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

Friday, March 16, 2018

GL of Kansas Suspends Recognition of Arkansas and Cuba

The following message just came early this afternoon from the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Kansas AF&AM meeting today in Topeka:
"During the Committee on Foreign Relations report, it was recommended that fraternal relations be suspended or withdrawn from two Grand Jurisdictions.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...


20 comments:

  1. Oh this is going to be fun to follow.

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  2. The thorny problems created by the current recognition system just begin with a single grand lodge. Some of us belong to jurisdictions which do not recognize each other and hence arguably cannot sit with ourselves. Others belong to both foreign and American jurisdictions which do not recognize each other. Even more complicated is reconciling membership in international or national rather than state bodies, whose bylaws repeat the frequent blue lodge language that one should not sit with those belong to irregular or unrecognized bodies. For example,when that is in the canon of a capitular or cryptic body,the situation of a California mason, possibly one of the thousands in the Southern California research lodge when invited to sit in a York body in Georgia, given the ban on Georgia grand lodge and the fact that their York bodies are part of the same international body? The situation is so complex that even explaining the problems becomes arcane.

    No resolution of this is in prospect and it becomes more complex by the year. And i am afraid it is compounded by those of us think there are moral and ethic issues involved viz race and gender.

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    1. Years ago, with the shrine v Arkansas issue, so many GL officials and older brothers pooh pooh'd the situation - there's nothing we can do, suspended in one is suspended in all ...

      Where that is actual GL constitutional law, I got it, nothing can be done but amend the law, eventually.

      Where it's customary?

      It's one more item that will bite us in the ass in the public perception arena.

      Say that a brother has plural membership in Georgia and another jurisdiction.

      He's a Shriner, too.

      And he's kicked out of Georgia because he's gay.

      But, he still has membership in his other GL (unless they pull the suspended in one is suspended in all), so his Shrine doesn't boot him.

      So called sovereign GLs which allow custom to make them accomplices to bigotry will fair no better than those actively involved in it.

      This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it

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  3. That took a while, but it won't be as quickly or easily undone as Oklahoma. Now let's see how many other states follow suit, and how quickly the dominoes topple.

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  4. They seem to behave as if they were French or something. Jeeez.

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  5. The Shrine is one of the few, if not only, 100% American born non-Masonic organizations that have a direct historical and legitimate philosophical claim upon the Craft. It would be a great loss to the American Craft and the Shrine if the Shrine was ever officially forced out of the "family of Freemasonry".

    The Grand jurisdiction of Florida did the right thing. Any Master Masons from overseas or even from another State, who are residing in or visiting the Sovereign territory of another Masonic jurisdiction in his capacity as a Mason should abide by the rules and regulations of the Sovereign jurisdiction regarding regularity or be granted an official exception or exemption by it.

    Some of the problems in Arkansas may be the result of how difficult it is for some Masonic leaders and brethren to keep their political views and religious beliefs out of Lodge. Some of them seem to be trying to change the Craft instead of allowing the Craft to change them.

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    1. I would happily see the Shrine be its own independent organization and separate from Freemasonry. Whereby it can recruit more men directly from the general population. Too often men join Freemasonry just to get into the Shrine and have little interest in pursuit of Light.

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    2. I quite agree. A brother of my second Lodge flat out stated he was "A Shriner first and a Mason second".

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  6. Brother Johnson, consider that the longstanding Masonic commitment to a visionary future embraces an America where we strengthen and grow our commitment to a diverse society free of the prejudices of race and gender. Asking us to accept a jurisdiction's prejudices asks us to accept views which the very first minutes of the first degree reject. In instances some of the Masonry as practiced at times by the grand lodges in Florida and Arkansas seems a case in point.

    As for the Shrine, might it be lost to Masonry because its great charities that are supported by the general public become viewed as incompatible with the perception of Masonic conduct in some jurisdictions. Gifts are not solicited with restrictions on the givers based on race or gender. Nor of course are the children helped with any such restrictions.

    I do not accept a jurisdiction's restrictions based on race or gender,nor of it having a right to impose that view of Masonry because of an interpretation of geography.

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  7. I was initiated into a Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Freeport Bahamas in 1979 where I was happily active until I returned to the UK in 1987. When the UGLE eventually recognised the PHGL of the Bahamas in 2003, I affiliated to a couple of local Lodges as a Joining Member, where I attained the CKS in both. I had the great and humbling honour of being elected a "Life Member" of my Mother Lodge in 2004.

    Now comes the conundrum:
    As a UGLE Mason I am welcome in the Union Grand Lodge of Florida,PHA.
    As a Prince Hall Mason I cannot sit in a Mainstream Grand Lodge in Florida, Arkansas and other Regular Lodges in the Southern USA under UGLE Constitution rules.
    As a UGLE Mason I am welcome in the Mainstream Grand Lodge of Florida.
    But - as a Prince Hall Mason, I cannot visit a Mainstream Lodge in Florida, and so on......
    UGLE recognises the Grand Lodge of Cuba.
    UGLE is not in amity with the Union Grand Lodge of Florida PHA.
    And so on.....

    What a stupid situation we have where Brethren who are supposed to be in a universal brotherhood, and tell each other "behold how good and pleasurable it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity" cannot speak to each other and sit in Lodge together as Masons!

    A good friend and Brother, who also happens to be a major Masonic historian, and a full member of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 (EC), the Premier Lodge of Masonic Research has commented by saying "The situation in the USA will only be solved coffin by coffin!".

    I fear that he is essentially correct.



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  8. The issue with Cuba is also one of denying admission to recognizes Masons from the Grand Lodge of Kansas who had been invited by the Grand Master of Cuba. When the sojourners arrived, they were denied admission to the local lodge, even though they were guests of the GM.

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  9. A brother from Tennessee who now works in Illinois recently visited my lodge, which he is likely to visit again. My Lodge and the Grand Lodge of which it is a part have many members of dark skin color. As a member of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee he is permitted to sit in Lodge with darker skin brethren who are members of mainstream Grand Lodges, but not Prince Hall Grand Lodges. I told him that I would let him know if any other visitors were Prince Hall.

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  10. Apparently some Shrine jurisdictions now initiate without requiring membership in a blue lodge. What then would be the status of such a Shriner if he moved to a state where blue lodge was a requirement.Is he able to simply affiliate? If he became a Shriner in a state where Prince Hall initiation is acceptable for membership and then moved to a state where it was not,does he retain Shrine membership? Does anyone know if someone becomes a Templar in a state that accepts non Trinitarians, how does that effect membership when he moves to another state that will not accept Arians or Socinians?

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  11. I have not seen it reported anywhere, but GL of Texas has also suspended recognition of GL de Cuba for like reasons. In brighter news, we Texas AF&AMasons now enjoy full intervisitation with MWPHGL of Texas lodges. Both of these changes are effective as of the Texas grand communication in January.

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  12. Arkansas Grand Lodge is trash and has been for a couple of decades now and no G.M. has the balls to clean it up. I mean one GM was so corrupt and got caught with a law suit and resigned, a few years later the Grand Lodge gives him a Past G.M. status. The man self resigned and didn't complete his term. The Bylaws are so screwed up it's impossible to impeach a G.M. There G.L. Trial Commission has a 100% conviction rate and needs to be abolished, that ought to tell you something. They even got caught speeding monies from there perpetual membership fund in witch the ByLaws clearly state "monies Can Not be spent", a half a million $$$ gone down the tube on a bad belly up residential investment group out of New York. They even tried to sue to get the monies back but the case was dismissed by a federal judge. It's nothing but a power trip for them. There constantly pulling favors for the men in there click and tossing good men out quit often. I mean I think it's so bad I don't think it can be fixed. It's sad and gone to Hell in Arkansas. Coudo's for Kansas and I hope more states follow suit.

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  13. It is truly sad that Freemasonry in the USA is still recognized by UGLE, the GL of Scotland and the GL of Ireland. It will lead to the end of all freemasonry eventually.

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  14. Does the Grand Lodge of Cuba require a belief in a supreme being? I assume they must if they are recognized by the UGLE, but the UGLE also recongizes other Grand Lodges that might be considered irregular by some other jurisdictions.

    I am not a Mason, just an observer, but my father is affiliated and if he thinks the order is good it must be.

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