"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Alas, My Brethren! Death of Three Brothers

Alice, Wiley and I are continuing our trip across the western United States, and we've stopped for a bit in Southern California to visit my family before turning back eastward. But the last ten days have brought news of three unexpected deaths which have affected me deeply, and I wanted to take the opportunity to mark the passing of these three noteworthy brethren — Donald C. Seeley, T. Edward Page, and John Slifko. 

Ernest Hemingway wrote, "Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another." Each of these three brethren lived very different lives, achieved very different milestones, affected very different people, but they 'lived respected and die regretted'. They leave this world better than they found it, but it is nonetheless an emptier place without them today.



WB Donald C. Seeley

On August 2nd, my longtime friend Worshipful Brother Donald Crosby Seeley of Indianapolis passed away at the age of 79 of natural causes. Don was one of a tiny handful of dedicated brethren who kept my mother lodge, Broad Ripple Lodge No. 643 from closing its doors during its troubled years of 1998-2001. He was our master ritualist for such a very long time. Scores of our members have Don to thank for conferring their degrees over the years, for mentoring so many of us, and for holding us all to the highest of standards. Don was that rare ritualist who truly understood the words he delivered and the messages they imparted, and his delivery was always precise and genuine.

For many of us from the north side of Indianapolis, Don will always be King Solomon.

A bit of trivia for the handful of us who fondly remember the days of pioneering Indianapolis radio station WNAP (the Wrath of the Buzzard!") with its notorious raft race. Don was the station's sales manager for many of those great years, and he also initiated our late Brother "Big John" Gillis into Broad Ripple in the 1990s.

Don's memorial service was held at our lodge last Friday, and his cremains are to be interred later this month in Michigan City, where he was born in 1939. I shall miss him, but I will always be able to close my eyes and hear his own sonorous delivery reflected back in the voices of countless of my lodge brethren in the coming years. That is a noble legacy he leaves behind which few others can ever claim.




WB T. Edward 'Tracy' Page


Yesterday, Wednesday August 15th, Worshipful Brother T. Edward 'Tracy' Page went to the door of his home to meet a longtime family friend and former client, and was apparently shot and killed by the 83 year old man. Police have arrested his attacker, but no one has yet revealed any motive in the senseless killing. Tracy was an attorney in Hobart, Indiana, and was well known in the community. This tragedy has shocked everyone in the region, and devastated the entire Indiana Masonic family. 

Tracy served both as an attorney and a part-time judge in Lake County, Indiana (he was known for wearing a red robe in court, in imitation of English judges). He was just days away from retirement this month, and he had intended to teach law in his retirement years. He was deeply respected and extremely well-liked, which makes this news so inexplicable.

He was a kind and generous gentleman and Mason. Tracy was currently serving this year as the Worshipful Master of Hobart's M. L. McClelland Lodge No. 357 and he was an enthusiastic Scottish Rite Mason and Sir Knight in Valparaiso Commandery of Knights Templar. He was also the real-life brother of famed sportscaster and Mason, Paul Page of Indianapolis. 

I will update this message with funeral service information when I receive it.





John Slifko, PhD


Finally, I was just forwarded a message about the death today of John Slifko after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. When I first joined the fraternity in the late 1990s, John's name frequently came up throughout the online Masonic community, especially in the esoteric realm. He straddled both the regular and irregular Masonic—as well as the academic—worlds, and at about that time, he and professor Margaret Jacob were organizing the Roosevelt Center for the Study of Civil Society and Freemasonry at UCLA. 

John's Masonic interests ran more in the direction of French-derived Freemasonry, and he was briefly associated with the ill-fated Grand Orient of the United States. But because he was so widely involved in the fraternity's esoteric aspects rather than personal controversies or political considerations, he was welcomed a voice of reason and civility amidst the turmoil of that experiment. John's interest was always in the intellectual pursuit of knowledge, wherever it led, regardless of whose brand name was on the letterhead. Because of his winning personality, sharp intellect, and wide interests, he made lifelong friendships around the globe in nearly every avenue of Masonic philosophy and obediences. He was truly unique in the Masonic world, and we need many more like him.

John and I corresponded off and on over the last 20 years, and we spoke by phone on several occasions. His illness was diagnosed in 2013, and worse, his wife Belinda was also diagnosed with her own cancer that very same year. John's was pernicious, and he attempted to fight it with every resource available. Sadly, he lost that battle today.

Rather than attempt to patch together his many achievements over the years, I will quote from his longtime friend Eogan Ballard's  The Hedge Mason blog entry today where I read the news of his passing:
Those who knew John knew he was no stranger to the world of Freemasonry. Those who did not know the man or his character may not have not realized that he frequently played a role behind the scenes to avoid controversy and to assure positive outcomes in any venture to which his name was attached. The path he trod was always guided by the highest ethics.

In his career he brushed shoulders and maintained relationships with some significant figures in American Cultural life. He maintained a communication with and interviewed Burl Ives, and was the personal secretary to Manly P. Hall for some time. He maintained close ties with people and organizations involved with Freemasonry and esoteric studies in Europe, North America, and Latin America.

John Slifko was an expert in urban planning and Freemasonry. He graduated from San Francisco State University in 1987 with a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies and Geography. In 1989, John Slifko received his Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, and more recently received a Doctorate in Geography from the same institution. He served with Councilwoman Ruth Galanter from 1988 to 1989 as a Planning Deputy for Los Angeles International Airport. John also worked as a Legislative Aide and a Field Representative in Congress for eight years.

As Founder and Co-Director of the Roosevelt Center for the study of Civil Society and Freemasonry, John Slifko raised funds to support scholars and gave lectures, and tirelessly promoted the academic study of the fraternal organization of Freemasonry. He was a member of the Association of American Geographers, the American Historical Association, The John Dewey Society, and the Academic Society for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism. John Slifko volunteered for The Midnight Mission, which takes the homeless off of Skid Row and rehabilitates them into self-sufficient members of society. He contributed to the UCLA Foundation’s endowment, supporting the educational endeavors of the university. John Slifko was an active stock trader from 2000 to 2006, investing in green technologies.
In his spare time, he pursued the study of geographical mapping and exploration, as well as archeaoastronomy, the study of how past cultures understood the sky. He also participated in Healthy City, a California information portal that helps residents connect to health and social services and community data.

He was active in the quest to bring the Modern or French Rite to North America in recent years and instrumental in the work to bring about the foundation of the Higher Orders of Wisdom in North America and the Caribbean. It was in fact at his prompting that I chose to create the Hedge Mason Blog. He was active in the foundation of and the promotion of Project Awe, (Aesthetics of Western Esotericism) - Where Art meets Magic...

I will update this message with funeral service information when I receive it. John's family urges those who wish to do something in his memory to make donations to The Hirsberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

My heart goes out to all of the family and friends of these three outstanding brethren, and all I can offer in return for their contributions to my Masonic life are my fervent prayers and deepest condolences.

Their columns have been broken, and their Brethren mourn.

Requiescat in pace.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Camp Masonry in Ohio This Weekend, Aug 9-12


Just a reminder that if you are in or near Ohio this weekend, the annual Camp Masonry retreat is going on near Toledo. Early bird events start tonight, Thursday August 9th and events run through Sunday August 12th.

They will be conferring the Master Mason and Mark Master degrees, along with a DeMolay initiation before dinner on Friday evening. The MM degree will be conferred Saturday night, open-air by torchlight within the closed and tyled on-site fort.

Speakers will include Robert Johnson, Jason Bryce, Al McClelland, Dan Hrinko, Dave Bacon, Harry Weaver, and Chad Simpson. Speakers and presentations are open to Masons only.

For a complete list of events and speakers, consult the schedule HERE.

All activities take place at:
Camp Miakonda (DeVilbiss Scout Reservation)
5600 W. Sylvania Avenue
Toledo, Ohio

This is an outdoor location, and campsites are still available (primitive only - no campers or RVs on site). I believe there are also indoor cabins there, as well. Please check the website for details.

Questions, contact WB Jason Shamy


From a description of Camp Masonry by Nick Thompson:
In 2016, four lodges from the 11th Masonic District of Ohio planned the first Camp Masonry, an outdoor Masonic event held at the historic 160 wooded acre scouting reservation Camp Miakonda. Originally planned as an outdoor MM degree to be held in the frontier style fort, it quickly evolved into a weekend full of events and fellowship drawing participants from all over the district. Each of the four host lodges camped in one of the four bunk houses located in the fort’s corners and the fire-side fellowship that ensued will be remembered forever. The indoor council lodge made a perfect rainy day backup plan, and hosted an excellent BBQ dinner held in traditional festive board manner, completing the experience with an excellent guest speaker. As the sun set the Brethren processioned back to the fort by torch light and concluded a beautiful MM allegory. With the first year’s success, the four lodges decided to turn the weekend into a district sponsored event, inviting Master Masons from across Ohio and our neighboring states.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

UGLE Issues Transgender Policy



The English and international press finally found a reason to publish positive articles about Freemasonry this week, but I suspect few Masons will find cause for celebration. Societal attitudes and a rapidly shifting legal landscape in Western countries over the last few years have thrust the overwhelmingly male-only Masonic fraternity into a potential cultural and litigious minefield. In the wake of increased legal protections for those who alter their gender, our 300 year old institution is being forced reluctantly into the spotlight.

Two weeks ago on July 17th, the United Grand Lodge of England unveiled its official policy concerning Freemasons under their jurisdiction and the thorny topic of gender reassignment, i.e. transgenderism. In the last three days, articles began appearing in the press:
There are many, many more, all saying essentially the same thing.


Edward Lord

So what set this off?

UGLE Mason Edward Lord has been overseeing a gender identity drive as part of his role as chair of the City of London’s establishment committee. Lord identifies as non-binary and asks to be described by the pronoun "they.” His London committee was investigating ending sex segregation in women-only spaces like public bathrooms, dressing rooms, and locker rooms at well-known public landmarks. But in the midst of contentious online discussions over the matter it was revealed that Edward Lord is a Freemason, and his participation in the world's oldest and best known male fraternal group suddenly turned into a noisy public row. (See The Telegraph - "Gender equality campaigner defends Freemason membership".) He was branded as a hypocrite.

This has come to the forefront now because earlier this year the UGLE sought legal advice to establish its new official policy regarding gender. Their policy was actually announced about three months ago, but it was not yet formalized. The new policy and guidance was just released to their 7,000 constituent lodges on July 17th, so the press is only now just picking up the story.
According to several news sources, the UGLE is protected under English and European Union laws from legal accusations of gender discrimination because of Freemasonry's longstanding male-only admissions criteria. They are recognized in England and Wales under the law as a single-sex association.


The problem arose, however, when existing UGLE Masons chose to undergo gender reassignment, which is when English law kicked in. The UGLE's male-only status does not protect them from accusations of discrimination against current members. According to the Huffington Post article, under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010 a man who has joined the Freemasons cannot be excluded after transitioning because gender reassignment is a protected right under the law.

The UGLE's full policy can be found on the UGLE website HERE.

Highlights of the new gender policy include:

A candidate for admission to Freemasonry under the jurisdiction of UGLE must be a man.

Should a person who has undergone gender reassignment and has become a man apply to become a Freemason then his application must be processed in the same way as for any other male candidate.

A Freemason who after initiation ceases to be a man does not cease to be a Freemason.

A Freemason who becomes a woman is not required to resign from the Craft.
If a person resigns from the Craft then they and their dependants might no longer be eligible for some of the benefits provided by the Masonic charities now or in the future.

A Lodge may vote to exclude any member for sufficient cause. The following grounds would constitute unlawful discrimination and so could never constitute sufficient cause:
  • The fact that a member has legally become a woman;
  • A mistaken belief that a member has legally become a woman;
  • The fact that a member is in the process of transition from male to female; or
  • A mistaken belief that a member is in the process of transitioning from male to female.
  • Similarly a Lodge must not attempt to persuade a member to resign from the Lodge or discriminate against a member based on any of these grounds. A Lodge must not at any time require a member to prove that they are legally a man.
Female members should still be greeted with the prefix “brother”. Alternatives to the formal suit and tie have been allowed, including a “smart dark skirt and top.”


The question now is how will the rest of the Masonic world react to UGLE's policy. For those readers who are NOT Freemasons, UGLE is sovereign only amongst its chartered lodges. There is no worldwide governing body for the fraternity, and UGLE is just one of hundreds of jurisdictions. So saying "The Freemasons Have Changed Their Policy" applies only in English chartered lodges. 

To my knowledge, I believe there is only one single U.S. grand lodge that has spelled out in its rules that a petitioner promises he is a naturally born man and will remain so (or words to that effect). I do know it was a hot topic two years ago at the COGMMNA and that other jurisdictions were considering adding such wording to their petitions. How many have actually done so is currently unknown.

Certainly there will be U.S., African and Asian grand lodges that will agitate for yanking recognition of England now. There's no way to argue that their policy doesn't transgress the obligation most commonly sworn by Master Masons the world over. Admitting women into the fraternity under any circumstances will be widely seen as a violation of the ancient landmarks, even if it is England doing it. UGLE's historical status as the premiere grand lodge won't shield them in this situation, even if they insist that they are only following the law of their country. In reality, UGLE was between a rock and a hard place.

From a purely pragmatic and crassly economic standpoint, resignations by angry existing members as a result of this change will no doubt far outnumber any initiations by trans-men and sympathetic-minded new petitioners. And there is a massive undercounted number of conservative and religious objectors who will doubtless become quite vocal as this proceeds. The arrival of a Brother in “smart dark skirt and top” at the Tyler's door in the U.S. will probably not go well. Bear in mind that all regulations are still in place regarding anonymous 'ball and cube' voting for candidates, and objections to visitors.

On the other hand, many younger Freemasons have expressed the opinion online that this is merely a natural progression of society. In my own informal look at online discussions over the last few days I have noticed the sentiment that trans-men (women who have become men) are far more likely to be accepted and welcomed as Masons than existing male members who have become trans-women.  It appears that even the most open-minded and sympathetic Masons almost completely draw the line at permitting trans-women to remain in the fraternity, since the admission of women is vastly regarded as irregular, regardless of how the degrees were conferred originally. However, whether this sentiment translates into votes within grand lodges around the world when it comes time to alter rules in each jurisdiction is a very different question. 

And then, of course, there is the law which must either be complied with, or fought out in the courts and the halls of governments.

Voluntary associations are a tricky business these days when they clash with "social justice warriors" and government bureaucracies. Laws passed to stamp out "discrimination" can often lead to the death of an organization when forced to give up its longstanding foundational precepts. Moreover, laws can't force people to accept or socialize with others they don't like, don't agree with, or feel uncomfortable around, no matter how pure-hearted the intent. 

Regardless of what occurs going forward, UGLE has thrown down the gauntlet now. I suspect phones are ringing and heads are exploding in grand lodge offices all over the globe. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Animus Over Amity


NOTE: THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED

Back in November I posted information promoting Amity, a smartphone app designed to make traveling simpler for Freemasons all across the world. In the wake of the persistent rumors that Pantagraph Printing was planning on discontinuing publication of its annual  List of Lodges Masonic (which I stress that it has NOT yet done), the Amity app seems like the most logical progression for ease of checking regularity and amity between grand lodge jurisdictions - especially since the vast majority of the world is carrying around a smartphone in their pockets these days. Unlike Pantagraph, the Amity app now has data on almost 37,000 lodges across 285 grand jurisdictions, covering just about every country in the world. Currently, there are Masons using Amity from about 2,500 Lodges, which cover 164 grand lodges and 70+ countries. This represents a herculean effort on the part of the two Masons who have created it.

One of the most vital elements of the Amity app is cooperation of grand lodges and grand secretaries in keeping information up to date, and for verifying that each and every user of the app is a member of their jurisdiction. Grand jurisdictions have cooperated with Pantagraph for decades, which is what made their annual List so invaluable. Despite that Amity is offered free of charge to all Masons and jurisdictions, charges no fees for enrollment of any kind, and its two original founders created it entirely without any outside help (or salaries, while working other full-time jobs), as we all know, no good deed ever goes unpunished.

Sadly, it seems that with so many grand secretaries in the world, someone was bound to object and cause a problem.

This past weekend at the Northeast Conference, MW Carl B. Willi, the Grand Secretary of Rhode Island, made the completely unfounded, unjustified, and false accusation that Amity and its creators are somehow selling or otherwise exploiting private information of Masons, and doing something improper with membership lists. He has apparently withdrawn any support of the Amity app in his state and un-verified their members, and I am being told that he has also sent messages to other jurisdictions now in an effort to convince other grand secretaries to follow his lead. He then followed this with an email sent to Masons in Rhode Island, which was forwarded to me anonymously:




(Click to enlarge)

I have no connection to Copiri software or to the developers, but I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Amity app nevertheless. I had long conversations with Michael Radigan and Jeremy Barnes back in November and asked many questions that addressed these very issues. Further, they were interviewed on several Masonic podcasts, and were quite open and consistent in their explanations about what data they were and were not using, how it was being used by them, and in their emphatic assurances that they were not monetizing the information in any way. I was - and remain - fully satisfied by their privacy assurances and policies. They have also been honest about how they hope to eventually monetize certain VERY LIMITED aspects of the software. 

Consequently, I do not believe Copiri Software or its two partners are doing anything improper with the small amount of information they are in possession of. And most important, they are not, and never have been, in possession of or been granted access to ANY grand lodge’s database of members. They do NOT have access to MORI, GrandView, or any other Masonic database systems, in any way. Amity does not compete with those systems, either. They simply provide each grand secretary with access to a secure web portal, and request a simple yes or no verification as to each of their members' current membership status. This type of verification was always done from the start in order to PROTECT lodges and individual Masons from outsiders and to ENSURE their privacy.

But what concerns me most of all is that GS Willi didn’t even bother to contact Copiri software’s partners (who are both Masons) and even confirm his accusations before smearing their business and reputations by making these allegations publicly and acting upon them.

In answer to this situation Copiri has sent the following message to all now-formerly verified Masons using Amity in Rhode Island:


My Brother, 
It has come to our attention that false rumors are being spread about Amity and how we handle your personal data. Because of the seriousness of these allegations, and the levels at which they have been repeated, we have decided to take the unusual step of sending you this message. Thank you for your understanding as we navigate this unexpected situation.

Please know that the following points are true: 
1. The Amity Team has never, and will never, ask a Grand Lodge (or a Grand Lodge's management system vendor) for their membership data. Similarly, we have never and will never ask to purchase such data. We're clear about this because...
2. We will never provide your personal data to others. Our Privacy Policy has been clear about this since Amity started: our baseline policy is that we do not disclose PII to anyone. We don’t rent it, we don’t sell it, and we don’t give it away.
3. Amity generates revenue by creating a marketplace where Masons can buy things from one another, and by charging transaction fees when that happens (like we do with MSA's Short Talk Bulletin). We've also been clear about this for years, and if you'd like to hear more just check out the podcasts we've appeared on: X-Oriente, Fort Worth Lodge #148, and Whence Came You?.
We will not speculate on the source of these rumors, but we value the trust you've placed in us and we want you to know that your trust is well founded. We are evaluating what other actions to take, and in the interim we welcome the opportunity to respond to any questions that you may have. Just respond to this message, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Sincerely and Fraternally,Jeremy and MichaelThe Amity Team

As for myself, I continue to support Amity’s use, and I strongly take issue with the allegations being made, just as a matter of principle. I hope this is the end of any “controversy” and that MW Willi reconsiders his position and actions. And I CERTAINLY hope that no other jurisdiction follows his lead. This app is a tool that Masons all over the world can benefit from, and the creators have offered it to the fraternity without any possibility of it being a commercial revenue generator. After dedicating hundreds of developmental and administrative hours to its creation, we all owe them our gratitude, not trumped up accusations or imaginary horribles.

Because they are Masons who are versed in the practices of the fraternity, the Copiri partners went out of their way to design the app in such a sway to protect its users and grand jurisdictions by going the extra mile and requiring member verification. Perhaps what is really going on is that the Rhode Island GS office finds this requirement to be unduly time consuming (it's not), or simply an annoyance, even though it is to their own advantage and for their own good.

Pantagraph has been rumored to be going away for years now, and no national body like MSA or the COGMMNA wants to step up to the plate and fill that void. (That said, Pantagraph is now calling for updated information for their 2019 edition so they still appear to be continuing next year - rumors of its death have continued to be premature.) These two brethren did this on their own and pulled off a major accomplishment with their app. Right now, Amity is the ONLY reputable source of current Prince Hall jurisdictions and lodges - and comprehensive recognition status - in more than a handful of states, which is problematic when sojourning Masons seek to travel. While every Mason should arrange their travels in advance through their own Grand Secretary's office, we all know that isn't how things work in the practical world. And very few individual Masons carry around a Pantagraph List in their apron cases.

Moreover, the future of the fraternity's administration gets more digital every day, not less. Every grand jurisdiction should be actively and gratefully promoting Amity and updating their information regularly. Instead, I fear that everyone will dither until Pantagraph eventually stops publishing their directory, and then a flurry of half-baked substitutes will hurriedly pop up while everyone argues that it doesn't do things 'the right way.' The result will be chaos, less traveling, and more confusion over regularity and recognition, without any cooperation. That's not good for the fraternity if we can’t even manage to administer our lists of recognition. 

Not good, but sadly all too typical.

To read more about Amity, visit their website HERE. It is available as a free download for both Apple IOS and Android. If you use it and find it helpful, please consider dropping a note to your Grand Secretary and encourage his ongoing support. And if your grand jurisdiction is not currently supported, urge yours to do so.

Frankly if I had my way, Amity would become an international standard that COGMMNA and PHCOGM and international groups fully adopt, so these questions and issues can be addressed far more easily and quickly. It would also vastly improve the ability of the Commission on Information for Recognition to do its work. Perhaps the work the Amity guys are doing on their own needs to be adopted and placed under the protective wing of the MSA, at least on this side of the hemisphere. MSA could at least encourage cooperation and compliance with updating info far, far better two brethren trying to do this on their own.

In the end, I honestly don't care who comes up with a solution. Amity was first and did it well, so good for them. And they aren't even making a dime off the thing. Why are folks obsessive about finding fault with it now, instead of helping them improve it? No, let's just hound them out of bothering at all.

How Masonic.






UPDATE 8/4/2018:

Amity has sent the following official message and enclosures to Grand Secretaries this week in response to this situation:
Brothers Grand Secretary,

Please find attached Amity's official statement on the allegations made at last weekend's Northeast Masonic Conference, which you are welcome to share as you see fit. We have spoken with many of you over the course of this week, and appreciate the counsel that you have provided over the course of this unexpected situation.

We are committed to supporting the membership of your Grand Lodge, and to working with you to do so in the best manner possible. Your trust in Amity is our priority -- please reach out to Michael or to me if you have any questions or concerns, whether about the attachments specifically or about Amity in general. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely and Fraternally,
Jeremy Barnes and Michael Radigan
The Amity Team


CLICK IMAGES BELOW TO ENLARGE








Saturday, July 28, 2018

Local English Council Fails to Pass Anti-Freemason Policy


For the last year or so, English Freemasons have enjoyed greater public visibility owing to the 300th anniversary of the 1717 founding of the premiere Grand Lodge. But on the heels of that visibility, out has popped a resurgence of anti-Masonic messaging across England in several government venues that had largely died down over the last dozen or so years. In contrast with earlier strategies of refusing to answer or confront critics, the United Grand Lodge of England has been fighting back with the #EnoughIsEnough campaign.

That hasn't dissuaded various bureaucrats from singling out Freemasons in government as being somehow nefarious, or at least worthy of having their membership publicly declared. The implication is that there is something suspicious about Freemasonry above any other social, political, religious or cultural organization. The problem, as many Masons around the world outside of the U.S. are well aware, is that public declaration of their membership only winds up being used to discriminate against them by anti-Masons. Plus, such policies violate the EU's Human Rights Act because they single out Freemasonry alone for such requirements. The fraternity is a non-sectarian, non-political, voluntary association, and Masonic membership is perfectly legal in England. Therefore, attempting to figuratively brand politicians or government workers with a scarlet square and compass as though there is anything wrong with Masonic membership — solely because of their membership — is demonstrably illegal, throughout the U.K. and Europe.

The County of Norfolk's governing Council is the latest to attempt to 'out' Freemasons in a purported crusade for "transparency" in government. On Monday this week, Labour Party councilor Mike Smith-Clare proposed a policy forcing any sitting Masons on the Norfolk Council to declare their membership publicly, singling the fraternity out specifically. The proposal was made despite the fact that the UGLE's legal counsel Andrew Proctor notified the Council that such a requirement "would be unlawful." 

The result of the motion being made on Monday wasn't what the Labour members had hoped for.

From an article on the Eastern Daily News site by Dan Grimmer, 'Labour in mass walk-out as Freemasons vote is 'wrecked'':

Labour councillors left a Norfolk County Council meeting en masse after accusing the Conservatives of “wrecking” a motion calling for councillors to have to declare if they are freemasons.

Labour’s Mike Smith-Clare had tabled a motion calling for members who are freemasons to have to declare it on their register of interests. Freemasons on Suffolk County Council already have to do that.
 
Mr Smith-Clare said: “The motion is neither controversial or contentious.
“It’s an honest attempt to promote accountability, openness and transparency amongst us. 
“It represents an opportunity for a declaration in line with public expectation to avoid any future potential conflicts of interest.” 
Conservative Ron Hanton said he was a freemason and proud to be one.
But he said the motion discriminated against freemasons, questioning why it was not seeking for councillors to declare themselves as members of, for example, rotary clubs, the round table or of trade unions.
 
Fellow Tory Tom Garrod, who is also a freemason tabled an amendment to the motion. 
It removed all reference to freemasons and instead asked the standards committee to review the code of conduct to ensure members operate within a framework of accountability and transparency. 
Conservative Stuart Dark said he was concerned the implication of singling out freemasons was that there was something wrong with being a member of that organisation and made reference to the Human Rights Act. 
That angered Labour deputy leader Emma Corlett, who said it was rich of the Conservatives to talk about that when there are cuts to social care.
She accused the Conservative amendment of being a “wrecking motion” and said it was a “shambles”.
 
All Labour councillors then walked out of the council chamber.
In their absence Conservative Bill Borrett said he thought people would like to know which Labour councillors were members of Momentum.*
 
The Conservative amendment was passed, with Tory Tom FitzPatrick saying it made sense for the issue to be looked at by the standards committee.
Labour did not return for the rest of the meeting.
 
Suffolk County Council asks for all groups to be declared, which is not limited to the freemasons. They ask for declarations of interests in regards to many things, such as bowls clubs or even charity organisations such as St John Ambulance.

(*NOTE: 'Momentum' is a left-wing political activist sub-group within the Labour Party that is supportive of Jeremy Corbin.)

The United Grand Lodge of England has given guidance to members on this subject before. From an open letter to UGLE's Proctor and published in a previous article on the same site, Donald Taylor wrote, 
“Freemasons are welcome to disclose their membership voluntarily and are obliged to disclose their membership where a specific conflict of interest could arise. 
“However, the proposed motion if passed would impose an unlawfully wide obligation on Freemasons.
“The United Grand Lodge of England encourages Freemasons to acknowledge their membership, but advises them that they are not obliged to comply with unlawful disclosure requirements.”

Friday, July 27, 2018

David Lee Hargett, Jr. Passes Away


Longtime friend and Brother David Lee Hargett, Jr. passed away Thursday morning at the age of 79. David was well known throughout the fraternity, especially in the Scottish Rite and numerous York Rite-related appendant bodies. The Masonic honors and offices held throughout his lifetime are too numerous for me to accurately ascertain, but if you regularly attended AMD/Masonic Week each February, or went to the annual Great Smokies Summer Assembly of York Rite Masons in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, you undoubtedly knew him. 

David's Masonic biography reads like an entire lodge full of active men.

Although suffering from cancer and in rapidly failing health, David was nevertheless at Maggie Valley earlier this month, and it was openly understood by those who attended that he was there to say one last farewell to his brethren.

For those who knew him, David was a patient and kind mentor who inspired so many others to emulate his example. That soft-spoken kindness was coupled with an uncompromising level of standards and expectations, an unsurpassed enthusiasm for the fraternity, and an eternally questing mind. David spent his life always seeking greater knowledge, always making greater and deeper friendships, and always building for those who followed.

David's official obituary has not been published as of Thursday night, and I will update this post here when it is available with his funeral arrangements. In the meantime, I want to post his Masonic biography from 2011 when he was elected as Grand Sovereign of the York Rite Sovereign College. So many of our members lament that they just don't have time to attend or help out in their lodge or their appendant group - bear in mind this was written seven years ago when David was 72, and he continued to be an active participant throughout the fraternity long after the following biography was written:
David L. Hargett, Jr., was born June 23, 1939 in Monroe, North Carolina to Helen Williams and David Lee Hargett, Sr. He was educated in the Monroe City Schools and later at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, Wingate College, Central Piedmont Community College and North Carolina State University. He married Robin Thames and they have two sons, Joey Hargett and Jeff Hargett and five grandchildren. 
He is a member of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics - Awarded the Certificate of Merit. He also taught management classes in “Controlling Employee Turnover and Absenteeism,” “Human Relations and Motivation,” and “Job Instructor Training” for the Educational Foundation of the University of North Carolina. 
Grand Sovereign Hargett is a life member and Past Master of Monroe Lodge No. 244 in Monroe, North Carolina. He received the Mason of the Year award in 1995. He is a founder and Charter Life Member of Truth Lodge No. 749. He has served as District Deputy Grand Master for the 39th District of North Carolina and was the Grand Lodge of North Carolina representative to the Masonic Service Association in 2000. He received the title Knight Commander of the Order of the Temple of Solomon from the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina for distinguished Masonic service and achievement. He also received the Joseph Montford Medal for Meritorious Service in 2000. He has served as a member of the Long Range Planning Committee of the Oxford Orphanage in North Carolina and also on the Committee on Masonic Ceremonies and Miscellaneous Publications. He received the twenty-five year Service Award also from the Grand Lodge of North Carolina. He was elected to the Grand Lodge Committee on Finance 2005-2007. He is the Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Vermont near the Grand Lodge of North Carolina. He is also a member of A. Douglas Smith, Jr. Lodge of Research No. 1949 in Virginia. He delivered the W.B. Jack Ball Lecture to Albert Pike Lodge No 1169 in San Antonio Texas and was awarded the Sam Houston Medal by the Grand Lodge of Texas A.F.& A.M., the highest award given by The Grand Lodge of Texas. 
In the Royal Arch Chapter, Grand Sovereign Hargett is life member and Past High Priest of Monroe Chapter No. 64, Royal Arch Masons. He is a Past President of the Order of High Priesthood in North Carolina and holds honorary membership in thirteen Chapters. He holds the Certificate of Appreciation for Faithful Service and Exceptional Dedication to2the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of North Carolina. He is PHP of Mount Ararat Research Chapter No. 3 and Grand Representative to the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Colorado. He has also received the Certificate of Commendation for Contribution for Faithful Service and Exceptional Dedication to the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of North Carolina. He is PHP of Mount Ararat Research Chapter No. 3 and Grand Representative to the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Colorado. He has also received the Certificate of Commendation for Contribution and Dedication from the General Grand Chapter, Royal Arch Masons International. Grand Sovereign Hargett is a life member and Illustrious Past Master of Solomon of the Silver Trowel Council No. 24, Royal and Select Masters and a member of Lenoir Council No. 38 and Roanoke Council No. 1 over which he also presided. He holds honorary membership in eleven other Councils. He has received the Honorable Order of Ish-Sodi from both North and South Carolina and the Simmons Jones Baker Medal for Outstanding Service to the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of North Carolina. He is an honorary life member of the Association of Southern Grand Masters of the Cryptic Rite and is Grand Representative to the to the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Vermont. He received the Meritorious Service Award from the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International and the Cryptic Mason of the Year Award from the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International in 1999. He was made an Honorary Member of Grafton Council of Anointed Kings No. 16 of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of England and Wales and its Districts and Councils Overseas on November 22, 2010. In Commandery, he is a life member and Past Commander of Malta Commandery No. 19, Knights Templar and is a Past Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of North Carolina. 
He is a Life Sponsor and a member of the Grand Master’s Club of the Knights Templar Eye Foundation. He served as President of the Southern Breakfast Association 1992-1994; Chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee and as Chairman of the Leadership Development Committee of the Grand York Rite in North Carolina. He also served on the Committee on Charters and Dispensations of the Grand Encampment, Knights Templar of the USA, 1992 – 1994 and on the Committee on Foreign Relations 2006 – 2012. He was Southeast Department Commander for the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA, 1994 – 1997. He holds the distinction of Knight Crusader of the Cross, as Knight Commander of the Temple, and as Knight Grand Cross of the Temple and Knight Commander of the East, 1994. He is an honorary member of 14 Commanderies. 
He has served as Preceptor of Sovereign Grand Preceptor’s Chapter of the Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor, is Past Sovereign Grand Preceptor of Grand Chapter and belongs to the Preceptories in Virginia and Maryland. He is the Grand Representative to the Grand Commanderies of Knights Templar of the State of Iowa and the State of Texas. In the Knights of the York Cross of Honour, Grand Sovereign Hargett is Past Prior and current Registrar of Lily of the Valley Priory No. 1. He holds honorary membership in four priories. He is Past Grand Master General of Convent General, Knights of the York Cross of Honour, serves on the Committee on History and Publications and is Knight Grand Cross. 
In the York Rite College, Grand Sovereign Hargett is a charter member and Past Governor of Western Carolina York Rite College No. 78. He has served as Deputy Grand Governor and Grand Governor in North Carolina. He received the Order of the Purple Cross in 1985 and was President of the Associate Regents Council 1993-1994. He served the York Rite Sovereign College of North America as Standard Bearer and Marshal General (1996-1998.) He was elected to the Board of Directors in 1998 and was Vice President of the USA Charitable Fund 1998-1999. He holds the Athelstan Jewel with one silver pentagon. He was elected a Regent of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America and holds honorary membership in fifteen Colleges. He has received the rank and decorations of Knight Commander of the Purple Cross and the Grand Cross of York. He served as Governor General of the York Rite Sovereign 3 College of North America 2002-2004. He currently serves as Chairman of the York Rite Sovereign College Committee on Finance and Budget. Purple Cross and the Grand Cross of York. He served as Governor General of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America 2002-2004. He currently serves as Chairman of the York Rite Sovereign College Committee on Finance and Budget. He is an honorary member of the Grand York Rite Bodies of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia. He holds honorary membership in the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Grand Sovereign Hargett is a Past Excellent Chief of St. Patrick’s in America Council No. 1, Knight Masons of the USA. He served on the Board of General Purposes, Grand Council of Knight Masons USA, 1996– 2004 and was appointed to the Investment Committee of the Grand Council of the USA in 2001. He is currently serving as Grand Junior Knight of the Grand Council of Knight Masons of the USA. 
In the Allied Masonic Degrees Grand Sovereign Hargett is a life member and Past Sovereign Master of St. Andrews in America Council No. 1A. He also holds life memberships in J. Ray Shute Council No. 184, Anson Council No. 202, J. Allen Suther Council No. 377 and is a charter member of Horry Council No. 433. He holds honorary memberships in five additional councils. He is Past Commander Noah in St. Andrews in America No. 1A Royal Ark Mariners Lodge and a member of Howell No. 3A Royal Ark Mariners Lodge. He is a past president of the North Carolina Association of Allied Masonic Degrees and holds the title of District Expert Master of the First District of North Carolina from the Supreme Quarry of the World, Masons of Tyre. Grand Sovereign Hargett served the Grand Council, Allied Masonic Degrees of the USA as Most Venerable Sovereign Grand Master and was appointed Grand Representative to the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of Canada in 2000. He holds the distinction of Knight Grand Cross of the Order. As such he is Past Grand Supreme Ruler of the Grand Conclave of the Order of the Secret Monitor or the Brotherhood of David and Jonathan in the USA and is a member of the Grand Conclave of the Order of the Secret Monitor or the Brotherhood of David and Jonathan in the British Isles and its Districts and Conclaves Overseas – he was inducted and received into the Order in Summus Conclave No. 3 and admitted a Prince of the Order. He presided over the Red Branch of Eri and was awarded the title of Past Most Enlightened Grand Master and Knight Supreme Grand Cross. He is a Past Grand Bung for the Americas of the Ancient Order of Corks and Past Commander General of the Masonic Order of the Bath in the USA. He holds the Degree of Knight Priest of the Order of Holy Wisdom. He is one of the Nine Muses, elected in 2004 and served as Sovereign Master in 2010-2011.  
In the Masonic Order of Athelstan for England, Wales and its Provinces Overseas, he was admitted and installed December 18, 2008 in the Province of Hwicce at Watling Street Court No. 3 in England. He consecrated and constituted The Provincial Grand Court of the United States of America and was Installed as Very Worshipful Deputy Provincial Grand Master on February 9, 2011 and awarded Grand Rank (Grand Sword Bearer) by M.W. Michael Henry Roalfe, Grand Master. He consecrated and constituted the North Carolina Court No. 73 on February 9, 2011. He became a member of the Royal Order of Masonic Knights of the Scarlet Cord in the UK on November 12, 2008: 1st Degree 2nd Degree Obligated, entrusted, and Invested an Ostiarius or Door-keeper 4 Invested a Lector or One of the Eleven Elected. Chosen and Further Invested as a Healer and One of the Nine Elected. 2nd Degree Invested a Lector or One of the Eleven Elected. Chosen and Further Invested as a Healer and One of the Nine Elected. 3rd Degree Chosen and Promoted to Fellow of the Scarlet Cord and Elevated to the Rank of Exorcist February 13, 2010. He has received the President’s Degree On November 22, 2010 he was also elected to membership in Grafton Council of Anointed Kings No. 16 at Mark Masons Hall in London, England. 
He is a member of the Sirius Study Circle that meets at The Masonic Hall on Grove Road, Sutton, UK. He holds the Royal Order of Zanzibar and is a member of the Grand Lounge of North Carolina and the Grand Lounge of Florida. In the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite he is Past Venerable Master of the Lodge of Perfection in the Valley of Charlotte, Orient of North Carolina. He received the 32nd Degree on April 30, 1970 and is a Knight Commander of the Court of Honour. Grand Sovereign Hargett is a honorary life member and permanent life member of the Provincial Grand Lodge of the Royal Order of Scotland for the United States of America. 
In the Shriners he is a Noble of Oasis Shriners of Charlotte, North Carolina and a member of the Past Masters’ Unit and Hillbilly Clans No. 2 and No. 3. He is a member of the “Replace Yourself with One” membership program for the Imperial Council of the Shrine. In the Grand College of Rites, Grand Sovereign Hargett received the Knight Grand Cross of the order in 2004. He served as Grand Redactor in 2008, Grand Prelate in 2009-2010 and is Grand Senior Vice Chancellor in 2011. In the Red Cross of Constantine, Grand Sovereign Hargett was installed in St. Titus Conclave in 1986 and served as its Sovereign in 2002. He served as Intendant General for North Carolina and was elected and installed as Grand Sovereign on June 11, 2011 in Boise, Idaho. He holds the Knight Grand Cross of the Order. 
In the SRICF he is Chief Adept of North Carolina College, holds the IXth Grade and serves the High Council for the USA as its Preceptor. Grand Sovereign Hargett is a member and Past Preceptor of Holy Sepulchre Tabernacle No. III Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests and received the rank and decoration of Knight Commander. He is Grand 5th Pillar for the Grand College of America, HRAKTP. 
He is a member of the South Carolina Lodge of Research, The Scottish Rite Research Society, The Philalethes Society and is the North Carolina local secretary for Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Research No. 2076. 5 Grand Sovereign Hargett is a member and Past Patron of Monroe Chapter No. 113, Order of the Eastern Star and received the Rob Morris Membership Jewel. He served as a District Deputy Grand Patron of the 18th District in North Carolina and is an honorary member of eight other chapters. He became a member of Blackheethe Chapter, T.I. Order of St. Thomas of Acon February 17, 2000 and was a charter member and founder of Trinity Chapter No. 112 in the United States and also a charter member and founder of Shute Chapter No. 53 in Monroe, North Carolina. He is a Past Worthy Master and currently serves as Provincial Grand Marshal of the Provincial Grand Council, USA. He is also a founder and Cellarer of Pride in Surrey Chapel No. 93 in the United Kingdom. 
Grand Sovereign Hargett is a Knight in the Chevaliers Bienfaisants De La Cite Sainte (Knights Beneficent of the Holy City.) He has been invested with the Supreme Grade of the Order and serves as Prefect of the Southeast Prefecture. He also belongs to the Grand Priory of Knights Beneficent of the Holy City of the Rectified Scottish Rite of England and Wales where he was made a member of St. James Priory No. 3 at Mark Masons Hall in London, December 18,2009. He received the Professed and The Grand Professed Knight Orders of the CBCS and received the Laying on of hands October 9, 2010 in Newark, NJ. In other bodies, Grand Sovereign Hargett is a member of the Grand Order of the IMPS; a member of the Military Order of the Garter and the Order of the Golden Poppy. He was somewhat embarrassingly presented the Drowning Bear Award by the Nantahala Survivors. 
He was inducted into the George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey Water Conservation Society in Recognition of a Unique, Tall Walking, Smooth Talking, Mastery of the Fine Art of “Going With The Flow.” He is a lifetime member of the Sour Mash Quaff and Quote Consanguinity, Elijah Craig Chapter No. 1. He was made a Tennessee Squire and Life Member of the “Society for the Preservation of Early American Art” Tennessee Type. 
In the esoteric orders he is a member of the Oriental Masonic Order of the Primitive & Rectified Rite of Memphis Misraim, having received the 33rd thru the 95th Degrees September 11, 2009 in Sutton, England. In the Order of Isis he is a member of Urania Temple. His record in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is as follows 0=0 Grade of Neophyte October 22, 2005 December 18, 2005 December 9, 2006 September 27, 2008 December 5, 2009 February 28, 2010 1 = 10 Grade of Zelator 2=9 3=8 4=7 Grade of Theoricus Grade of Practicus Grade of Philosophus Portal Ceremony Received as an Adeptus Minor in the Order of the Rose Cross Grade 5=6 April 10, 2011. In the Martinist Order of Unknown Philosophers his record is as follows: Associate Degree Initiate Degree Unknown Superior Degree October 21, 2005 6December 18, 2005 December 19, 2005 Initiate Degree Unknown Superior Degree Unknown Superior Initiator In the Unknown Philosophers (Elus Kohen): December 18, 2005 December 19, 2005 December 19, 2006 Chevillion – Chambellant. Affiliation: Temple of Florida 1st Degree thru 7th Degree 8th Degree – Elect Master Kohen 9th Degree – Knight of the East 10th Degree – Reaux Croix (Parvis and Porch Class) (Grand Architect)September 4, 2009 (Temple Class) (Grand Elect of Zorobabel)December 8, 2009 (Temple Class) March 14,2010 at Sutton, UK He received Charter for Hermes - Hiram Chapter of Unknown Philosophers. 
In the Hermetic Order of Martinists he was invested by the Grand Master of the World (Christopher Hatton) on November 11, 2008 as Superior Inconnu S:I:I with the ability to act within the dictates of his conscience. Received into the Hermetic Chapter of the Martinist Order of Spiritual Knights in the UK in Kether Chapter - March 10, 2009. Founder and Orator of Azoth Chapter of Spiritual Knights for the USA on February 10, 2010 which was Chartered and Constituted by John Paternoster, Grand Master. Grand Sovereign Hargett became a member of the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, Sacramentum Regis No 2, in New Zealand as a courtesy for Sepher Berashith Temple of the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross in the UK: 0=0 March 21, 2008 1=10 March 22, 2008 2=9 December 9, 2009 He became a member of Prince Edwin Conclave of Pilgrim Preceptors in the UK and was received as a Pilgrim and Advanced as a Pilgrim Preceptor on November 14, 2008. He was a founder and officer of Mayflower Conclave of Pilgrim Preceptors for the USA on March 15, 2010 at Radlett, UK. He was inducted into the Worshipful Society of Free Masons, Rough Masons, Wallers, Slaters, Paviors, Plaisterers and Bricklayers (The Operatives) in Bryn Athyn Quarry Assemblage Allentown, PA: 1st and 2nd Degree 3rd Degree 4th, 5th, 6th Degrees November 28, 2008 June 27, 2009 February 14th, 2010 at Alexandria, VA. 7 He was presented a Charter as a Passed Master VI for Solar White Quarry Assemblage IV to I in Monroe, NC, in the Region of North America, United States of America Region for The Operatives (USAM) and 4th, 5th, 6th Degrees February 14th, 2010 at Alexandria, VA. He was presented a Charter as a Passed Master VI for Solar White Quarry Assemblage IV to I in Monroe, NC, in the Region of North America, United States of America Region for The Operatives (USAM) and appointed Regional Deputy Jachin. He was made a life member of Radlett Cork Lodge on May 14, 2009 and created an Admiral of Lake Monroe by the Grand Fleet of Noble Corks at Radlett, UK. In the August Order Of Light he presented on March 14, 2009 at Radlett, England and received: 1st Degree Passing of Garuda Degree 2nd and Final Degree September 5, 2009 at Radlett December 12, 2009 at Radlett March 13th, 2010 at Radlett Grand Sovereign Hargett belongs to the Pre-Nicene Ekklesia Apostolic Church Of The Golden and Rosy Cross. He was raised to The Holy Order of the Diaconate on September 2, 2010; raised to the Holy Order of Priesthood March 15, 2011 and admitted to the Sacred and Noble Order of the Knights Corvida on September 3, 2010 Hampsted, UK. In The Fratres Lucis he was received and admitted into the Degrees of: Knight Novice of the Third Year, the Fifth Year, the Seventh Year, Knight Levite and Knight Priest at Grand Chapter on November 1, 2010. He received a Charter for Elias Ashmole Chapter to be held at Monroe, NC and was appointed as the first Preceptor, was appointed National Archon (National Grand Master) and received the CHARTER for the National Grand Chapter for the United States of America of the Fratres Lucis November 1, 2010. He was admitted to the Order of Fratres Lucis in The Philadelphia Preceptorial Chapter No. 1 in Anglia and is recognized as such by all Knight Priests. He was made a Knight and Brother Priest and elevated to Preceptor of the Order. He was admitted into the Healing, Teaching and Chivalric Order of St. Michael & St. Raphael and invested with the Rank, Title and Dignity of Knight of the Order on December 10, 2010 and Knighted by Leila Boyer, Grand Master and Lord Abbot...
It is an understatement to say that Masons like David Lee Hargett, Jr. don't come along very often, and they leave behind an enormous void for the rest of us to attempt to fill. When columns like David's break and fall at last to the ground, this fraternity shudders to its very foundations. 

And of course, I want to offer my very deepest condolences to his wife Robin and their entire family. Their loss is greater than the rest of us can adequately comprehend, but I thank them from the bottom of my heart for letting us all have so much of David's time. That is a debt none of us can possibly repay.

His column is broken, and his Brethren mourn.

Requiescat in pace.





UPDATE 7/27/18:

The funeral services for David are as follows:


Gordon Funeral Services
1904 LancasterAvenue
Monroe, North Carolina

Visitation: Saturday, August 11 (Time not yet posted)
Funeral Service: Saturday, August 11, 3:00PM

Visit the funeral service website HERE for updated information.