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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

UPDATED: GL of Georgia Votes For Prince Hall Recognition

by Christopher Hodapp

(THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED OCTOBER 27, 2021 6:37AM TO ADD DOCUMENTATION AND VISITATION RESTRICTIONS)

I've had three different sources attending the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia F&AM today inform me that the assembled brethren voted overwhelmingly to officially extend recognition to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Jurisdiction of Georgia. The recommendation was made by the Committee on Recognition, there was no discussion, and the proposed recognition passed "by a landslide."



Still too early yet for many details beyond the recommendation and the vote. However, a couple of documents leading to the vote contain a couple of curious items.

Below is the request for amity/recognition sent to the Grand Lodge last December by Prince Hall GL of Georgia's Grand Master, MW Corey D. Shackleford. My apologies for the fuzzy quality of images. Click them to enlarge:



GM Shackleford states in his letter that their goal is to achieve formal acknowledgement of each other's organization as legitimate, "but to maintain our separate existence." The request included the following "safeguards for both institutions":
  1. There shall be no visitation at the subordinate lodge level unless authorized by both Grand Masters;
  2. The amity/recognition agreement shall never constitute future merger;
  3. There shall be no instance of demitting to the other Jurisdiction, and;
  4. If approved and ratified by the GLGA, this request shall not be amended nor revisited within five (5) years of the date of acceptance from the GLGA.
In essence, the request seems to simply be that the MWPHGL of GA just doesn't want to be called clandestine or irregular anymore, but not much else. And, as is often the case, they seem very concerned that the big fish might eventually swallow up the littler fish if the Prince Hall brethren get to visit the mainstream lodges. 

Or as the old World War I song went, "How are you gonna keep them down on the farm once they've seen gay Paree?"



When the Grand Lodge of Georgia's Commission on Recognition took up the Prince Hall GL request, they added a couple of changes to that list of "safeguards" that are even a little more restrictive:


To wit:
  1. Remove the line "unless authorized by both Grand Masters" so it now reads, "There shall be no visitation at the subordinate lodge level."
  2. Change the time limit that prevents future amending or revising the agreement from the proposed five year period to ten years.
Now, nobody has ever been reckless enough to stick me on a Jurisprudence Committee, but my albeit flawed understanding has always been that the assembled grand lodge voting members cannot legally prevent action being taken by a succeeding grand lodge for any period of time in the future. That's possibly a jurisdictional difference, but I'd be shocked if that really turned out to be backed up by either of the two Georgia grand lodge constitutions. You can't insist that future grand lodge members can't ever pass new legislation - or you can't enforce it, anyway. It's like a dying man trying to discipline his unborn grandkids by drawing up an odious will. He might feel victorious when he signs it, but once he's dead, he can't prevent them from installing a urinal and a dance floor over his grave once he joins the Choir Invisible. "The Grand Lodge" officially ceases to be when the gavel falls at the annual communication, and does not exist again until the opening gavel of the next year's meeting. The rest of the year, the Grand Lodge is invested in the Grand Master.

(Paging Glenn Cook...

In fairness, these types of limitations forbidding visitations between mainstream and Prince Hall Grand Lodge members for a fixed "cooling off" period have been more common in recent years, and are almost always requested by the Prince Hall Masons, not vice versa. The approach is to get everybody's members comfortable with the joint recognition idea and hopefully weed out the truly hardcore critics on both sides who would rather curl up and die than let "one of those guys" visit his lodge. After all - after telling your members for 150 years that the other grand lodge in your state is clandestine and irregular, you're going to have members who aren't exactly going to wake up tomorrow morning singing the Rainbow Bright Unicorn song when you announce that everything has changed now. 

What seems to be turning into a pattern is that these limitations are agreed to, everybody finds out that Masons are all pretty decent folks in both organizations after all, and the imagined horrible incidents everybody was afraid of don't materialize. The truly offensive naysayers stay home or demit, or at least learn to hold their wagging tongues. And usually within two or three years, the ban on visitations get lifted.

As I wrote many years ago, getting a grand lodge to change is like steering an aircraft carrier: they're slow to change course, hard to steer, and take forever if you want to stop them. 

Nevertheless, the baby step has been taken, and the brethren of Georgia's two legitimate grand lodges are to be commended at last. 

And then there were five...



22 comments:

  1. Which are the five GLs that still do not recognize Prince Hall GLs?

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    Replies
    1. Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina & West Virginia.

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  2. I just added the updated map this morning.

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    1. This map is decieving and inaccurate. All the Jurisdictions with Recognition & Amity (with visitation) should be in Blue, Jurisdictions with Recognition Only & No Visitation should be in Yellow, and Jurisdictions with NO Recognition at all should be in Red.. Just a suggestion to be as accurate as possible

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  3. They can't visit and balloting remains unchanged.

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  4. If each GL recognizes the other as Regular then how can a prohibition of Right of Visitation be enforced by either GL? Is this a prohibitation of entry by a GL to visiting Brothers or a prohibition of a GL to its Members seeking visitation elsware? or Is this not a violation of the Landmarks?

    Mackey’s Fourteenth Landmark reads as follows:

    “The right of every Masons to visit and sit in every regular Lodge is an unquestionable Landmark of the Order. This is called the ‘right of visitation.’ This right of visitation has always been recognized as an inherent right, which inures to every Masons as he travels through the world. And this is because Lodges are just considered as only divisions for convenience of the universal Masonic Family. This right may, of course, be impaired or forfeited on special occasions by various circumstances; but when admission is refused to a Mason in good standing, who knocks at the door of a lodge as a visitor, it is to be expected that some good and sufficient reason shall be furnished for this violation, of what is in general a Masonic Right, founded on the Landmarks of the Order.”

    Jed Holley, Ariz.

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    Replies
    1. There is no universal masonic family from the anglophone masonic perspective. IMO

      It's extraordinary to have more than one Grand Lodge in a territory or country. American freemasonry is effected and founded on race and commercial control. IMO

      It is what it is huh?

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  5. This is a step in the right direction. I hope someday they can have visitations and spread the brotherly love between their jurisdictions.

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  6. This is interesting , I would like to know, how did the Grand Lodge of Ga recognition investigation Committee come to the conclusion that the MWPHGL of Georgia had lineage to African Lodge 459, and omitt the body that charted their founding lodges? All 3 subordinate lodges that came together to form MWPHGL of Ga were founded and Chartered under The National Compact aka PHO. So how is it that the Grand Lodge of Georgia went around the Regular Legitimate Grand Lodges (PHO) in Georgia that birthed MWPHGL of Ga, and now proclaim them to be Regular and Legitimate but ignore the Body that gave birth to them.. This is yet another example of Biased illegitimate hypocritical Bull Pucky.

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    Replies
    1. Excellent question!

      Perhaps it's more political than anything?

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  7. Those who paved the way who are no longer with us are smiling!(Bros. Joe Walkes and Nelson King)

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  8. I get the author's intention to add levity and humor, but please refrain from any references to Historically Black organizations, especially with the esteemed history of Prince Hall Masonry, as being "kept on the farm." Especially in light of this country's history of racism which is still being borne out in our States' Grand Lodges to this day. Prince Hall Masonry does not fear its membership leaving for "greener" pastures. Our Southern leaders are simply extending our hand in brotherly love to our AF&AM counterparts while preserving our right to exist separately.

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    1. It’s amazing how you take a self explanatory poster and interject your own hyperbolic nonsense. You’re the only one to make any of this about race, which is exactly what a racist would do.

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    2. I found that an odd choice as well.

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    3. Terence - it's no less than what I've come to expect.

      The suggestion that mainstream GLs are more sophisticated (Gay Paree) than the PHA GLs (down on the farm) is denigratory and, one would hope, beyond the pale of acceptable discourse for Brothers. It reeks of unconscious bias and paternalism.

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    4. MP,

      See my response below to Terence.

      I assure you that I am not denigrating PH Masonry in any way. Nor am I being paternalistic. But the request for recognition they sent to the GL of Georgia insisted on no transfers or demits, and they are by no means the first to do so.

      I've had several PH grand secretaries over the years emphatically say that they will not ever permit a PH Mason to transfer to the state GL, or issue a demit to enable such a transfer. This, despite the clear evidence after 32 years of joint recognitions going on in the U.S. that there has NEVER been a stampede of PH members flocking over to the state GLs (or vice versa, for that matter). Yet this provision keeps turning up again and again.

      I never made the claim (or even alluded to it) that state GLs are more "sophisticated" than their PH counterparts. I suspect it's really about the fear of being dwarfed in size and scope, and the ever-present concern over being rendered obsolete. Take my home state, for an example, when we established joint recognition 23 years ago. At that time, our state GL had more than 100,000 Masons, while the PH grand lodge had "just under 2,000" (we were never told the exact figure, officially, but their grand secretary admitted to me that it was closer to 1,400). The state GLs have the giant old buildings, the retirement homes, the hundreds of lodges, the magazines, the very active appendent bodies and tons of Masonic-related peripheral organizations that PH Masonry generally can't support in most states. (Never mind that we can't support them anymore, either.) To a new candidate or young Mason, all of that can seem more impressive at first glance.

      Obviously, I can't crawl into the head of PH GMs and GSs in order to fully understand why they erect barriers to visitation (which doesn't happen when amity is approved in all other foreign jurisdictions), but they do, and many state GLs agree to abide by those restrictions, even though our members are perplexed and disappointed over it. My bringing it up may smell like "unconscious bias and paternalism" to you, but that's not the way grand lodges in amity normally do it.

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    5. You REALLY don't get it, do you?

      I'm WELL aware that PHA often keeps that restriction in their recognition treaties.
      I have ZERO problem with them doing that, it is, in fact, their prerogative.

      Your *characterization* of it, by using that phrasing How are you gonna keep them down on the farm once they've seen gay Paree?" is what I find to be filled with unconscious bias and paternalism.

      As for "dog whistles" and your hearing, I submit you hear what you want, given the number of strawmen I seen you erect over the years in your arguments.

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  9. Terence wrote: "Prince Hall Masonry does not fear its membership leaving for "greener" pastures."

    It's entirely possible that the Prince Hall GL in Georgia isn't concerned about it, since they reportedly have the largest Prince Hall membership in the country. However, note the emphatic "no demits or transfers" provision of the PHGL request letter.

    I can assure you that other jurisdictions have had precisely that concern (which has always turned out to be unnecessary and unfounded). In my own state, all visitation was abruptly cancelled by the PHGL when my lodge initiated three black men during my time in the East. The PH grand master was livid over it, and accused me of stealing "his candidates."

    "If you get a black man wanting to be a Mason, you don't take him, you send him to US!" he said. And with that, he suspended all visitation with our grand lodge for almost two years.

    All three of those men were well aware of Prince Hall Masonry, and all three of them expressed the opinion that they wanted nothing to do with it. Two of them had visited PH lodges before coming to us, and the third said his father had been a PH Mason. One of these men flat out called PH Masonry "separate-but-equal segregation," and said he had no interest in belonging to what he called "an all-black fraternity." I explained that to the PH grand master at the time, and it only angered him even more. So he shut down all visits with us until his successor lifted the ban.

    As for your other point concerning my use of WWI song lyrics being somehow vaguely racist in some way, has it really gotten to the point that referencing "down on the farm" is to be considered a racial slur? That must be one of those high-pitched dog whistles everyone is supposed to be responding to these days, I suppose. Silly me. Unfortunately, my hearing isn't acute enough anymore to hear that sort of tooting. So I will continue to use vocabulary and phrases that can be taken at face value.

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  10. The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida does recognize the Most Worshipful Grand Union Lodge of Florida, Belize, Central America and Jurisdiction Prince Hall Affiliated, BUT at this time only the Grand Master and Grand Line of each jurisdiction are permitted to visit, a brother such as myself cannot yet visit a PHA lodge and vis-a-versa for a PHA brother.

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  11. This was long past due. I look forward to fellowship with my Prince Hall brethren even it it is informally outside out respective Lodges. I hope that we can officially visit in the future. Freemasonry has everything to with the heart and nothing to do with the color of a man's skin.

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