"During the Committee on Foreign Relations report, it was recommended that fraternal relations be suspended or withdrawn from two Grand Jurisdictions.
"With no discussion, the Craft of Kansas voted almost unanimously to suspended recognition with the Grand Lodge of Cuba.
After minimal discussion, the Craft of Kansas voted overwhelmingly to withdraw recognition of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas."Without further details, I presume the action taken over Cuba stems from ongoing disagreements over Florida. In February 2017, the Grand Lodge of Florida F&AM's Grand Master Stanley Hudson withdrew recognition from the Gran Logia de Cuba for their failure to "renounce the clandestine lodges operating" in Florida's jurisdiction. Their brief period of recognition by Florida had lasted just three months.
That controversy stems from lodges operated within Florida made up of exiled Cuban Masons who are not affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Florida F&AM. They obviously see this as an invasion of their territory by Cuba, and this discussion apparently has gone on for a while. Florida largely looked the other way at the operation of the exile lodges with an understanding that they would cease once relations between the island nation and the US were normalized and the two Grand Lodges reconciled. That apparently did not happen, at least as quickly as the GL of Florida wanted it to. Here is a link to a letter regarding the matter from 2014 and to the story from February 2017. Now it seems that Kansas has decided to weigh in on the matter, as well.
As to the continuing saga with the Grand Lodge of Arkansas F&AM, it is too complex to explain simply here. The Grand Lodge of Oklahoma VERY briefly withdrew recognition of Arkansas in 2016 by an edict of their then-grand master, but that quickly lapsed and amity was restored. Now, Kansas has suspended recognition officially by the vote of the Grand Lodge.
I did not have the opportunity to speak with Arkansas' newly elected (in February) Grand Master Brad Phillips when he was in Indiana for the Conference of Grand Masters, but things have been remarkably quiet out of Little Rock in recent months. Nevertheless, this action just taken in Topeka seems to confirm that Arkansas continues its policies of preventing their own members from receiving letters of good standing when attempting to demit and affiliate in adjoining states. Arkansas has been chaining the exit doors closed for several years now. But recently, Arkansas lodges have also been pointedly refusing to permit sojourning Kansas Masons from visiting meetings. The Grand Lodge of Arkansas has a past history of denying Masonic visitations from jurisdictions that have recognized their Prince Hall counterparts, and both Oklahoma and Kansas have been on the receiving end of this action. Apparently, Kansas has finally had enough of it.
Pertinent updates and links to past stories concerning Arkansas can be traced starting HERE or HERE.
Meanwhile, here's a curious oddity on the GL of Arkansas website. Many grand lodge sites have a FAQ section to answer the most commonly asked questions. usually, they are questions that the public would be likely to want an answer to.
Not so with Arkansas. Their FAQ page has just six questions (and answers) on it.
One of the six concerns the differences between withdrawing and demitting (or dimitting) from the GL of Arkansas. The other explains the difference between someone who lives in Arkansas who is willingly not a member of their grand lodge, versus a Mason who unwillingly is not a member.
I couldn't make this up:
They might consider addressing why those two questions in particular deserve such a prominent public answer, and why so many Arkansas Masons have been asking...
UPDATE APRIL 16, 2018:
During the Kansas 162nd Annual Communication held March 16, 2018, their Grand Lodge withdrew recognition of the Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. of Arkansas, stating "that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas has knowing and willingly abandoned two of the basic principal landmarks of freemasonry, that of the Right to Trial, and the Right of Appeal."
In their subsequent letter this week of April 13, 2018 announcing their decision to all jurisdictions who are in amity with the M W Grand Lodge of A.F. & A.M. of Kansas, they further stated:
"The Grand Lodge of Kansas feels strongly that the jurisdiction of Arkansas has abandoned at least two of the core principals of Freemasonry, and continues to this day to tyrannize and oppress their members. We can no longer sit idly by while good Brothers are treated this way. The vote of the Craft in Kansas, and this action, is made, first and foremost, to secure the rights and membership of Kansas Masons living in Arkansas and Kansas Masons with dual membership with Arkansas."