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


Saturday, September 03, 2016

More Antics Out Of Arkansas

Many years ago, I came across the official stance of the United Grand Lodge of England  that cautioned their members while visiting other jurisdictions. While they certainly encouraged traveling, they expected their members not to actually sit in a lodge meeting or degree conferral with Masons they did not recognize, if possible. They observed that if a UGLE member found himself in a meeting with someone who he knew to be unrecognized by UGLE, he was to not make a fuss, but simply "tactfully withdraw."

Other grand lodges make similar requests of their members, and some are more insistent about it than others. And there are plenty of other grand lodges that are just silent or laissez-faire on the subject and, on a practical basis, follow the "when in Rome" philosophy. Namely, if you are in someone else's jurisdiction, who they let into their meetings is their business, so you should simply sit back and not make yourself a showboat by departing over it.

All of this brings me in a circular way to the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. It's one of the stricter GLs that prohibits its members from sitting in, for instance, other jurisdictions' annual communication sessions if there is, in particular, a Prince Hall Mason in attendance. 

Because, you see, those guys are just plain easier to spot from across the room.

In a question and answer session in 2010, the Grand Master of Arkansas at that time, MW Martin "Gene" Warren, went so far as to say that Arkansas Masons were not to so much as sit in a lodge in any jurisdiction that recognizes Prince Hall Masonry, unless they first get up and address the lodge, or check with the Worshipful Master, just to be sure there are no Prince Hall Masons actually present in the room. So, they are not to simply be discrete and "tactfully withdraw" if they suspect a PHA member might be there. Arkansas Masons are  expected to actually go into a foreign jurisdiction's lodge where he is a guest, stand up and make a spectacle of himself - along with humiliating other brethren - and demand to know if any might be lurking in the room (presumably because any black Mason MUST be a Prince Hall member, along with the fact that white guys like Fred Milliken are PHA members too, and they could just be hiding in plain sight).

Ever since 2012 and the situation involving the Shrine (and even before), there have been Arkansas Masons who have looked outside of their borders for a safe haven for their membership. The ongoing Shrine saga has put brothers there in a particularly terrible dilemma, forcing them to choose between the Shrine or Masonry - membership in both is no longer permitted in Arkansas. So, nearby Oklahoma has been quietly allowing Arkansas Masons to affiliate or completely transfer their membership to Oklahoma lodges without actually residing there. I understand that Missouri and Texas have been doing this, as well.

Unfortunately, the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, MW Robert Jackson, has refused to issue many Arkansas Masons a "letter of good standing" for attempting to affiliate or move into some other U.S. jurisdictions - even if they completely relocate for business, family, or military commitments.  But his particular concentration has been focussed on Oklahoma.

What's the reason?

Prince Hall recognition.

While the policy is not officially written down or part of the Arkansas code, the de facto stance of the Grand Secretary's office is that because Arkansas does not recognize PHA GLs and, say, Oklahoma does, then in the eyes of Grand Secretary Jackson at least, Oklahoma is therefore "clandestine." As are apparently all of the 42 U.S. GL jurisdictions, UGLE, and any other regular, recognized jurisdictions that recognize PHA GLs.

Now, in Missouri a while back,  Arkansas Masons simply were asked to retake their three degrees since their GL wouldn't issue a letter of good standing.  Other states are handling it differently. But several burning questions come to mind. At what point does an "unwritten rule" by a Grand Secretary become an official practice? And if Oklahoma and the rest of the GLs that have recognized PHA jurisdictions stick to their guns, shouldn't the Grand Lodge of Arkansas act on its collective conscience and withdraw amity with them all?

But more to the point, if the GL of Arkansas is going to deny issuing proper transfer and affiliation documents to those jurisdictions over their own sovereign amity with PHA and/or the Shrine issue, perhaps the time has finally come for the rest of the world to pull up a chair and stick Arkansas in the Masonic corner for a while. When will Oklahoma come to the conclusion that enough is enough? Or Missouri, or Texas? Or frankly, the rest of the 42 US jurisdictions who have recognized our Prince Hall brethren?

I'm not usually a big one for squealing about yanking recognition of sovereign jurisdictions who are certainly free to follow any ill-considered internal policy they want as long as it doesn't affect anyone else. But I think the time has finally come to call out Arkansas in particular for its practices that are disrupting the greater Masonic community outside of their own borders. If Arkansas wants to hold its breath until it turns blue over PHA, that's their choice.  But refusing to engage in the most basic proper protocol for membership transfers and affiliations, along with expecting their members to disrupt meetings in other jurisdictions just to sniff out sneaky PHA visitors, is just plain un-Masonic behavior. And they can cloak themselves in proclamations of sovereignty and Mackey's jurisprudence book all they like. Most of the rest of the Masonic world tends to regard it the way Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart felt about pornography.

We know it when we see it.

Meanwhile, the Summonses continue to gush out of Little Rock with little sign of slowing.

UPDATE 9/5/2016

Just as a point of reference, the Grand Lodge of Arkansas plummeted from 12,026 members to 9,078 between the reported years of 2014 and 2015. A loss of just shy of 1/4 of its membership in one year. Moreover, between  the 13 years of 2002 through 2015, the average loss of membership across the board among all U.S. grand lodges is 32.8%. Arkansas, however, leads the list with a combined membership loss of 56.3%. *

No other state even comes close to that.

One wonders if Little Rock has noted the change. Or ponders why.

(For more background on the current situation, CLICK HERE.)

*Many, many thanks to Paul M. Bessel.

UPDATE 9/8/2016

From the Grand Secretary of Arkansas' web page concerning email communications:

"The issue of electronic communications was addressed by the Delegates during the Annual Communications in February of 2010. The language that was adopted states: “Any form of electronic communication pertaining to matters of Masonic business are prohibited when used as a forum to debate Masonic Law or issues and will subject the member to un-Masonic conduct.” This language is found in § 4.0.242 of our Digest of Laws. It is important that you know and understand this language to ensure that you remain in compliance with the Law. If you are unhappy with policy or the Law or whatever, come and see me: do not take to fussing on email (or the internet, or social media, etc.)."

(BTW, many thanks to the anonymous Brother who sent me a copy of the Arkansas Digest of their Masonic constitutions and laws. I have no way of contacting him. 

Fascinating reading. I've never seen so much minutiae concerning what is deemed un-Masonic behavior in one place in my life. What AR needs is a Masonic Constitutional Convention.) 


  1. As A brother and friend I have usually agreed with your commentaries, And this is no exception, Keep up th good work and take care of yourself.
    Jan L. Boggess PM, KYCH,OPC.

  2. Keying off of your sentence"...sovereign jurisdictions who are certainly free to follow any ill-considered internal policy they want as long as it doesn't affect anyone else.", I would suggest that when a Grand Lodge begins acting in what is to all observers, an unmasonic fashion, that it is the duty of other Grand Lodges to assess and determine if they should remain in amity with the offender. When the french admitted atheists, a number of grand lodges pulled recognition. I would have no problem with US or other grand lodges reacting in the same fashion to Arkansas's behavior.

    1. You make an excellent point. If you add up the incidents over the years, and now the purges and this latest perfidy, at what point do the rest of us say they are simply beyond the pale of Masonic behavior?

    2. I would much prefer to see the North American Grand Masters get together for a formal visit with the Arkansas Grand Lodge, before jurisdictions start pulling recognition of Arkansas. Whisper good counsel and all that. If the GLoAR isn't swayed by the leadership of its fellow Grand Lodges in a formal setting, then it would be appropriate to remove recognition. It sounds like this is the work more of a clique than of the popular opinion of the brethren - otherwise they wouldn't be abandoning the boat.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. You incorrectly assume that these conversations with other Grand Masters aren't already happening. They have been. For years.

      (Comment deleted and resubmitted to fix autocorrect mishap)

    5. I think all Grand Lodges should pull recognition from them

  3. A man can only take the Degrees once. IIRC, one problem with Ohio and PGM Haas was Ohio's attempt to restore Haas by conferring the degrees again. West Virginia, which had expelled Haas, threatened to revoke recognition.

    So how can Oklahoma lodges confer degrees on someone who's already a Mason? Standing doesn't matter, once a Mason, always a Mason.

    1. WV DID revoke recognition with them, and Ohio buckled eventually and tossed Frank to fix it.

      However, there are plenty of jurisdictions that disagree with your notion that you cannot retake the degrees. "Clandestine" Masons are healed this way into regular GLs all over the country.

    2. Understood, but in those cases, it's dealing with issues of regularity. It's also "healing," ensuring that the degrees are properly conferred.That wasn't the case with Haas, or here.

    3. BTW, I just made a slight change to the article about that - your question led to someone clarifying it to me privately that Missouri was the only state to require retaking the degrees, and that was on a rare occasion a while back.

    4. Each state is its own sovereign jurisdiction; if a jurisdiction has no position on retaking degrees, or if a jurisdiction has (or creates) a ruling that Freemasons must retake the degrees because of perceived differences in ritual workings, then they are at liberty to do so.

  4. Okay my Brother. I believe that my pendulum is beginning to swing in support of permanent recognition loss. Master Masons in all jurisdictions have certain "rights and benefits" afforded to them. For a Grand Lodge to deny them any of these rights is tyrannical, oppressive and while the members of said grand jurisdiction should themselves fix this, other grand lodges should likewise not tolerate such machinations in the dispatch of the legitimate duties of their peer exchanges. Disrespecting your own members is one thing if the members permit it. Disrespecting another Grand Lodge and it's honored grand officers is an affront to those thousands of uninvolved rank and file brethren who elected them to do their business.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Well, as has been demonstrated, when the members properly voted for what they believed to be better leaders, those men were given the boot from the grand line, along with supporters who are now being purged as well. So, doing things by the book has failed to work. And committee members have been handpicked by the current powers.

      Most grand Lodges figured out how to prevent palace coups in the 19th century. They all learned from each other over the years, and those rules are carved in bedrock now.

  6. In Ohio, if one wishes to join a PHA Lodge as a member of the GL of Ohio, he must retake the degrees. It is the same vic versa. This is pursuant to the PHA Grand Lodge's wishes when mutual recognition was established.

    David Merckle
    Senior Warden
    La Fayette Lodge #79
    Zanesville, Ohio

    1. Almost no PHA Grand Lodge allows for plural membership even within PHA.

      James R. Morgan III
      Worshipful Master
      Corinthian Lodge #18

  7. As an oklahoma mason, and having comversations with those in the grand line, i think a big part of why we dont pull recognition is because we dont feel the meed to punish the thousands of great arkansas brothers who dont agree with their grand lodge. Now our grand line may choose to not visit grand lodge meeting, which is another form of protest.

    1. Nobody ever said doing the right thing is always easy.

    2. Admirable, proactive consideration on Oklahoma's part. Thinking of those innocent brethren who may have no voice.

  8. That's because the "way and manner" by which one is "duly and truly prepared" in Prince Hall Affiliated lodges differs substantially from most of their mainstream counterparts as a result of their standard of physical trials and what some modern mainstream Masons would term to be "hazing". Bottom line is, with a few exceptions for various police and military lodge initiation traditions, it takes more "fortitude" to become a PHA Mason than a mainstream Mason.

    1. huh? we have a strict no hazing article in the constitution. That doesnt happen in SC PHA

    2. Hazing is not tolerated in any SC PHA lodge.

    3. Hazing is not tolerated in any SC PHA lodge.

  9. Anzan, many of us are praying you will punish us. It's the only way this will change. We need to be clandestine to do a reboot. There are few who here in Arkansas who will speak out. You will not be punishing us. You will be helping us. I don't understand how you cannot see that.

    1. I don't speak for the GL of Oklahoma... I am not in the grand line, nor am I a grand lodge officer. There are far more qualified and wiser Oklahoma masons who have a much better appreciative understanding of our jurisprudence than me. So don't take anything I say as what our Grand line, or even the majority of Oklahoma masons feel or think.

      I'm not sure I understand how declaring all Arkansas masons as clandestine would be helping your cause. All that would do is prevent an Oklahoma mason from conversing on any of the secrets of masonry with an Arkansas brother, or sitting in an Arkansas Lodge. This would also prevent any Arkansas brother from visiting an Oklahoma lodge, and would prevent them from ever joining an Oklahoma lodge should they move within Oklahoma jurisdiction. So how does that help your cause?

      If you say that if Oklahoma, as well as the majority of United States Grand Lodges, would all join together and declare the Grand Lodge of Arkansas and all brothers as clandestine that this may adequately pressure the Arkansas grand line to retreat, I would not agree. In fact I think would have the opposite effect you seek. The Arkansas brother would no longer be able to seek refuge from any mason outside his jurisdiction, no right to visit and receive a master's wage outside the borders of Arkansas... he would be shunned outside his home with no hope for relief. He would be clandestine, and not a brother. Your grand line could carry on, suspending and expelling brothers left and right, and even eventually sinking the whole ship. If that were to happen, how could such a brother ever be restored? The brother would be branded with a scarlet letter "C" for the rest of his life. So again, help me understand, because this seems like a really bad idea.

      I would like to mention that Oklahoma Masonry owes much of its early history to the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. What would later become the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma was a joining of the Grand Lodge of the Indian Territories and the Grand Lodge of the Oklahoma Territories. The Arkansas Grand Lodge charted many early Indian Territory lodges including Cherokee Lodge # 21.

      Maybe the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America as well as the UGLE may see it differently, and may choose to act based on a consensus of historical masonic jurisprudence.

  10. I received this message this evening from an Arkansas Brother:

    A By-Stander to an Implosion:
    An Arkansas Masons point of view

    I became a mason in 2011, at the age of 25, following in my grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather and several other members of my family’s footsteps. I was completely ecstatic. I had a whole world of brotherhood and meetings ahead of me. There is just one problem.
    While all the men in my family are Indiana mason, and all the men in my wife’s family who are mason, of which there are several, are Missouri masons. We’ve lived in Arkansas for the last 10 years and I took my obligation inside an Arkansas lodge.

    Since I’ve become a mason I’ve served as a Master of Ceremonies, Senior Deacon, Senior Warden, Worshipful Master, and Secretary of the lodge. I’ve been in the thick of things for the last 5 years trying to be a “good mason” by doing the work of the lodge and helping out my brothers when they needed it. I’ve loved the brotherhood I’ve gotten from the local lodges. Nothing brings me more joy than watching the Apron lecture done by someone who actually knows how to do it, or working a part in the second section of a Master’s degree. I even like to go to monthly meetings and see the brethren and talk about what’s been going on in their lives. Unfortunately, there has been a black cloud hanging over every meeting I’ve been to the last couple of years.

    It usually goes like “Have you heard of the latest person Grand Lodge has expelled?” or “Have you seen the latest preposterous thing Little Rock has done?” and always ends with “Just keep your head down, you don’t want to be next.” Every. Single. Time. It never fails and it doesn’t matter what part of the state you are in.

    I know what it’s supposed to be like, I watched as a kid my grandfather would go to lodge and I would wonder why I couldn’t go with him. (The two of us were inseparable when I was younger) I’ve talked to several people outside of the state and when I do it’s always “What’s going on down there and why are you guys fixing it?”

    Well the first part of that could be anything lately but the second has a very good reason; we’ve watched has someone stood up at Grand Lodge in February and asked them why something happened the way it did and try to make them stand accountable for their actions and then we’ve watch as those people would no longer be masons by the next Grand Convocation. We’ve got the point that “We’re Grand Lodge, you’re not, and you have to abide by what we say, even if you don’t agree with it.” (Something I’ve heard the current GM say a few times)

    Well brethren, I’ve had enough of being a by-stander to the implosion of our Grand Lodge. When they were attacking us it was bad, then they starting attacking themselves and it was all the proof I needed that these guys don’t know how to actually run a fraternal organization. I’m proposing that at the next Grand Convocation that there be a completely new Grand line installed.



    I propose the following:

    • A complete audit of our Grand Lodge finances, not just what’s in the bank but also what people have turned in for reimbursement as far back as we can.
    • A complete audit of the actions of our current GM. Billy Joe Holder Jr. and at least the last 5 and a promise by the next GM that he will walk back the things we have seen as overstepping their bounds but agreed to for fear of being put out of lodge.
    • A committee set up to look at bringing our policies up to date with the modern world, we are founded on Ancient principles, sure but not ancient laws. Grand Lodge claims things haven’t change since 1927, all you have to do is get a Digest of laws from then and one from today to know that’s not true. Let’s work on getting our lodge up to at least 1970-ish thinking if not 2016.
    • A committee set up to look at formalizing relations with Prince Hall in the state, at whatever level both Grand lodges agree to. Personally I’d like to see full recognition, but something has to give, we sit and be moan that young people don’t want to join. I have news for you, millennials, for the most part, don’t put up with this. I know, I’m one of them and it pains me to know this stain is still upon my grand lodge.
    • Finally, a committee set up to look at formalizing relations with the Shrine again. The fact that this hasn’t happened is just as appalling. How many brethren did we lose because they were members of the Shrine and other Grand Lodges and decided to drop GL AR over this? I can think of three right of the top of my head.

    Brethren, if we want this BS to change then it’s up to us. Grand Lodge is only endowed to do what we say they can. My favorite movies are the movies of the Star Wars francize, there’s a line in Episode III (I know, a prequel) where Obi-Won Kenobi is sent to the planet of Utapau
    and when he gets there he finds General Grievous hiding there. He tells the person he’s talking to “If you have warriors, now is the time for them.” Is there a more fitting statement than that for this situation we’ve found ourselves in? Well maybe just one, “May every social and moral justice prevail…”

    1. "I have news for you, millennials, for the most part, don’t put up with this."

      That's a fact! I'm a millennial who was just initiated by a lodge under the GLoWA, and I'm ashamed that all this nonsense is happening in another state under the name of 'Freemasonry'.

      Too many older people haven't realized that Millennials have the following qualities:

      1) practicality,
      2) big dreams,
      3) impatience.

      We want everything, we want it now, and we know that we can get it: so we will (not to say that we as individuals are special, rather we live in an era where technology allows us to have such high expectations).

      That might sound like childish hubris but for us we look at the world, see problems, and refuse to tolerate standing idly by doing nothing. Growing up we were told that we could be anything we dreamed of being and do anything we dreamed of doing, and we took that to heart.

      So here we are, takin' names and changing the world: and we're all out of names to take.

  12. Thaanks for the mention Chris.
    You sound like me 15 years ago.

  13. I am a mason in North West Arkansas.it seams we are the area hit the hardest by what is going on. As far as I can tell our Grand line is not living up to there obligations . There is no good council whispers in ones ear. There is no lifting up a brother when he is down.
    When we ask why cant we do things differentthe answer is we always do it like this.
    We go to local lodges to help with a degree. But do not build a stronger brotherhood. How can I stand by and not speak my mind when the brother that raised me. Is now listed as unworthy as a Masson and I can no longer sit in lodge with him.
    Most just want to make it through there time in the big chair and the next year are out the door. They say there year as master was so much they need the break. As I have never done this it's hard to say. But we all know the things that have to Change and do little of nothing.
    We deserve what we are getting we have let the old white mans club take over.
    We do nothing to say yes I'm a Masson and do nothing to make others like us. What is going on in our state is a shame. But I challenge the rest of you to take note and stand search out more light and become a beacon for others.

  14. Memo to Arkansas Freemasons:

    Should you happen to visit a lodge in the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, I suggest that you please do not bother asking the lodge membership if any PHA members are in attendance. The F&AM GLNY and the PHA GLNY are pleased to maintain full joint visitation rights, and we will not take your asking if PHA members are present in a kind fashion.

    I write this in my private capacity rather than my capacity as a Grand Lodge officer; however, I do feel that I speak with the consensus of New York Masonry behind me.

    Warmest fraternal regards,

    RW Mark E. Koltko-Rivera
    Grand Historian
    The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York

  15. As a Mason who was raised in one part of the state (AR) and moved to another, i can say that this is not just a large lodge issue. Brethern from all corners are scared, tired, and downcast. Many Brothers have stopped attending lodge, have stopped paying dues, and no longer look for the lights when they travel. My Brothers from across the states, know that this is not something we want, their (GL) actions cost us dearly, and its either be a Mason or be out, no chance for change. I agree with the proposal that the above AR Mason made, i feel that a reconstituting of the Grand Lodge is required. We have some very important issues to resolve, and the only way that can happen is by replacing the entire grand line with officers that will swear on oath that they will continue the process of change that the brothers set up. But before we can do this we must mobilize TOGETHER, not individually. We know from the past that Brothers who stand alone against the Grand Lodge, or with only support from behind the curtain have failed at change. Also being a Star Wars buff i will add this quote from Master Yoda to Luke as he leaves for Cloud City, “Decide you must, how to serve them best. If you leave now, help them you could; but you would destroy all for which they have fought, and suffered.” We have to come together at the Grand Lodge session in February and declare that its over, that we are changing into what Freemasonry is supposed to be, and what the world needs it to be. Complaining is the first step, its time to climb the stairs.

    --A Circumspect AR Mason--

  16. As a Prince Hall Arkansas mason, I must submit, two years ago we passed a resolution saying we consider any body who holds a seat in the North American Conference of Grand of Masters a regular body. We know it is the internal not the external which qualifies a man........I wish well for my brothers under such tyranny.

    1. Brian, is there any way you can get me the exact wording and details about that statement? I think an awful lot of folks would be interested in that.

    2. That "recognition" is a bit more restrictive than Brian states...

      When I joined the lodge ermm....several... years, it was carefully explained to me that the "free born" requirement precluded men of color. Clearly a false argument even at that time.

      So far, we have lost the next two in line for Grand Master, and also the heads of two of our Grand York Rite bodies. Who is next? The head of the third Grand York Rite body? The SGIG? Or is it time to start purging constituent lodges of apostate WM's?

      Remember brothers, Billy Joe loves you!

    3. Yeah, I've never been able to track down the genesis of it, but apparently there was some early monitor in the 1800s that gave off with the howler that "freeborn" came from an ancient Roman term that meant "not descended from slaves." Utter crap that was eagerly gobbled up and reprinted all over the US. That made it a handy way to deny membership to 90% of the black men in the U.S. at the time, yet keep from insulting any possible visiting foreign dignitaries who might have a pigmentation difference.

      The definition remained in the Indiana Monitor until the early 1970s. Interestingly, a section in our Blue Book of Indiana Masonic Law a century before stated:

      "There is nothing in the laws or regulations of Masonry that prevents a negro who is 'free born, or lawful age, and coming well recommended' from applying to any regular lodge for membership, and, if found worthy...may become a member in good standing..."

      It was immediately after the end of the Civil War. Nevertheless, I have found no record anywhere of a black Mason being initiated, passed, and raised in Indiana prior to 1989. Not saying it didn't happen, I just haven't found a reference, as our petitions and records are color-blind, and always have been.

    4. My own understanding of the requirement was that it came from England. A man born a serf was not eligible to become a mason, as he owed allegiance to another and was not free to take the obligations.

    5. Oh, I know the actual term is used in Anderson in 1723:

      The Persons admitted Members of a Lodge must be good and true Men, free-born, and of mature and discreet Age, no Bondmen, no Women, no immoral or scandalous Men, but of good Report.

      I meant the absurd definition of "not descended from slaves." That's a 19th century invention.

  17. There is gradual change that has gone on in grand lodges like Arkansas. Some are actually attracted to membership by the racial discrimination, gender bigotry and other behavior that upsets others. So over the years we have seen a process, to an extent of self-selection going on in a a number of jurisdictions and number of grand lodges where those who want to be in segregated lodges are proposed by friends. Those who support Masonic diversity drift away and as time goes on, Masonry is some areas become the preferred choice of those who cannot find a segregated homephobic society to join as integration continues. We are more segregated and compromised in some places than previously because we are attracting men who like it that way and are sponsored by men who like it that way.

    1. Honestly Paul, your constant obsession with posting variations of this same charge against the fraternity over and over at every opportunity is starting to sound like Cato the Elder, ending every speech with "Carthago delenda est!"

      I'd like to see it backed up empirically instead of just opinion based on a surface judgement. You have a singleminded point of view, that the fraternity is dominated by the attitudes you named. The damage one bigoted GM with a couple of likeminded PGMs in a jurisdiction can do is certainly terrible, but I have no evidence that it is truly widespread. And no, I'm not being naive.

      The REAL problem is that the system of Masonic jurisprudence is so cumbersome and largely invulnerable to change by rank and file members, that once a damaging edict becomes a codified law, it becomes a massive and long-term undertaking to remove it. That does not by any means indicate that the vast majority of Masons who are eligible to vote at GL are looking to enforce a "segregated homophobic society." It just means that most of the men in the room are almost completely ignorant of what is in their own Code or in the stack of resolutions they are handed when they walk into the annual meeting. Add to it the fact that we replace the bulk of officers and voting members every single year, AND restrictions on assembling any sort of organized opposition, so there's a diminished opportunity to walk in with enough knowledge and experience to affect serious change. When you toss in the jurisdictions that give GMs the ability to suspend or expel without trials, it is simple for just one autocrat to wipe out grand line officers or bothersome lodge Masters and PMs.

      There are black and Latino Masons in most (if not all) of the 9 remaining jurisdictions that don't recognize PHA. Frankly, I could come up with a pretty lengthy list of reasons why recognizing PHA in the US is a BAD idea, and none of them have a thing to do with racism. I would argue that recognizing PHA only perpetuates segregation, not solves it. It permits a lodge to tell a potential petitioner of the 'wrong" color to go try the lodge down the street, instead. But I'm smart enough to know that suggesting a merger would be met with shrieks of horror - and probably far louder from the PHA side, because it would be seen as demanding them to give up a 200 year heritage to assimilate.

      As for the "homophobic" charge, take note that the rule had been in place already in Tennessee from 30+ years ago, and only came to light when it was actually enforced for the first time. So, Georgia is the only jurisdiction that passed a new regulation about it. There has been no rush of other GMs across the country who eagerly introduced their own, and this October will be the first opportunity for the men in that jurisdiction to attempt to get rid of it. And Tennessee won't have the chance until next year.

  18. Prince Hall is not the only group of largely African American grand lodges with historical claims, and some Prince Hall grand lodges have an evangelical Christian bias along with virtually lifetime grand masters and other peculiarities. There is a whiff of separate but equal to the use of Prince Hall to defray criticism of racism in Masonry. The notion that here and there are men of color in white grand lodges doesnt seem enough to change the fact that the fraternity is way behind in living up to its claims of diversity and contributing to democracy. Possibly your love of the craft makes the various problems exceptionally painful. or we regard the problems in differing magnitude.

    1. I'm just saying I personally know far too many Masons who are actually working very hard in their lodges and grand lodges to make the changes needed, and functioning as best they can given the restrictions of the peculiarities of Masonic law. They are laboring too damn hard for me to merely wave their efforts off as insufficient. Yes, you and I do regard the problems in differing magnitude. I'm not coy about shining a light on abuses or failures to live up to our aspirations. But I will not continually swipe the fraternity over the actions of a dwindling number of fossils clinging to their power on their march to the tar pit.

  19. Well, you deserve immense credit for the steady flow of news your blog provides and as an editor you certainly have to make decisions about what prominence individual stories receive,or indeed if they deserve the light of day -- which is a choice the editors of the New York Times and Washington Post also face. Yes, I do regard the problems facing the Craft in a very serious way, relating them to the problems over policing and race and other national malaise, which i think owe a lot to the continued bigotry and discrimination which i know some do not see as the root of our crisis but which I do.

    1. I’m really conflicted about this, because I see PHA recognition as a smoke screen to simply continue “separate but equal” policies. It becomes the simple way to tell a petitioner he should really go join the “other” lodge. Outside of the big cities, how many black men are Masons in the mainstream GL of Illinois? Or Ohio? Or California?

      When I became a Master of a dying lodge in 2001, we raised three black members. Out of over 200 existing members, only three raised hell about it, and I ordered the Secretary to issue them demits immediately.

      But then, the PHA GM found out and immediately ceased all intervisitation with our GL because in his words, I had “stolen HIS candidates.” That ban lasted until he left office 2 years later. All three men had Prince Hall explained to them, and none of them wanted to have anything to do with the segregation that PHA implied. In the words of one brother, they wanted to join the “real Freemasonry.”

      So is PHA recognition in the 9 remaining southern GLs an issue we should actively pursue, especially since there are plenty of PHA GMs and grand line officers who don’t have any interest in it for a variety of reasons? I don’t have an answer. I wish I did.

      I only know that in the lodges I visit all over the country, I'm not hearing a bunch of racist or anti-gay comments whispered in the social room or dining hall, or even the parking lot. I don't encounter them online, apart from very, very rare (usually anonymous) comments after a post that touches on the issues. I assure you that I honestly don't censor them, unless they are just truly insulting. If I get three a year, that's a lot. Seriously. Out of a couple of hundred thousand unique page hits every year.

      The "root of our crisis" I assume you refer to has far, far more to do with the simple fact that the new generation of men that are joining have an unrealistic expectation of what Masonic ritual is. Far too many feel that lodge is not "esoteric" or just plain spooky enough for their preconceived notions, and most don't want to put in the hard work to make their lodge into the experience they expected it to be. Or they simply don't join at all, because of our requirement of some kind of faith for membership in a society that is growing ever more atheistic. So, is that an institutional problem that is causing our numbers to decrease? Should we go the way of the Grand Orient, admit atheists and women, and become institutional social justice warriors?

      Or is it a "crisis" that we are still suffering from envy of the 1920s and 1950s numbers that were statistical aberrations?

      Outside of the 9 southern states, mainstream Masonry has at least officially desegregated, yet there has not been a flood of black men joining our lodges outside of the larger cities. And even in those 9, there are no rules in their codes denying membership to black men. It doesn't preclude bigots from dropping a black cube into a ballot box, but those stories really aren't being widely told. It comes down to the pattern of personal choice of socializing preferences by people, not institutional racism, and nobody can change that by passing a rule a rule.

      So, I just have a more optimistic view than you, based on what I see and what people tell me. I just don't see a "crisis." Problem children? Certainly. Crisis? No.

  20. The Enlightenment leaders of Masonry had an aversion to anthropomorphic concepts of deity, that is they did not personify deity as a human like being as in the case of the Trinity. Nor did they believe in the infallibility of Scriptures. If some now avoid joining a lodge because of what they think is a theological requirement, it is perhaps partly the way some Masonic leaders have attempted to Christianize the fraternity. When the organist plays hymns and the chaplain invokes Jesus, it is contradiction of what Masonry is about.

  21. The "Good Ole' Boy" network strikes again. As a man of African descent and a Prince Hall Mason, I would love to know why it is that we are hated so by so many so-called fellow Freemasons? I believe it's simply because we exist as a people.

    1. James, make no mistake. Black men are NOT hated by a wide swath of white Freemasons. It's frankly a very small - and shrinking - bunch. But we suffer enormously from the vestiges of a 225 year old system that has prevented Masonic equality by allowing two parallel institutional systems to grow and prosper, with virtually no contact between them.

      Think for a minute: a couple of centuries ago, many states made it the official wording of their obligation of the MM degree that they would not make a black man a Mason. I know for a fact that it survived in some local lodges in Kentucky as late as 2001, despite it being removed by the GL years before. Undoubtedly there were old timers repeating it elsewhere too, because that's the way their mentors taught it to them and the way it was recited at every degree all their lives. Why would they do such an un-Masonic thing?

      Because they could.

      The existence, growth, and popularity of Prince Hall Freemasonry as a parallel universe for black Masons meant that EVERYBODY involved knew, understood, and accepted that "their" lodge was just where you should be, and nobody questioned it. They didn't question it because it's the way ALL of U.S. social life was arranged, not just the Masons. From schools and churches, to fraternal groups and bowling clubs, "separate but equal" was just taken as the fact of life, and not just in the South. Was that appalling? Yes, of course it was. It violated every fiber of what this country is supposed to be about. But that's what happened, and apart from government-enforced situations, it developed that way among private organizations, too.

      You get to the 1960s and 70s, the laws changed, people changed, attitudes changed VERY quickly in most cases, and as the years progressed, virtually everything but Masonry (and oddly, churches) changed their written and unwritten rules, and the parallel systems largely died.

      But because Masonry is, despite all of the trappings of esotericism and lofty ideals, a social organization, the separation remained and does so today - even in the 42 states where PHA recognition has happened (see my story above and the reaction of the PHA GM when he found out Hodapp was initiating black men in a non-PHA lodge in 2001). It's why I say that recognition may ultimately be MORE damaging to us than simply merging. It permits de facto segregation to persist under an official imprimatur...


    2. (MORE)

      Now, an awful lot of PHA guys will respond by saying what's so wrong with us having our own "brand" of African-American Freemasonry? We have a 225 year heritage, our own way of doing things, our own culture, and we don't want to be forced into being absorbed by the state GLs. I have always likened it to the old Negro Baseball League. When MLB desegregated, there was just no more reason for the separate organization to exist any more, and it vanished.

      I counter that it's ultimately destructive to the essence of the most basic cornerstone of the fraternity - that of uniting men into one common band of brothers, based on the leveling of all differences between us. That doesn't happen when we still can officially divide Masons into "us" and "them." Outside of the U.S., the rest of the entire Masonic world looks at our dual systems like we're a kennel full of talking dogs. They read their Anderson, then look at what we've got and shake their heads. Outsiders fully understand just how much of a violation of Masonic principles we have here with our two organizations, and they perhaps see it clearer from a distance than we do on a daily basis. But we ARE doing it wrong, and I honestly believe that PHA recognition is destructive over the long haul. In Georgia and Alabama, there are a couple of lodges under the mainstream GL of Georgia and Alabama that have a growing number of black members. It echoes lodges in NYC and elsewhere that a handful of lodges have more black than white members under the mainstream banner. It does not deny the desire of basic human nature to socialize with men most like themselves. But it doesn't officially hold them apart as an alien species in a wholly separate organization where white guys can conveniently tell petitioners to go, instead of buckling down and pitching the three guys out of their lodge who are full bore jackasses who don't understand any more about Freemasonry than they do about the transept of Venus.

    3. "Now, an awful lot of PHA guys will respond by saying what's so wrong with us having our own "brand" of African-American Freemasonry? We have a 225 year heritage, our own way of doing things, our own culture, and we don't want to be forced into being absorbed by the state GLs."

      And they'd be right to say that. And I, as a white mainstream Freemason, completely agree with them. It's not the existence of and recognition of PHA that causes division and disharmony, it's the hatred and bigotry of certain mainstream Freemasons and they would still be hateful and bigoted even if PHA didn't exist at all.

      Chris, I like your book and I like your blog and most of the time I appreciate your informed commentary. I think that overall you probably know a lot more about our fraternity than I do, but on this particular issue I think you're absolutely 100% wrong.

      You've reduced PHA to an anachronism. You've insulted and demeaned our PHA brethren and I think you owe them an apology.

      Dave Brown

    4. I am a Tennessee mason that has demited and trying to find a lodge to go to that does not have the good old boy stuff going on. Would even like to join the PHA if they would permit it in Tennessee which I believe they do not. The far right of most Christian Religion has taken over most Masonic Lodges here in
      Tennessee. Religion and Politics has taken over most discussions in the Lodge. I was taught it was not to be discussed in Lodge setting. Being Jewish it is hard to sit in the Lodge when people forget there are other religions and faiths around the world. Got a year to affiliate with another Lodge if I can find one here in Tennessee.

    5. Dave, I apologize if I have offended anyone. But you can't get around the fact that the very existence of PHA permits those bigoted Masons you speak of (who are NOT particularly widespread, but stick out like a sore thumb when they speak up) to continue their tradition of sending black petitioners (and visitors, BTW) across town to the "other" lodge. It has perpetuated the segregation.

      I don't know how much you have spoken to PHA members or how many PHA lodges you've visited or PHA grand officers you've talked openly to. I've been doing it literally ever since I became a MM. And I also don't recall what part of the country you are in - your screen name implies NYC. Lodges there are FAR more integrated there than in other areas of the country. But the sentiments I expressed did not just pop out of a vacuum or my own addled head. Many of these notions came first out of the mouths of PHA members themselves. In fact, I have a friend who is leaving PHA completely and joining his state GL because of these very problems.

      Now, are they only allowed to talk openly about this stuff among themselves, or can't we all be adults and lay it out on the table?

    6. I am a Massachusetts Freemason. And I'm sorry I didn't reply earlier.

      I'm sorry but I think you're wrong. For the nearly two hundred years that PHA was unrecognized by mainstream Grand Lodges, black men of good character who approached mainstream lodges were still regularly told, "we don't admit your kind here, you people have your own lodge down the street. Go there." I think it's preposterous to propose that recognizing our Prince Hall counterparts gives some kind of "cover" to racism. As we're seeing in the Confederate Grand Lodges, they don't need any such cover. They're racist, and they're proud of it, and they'll keep being racist. And to even entertain the thought that people of color giving themselves places where they constitute the majority encourages racism just sounds like an excuse for racism. It denies the reality of what it's like to live as a black man in America.

      As to PHA Masons being hostile to mutual recognition, let's not make the mistake of assuming they speak for their entire fraternity. And many of them are scared that recognition will just be the first step toward merger. But most importantly, after centuries of racism and forced segregation you can't just say, "oh, sorry about that...hey, we're cool, right?" If a mainstream Grand Lodge reaches out to its PHA counterpart and is rebuffed, that hand will just have to stay out until it's finally accepted. It's not up to them to take our word for it when we tell them we're sorry about the past, it's up to us to convince them that we're sincere. If they're not convinced, we need to try harder.

    7. Dave, note that I didn't say recognizing PHA gave cover to racism. I said it only perpetuates segregation. It IS an anachronism, and if you look anywhere else in the whole, wide Masonic world, you won't find anything else like it. "First step to merger?" You bet. It needs to be that. Yes it does.

      It'll never happen. But it should. Look at the jurisdictional calisthenics that UGLE had to go through with their statement about PHA in 1994 and tell me that makes sense. (It's as tortured in logic as their statement that the degrees of Masonry consist of ONLY three - including the Royal Arch.)

      We live in a drop-dead, stupid age of speech codes, trigger warnings, and safe-spaces. Segregated college housing is starting to pop up all over the country out of a voluntary desire to separate the races on campus now. Are you alright with that? I was brought up all my life to NOT be alright with that.

      So, social ghettoizing is okay if it's voluntary? Really? What's the deal - once it's been around for two centuries, it's heritage and not discriminatory, as long as it's a one way street? Is the goal of PHA recognition solely to stop the mainstream Masons from calling them clandestine, and nothing else? Is this about terminology, or true brotherhood?

      In joint recognition states, it is almost ALWAYS the PHA GLs that resist or completely prohibit joint visitation, dual memberships, and membership transfers with their mainstream GL counterparts, NOT the other way around. Their leadership fears their own members and potential petitioners who seek out a truly diverse and open Masonic experience. So, do you honestly want the continuation of what we have had for over 200 years - the "white" lodges and the "black" lodges, shunning each other and pretending the guys across the street don't exist, and telling any of "them" who show up they need to be elsewhere?

      In a jurisdiction like the GL of New York, they have lodges that have majority memberships of various ethnic groups - African-Americans, Italians, Germans, Jews, many others (I was raised in a primarily Jewish lodge myself, actually). If PHA and the mainstream GLs merged, their long and noble heritage would not vanish. PHA lodges would still exist as individual entities, each with its own unique identity and atmosphere, just like every other lodge on earth. If their members wished to remain principally black, they could still direct petitioners to lodges that were "a better fit," if that was the desire of the men involved. But even if a historically black PHA lodge were to become 55% white in makeup over time, nothing would change or eliminate its history and heritage. Sure, there would be GL floor fights over lodge numbers (so eliminate them, as in Massachusetts) or ritual differences (so, do as UGLE does and permit multiple ones) or who gets to be GM next year (happens now).

      But ultimately, it would be accomplishing what we promise ourselves to be in the first place and repeat at the end of every single lodge meeting: being on the level.

      No, two "separate but equal" GLs co-existing overwhelmingly along racial lines should have vanished with Jim Crow laws, back door entrances to theatre balconies "for coloreds," and separate water fountains. That happened more than 50 years ago, and it should have remained there. Not here. Not now.

    8. Well I still disagree but I think we've both said all there is to say about it. Good day.

  22. (Sam - email me at hodapp@aol.com and I'll see if I can put you in touch with someone to help you find a lodge you'll be comfortable in. Sorry to post publicly, but there's no other way to contact you.)

  23. I'm saddened by the state of affairs in Arkansas. I'm pissed off about the antics of Georgia and Tennessee. Yet I can do nothing but keep working towards bringing Masonry in my own state to something resembling the 21st century.

    What can anyone or any group do? Nothing. Or at least nothing to be done quickly.

    What is required is a Grand Lodge of the United States of America with the power to make rulings and exact penalties immediately upon erring States.

    But I'm not going to hold my breath!

  24. I agree with the other Arkansas Masons. I am one of them. I see the small groups at lodge talking quietly and being afraid of being overheard. I have a Facebook page dedicated to calling out Grand Line. We require an entire new Grand Line. Let's face the facts. Anyone there is complicit with the actions happening. I've messaged both Bobby Joe Holder and Carl Nelson. I have gotten no response. None. That shows that if you aren't in lock step with what they have to say you are nothing. If you wish to see my Facebook page, just search Arkansas Grand Lodge on Facebook and look for Estelle Getty's picture. I'm tired of the way Grand lodge has made us look like a bunch of racist hicks. Why have we not reconciled with the Shrine? Why have we not recognized PH? Why are we suspending guys who comment here or anywhere else? I have my opinions. You have yours. But I think it comes down to power. That's it. The reasons our Brothers have been suspended(including a few for posting here) is because #1) Billy Joe Holder wouldn't be able to rule by proxy through them as he will through Carl E. Nelson. #2) They would move the state forward by healing rifts in the Shriner situation and by PH recognition. These guys that are there do not want that. That's why. I'm angry. I'm dispirited as well. I've considered quitting. But, I've decided to stay and fight the good fight however I can. Please help me. Please help yourselves. That is what I ask Arkansas.

    1. What is this facebook group? I'd like to join it.

    2. Search For "Arkansas Grand Lodge" on FB and look for The Estelle Getty picture. That's me.

  25. When Oprah Winfrey said that old white people had to die for racism to end a lot of people freaked out, I actually agreed with her, because that is what we are facing in Masonry.

    The “one black cube rejects” policy means you only need one person against an integrated lodge to prevent it from happening. You don’t need a culture of racism, you don’t need men attracted to a white’s only group, you just need one man, it doesn’t matter if he hasn’t been to lodge in 20 years, to show up and cast a vote. It is considered unmasonic conduct, at least in Michigan, to vote someone down because of their race, creed, color or orientation; but one of the examples given in Michigan Masonic Law for unmasonic conduct is “Revealing the color of one's ballot or asking another Brother to do so.” That makes the first unenforceable.

    In my opinion Prince Hall Masonry is both a triumph of Masonry and failure. It is a triumph in that when the American Masons refused to allow Masons of color into their lodge, the Grand Lodge of England acknowledged they were Masons and granted them a charter. It is a failure because they didn’t call those American Lodges to task and remind them of the tenets of Masonry, we’ve been haunted by that for over 200 years.

    There are those who consider Masonry to be a white, conservative Christian strong hold, the only one they can keep that way while the rest of the world moves on. My fear in Arkansas is that they will do whatever it takes to stay in power, their only concern being that there be enough brothers left to lay the acacia on their casket.

  26. Well put. Chris has said that as he travels that he finds a more liberal and open attitude in many places, contradicting my pessimism. One of my replies has been that some people are attracted to the kind of wasp fraternalism in some grand lodges, and that works to make them even more discriminatory. So the demise of present leadership doesnt help, as those who might be liberal dont join and those who are bigoted are attracted. I cant think of another national organization that has affiliates that have such problems with race and gender. Some have autonomous affiliates but they do not tolerate reciprocity unless the affiliate complies with basic principles. I am struck by how situations like West Virginia and New Jersey get shelved in people's consciences in other jurisdictions, along of course with Tennessee and Georgia and Arkansas. It makes the claims about Masonry's contributions to democracy sound hollow,

  27. Someone sent you the Arkansas Digest of Laws and you tried to read it? Good Lord man, you're not supposed to do that! Hold it, display it, thump it on the cover, and it moments of extreme stress you may even wave it aloft, but under no circumstances are you ever to open that document! Just call down to Little Rock and ask what it means, because rarely does it mean what the words appear to say.

    Remember, Billy Joe loves you!

  28. Well, I guess if I am going up there to complain about anything I need to print out my self expulsion forms. I'm sure I can get a speedy trial right there on the spot for my suspension, so I may be able to go green and not have any paperwork what so ever.

    Brother Chris, if you look through those bylaws real well, since 2005 they have been pushing through rules that pretty much let them behave however they wish and do anything for any reason they want. The biggest one states the the MWGM is not bound by any Masonic rule or law. Now, how did we let that through? That's like telling a crook that the laws on theft doesn't apply to him. You are correct, we need to rewrite or just downright repeal so many of our rules it's astounding.
    But, first things first. Get a new Grand Lodge. Vote all of these jokers who have been riding the corrupt merry go round for way too many years.
    This Grand Secretary was MWGM when the Shriners pissing contest happened. How can you heal a lodge and do the right thing and heal rifts when one of the main perpetrators is still in Grand Line.
    Ronny Hedge (our grand treasurer) was the MWGM was the guy who put out we couldn't get the state Masonic license plate because they don't vet us well enough. But if you were behind the scenes, you know the real reason, and you can all guess what that is.
    First things first. You must fix all of that before anything else can be achieved.

  29. Brethren I can understand how you are dismayed. From the list of comments I am of the opinion there are multiple issues. I can only speak for matters that I am personally aware of:
     M.W. Brother Jackson never got in a "pissing contest." I was in the room when he respectfully asked the Imperial Potentate to remove expelled masons from the Shrine rolls, and he agreed only to recant.
     M.W. Brother Hedge made a ruling and the Grand Lodge agreed.
    As Grand Master I had concerns on the manner of how the Shrine conducted itself in South Carolina, and abroad. I voiced my opinion. The Imperial Potentate chose not to follow their law, so I demitted from both Temples. I continue to support the Shrine Hospitals; I just do not support the Temples anymore. I have never been about focusing on numbers. It would be interesting to remove the number of deaths from the equation concerning Arkansas membership and determine if the number aligns with Grand Jurisdictions of a similar nature. Our fraternity has never been about numbers, when we make members, they often become disingenuous and leave resulting in loss of membership, not masons.
    As far as brethren encouraging Grand Lodges to ignore jurisprudence and jurisdictional lines. I am of the opinion this is not the solution either. I continue to pray for the craft in Arkansas. This is the time, now is the place and non-other should satisfy us. While we may disagree on some issues I remain your friend and brother from Inman.
    Jay Adam

  30. Jay Adam, as the comman man Freemason here in Arkansas, let me rebut your statement. I know those in the upper echelons tend to forget that you are more board members than anything. You SHOULD answer to us. But here we go:
    #1) I was a witness to the shrine debacle. You cannot tell me that that couldn't have been healed if there weren't two overly large egos in the same room. While I agreed (to an extent) that the Shrine was wrong, so we're we (to an extent) and neither party cared to admit it.
    #2) Ronnie Hedge's decision being agreed upon by GL carries no weight or water. That doesn't make it a sound nor correct decision. It was THINLY veiled bigotry and greed. And if you played a part in approving that nonsense, you are just as bad. Using that train of thought that he did, you cannot purchase a ring, an auto emblem, a decal, an article of clothing or anything else with the emblems connected to freemasonry unless it be from your lodge or GL where your dues card is checked before purchase. I've NEVER been vetted by any company when purchasing any Masonic regalia or items. All that decision did was take money away from a fine charity and show the pettiness, greed and racism that our Grand Lodge is a hotbed

  31. Sorry, computer hiccups. I'll continue my rebuttal if you don't mind:

    #3) You claim you don't focus on numbers. That alludes to you focusing on the quality of members. That alludes to you saying that the members suspended (the list grows longer everyday) were not quality Brothers. I'll be the first to tell you how wrong you are. You, Sir are attempting to prop up a corrupt regime. I do not agree with your words because Grand Lines actions don't match.
    #4) As the voice of the common man Freemason, I must ask this. How dumb do you think we are? How far did you think you could push us with no reaction? Can you not see that the base of freemasonry has changed and we will not tolerate your perfidy, bigotry, hypocracie, apathy, corruption, snobbery and down right unmasonic conduct ANY LONGER.
    Grand Lodge has bred such a culture of fear with its terroristic actions that many are afraid to do or say anything. Billy Joe Holder has proved AND SAID that he will remove all malcontents. He has openly stated that if you do not agree with him he will suspend you.
    #5) Gand Lodge has had no one directly challenge them from my level as a common Mason and call their actions for exactly what they are. The common Freemason in Arkansas has had no voice. Your comment while meant to sound empathetic actually showed Grand Lodge for what they are. I'll break it down how it comes off to the common man. You basically said, GL is correct, you are just too common and dumb to see it. We are better than you so listen to us.
    That is how that is seen by the common man.
    So, you can send this message back to the den of liers

  32. This is the message to the back with you to GL Jay Adam Pearson:
    The common man, with common sense, with common interest in our state and all of humanity no longer recognize you as our moral compass nor authority. You may win this fight, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory. You will rule over ashes. We(not you) will make Freemasonry in Arkansas great again no matter the cost.(legally that is. I have to add that because BJH is threatened by an older woman posting nooses. I heard him threaten terroristic threats and state police over that one). If you don't mind the numbers of 9 being left, That's ok. You have alienated us, so we will do the same to you. You have taken control away from the local lodges and forced your silly and petty rules down our throats to legitimize the wrongs you do.
    The Common Mason will no longer stand for it. Our Ranks swell everyday with every obtuse action and every apathetic response you come out with.
    Your numbers are dwindling.
    The Common Arkansas Freemason will no longer prop up and support a corrupt regime. You are that regime. Just know that and go ahead and fill out YOUR self expulsion letter as you expect the common man to do when you adjudicate him guilty without hope for defense or even a real trial You take that back to Grand Lodge, Billy Joe Holder and Carl E Nelson and the rest. You are no longer representing true masonry. You represent a perverted and corrupt system we will no longer accept in this state. It is the time of The Common Freemason to make Masonry in this state what it once was and we do not see you in that future. Goodbye.

  33. You should also explain why you were "in the room, Brother.

  34. Transparency is another problem issue. Just cause I said so works no longer.

  35. Also, why don't you explain which rule it was and why their decision was reached? And their thought process? Sounds like maybe there was 2 big egos in that room plus an outsider with a big ego. As I said, corruption supports corruption. Then there is that old saying, Birds of a feather flock together. You might have just said TWEET TWEET, Baby.

  36. Dear Dismayed American (DA)
    I understand you are discouraged, however there is no need to attack someone whom you probably never have met, you do not know me. I am not hiding behind an alias. I appreciate W.B. Chris and his forum, you however are taking it to another level. Simply ask Chris to send you my correspondence to the Shrine (when I served as Grand Master) and you will see I made every effort to keep the Shrine a viable part of my life and sustainable in South Carolina, and Arkansas. Brother DA, you may want to attend a few Fellow Craft degrees and learn how to speak copiously and fluently, because Brother you are all over the map. I will do my best to respond in kind.
     The reason I was in the room was the Imperial Potentate asked me to go to Arkansas and mediate a meeting. I attended on my own volition and expense.
     I cannot speak to another thought process.
     I presented their law and they agreed, on my interpretation.
     Those whom know me have never associated me with having a big ego.
     Birds of a feather do flock together, I know M.W. Brother Billy Joe Holder, M.W. Brother Robert Jackson, and M.W. Brother Ronnie Hedge. They are men of honor and integrity, to be associated with either of them is an honor, thank you.
     I have never met a perfect mason or perfect Grand Master. Get off your pedestal and talk and listen to your Grand Master, and elected line. They joined to serve.
     M.W. Brother Ronnie is not Grand Master. When he left office his decision was approved for his term of office. Stop complaining, draft legislation to raise revenue for a charity, or are you simply a Cowan?
     You forget we are all common masons, we meet on the level and part on the square of virtue, and this causes me to ponder how your feet are situated Brother DA when the lodge is closing? Do you covet the oblong square or are you seeking more light parting upon the square of virtue?
     M.W. Brother Billy Joe is a good mason and one you can talk to.
     I have always focused on quality, remember if the aspirant does not have temperance, fortitude prudence, and justice they do not deserve a petition. Simply because someone ask for a petition does not mandate them receiving one.

  37. Brother DA, I never said “GL is correct, you are just too common and dumb to see it.” You have proven you can type, however I never have heard you audibly. The Grand Master swore to uphold the law you swore to abide by. Do you know one person with a dues card whom you believe should not have been initiated? Masonry is not for everyone. Remember you joined Freemasonry, not the other way around.
    I believe our fraternity is on the cusp of greatness. As I think about our future I have often imagined how Jesus must have felt the first time he beheld Jerusalem, that great city, teeming with more people than the little town of Nazareth. In the gospel of John it says Jesus went from Galilee to Jerusalem three times during his earthly ministry. It is highly likely that he would have been to Jerusalem far more often. Jesus last visit would change the world.
    “And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;
    And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.
    And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves”. Mark 15-17
    I have thought a lot about the actions which caused Jesus to cleanse the Temple, and with ignominy in my heart I admit there were 2 occasions when I served as Grand Master where I wanted to react as Jesus did that day. You are not the first person or mason to attack me, and you certainly won’t be the last. I learned something Brother DA I would like to share with you. In the light of what I experienced, I now understand the Temple represents the minds of the people of Israel, for you see they had permitted their minds to become a “den of thieves,” The money changers had become thieves of prayer. I struggled with verse 16, why would Jesus prevent the carrying of any vessel? The word for vessel referred to an item connected with cooking, or connected with the sale of their articles of merchandise. Therefore, Jesus did not want the Temple to become a thoroughfare by condoning the caring of any vessel that was for common use, or any sort of burden. I believe many of our homes, schools, lodges, and churches have become thoroughfares. Many have allowed an open door policy to ensue. Our homes, schools, lodges, and churches are not for social entertainment, though they are social. Each place is sanctuary and a refuge. We have allowed the Cowan to enter freely through the anti-room in South Carolina and Arkansas. It is easy to sit on the back row and point a finger of discuss. Brother DA, I challenge you to take an active role in our Fraternity, remember moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. Next time you attend lodge it may be time for you to focus on the book in the center of the room.
    In 1934 a poem influenced one of the greatest philosophers I have ever had the pleasure of listening too. When I became a teacher I placed this poem on my desk.
    No written word, no spoken plea
    Can teach our youth what they should be
    Nor all the books on all the shelves
    It’s what the teachers are themselves
    I have been asked several times why I wanted to serve as Grand Master. I have thought a lot about that question. I have determined the answer to why I offered myself to serve as Grand Master mirrors why I am a teacher. For you see, each day when I enter my classroom there is waiting for instruction a mother, father, sister, and brother. Each are builders and though I may never see the house, building, bridge, school, hospital, cathedral or church they may build, I can say “we labored and studied together one day” and that has made all the difference in my life.

    Brother DA in closing I would be remiss if I did not remind you:
     Titles and honors are fleeting, be meek.
     Talent is God-given, be humble.
     Fame is man-given be appreciative.
     Conceit is self-serving, be careful.

    Your friend and brother from Inman

    Jay Adam

  38. And to add Further, Brother. You basically said that what happens in other states is none of the other states business. So, again, why were you in that room? Tell the good Mason's of Arkansas that.

  39. Brother DA
    The good Mason's in Arkansas know why I was in the room they can read my post

    Jay Adam

  40. Brother, your challenge is moot or I wouldn't be here. Well, Brother. If you knew what was truly going on here, you would realize that there have been members suspended AND THEN the rule written to fit the suspension. I like how how you defend the wrongs that have been done. You defend them with empty and meaningless slogans. You are correct. We COULD be great. But behavior such as it is in Little Rock will not get is there. Dirty back room deals and threats of suspension and charters being pulled if votes don't happen the right way or if you disagree. Removing all power from local lodges to the point of not allowing a Brother to demit from your state because he has moved to a state which recognizes PH. Asking your members to carry your bigoted rules to another jurisdiction. Just because some pontificating jerk that was rotated into the east(let us not forget that those who run and lose often find themselves suspended) creates a rule and his corrupt cronies back him to the hilt AND they sneak it through with 400 other items in one push, doesn't make it correct. I guess you would have made a great nazi. They were all just follwing orders. But I can see it from your side. If my good friends were in power and corrupt, I would say anything for them too.
    I'm guessing you are an older gentleman that has yet failed to see that cronie politics in Masonry is coming to an end. You can legislate stupidity. But you can't force me

  41. Darn hiccups again. Jay Adam, I also didn't come here for Bible Lessons. I study the Bible. So let's keep that in its proper place. Masonry is strictly Christian either. So....with that said I'll move on.

  42. And let's talk about big ego. I don't have to have to have a doctorate for my fellow Arkansans to feel what has been happening. Nice dig there though. That was a nice touch. Yep, you did well in the mediating process. Nice touch there too. If you think I'm putting MYSELF on a pedestal you are are severely wrong. I'm not the one who will go so far as to threaten the police over a silly cartoon. I'm not the one who suspends anyone with a dissenting opinion. I understand. And thank you for recommending the degree work to me. You older cats tend to believe flawless regurgitation of ritual a Mason makes. But seeing that you trot out the same dogmatic and tired arguments on how one under his station(you think) should sit down and shut up explains to me and anyone else here in Arkansas what pile you would be in here. I'd doesn't take money or a million dollar education to be a Mason. It does take a little common sense, and the ability to meet on the level. Little Rock has had that missing for quite some time. I make life or death decisions every day, sir. As far as where I am on the map, I am very passionate about Freemasonry and my thought process jumps around at all the wrong that has happened and to have you start talking about how every other jurisdiction should let us handle it. It's absurd and laughable and sends my brain into overload. Old guys like you, who are quite pleased with the state of rot and diseased corruption here either have never experienced it or are living it as one of the corrupted. The status quo of defective decisions and wasted money not to mention the good Brothers that have been suspended in fits of pettiness and visions of grandiose is no longer an option here. So, maybe you should come down out of that ivory tower and live with the serfs a bit. Then we would see how snooty you really were. You would find us nice, but tired of being treated like idiot children. You are correct, we are on the cusp of greatness. It just takes us throwing Grand Lodge out on their butts and placing good honest men in there that will get us back to where we were before we started this chain of corruption. Apparently you know nothing of Arkansas but the corrupt leaders and not the corrupt mess that they have been putting out as their legacy. You can cherry pick all the "wise" things our great and ever loving leaders have given us. I've been in this state quite a long time and am active. If it were just as simple as talking to the nice fellers up there aw shucks, we wouldn't be where we are today. Members leaving AND being expelled in droves. A culture of fear so thick that two Brothers look over their shoulders before making benign comments on why we probably shouldn't have done this or that at the GL level. And, Brother, if you are representative of your leadership I must feel that MANY in your state feel the same. Good day to you, Esteemed Sir.

  43. Brother DA
    I Am 53 I was elected at 43 to our Grand line. You cannot remove the Bible our Great Light from any discussion or teachings of Freemasonry. The Binle is in its proper place. Please understand I am not judging you I don't know everything I do know our Fraternity will survive and if you are a good mason we need you hang in there

    As always your
    Friend and brother from Innan

    Jay Adam.

  44. And if you thought I were all over the map....wow just wow. That's what the numbers were for so you could follow along. I went back and looked at my previous posts now that I am at home. And no, sir. I was not all over the map and no sir, I don't need to go back to the 2nd degree. If you truly cared you would know what I was saying. There is eloquence in the feeling and in the spirit even if you didn't think there were in the words. But, that was a good way of proving my point. I'm just glad that it's not only here in Arkansas that GL folks don't even try to meet on the level. You did your best to be nice at the end there. But, the first shows you for the hypocrite that the everyday Mason will see. The tone read as if you were dirtying your nails by responding to me. By the way, I have taught also. There is no need to be condescending. I've worked with kids, I've worked with adults. I've saved lives and I have not as well. That has never made me feel as if I can condescend to anyone. Just because you have sat in the chairs you have sat in doesn't mean you know or remember the true spirit of Freemasonry. As a leader of men, I have to humble myself on a routine basis and do their work to remember their point of view AND to help me make the correct decisions for not only them, but the Unit as a whole. I apologize that it's been a year since I last picked a volume of Sheakespeare. That could be because my time is limited between serving my lodge, serving my Creator, serving my family, and serving my companies. I think you have been sitting on high and have become disconnected from what has now become mainstream Masonry. So, yet again, good day to you, Sir.

  45. The day will also come, Brother when you will be able to ask all good Brothers around me who know me where my feet are situated. I believe your opinions are highly skewed and biased. I kept my mouth shut out of fear for many years. Apparently you haven't noticed the culture of fear nor witnessed the threats of expulsion or the pulling of charters of a Brother or his Lodge because they had the nerve to disagree openly. And yes, even respectfully. I've witnessed laws and rules written AFTER the fact to justify the punishment of a Brother. I've seen the laws being interpreted one way today and tomorrow the next to fit the current needs of the same GM. If you saw something being abused and rights not being wronged, maybe you could get your dander up as well with our current merry-go-round of corruption. And you can be sure I don't sit and back and point fingers. And yes sir, your post was very judgemental. And yes sir, masonry is NOT Christian. I am. But Masonry is not. Masonry is all inclusive. The great Lights are our rule and guide to life. But We as Masons do not have to believe in a Christian God. While the Bible is MY holy book, it isn't ALL Masons. And for you to keep harping on that shows me that you don't really understand this Great at all and you make my point for me. So, this Hillbilly will now go eat his supper after his long day's toil. Good evening, Sir.

  46. Oh, one more comment. I tried to make an African American in my lodge, Sir. I was told I would be responsible for having my lodges charter pulled by GL bevy do you think that is? Is it because they are so great and would love to hear me speak? No, I didn't think so either. I almost quit that day. But, for the same reason I stay now, I stayed then. I can not help fix it from the outside and I can not stand by and let an evil like bigotry stand. I will not have this state be the last bastion of evil in America.

  47. Brother DA
    The problem is you tried to make. Did you solicite? You should have presented a petition if he had the 4 perfect points of entrance
    You should have learned that in the first degree
    In any event I will move on and allow you to pick up a book and read or color whatever your preference

    Jay Adam

    1. And THAT, my dear, beleaguered Arkansas brethren, is the studied, caring, and erudite response of an "Honorary Past Grand Master" of your Grand Lodge (and a Past Grand Master in his own jurisdiction) to the long list of concerns and troubles you now face.

  48. I must agree to some extent with what the other brother has said MW Peaeson. I don't think you "know" what is happening in Arkansas. You talk to the GM and GL officers and hear their sides, but you don't know the day to day problems. I will do this in small amounts. I have been a mason in Arkansas for over 20 years and I've never seen something so ugly.

    First let's talk about your comment fortitude and temperance. There is a jurisdiction in Arkansas that is afraid to do degrees, in some cases canceled them or held off, because of a certain DDGM. If they do a degree wrong, or make a mistake, they are expelled. If the master saw it had knowledge of the mistake and did not do anything, he is expelled as well. Expulsion for not doing correct floor work in a degree? Lodges scared to the point they are afraid to raise a brother? Where is the temperance there? Where is the instruction to correct? But to throw someone out of masonry for a mistake? How Masonic is that? These are facts brother. I've seen it with my own eyes and it's in the ledgers for all history.

    This is just one if many sad things we face here in Arkansas.

  49. Next there was the comment that you don't hide behind a fake name. We don't have that luxury in Arkansas. Again if any member in Arkansas gets caught posting in a blog like this, we are instantly expelled from the fraternity. Am I breaking my obligation and constitution by doing this as other brothers have? Absolutely. But we feel enough is enough. People need to know what bad deeds our GL is doing. So in absence MW Pearson, if you are an "honorary member" of our state, are you breaking ours laws by posting in this blog? If you were a member of Arkansas you'd be expelled. I know first hand 3 brothers in the last week who have been expelled for merely talking about topics like this. Not saying anything bad about the GM or the GL, just venting. And they are no longer in this great fraternity. For doing the exact thing you are doing. Is that fair? I think not.

  50. Next let's talk numbers I'm not going to get into the age old masonry argument of quantity versus quality, I'll state facts. Less than 20 years ago there were close to 40 thousand members. We are now down to about 8. Is this all old men dying? I think not. In the last 5-7 years we have lost close to a thousand members a year. People are tired of what's happening. People are not excited about joining a fraternity that has more pissed off people than happy. You will never get quality Mason's if there's no happy ones to spread brotherly love when the members are more scared to even go to lodge due to how many people are expelled. It's so bad if you just don't like someone in a lodge, someone will trump up fake charges knowing the brother will be expelled. People are afraid to come to lodge because if they open incorrectly or make a mistake in front of the wrong person, bam. Expelled. This is why numbers are ranking at an alarming rate. Once again. Listen to the membership. Not just the GL people

  51. This comment has been removed by the author.

  52. It looks like I lost a post. Maybe it was too long. In a short version I said the next issue is about being able to travel. Only 7 states do not recognize PH, your state is one of them MW sir. As an Arkansas mason if I travel I must stand up, as if there are any PH Mason's present, and if so I must ask to leave. As a guest in their lodge. My question is what do we do? Go against my GL and my obligation and not do it? Then I'm expelled. Do it and sound like a racist bigot as a guest in someone else's lodge? That shines a light on masonry. Or just never go to another lodge. So if I were a younger member and was serving my country, I could either never go to another lodge or break my obligation. Is this what masonry is about? Is this how you oppsrate?

    Again I say MW Pearson, as an honorary member of Arkansas, do you stand up at any lodge you visit, including grand lodges, and ask are there any PH members present? You've been a honorary member of our grand justisdiction since I believe 2012 or 2013. In the 3-4 years if you've ever sat in a tiled lodge with a PH member, you broke our constitution? Can we have you brought up on charges and have you expelled from our grand jurisdiction? If you were a member in Arkansas and someone brought that to attention you most certainly would.

    I'm not asking these questions or suggesting you should be removed as an honorary member, and I don't say this stuff in anger. In just showing what we deal with in Arkansas and they are legitimate questions. If you did these things you are doing as a member in Arkansas, you would never be allowed to be a full member of our state.

  53. We have all met men whose fathers, grandfathers, uncles, great uncles, were Masons. Ordinarily that would help maintain the lodges as candidates sought to continue the family tradition, just as good colleges have a problem in admitting all the children of alumni because so many want to get in. We have to ask why colleges have that problem but our fraternity doesn't. As long as state jurisdictions like Arkansas are tolerated, we are pulled into guilt by association (no pun intended). To continue the academic parallel, no team that discriminated on race would be allowed in a league, and that has been the case for decades. Until the Washington Memorial, Masonic Service, collateral bodies like the Royal Arch and the other groups which represent theoretically the collective Craft deal with the offending grand lodges, there is a collective stigma which is not washed away by blood drives, helping the little league, or learning clinics. It is an uphill challenge to win the public relations war when a substantial number of the grand lodges contradict what Masonry should be about.

  54. I wish to apologize to Bro.Chris here as I messaged the same on FB messenger. I did get a little worked up. I am very passionate about Masonry. I am passionate about getting us back to being honorable and good again. I did not mean to argue here. There are better venues than this. This should be a place of respect and adult conversation.
    So, to all Brothers from here and elsewhere, and especially to Brother Chris, I am truly sorry and I hope you forgive my passion.

  55. Then the last thing I have is the question that's always asked, well why don't the members change things if they are not happy. Again this is where I want to inform the nation about what happens in Arkansas. As far as I am aware, and I'm sure I may be wrong as there is a possibility there is something small but I assure you not large, into the 13 years I have been attending grand sessions not one resolution from the body has been passed. The GM resolutions yes. They get adopted. But every one that has come up to a vote they find a way to shoot it down. The typical excuse is it is not in proper form and don't make it past law and usage. Or they'll stand there and make us feel like we are dumb and the consequences of our actions. Whatever the excuse, we are never allowed to make changes. They shoot them down. In some cases I have witnessed them say this resolution is not in proper form, redo it and bring it back next year, just to have it shot down the next year. One year the members asked can you help us write it so it's correct and they said absolutely. Members spent the year working with the law and usage committee to get it done correctly just to have them at grand session say oops, we thought we helped you and did everything correct, but someone just brought it to our attention that we are wrong. Please come back next year. So again you can see how we view or system as corrupt and we have no voice. Anyone can view our grand session books and see how every resolution in years has been shot down.

    So I ask again, is this a good thing and a Masonic way of doing work? A small group of people making laws and changing things that suite them and not caring at all about the membership.

  56. I promise you MW Pearson I am not attacking you brother in any way. I am merely trying to get you to see what is truly happening in this state. There's two sides to every story. You are seeing your friends at our GL side, now you're hearing the others. When you visited our GL during the shrine incident, you stood in front of our body and put down personally the potentate of the shrine. By trying to push our agenda, in a lodge you were a guest in, you were trying to sway our vote based on how you felt about the potentate. You cut into his personal character. Talked about money he stole and about the purchase of a motorcycle I believe it was. The bottom line is no matter how you felt of him as a business partner with our two organizations, he is still a brother mason and you put down his personal character and demonized him publicly behind his back to a fellow brother who was not present to defend the accusations you were accusing him of. Is this Masonic behavior? Had you been a member of Arkansas you would be expelled for unmasonic conduct.

    This is the problem sir. This is the question every mason in Arkansas is asking right now. Why are you and our GL officers held to a different standard then we as members are? I've listed 3 things in my rants that I very well could stand up in our next grand session and have your status removed as an honorary member of our justisdiction for breaking our rules. Just you posting here is grounds for expulsion. Will I do that? No. Because I believe suspensions and expulsions should be a last resort, not the first, to resolve our Masonic differences. But just last week several more members were expelled for posting in blogs just like this. Why are we expelled but you and others are not? Why can GL officers expell as they please on false charges and not be held accountable? I have evidence of another brother who was expelled for a crime he showed proof they're was no way he could have committed it. He was not even in the state during the said offense and had proof, but a DDGM said I saw him do this on this date and he was still expelled. I could give this blog instances like this all day long until my fingers bleed. This again is why there is so much distrust in Arkansas and the membership is fed up with it.

  57. Given the enormous mobility of Americans, which always surprises Europeans, it is inevitable that situations like Arkansas - or New Jersey or Georgia and so on - impact other jurisdictions when the refugees show up. Its impossible in 2016 to view any of this as solely internal.

  58. Freemasonry was not meant to exist in a vacuum and no Masons should feel like prisoners in their own Masonic Jurisdictions. That stuff about "travelling to foreign countries to earn a Master's wages" is very real and wonderful. Conspirators (both inside and outside the Craft) beware, the Craft was always meant to help define society, not the other way around. In other words, be your own Man and Mason. Donot let the prevailing IMMORAL attitudes or practices of a community or State define who and what your CHARACTER will be. Together we can change all that, one Mason at a time.

  59. What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men, you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week -- which is the way they want it. Well, they get it. And Billy Joe don't like it anymore than you men.

    Get your mind right, and remember, Billy Joe loves you!


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