Thursday, April 24, 2008
"The Law Is A Ass"
* NOTE: This entry has been altered, based on information from the Grand Secretary of Kentucky.*
There has been a flareup of suspensions around the country in the last couple of weeks. I do wish Grand Masters would understand that so much more can be accomplished in this fraternity with whispered admonishment than with public beheadings.
Brother Charles Martin is facing a Masonic trial in Kentucky, and it is a sad situation.
Charles is a member of Bowling Green Lodge in Kentucky, as well as later affiliating with a New York lodge. It seems that during his recent posting in Iraq (he is a defense contractor), he visited a Prince Hall military lodge. Subsequent to that, he posted a description of his visit on the internet.
While New York recognizes the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, and members of both may intervisit, the Grand Lodge of Kentucky does NOT recognize their own Prince Hall counterpart, or any other Prince Hall GL, for that matter.
Charles - and all regular Masons, for that matter - is bound by the rules and regulations of his Mother Lodge and Grand Lodge in Kentucky first, and New York second. As a result, he faces possible suspension by the GL of Kentucky. That, in turn, will make his suspension in New York likely, as well. Hiram's Forum is the property of the GL of Indiana, and we are bound to honor his suspension, just as he would not be allowed to visit an Indiana lodge.
He spent quite some time attempting over the last few years to procure a charter for a military lodge to be formed in Iraq, but to no avail. In the modern age, military lodges have almost never been chartered by mainstream US Grand Lodges. Unfortunately for Charles and the thousands of servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan now, there is no official US Masonic presence for Masons in those countries, apart from several Prince Hall military lodges. During previous times of war, Grand Lodges looked the other way at issues of regularity and sojourning servicemen who visited lodges in foreign countries, because of this very situation. If a man was willing to risk his very life in a war zone, the issue of whether the lodge he visited was regular or not is about as low on the priorities list you could get. But it seems that the comparatively petty peacetime issues of regularity and recognition all cling on in our modern era of wartime.
This is not to criticize Kentucky - they are simply following the letter of their law. Some will undoubtedly say, 'if this is the law, then the law is a ass, a idiot,' to quote Dickens' Mr. Bumble. But breaking the law and telling everybody about it all over the web is the one sure way to wind up on the outside looking in, and will change nothing. That said, it is unfortunate that the Conference of Grand Master Masons of North America did not lead on this issue immediately after the war started and quickly respond to the situation with suggested language for Grand Lodges to adopt, if only for the duration of the war. However, with Charles' situation now spreading all over the internet, perhaps the issue will yet come up at next month's World Conference of Grand Masters in Washington.
I hope so, but I'm not counting on it.
But this is surely no way to treat Brother Masons serving in harm's way.