I think maybe it is time that Craft Masonry and the Shrine part ways if they want to be an autonomous organization. Along with all the "Brothers" who only maintain their Blue Lodge membership because it is a requirement of the Shrine. They do great work with kids, but if they do not want to be an Appendant Body of Freemasonry, so mote it be.
I disagree. All other appending bodies of Masonry have run as independent organizations with their own leadership. It has been this way for ages. I believe this is an attempt for the GL of Arkansas to control what may be the largest Masonic organization in the world, Shrine International. If you want Shrine to part ways then the Scottish Rite, York Rite, etc. should either be integrated into the Grand Lodges or disband. After reading the total sum of material about these issues on-line I can see both parties points. But Shrine has remedied the issues and if that doesn't satisfy Arkansas then I would question how brotherly the officers of that organization truely are.
As much as I love the Shrine, this has just told me that my own membership in the Shrine may have to end. What Imperial does not understand is that the Shrine is NOT a completely separate organization despite its claims to be such. The Shrine is entirely dependent upon the Blue Lodges and therefore upon the Grand Lodges. I do not yet know what either Massachusetts or Pennsylvania will do, but if either of them side with the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, my time in the Shrine will be at an end. This deeply saddens me. I hope that the Imperial Potentate and the other members and officers at Imperial will remember the oaths that they first took at the altar in a Blue Lodge. The one that is preeminent to any oath that we ever took in the Shrine.Unless Imperial is set upon seeing an end to the requirement of Freemasonic membership to belong to the Shrine, their stance here is flat wrong. If the Shrine's own documents require that they take this stance, then those documents are flat wrong and it is their duty as Freemasons to see those documents changed.Fraternally,Frank
I think you have missed the key point. The brother at the center of the controversy maintained his Blue Lodge/Grand Lodge membership in Iowa and therefore meets the requirement to be in Shriners International. Arkansas' beef should be with Iowa for allowing an expelled Mason to maintain Masonic membership. The Shrine is just following their own bylaws.
Hello Tampauro,I don't think so. I think the Shrine is missing the fact that ultimately the Blue Lodge must come first. If the member is expelled from a jurisdiction he belonged to, then the Shrine, within that jurisdiction, is obligated to honor that expulsion. Fraternally,Frank
Frank, correct me if I'm wrong, but Shriners International's jurisdiction is the entire U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Therefore they would keep the membership of a brother from Iowa. The GL of AR's jurisdiction is for Arkansas Masons only. Why do they get to dictate what a Mason from Iowa gets to do, even if that Mason used to be on the rolls in Arkansas?Tampauro
The Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, is a wonderful fraternal organization and American success story. Primarily founded by two Brother Masons: William J. Florence and Dr. Walter M. Fleming, the first official Shrine meeting took place on september 26, 1872, in the New York City Masonic Hall.Since that time, the Shrine has grown by leaps and bounds throughout North America and other parts of the world. Today, the Shrine Emblem consisting of the Scimitar, Crescent, and five-pointed Star beneath the head of the Sphinx is almost as universally known and well respected, by the general public, as the Square and Compasses.Full of imagination, mystery, and a unique mystique which (when done properly) is conveyed to the candidate during his CREATION (i.e. Initiation), the candidate is taken out of his normal day to day comfort zone and taught a most serious lesson: In order to proudly wear the title of NOBLE he must be a Steward (a Chief Servant) of Children.Personally, I joined the Mystic Shrine with 5 other Brother Masons many years ago in South Korea when they still did the Old School Hot Sands Creations before the fear of lawsuits. There was a Medic present who gave us all physicals before the ceremonial begun. It turned out to be one of the best fun times of our lives!-smile- No good Man or Mason can visit a Shrine Hospital and not be moved by the smiles on the faces of the Children being helped there. The Mystic Shrine must survive and thrive, with or without the assistance of Freemasonry, in today's often selfish and fearful society as a beakon of hope and an example of what it truly means, to be NOBLE.S&F, Noble Johnson,Life Member, Afifi Shrine Center, WA. Past Shrine Ambassador to South Korea.
What really needs to happen here is that CGMMNA needs to regularize a "suspended in one, suspended in all" rule, and make it stick across all of the CGMMNA jurisdictions.Then the Imperial Potentate wouldn't have a leg to stand on.I don't expect that to happen.
Hello Tampauro,The problem is that the brother in question, having been expelled, decided to circumvent the ruling by running to another jurisdiction to maintain his position in the Arkansas Shrine and the Shrine went along with this. They delayed his suspension from the Shrine until he had joined the Iowa Lodge, and then they said, no harm, no foul, everything is fine. Essentially, the Shrine ignored the ruling of the Grand Master and either aided the brother in question in finding another Blue Lodge, or at least delayed things until he did so that they did not have to act. Once a Grand Master has said a man is suspended or expelled, then the Shrine, by its own rules that say a man must be a Mason in good standing, must do the same, immediately.If I remember correctly, the brother in question was also the Potentate of one of the Arkansas Shrines. So, my wonder is how much of this is based on internal Shrine politics and how much are they really following their rules. If it had been just some poor ordinary member, would they have done the same thing.Fraternally,Frank
The challenge to the Sovereignty of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine(A.A.O.N.M.S.) has been off and on for many years and it is interesting that similar problems have surfaced from time to time within the Prince Hall Jurisdiction of the Shrine (Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine). Masonic Grand Lodges are Sovereign over those fraternal bodies which receive a Warrant or Charter from them to operate and/or exist. The Shrine is a Sovereign body unto itself because it did not receive a Warrant or Charter from any Masonic Grand Lodge. Grand Mastership aside, The Masonic leader of Arkansas is human and feelings have been known to be hurt even among Grand Master Masons. It is highly probable the Grand Master of Arkansas expected the Shrine to automatically comply with a ruling within his jurisdiction involving one of his Master Masons. The Shrine is good at leaving Masonic considerations and judgements to Grand Lodges regarding the regular good Masonic status/standing of their members. The Shrine stays out of the particulars of every Masonic case and has no vote in a Grand Lodge decision regarding a member's Masonic standing. This is as it should be. If Brother Frank Kautz's comments are correct, it seems the Grand Master of Arkansas' problem with the Shrine is misplaced and should be instead a problem with the MASONIC Grand Lodge of Iowa.
I disagree it is not time for the Shrine to cease becoming an Appendant Body. It is time they delete by-laws that contradict masonic principles, i.e. “a Shriner may maintain their membership when expelled from the prerequisite body as long as the reason they were expelled does not violate Shrine Law.” Additionally no appendant bodies run independent. Each appendant body operates at the will and pleasure of the Grand Lodge whose jurisdiction they reside. Therefore the Shrine is subject to the rules and edicts of the Grand Lodge. Here is an interesting fact 90% of the Shrine Hospital’s Annual budget comes from corporations, wills, bequest, and third party insurance. Makes me ponder the purpose for all the money Shriners raises each year?Jay Adam PearsonGrand Master of Masons in South Carolina
I attended the meeting in Arkansas and the Shrine has not remedied the issues. The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge asked the Imperial Potentate to remove all expelled masons from their rolls. He declined to do so. Additionally the previous Imperial Potentate ignored request for approximately one year before the Grand Lodge of Arkansas had to act to protect their masons. There are several documents that are less than factual which have circulated. If you desire the truth, contact the Grand Lodge of Arkansas.Jay Adam PearsonGrand Master of masons in South Carolina
Thank you for your insights M.W. Bro. Pearson. It fits with everything I have read and heard about this.Fraternally,Frank
I was asked about the 90 percent of shrine funds and where I receive that information . I heard it during a meeting last year ,therefore since I cannot document this is fact ,I should not have mentioned it please forgive this oversight. J Adam Pearson
"I disagree it is not time for the Shrine to cease becoming an Appendant Body."Most Worshipful, a point of order if I may: In some jurisdicitions (I don't know how many, unfortunately) the Shrine is not considered a Masonic organization. For instance, Indiana, where the Grand Lodge code has contained this rule since 1910. If it's not Masonic, then it can't really be appendant to begin with.I don't know what your Grand Lodge code says, but at least in my Grand Jurisdiction, the Shrine is just an organization that requires Masonic affiliation to join. (The Grotto, ditto, FWIW.)
You are correct, Brother Fuzzy. The truth is the Shrine is so uniquely qualified to accomplish their mission (caring for children while providing fun for their members/Masons)that many Grand Jurisdictions treat them as an "Appendant Body" because the Shrine also practices the high Masonic Moral Values (Grand Principles) of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.When considering Appendant Bodies we must also consider what makes us as Masons Masonic. Like the Shrine, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was also founded by Masons but no one would consider them Masonic because they were founded by Masons, nor were they ever considered an Appendant Body of the Craft.High Moral Principles, alone, donot make us Masonic. Many good men and women around the world who know nothing of Freemasonry practice Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth among their families, friends, and strangers. Also there are kindred Oganizations such as the Odd Fellows who share some of the same Moral Principles/Values of Freemasonry and yet, they are definitely not Masonic.The Shrine did not happen by chance or accident. It came about to fulfill the deep need and aspirations of Masons who want to serve a cause much bigger than their individual selves and therby render a greater service to all humanity. If we got rid of the Shrine today or tomorrow, something else would rise to take it's place because as Masons we must never think we have done enough. So let the Shrine survive and thrive and lets not try to reinvent the wheel.-smile-
Good points on how many Grand Lodges do not consider the Shrine an Appendant Body. I respect all Grand Lodges and their decision on which organization they recognize. I admit there are some Grand Lodges who consider the Shrine a concordant body or simply do not recognize them as appendant. Here are some points of order:• From the genesis of the Shrine they have in their by-laws Shrine membership is predicated on masonic membership in good standing. • This fact is well established and is followed by all Appendant Bodies, i.e. Scottish Rite, and the York Rite.• By the very nature of the Shrine they are an Appendant Body because they operate with masonic membership. • Should a Grand Master not be a Scottish Rite Mason, York Rite Mason, or a Shriner he can attend a Scottish Rite, York Rite or Shrine meeting in his Grand Jurisdiction and assume the gavel of authority. • The Shrine was created for fun and fellowship, not to help the crippled and burned child. Our Philanthropy was not adopted until 1921 some 49 years after the organization of the Shrine. Brother Thomas we are not reinventing the wheel. The cog in the wheel is blue lodge membership. Appendant Bodies are the spokes. Please consider these facts from the Official web site of Shriners International.We know that the co-founders of the Mystic Shrine of North America were good showmen. Actor William Florence was reared to regard the world as a stage and all the people as actors. Dr. Walter M. Fleming could have earned a good livelihood as a juggler and magician. Dr. Fleming was completing his higher degree work in Masonry at the time, and in his quest for complete relaxation, he had an urge to establish a playground for Masons - an organization to which only Masons who had completed their Scottish Rite or York Rite would be eligible. Therefore I submit for your consideration since Shriners International operates with masonic membership in various Grand Lodge Jurisdictions they are Appendant. I lack clarity how an organization can be considered concordant, appendant or simply ignored when they refuse to remove expelled masons from their rolls. I am a proud Shriner who holds membership in two temples and I have served as President of a Shine Unit and on the Ritualistic Committee for several years. The story of the Shrine is that of hundreds of thousands of our brethren, Freemasons all, who join together, to mix fellowship, pleasure, entertainment, good will and charity in a grand scale program of fraternal good works that truly earns for them the title of.... NOBLE.Nobles we must guard against not only the Cowan and Eaves dropper from entering our lodges, but also those deleterious excretes who seek entrance into Appendant Masonic Bodies. The masons in question were charged, found guilty and expelled for un-masonic conduct, and their Grand Lodge upheld their conviction. We must be ever vigilant against them from entering the anteroom by way of a petition and the ballot box. If a man does not have temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice then he should not be given a petition, no matter how many times he asks. It is our blue lodges that have failed our great fraternity. We have allowed those unskilled and unworthy to enter by way of the goat path; they have outflanked us as they did at Thermopylae. The path of enlightenment does not begin in a club or bar. Therefore when you hear someone complaining about our membership declining, remember we will not defeat the enemies of masonry by sheer numbers. We will win with our fraternity dedicated to duty, honor and country. So if you are disheartened think of quality not quantity and remember Leonidas and the last stand at Thermopylae. Yes a Spartan leaves the battle field with his shield or upon it. A mason realizes life is not about self and leaves the battle field of life with his honor intact, and with his dying breath he say’s my life you may have, but my integrity never. Jay Adam PearsonGrand Master of Masons in South Carolina
`Excellent comment, Most Worshipful Grand Master Jay Adam Pearson. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and love for the Craft with your Brethren.S&F, Bro. Thomas Johnson
At the risk of offending some, the Shrine has long been an embarrassment to the Fraternity. The stereotype of the drunken, fez-wearing, skirt-chasing Shriner is well-established in popular lore. If it weren't for the hospitals, we would have shuttered these guys long ago.If an organization has Masonic membership as its prerequisite, it better play by the rules of the Grand Lodge jurisdiction in which it exists or it will soon not exist. I hope Arkansas Masons overwhelmingly flee the Shrine and demonstrate a proper loyalty and respect for their Grand Lodge.
Brother David, since you donot seem to be a member of the Shrine by your comment, perhaps you would be interested in GROTTO membership if your Grand Jurisdiction offers it.In some ways similar to the Shrine, the GROTTO is a social organization for Master Masons. The GROTTO slogan is GOOD FELLOWSHIP and (similar to the Shrine) the members believe an atmosphere of good, clean fun and frolic should prevail at all times.The Grotto is officially known as The Supreme Council of the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm. And their members (I am a proud member) wear Black Fezzes which are similar to the Red Fez of the Shriner.Similar to the Shrine, the GROTTO's serious side is all about CHILDREN and they provide FREE Dental Care for Children with Special Needs. The GROTTO is a wonderful and very unique organization and may be a good alternative for those Master Masons who desire not to affiliate with the Shrine.-smile-
Brother David:We all have had members who have not acted in the best interest of our masonic fraternity. I feel it is best to allow each Grand Master to deal with his current membership when they depart from their masonic obligations. My mother was born in Greer South Carolina and she was the baby of a family of 10. My aunt was born with legs that would not work and preventing her from running and playing with her sisters, brothers, and children in the neighborhood. One day a man knocked on the screen door and introduced himself to my Grandparents. He told them he had seen my aunt sitting while the other children played, he told them he was a Shriner and that if they would allow the Shrine Hospital to evaluate her, that perhaps there was something they could. That day two journeys began, one journey was by my aunt on her way to multiple surgeries fixing her legs with braces to correct and support her. The other journey was by my Uncles, father, brother and I as we sought to repay the men in the Red Fez. Each of us upon turning 21 knocked on the door of the Blue Lodge and then we journeyed across the sands to our local Shrine Temple. I am a proud member of Hejaz Shrine Temple, and Omar Shrine Temple in South Carolina. Our beloved fraternity serves humanity through our philanthropic charities in excess of 2.5 million dollars a day. Brethren each day you meet people I will never meet and I meet people each day you will never meet. I choose to accentuate the positive. Think of the impact we have through extending charity to those in our circle of acquaintanceI know the Grand Secretary of Arkansas and I asked him how many masons demitted from their blue lodge and remained a Shriner. He reported that out of 2,500 Shriners less than 15 had demitted from their blue lodge and decided to remain a Shriner. Therefore the masons of The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Arkansas have spoken and remained a master mason. Did they overwhelming flee? You be the judge. Your friend and brother from Inman South CarolinaJay Adam PearsonGrand Master
What really needs to happen here is that CGMMNA needs to regularize a "suspended in one, suspended in all" rule, and make it stick across all of the CGMMNA jurisdictions.Absolutely not, and this should never happen.Then Brothers who are suspended or expelled in ways that are un-Masonic (such as due to religious bigotry in GL leadership) have no recourse.
OK, this is going to make me split my post into 2 parts. Please bear with me.Most Worshipful Brother Jay,First of all I'd like to thank you for coming to a blog and for actually expressing an opinion, rather than just observe. I think that is wonderful. I appreciate your insights and perspectives.I hesitate, however to proceed in my remarks because the protocol in the Grand Lodge of Indiana is not to have direct communication with the Grand Lodge of another jurisdiction, but to direct such communications through the Grand Secretary's office.I am presuming your comments here are as a concerned brother with knowledge, rather than speaking on behalf of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of South Carolina. My comments are directed to you as a brother, and not in your official capacity, as I not authorized to speak on behalf of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Indiana or make direct inquiry of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of South Carolina.I have a number of concerns in this matter. First, you mention that “[s]hould a Grand Master not be a Scottish Rite Mason, York Rite Mason, or a Shriner he can attend a Scottish Rite, York Rite or Shrine meeting in his Grand Jurisdiction and assume the gavel of authority. “ I am an officer for the Indianapolis Valley of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. Based on that experience, I would have to respectfully disagree with that assessment. I don’t believe that has ever been an issue in our Valley, as I am not aware of a GM, certainly in recent history, that was not a member of the Scottish Rite, NMJ (or the Shrine for that matter). However, if that happened, I don’t believe he would be required to be admitted. Even as a member, he would not entitled to the gavel. However, in our Valley, every Commander –in-Chief of the Consistory that I have ever known would do so out of respect for the office of the GM, but not because they were required to do so. I recall a case years ago, where 33rd Degree Mason had been suspended without trial and was later reinstated. At his appearance before the Grievance and Appeals Committee, someone told him he should remove his 33rd Degree ring. He was advised by the Deputy that only the Sovereign Grand Commander for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction could make that order .
Part 2I certainly recognize, and generally agree, that the local lodge, and its Grand Lodge, are in the best position to evaluate issues of conduct and administer discipline. However, in this case, the local lodge declined to file charges. It was the Grand Master that intervened and set up a trial commission - which he certainly has every right to do. However, Brother Buffington was also a Mason in good standing with the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Iowa. The Grand Lodge of Iowa reviewed the matter and declined to take any disciplinary action. As a result, the Shrine could not remove this man’s membership as a Shriner. There is no requirement that membership in a temple in a particular state requires Masonic membership in the same state. While there are other suspensions currently in play, all stem from this incident which gave rise to the disagreement between Shriner’s International and the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Arkansas. You have indicated that you were present at the meeting in Arkansas and that there are “several documents that are less than factual which have circulated” and that if we desire the truth, we should contact the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. As I have indicated above, protocol of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Indiana prohibits me from making such an inquiry. To what documents do you refer? Are you referring to the report of the Imperial Shrine in November, 2012? What made these documents inaccurate? If there is knowledge that has not been made public, has this been transmitted to the Grand Lodge of Iowa? If not, why not?I’d certainly be willing to hear from the MWGL of Arkansas on this matter to hear both sides. I have serious concerns in this matter regarding the due process, or alleged lack thereof, offered these suspended brethren – or former brethren depending on their status. I find this especially disconcerting since the matter was investigated by the local lodge, the MWGL of Iowa and the Shrine and the complaint was found to be without merit. One of our obligations as Masons is seek justice and the advancement of the fraternity. I certainly respect the sovereignty and independence of the MWGL of Arkansas as to their members. However, I am troubled that what appears to be a power struggle has done real damage to our fraternity in shutting down Shrine temples and creating divisions within our broader fraternity.Respectfully and Fraternally Submitted,Ed Adams, PM
Excellent comment, Worshipful Brother Ed Adams. Years ago, I conferred the York Rite degrees upon several Grand Lodge Officers who were already members of the Scottish Rite and Shrine.This was done for two reasons: 1. Because the Grand Lodge candidates wanted to become members of the York Rite. And 2: Inorder to foster a closer moral and spiritual bond of understanding throughout the jurisdiction. It worked!It is my sincere hope that the Shrine will one day, in the near future, be once again recognized in the Great Masonic Jurisdiction of Arkansas, as being legitimate.
Brother Ed please feel free to make any comments, I am first and foremost your brother from Inman South Carolina. You must understand that no Grand Master would barge into a meeting and assume the gavel of authority. I would refer you to the obligation and duties of Grand Master as codified in your code. Most Grand Jurisdictions are very similar in the duties, responsibilities, and obligations of the Grand Master. The Grand Master has the authority to preside over every assemblage of masons in his Grand Jurisdiction. Brother Ed there is two separate incidents, the Iowa mason, and various masons who were expelled upon conviction for violations of masonic law and violating their obligation. The facts are: • Arkansas Masons were charged with un-masonic conduct.• Those charged were summoned and asked to submit a plea and enter a defense.• Some attended their masonic trial, while others did not attend.• A masonic trial was held and a verdict issued.• All trials went through the appeals process in accordance with the Code and Constitution of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Arkansas.• The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Arkansas upheld each verdict at their Annual Communication in February of 2012.Brother Ed you can ask your Grand Master to contact the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. You are aware of masonic protocol and for that I commend you, please recall that when a Grand Lodge expels a mason the case must be approved by the Grand Lodge. Consequently after the case has been adjudicated the only pertinent information is the verdict and disposition of the mason. No Grand Lodge shares the case log. I am familiar with most Grand Jurisdictions laws because they are essentially the same. When a member brings charges against his brother the charges must be validated as a masonic offence by the lodge without evidence. The next step is if the charges were upheld by the lodge a trial proceeds. If the charges are not validated by the Lodge the offended Brother has one final recourse of action. He may ask the Grand Master to examine the case and determine if the charges are valid. This I what occurred in Arkansas. Valid charges were preferred and the Lodge neglected to proceed. A power struggled occurred when the Shriners International refused to remove expelled masons from their rolls. In other jurisdictions Shriners International has removed expelled masons from their rolls; regrettably this did not occur in Arkansas.Brother Ed, you are correct in your assessment referring to my comments, I have anguished and prayed over our beloved fraternity. Once again the leadership of our respective Grand Lodge’s finds us at the crossroads of a difficult decision. In 1987 as a young mason eager to learn I found myself knocking on the door of the Scottish and York Rite Bodies for more light. Shortly after I joined the Rites I was eager to invite my brethren to the fellowship I found in the Temple. It was during a conversation with an older mason who I was trying desperately to petition the Rites that he responded with 18 simple words. He shared how his life revolved around his obligation as a Master Mason and he did not feel he could live up to additional duties and responsibilities; therefore he respectfully declined to petition the Rites. The 18 words spoken those many years ago have permeated my thoughts, prayers and heart as I have addressed the Shrine issue. Those 18 simple words sum up far better than I could ever put to words, my brother said, “no obligation should ever be vaguely remembered or forgotten, I am and will always remain a Master Mason.”Your friend and Brother from InmanJay Adam PearsonGrand Master
ATTENTION!Kindly sign your comment posts. Anonymous postings on Masonic topics have the same status as cowans and eavesdroppers, as far as I am concerned, and may be deleted if I don't recognize you or if I'm in a grumpy mood.