Shriners in Arkansas Battle

Michael G. Severe, Imperial Potentate of Shriners International, has issued a Special Order dated today concerning the situation in Arkansas:

SHRINERS INTERNATIONAL

Special Order No. 3

PO Box 31356

Tampa, FL 33631-3356
Series 2011-2012

January 17, 2012

To
the Officers and Nobles of Sahara Shriners and Scimitar Shriners,
Fraternal Greetings:

The
matter of the edict issued by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of
Arkansas in his letter dated December 8, 2011 addressed to Shriners
International, All Subordinate Lodges in Arkansas, All Master Masons
of Arkansas, All Grand Jurisdictions and All Appendant Bodies in
Arkansas, is well known by each of you.


After careful review and consideration, and in consequence of the
gravity of the effect of the aforesaid edict, I issue the following
findings, conclusions and order.

Findings And Conclusions


Pertaining to the document titled A Response dated January 13, 2012
that I sent to the Grand Lodges of the Conference of Grand Masters for
North America and to the subordinate temples of Shriners International
and others. By reference thereto, I incorporate all of its
provisions herein.

Shriners
International, with very few exceptions, has enjoyed a fraternal and
harmonious relationship with all Grand Lodges since it came into
existence in 1872. The very few exceptions that did occur were
approached by Shriners International and the affected Grand Lodge with
the utmost respect for each other and their charitable and fraternal
missions. With an abundance of good will toward each other, every
difference was resolved and we maintained the integrity of our
existing relationship for the good of Freemasonry, the good of
Shriners International, and for the greater good of humanity.

The
Conference of Grand Masters for North America consists of 65 or more
diverse and distinctive Grand Lodges. Shriners International
consists of one entity. Shriners International acknowledges that
no Grand Lodge can cede its sovereignty, power and authority to
another Grand Lodge. Each Grand Lodge has its own governance.
When a divisive issue exists between two Grand Lodges, there is no
claim of sovereignty of one over the other. Instead, with
brotherhood, and an abundance of good will, the Grand Lodges resolve
the divisive issue and continue operating their respective bodies
independently yet in harmony and amity with each other.


Likewise, while cherishing its Masonic background, Shriners
International is an independent and distinctive fraternal
organization. It cannot cede its sovereignty, power and
authority to any other fraternal body - be it a Grand Lodge or
otherwise. If it did, it would be governed, controlled and
operated by 65 or more independent Grand Lodges - each with
differing landmarks, constitutions, bylaws, rules and regulations.
Shriners International would no longer exist as an independent
fraternal organization as it has since 1872.

It
is abundantly evident that the action taken by the Grand Lodge of
Arkansas in issuing its edict is designed to suppress or proscribe
Shriners International, its members, and its two Shrine temples in the
state of Arkansas.

Shrine Law




Articles of incorporation.

§4.1 This nonprofit corporation, organized and existing
under the laws of the state of Iowa, assuming all the powers and
obligations granted to bodies corporate under such laws, is to exist
perpetually, unless sooner dissolved in the manner provided by law, or
as prescribed by the bylaws of this corporation.


§5.1 The objects and purposes of this corporation, and
business to be transacted by it are:

(b) To be the irrevocable common agent, representative and
supreme authority in all matters appertaining to the government of the
system of the subordinate fraternal lodges or temples known in the
aggregate as Shriners International, located in states around the
world and, as such, shall have supreme and complete original
jurisdiction and essential powers necessary to such control and
government to:
(1)
Enact and enforce bylaws and regulations for the government of itself
and subordinate lodges or temples and members of the Order known in
the aggregate as Shriners International, and to alter, amend and
repeal the same at its pleasure.

(10) Hear and decide all charges and complaints against any
officer of Shriners International, or of any subordinate lodge or
temple, and to inflict such punishment as may seem just and proper.

(12) Exercise such power and control, and perform such acts, as
may seem proper and necessary to carry out the full purpose and intent
of this corporation.


Bylaws.

§202.4 The powers, objects and purposes of Shriners
International are those set forth in the articles of incorporation, as
amended from time to time.

§207.8 Except as specifically provided by the articles of
incorporation or bylaws of this corporation, or resolution of the
board of directors, no temple, unit Shrine club, group or person:
(a)
Has the authority, express or implied, to act as the agent of,
to act on behalf of, or to bind Shriners International.

(b) Can by its act or omission obligate or bind Shriners
international.

Order

For
all the foregoing reasons, and many more, and by the authority in me
vested by virtue of §206.5(a)(5) and §323.8(d) of the
international bylaws, I hereby CERTIFY that the Grand Lodge of Masons
of Arkansas has taken action which is designed to suppress or
proscribe Shriners International, its members and its two temples in
the state of Arkansas (Sahara Shriners and Scimitar Shriners).

Now, for so long as such threat of suppression or proscription
continues, Shriners International, its members, and its temples in the
jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, retain all their rights,
responsibilities and authority, notwithstanding any provision of the
bylaws to the contrary.

This special order shall be read by the Recorders of Sahara Shriners
and Scimitar Shriners in the presence of all of the Nobility at their
next stated meetings and it shall be made a part of the permanent
record and archives of the
temples.


I am confident that the full import, significance and authority of
this special order is self-evident and that it will be understood by
the Nobles of Sahara Shriners and Scimitar Shriners, and such others
as appropriate.


__________________________________

Michael G. Severe - Imperial Potentate

16 comments:

Cliff said...

Suppress! Really?!?

I don't believe this guy.

Calvin said...

This has all the earmarks of a testosterone battle that is going to end poorly for everyone involved.

Stephen said...

So what *exactly* does this mean?

Stephen said...

Personally, I think it would be in the best interest of the Shrine to go ahead and end their Masonic requirements. There is no reason why they should be subservient to the Grand Lodges, and without the hindrance of the requirement, they would be able to recruit from the community at large and bring in men who were only interested in being Shriners.

If Grand Lodges wanted to be petty and declare them clandestine, there would probably be enough men who were willing to end their Masonic membership to remain as Nobles. Anticipating the situation, Imperial could help the seriously affected Shrines stay afloat while launching a massive recruitment campaign.

The nature of the organization would change quite a bit without the Masonic requirement, but in the end, I think the Shrine would still grow.

Wayfaring Man said...

Personally, if they ended their Masonic requirement, I could see the GLs reacting positively. Masons are also Elks, Rotarians, Kiwanas, and even K of C. With a deep breath, they could also be Shriners, with no harm, no foul on either side, eliminating decades of tension in one fell swoop.

BSparks said...

At this point I say split. Then those who have ill wishes towards the Shrine for not teaching Masonry can shut up. Meanwhile, they can stop saying that Freemasons donate over 1.5 million a day in charity as the Shrine brings in most of that, get off their lazy rear ends and start doing charity work on their own. After all, charity is taught in all three degrees, but yet often falls on deaf ears. What few Freemasons the Shrine will loose will easily be made up. And those that have to pay dues at BL can stop paying them. Maybe Lodges can get back to their smaller sizes, and start doing real work instead of being a social club too. Drop the Widow's Sons, the YR, the SR, High 12 and all the other parts and go back to the basics.

Rusty said...

I am completely despondent over both some of the posts above as well as the general state between the Grand Lodge of Arkansas and Shrine International. I have studied both sides of the argument as best as my resources allow and, while I agree that neither side has acted in the best interests of Freemasonry, must conclude that the main issue here is that all Shriners are, first and foremost, Freemasons and are subservient to the laws to which we have all willingly undertaken to follow.

While the Shrine may or may not legally be construed as an appendant body, the simple fact remains that each member, currently and hopefully for the foreseeable future, IS a Master Mason; Master Masons who do not conform to their obligations to the Grand Architect are subject to the penalties to which we have all sworn. If we can pick and choose which of the moral laws that bind us together we intend to obey, then all of our laws become meaningless and we are, by definition, no better than the Profane.

One cannot simply "choose to end his Masonic involvement" without breaking his Obligations to Almighty God and, frankly, I personally will not associate with one who would. If a universal split occured between these two organizations, I would be the first to remove my Fez as I am always a Master Mason before anything else; that honor defines me as a man, as it does any man who has knelt at our Holy Altar.

Petty politics do not define us, regardless of what the world and the few who are personally involved with this incident may believe. It is time for both parties, who are not as different as they may believe, to come together in the spirit of brotherhood to resolve these differences and to ensure the Masonic future of Shriner International before further harm may come to both.

DavidG said...

I have to say at first that I am NOT a Shriner, it has never interested me, and you can only be a member of SO many bodies. I agree with Calvin that they appears to be a testosterone battle. There have been brothers I know who held themselves as being a bit superior because they were in the Shrine.. and I never let that bother me.. Regarding the contributions to Charity, I think that American Masonry has held FAR TOO MUCH to that attribute. I feel that MORE charity should go to brothers rather than outside the Craft. I would also agree with the commenter who said that Masonry could then become smaller as it should be. I think those who see and desire Masonry to be as large in the future as it was in times past are themselves looking at the unusual times when we were large and not at the more typical times. In closing, I couldn't care less whether the Shrine stays as a part of Freemasonry or not. but for those brothers it might hurt, I hope there is a great deal of consideration.

Cory said...

This cannot end well. I foresee the edict coming very soon that any member of the Shrine in that state will have to choose sides. One or the other.

Either the Blue Lodge will lose those members or the Shrine will.

Either way who wins? Everyone loses!

Thomas said...

"Drop the Widow's Sons, the YR, the SR, High 12 and all the other parts and go back to the basics"

So the "basics" cannot exist within those other organizations? A Mason should have no other Masonic interests, opportunities for comradeship or gather at any place to have masonic congruence with fellow Masons EXCEPT in Blue Lodge? That is a total recipe for failure.

BSparks said...

@Rusty. Are you disapointed in the other GL that did no remove the person from their ranks at the request of the GL of Arkansas? Why were they not removed from recongition by Arkansas too?

Also, if they do split and the Shrine no longer requires the MM section. How is joining both not being a Master Mason? Can you not join KoC or Elks then after being a MM in your eyes?

I would love to see both parties come together. But politics and personal gain seems to come first to those in power. First it started with some GL's and Widows Sons. Now it is the Shrine. Next it may be YR or SR. It just depends on how hurt someones feelings get when they become GM and do not get what they want.

@DavidG. come down here and watch 33rds want to be recongized for such in BL. Your head will spin. Sadly some people bring outside titles into BL where it does not belong.

@Thomas. The problem is ego's and politics at the upper levels. The BL teaches you everything you can use. The BL existed fine and flurished for hundrends of years before other bodies came along. too many breeze through the BL as a stepping stone to something else instead of learning the basic lessons that the BL teaches. How is that failure?

Paul said...

I am a Master Mason and a Shriner. I do not like the fact that politics has gotten involved here. From what I have read in the case of Arkansas there appears to be a problem with the Grand Lodge and not with Shriners International. To read about the trial in Arkansas looks to me like brotherhood has been lost and that a vendetta against a Potentate was the motive. When the masonic complaint was lodged it was found to be without merit so the person who brought the complaint took it to the Grand Lodge where a "secret" trial was held with unsigned witnesses. The defendent never had a chance to defend themselves and the verdict was issued. Is this right? I do not think so. The root of the problem is what needs to be looked at not the actions of Shrine International. All too often we can faulter letting go of our Masonic teachings for the sake of petty politics. This may or may not have happened in this case. If it has then it is the Brothers in Arkansas and in Michigan who have to demand answers of their Grand Lodge and make sure they follow the proper path in the interest of Freemasonary. We are stronger together than we are apart. I am a Mason and do my best to live by masonic values. I am also a Shriner who strongly believes in the fantastic work Shriners do. I should never be put in a position where I may have to choose. Being a Shriner is not just wearing a Fez it is about helping children with serious problems. How can we as Masons turn our backs on them in this manner.

Tommy Desmond said...

imroSorry for the long post, but this is close to my heart... Blogger has made me break my post into two parts:

I am a younger Brother (32) and Noble, in Michigan. I have been involved with the BL since 2001 and the Shrine since 2009. I have been active in membership committees for both bodies, and as such, have been privy to some of the research that's being handed out by Imperial and the GLs on the demographics of the men we're reaching out to as potential members. According to that data, I'm largely the archetype of who Masonry is trying to attract... 32, married, 3 kids, charity-minded, business-owning, civically engaged with a wide sphere of social influence. That being said, if I'm what the GL and Imperial is focused on to build their diminishing numbers, I'm unimpressed with what I am seeing in this regard.

We, as young Brothers, live in a different world than many of the older members may be aware. There are far more leins on our time as young Brothers, in many cases with family and business obligations that are far different than previous generations may fully realize. We have to make very conscious, planned decisions about how to use what little free time we have. We have to balance those events we attend with whether or not our wives or children can come. We have to determine whether there will be a general net benefit for involvement.

The attitudes of the heavily time-taxed millenial generation is far different than previous generations. If you bring a member into a Lodge and they are met with disharmony, bloated egos, an attitude of "listen to me because I have rank", and general unpleasantness... they will simply stop coming. They will then say, when they meet with non-Mason friends, and the Masonic topic comes up, "yeah, I dunno, I went to a few meetings, but it doesn't seem like there's much point... all they do is fight. I have a lot going on and I don't think I'm going to use what free time I have to deal with that stuff.". That's a direct quote by the way, from a table of new Brothers I recently spoke too. They plan to get out of Masonry now, and they won't be bringing their friends into BL to get raised either.

I think there's a general sense amongst the BL and the Shrine that these incoming Brothers are lucky they've been accepted and should be spending much time proving themselves to the older guys for the privilege of recognition Masonically. Unfortunately, that's just not how the message is going to be received. What the reaction from the young membership will be is to simply stop coming. They just won't exert much energy getting involved with the Masonic community. They'll move on. They'll stop paying dues.

Tommy Desmond said...

The strong, upright young Brother would not shy aware from the opportunity to prove himself, but only if the nature of the relationship was mutually beneficial. Any thinking, independent man would obviously ask himself recurringly: "For its cost, is engagement with this group bettering me, my business or my family?". At least any viable future leader would be asking this. Anyone willing to perpetually eat crow with little resulting benefit is most likely a man with a weak sense of self, who is looking outwardly for his validation from others. What purpose would there be in filling Masonic ranks with people like that?

That being said, there is also noticeable trend of "Masonic Fundamentalism" from some of the new Brethren entering the BL. The attitude has the distinct flavor of young minds that are using Masonic involvement in lieu of other religious observance. They are using the experience of Masonry as the be all and end all of their spiritual definition. This attitude creates an undue hostility in the younger ranks, and sets the stage between social-oriented Masons (who generally have wide social circles and bring more Brethren into Masonry) and "real" Masons (who spend a lot of time prognosticating and talking about ritual, but little time actually enacting any of their hyperbole). In my (short) ten year Masonic career, I have never seen much of the Mortar that so often gets touted by those fundamentalists. The tenets of Freemasonry, if entirely academic, are inert. Those tenets must be operative as well as speculative.

I've heard complaints about Shriners being drunk and partying, but usually the mouths complaining about intemperance are looking to recreate a full monastic religious experience within Masonry. Something to loose themselves in, that will create their identity for them. They seem to be seeking an illusion that, if realized, would severely limit the growth of Masonry on the whole and limit it's incoming membership to an isolated, almost cult like body. The Shrine also holds Masonry's most visible and unambiguous charity. Anyone who has been to a Shrine Hospital would be hard pressed to find massive character flaws with the men who conceived and constructed those organizations. If there is an operative enactment of Masonic charity anywhere on earth, the Shrine Hospitals are definitely a primary example of it.

I personally see the opportunity for Masonry and Shrinedom to work in concert, with Shrine delivering an operative, social element that keeps new members engaged long enough to build bonds, that in turn anchor them in the fraternity long enough to give them time to realize and practice the totality of the speculative, academic roots in BL philosophical Masonry.

If Masonry is to live, it must be a marriage of several things. The benefits it must provide to it's incoming membership must be both social and philosophical. One cannot be to the exclusion of the other. If it does not deliver on both fronts, membership will just simple not flourish. The Fraternity on the whole must find again the underlying attitude of the growing, benevolent, dynamic community that has left it's icons all over this country and the world. This is the legacy, attitude, and history that creates interest in Freemasonry. To witness what is in actuality happening, feels much more like the desperate death throes of an organization steeply in decline. At least that is how it feels to watch the political infighting, egotism and finger pointing.

On the whole, I'm underwhelmed with the way the older leadership is handling themselves politically. It's unimpressive, overtly egotist, and generally embarrassing... to the point where I myself have unfortunately stopped handing petitions out to friends. It's time for the leadership to be the change they want to see. We young Brothers come to the older Brothers for guidance and growth... not for the divisive, sectarian, partisan posturing we are getting.

We already have national politics for that.

TexasMason32 said...

Great read Brother Tommy ! so so true ...

Evan Mcgee said...

I am a former Shriner. I am also a former Mainstream mason. It was just such a rift that occurred in Arizona, and all the subsequent saber rattling on both sides that cause me to do some real soul searching about the masonic path I was on.

I resolved to leave the American obedience, as I felt, for me anyways, that the Aerican style, with all the appendant bodies, had become more about the social club and less about the pursuit.

My obligation bound me to my creator not some Earthly grand obedience with all fallacies of the human condition. I reconciled with myself that if I demitted from the mainstream, then I was no longer bound by obligation to it's grand lodges rules or ruling. Once a mason always a mason.

I sought out a "branch" of our fraternity the more focused on the things I was interested in, the pursuit, and I hung my obligation there.

I think many masons forget our obligation is not to some lodge or grand lodge, it is to our Supreme Architect. We agree to be bound by our lodges rules while we are members. By I certainly remember the point in my obligation where it said that it will not interfere with a duty I owe to god or myself.

When a Grand obedience, and lodge turn their trowels on edge to do harm, THEY broke our obligation not I. THEY forgot their part of the deal, and therefore I am invited to re-evaluate whether they are worthy trustees of the obligation between me and my creator.

Just my thoughts. I respect everyone's choice to believe as you will. I only offer this as my rationalization, as it may help bring clarity to some who struggle as I did. Our craft has some real turbulence in this day and age.

I welcome constructive comment, please don't attack me, as I have not attacked you.

Evan McGee
Master of Ceremonies
Apollo Lodge #2031 I.M.o.D.
www.lodgeapollo.us
stewvan@gmail.com