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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Grand Lodge of Tennessee Votes for PHA Recognition – Then There Were Six


by Christopher Hodapp

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED 3/25/2021, 10:50 AM: 

Late this afternoon, Facebook lit up with the news that the assembled members of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee have just voted to extend recognition to the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Tennessee at their annual communication in Lebanon, Tennessee.

The MWPHGL of Tennessee already voted at their 2019 annual communication to seek joint recognition with the GL of Tennessee and to accept it should it be offered, with no further vote required. For the purposes of their constitutional requirements, the GL of Tennessee brought the Prince Hall GL's request to the floor two years ago and it had to lay over for a year (which they apparently do with all recognition requests). Because of the COVID shutdowns in 2020, they were unable to adopt final passage of the legislation until this week. 

Upon adoption of the resolution, MW L. Lamont Banks, Grand Master of the MWPHGL of Tennessee, issued an email to his members, saying, "I am happy to report that peace and harmony prevail in the Jurisdiction of Tennessee. We now have mutual recognition!"

With this announcement, the map shrinks to just six remaining states in which joint recognition has not yet been achieved: Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and West Virginia.


Early information is that the two Tennessee grand lodges have adopted joint recognition of each other, but without visitation immediately. Before the high-decibel shouting of "What's the point of that?!" begins, it should be noted that recognition without visitation has been a common preliminary step taken in recent years in other states – it's not unusual. Initial baby steps have been pretty common in states like Texas, Alabama, Florida and elsewhere in the last decade. Essentially, the goal is a transition period during which members in both jurisdictions have time to get used to the idea of sharing Masonic territory in their state, while respecting each other's sovereignty over their own members and lodges.  The transition period is used to formalize visitation rules, examine each others' work, work out questions of honoring transfers or demits, and iron out other details between two grand lodges sharing the same jurisdiction. 

Something most U.S. Masons don't fully comprehend is that, technically, the mainstream GL and the PH GL in any given state both consider each other in the same way they consider a regular but 'foreign' jurisdiction. In the world of Masonic relations and jurisprudence, any visit between Masons in foreign jurisdictions is supposed to go through their respective Grand Secretaries and Grand Masters.

Impatient brethren should bear in mind how long it took just to get to this point in the first place, and simply be supportive and encouraging of their grand officers for the eventual lifting of restrictions. It will come.


Congratulations to brethren from both grand lodges for coming to this decision.

28 comments:

  1. Florida is an asterisk as only Grand Lodge officers can visit a Prince Hall Lodge, not the rank and file.

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  2. They formally asked for recognition without visitation. We voted yesterday to accept their correspondence and recognize them. We would have voted last year, but Covid canceled our GL session last year.

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  3. Amen glad to see the barriers are being chipped away and progress.

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  4. As I understand it, the MWGL of Tennessee took the recognition vote upon receiving a recognition request made by the MWPHGL of Tennessee.

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  5. MWPHGL of TN had officially submitted a request for recognition. GL of TN was supposed to vote on this last year but got pushed because of Covid to this year.

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  6. Such good news from TN. I have a strong feeling MS will be next if the PHA petitions the grand lodge to be recognized. Many of us MS F&AM are hoping for the opportunity to vote on the issue.

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  7. Well, let us be glad for some progress. The remaining grand lodges are really not masons as most of us understand masonry..

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    1. So, a lodge that keeps its jurisdiction with out caving in to pressure from outside sources is not masonic in your eyes? Does caving in and giving up your values and beliefs to remain politically correct make them better in your eyes? What comes next, allowing atheist to join so we dont offend them? Or maybe we should allow felons and drug addicts to join because deep down they are good people who just make poor choices? The list could go on and on. Maybe the reasons for not recognizing prince hall is not as much about race as it is about politics. Maybe the real solution is to bring the prince hall lodges into our grand lodges and do away with prince hall entirely. Only then can we truly be united. We seem to bear the blame, but prince hall wants to be separated more so than we do.

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    2. Anonymous?...of course!

      "[G]iving up your values and beliefs...?" When those "values & beliefs" violate what you say you stand for as a Mason, I'd certainly hope so! Kinda' what you took an oath to do!

      Anyway, spoken like a man who hasn't read the history of why PHA exists to begin with! "Only then (i.e. when Prince Hall 'caves in' to become part of GL) can we truly be united?" That seems an odd suggestion considering what you think of "caving in," but a moot point, regardless, since we unfortunately blew that opportunity 245 years ago...but maybe that wasn't "so much race as it was politics," right?

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  8. Better outrageously late then never I suppose.

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  9. That will good for that state. Good job brothers and Congratulations

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  10. Good job Brothers amity is good for our fraternity as a whole, we are all Brothers Masons...

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  11. The brethren did not get to vote on this matter, the grand master and past grand masters, as well as few past masters pushed this through to bow down with white guilt. Any opinion that didn't come from white guilt was not allowed to be presented. As for it being racist not to accept PHA, that is totally incorrect. TN Masons have no rules against people of color joining our blue lodges, as they meet all of the requirements to be members. The issue was the fact of having 2 grand masters and 2 grand lodges. The issue of race ended years ago, and the separation of the lodges by color has always been a choice made by the applicant and not the lodges.

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    1. Masonic treaties by which multiple grand lodge share a region by agreement are more than 250 years old. GLs of England, Ireland and Scotland have shared jurisdictions the world over ever since the colonial days. If a merger had been proposed in the 1870s, it might have succeeded. But to totally develop along separate paths for 150+ years and suddenly be told to merge or go on ignoring each other and denying each other's existence, no one would agree to give up their history and heritage. That's not reasonable to anyone.

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  12. Hodapp, your paragraph two above is totally false. Get your facts straight. Better still keep your nose out of Tennessee's masonic business.

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    1. If it's 'totally false,' you're certainly entitled to enlighten me and everyone else. Explain where I'm incorrect privately or publicly. But that kind of drive-by 'you're wrong and shut up' comment is worthless.

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  13. The previous commenters I believe are asking the wrong question, respectfully. Recognizing PHA or not should be based only on if they follow the same rules as Regular Grand Lodges or close enough. I don’t know about other grand lodges but In TEXAS it is an expellable offense to be associated with the communist party or adhere to it’s principles. Approximately 33% of all PHA famous politicians and civic leaders could be expelled under Texas Masonic law. PHA proudly honors members that are openly pro-communist. Our two principle tenets are a belief in a Supreme Being and freedom is a God given right. Communism directly opposes both. A resolution was submitted to GLoT to not recognize PHA based on the above reasons. The GLoT would not allow it to be voted on.
    Ask yourself why you joined or why you want to join. Do you want to have a binding oath with members in an organization that honors communist exactly what we don’t stand for. If the Grand lodge over your jurisdiction does not have an expellable offense for being a communist maybe it should. If it does make a resolution to not have a binding oath with communist.

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    1. Your jurisprudence committee threw out this resolution (and several others from the same lodge in 2019) for the simple reason that they were un-enforceable, and violated the Masonic sovereignty of literally every other grand lodge on the face of the earth that doesn't conform to your EXTREMELY narrow interpretations.

      To wit: Article 508 No. 6 and Question 15 on your petition for degrees asks the question, "Do you believe in the Constitution of the United States?" I have no clue as to whether ANY other U.S. grand lodge asks such a question of petitioners (none others I know of). But this question was the basis of the proposed Texas resolution in 2019 that went on to assert with twisted logic that:

      1. Loyalty to the U.S. Constitution is incompatible with Communism.
      While communism is indeed incompatible with capitalism, it certainly isn't incompatible with the Constitution itself. Attempting to drag a candidate's political opinions through the investigation process would result in a lodge meeting turning into a massive political argument, which is SPECIFICALLY a violation of your GL laws.

      2. Anyone who claims to be a socialist would be immediately blackballed because socialism is but a hop, skip and jump to Communism.

      That's the interpretation of some people, but certainly not all, by any means. In any case, reasons for dismissing this aspect of the resolution's justification are identical with point 1. It turns the lodge into a political donnybrook which violates existing Texas Masonic law.

      3. Some 33% of 'famous' Prince Hall Masons are Communists, and even more are socialists (and a list of some of these figures was included). Therefore, any PHA GL that admitted these (alleged) Communists as Masons are in violation of Texas Masonic law.

      Well, you certainly found a novel way to try to buck PH recognition. Nearly everyone on your list would absolutely deny that they are Communists, but more to the point, political beliefs - like religious beliefs - are considered to be a Mason's private affair. In any case, you're attempting to engage in a witch hunt and are perfectly ready to subject them to ritual drownings merely by your allegations and interpretations. None of that is a bit important anyway, because Texas Masonic law (and opinions stemming from it) are in no way binding to any other grand lodge. Again, your jurisprudence committee was correct in laughing these resolutions right into the trash.

      4. Not one of the politicians honored by PHA GLs has an A or B rating from the NRA, ergo, they do not support the U.S. Constitution.

      Are you guys high down there? Quit drinking unfiltered water out of the Rio Grande.

      By the breathtaking illogic of the proposed resolutions you're alluding to, the GL of Texas was supposed to immediately yank all recognition of not just the MWPHGL of Texas, but of grand lodges throughout much of Europe, the former Soviet bloc, South and Central America because they ALL have members in the very REAL Communist parties in other nations, which are in no way illegal in those countries. In fact, they have long held elected or appointed governing positions in scores of countries around the globe.

      Ultimately, what Texas does is its own affair, but has zero bearing on the rest of the Masons in the country and the world. Mainstream GL/PHA joint recognition has been adopted by all but five states, and this topic has been flogged to death since the 1850s. Should all jurisdictions have merged instead of coexisting by treaty? Absolutely. Should have been done post-Civil War, and if it had happened then, none of this would be an issue today. But after 250 years of parallel development and denial of co-existence, there's no sense arguing about the air when that's what we all have to breathe.

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    2. The Rio Grande water is just fine, at least until it hits the state line. I think it's the methane and benzenes from the oil fields and refineries. It's absurd that they want to take an international fraternity that is open to all, regardless of race or religion or political views, and turn it into an organization that meets the purity tests of one particular branch of one particular political party. But then again, it is Texas, and there are always a few loudmouths trying to ruin good things over there. So it shouldn't be surprising that a few loudmouths are getting their Lodge meetings and John Birch meetings confused.

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  14. Not one of the politicians honored by PHA GLs has an A or B rating from the NRA, ergo, they do not support the U.S. Constitution.

    It's hard to know where to even begin with this.

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  15. South Carolina Masons aren't in favor of granting recognition to PH. It is totally clear that there is a deep rooted racism against whites and other races that exist within the MWPHGLSC and it's GM preaches division and Power! We want no part of their crap.

    We already have men of color in our ranks. To want to maintain our sovereignty is not racist in any means. South Carolina Masons are the only masonic order in the United States that operate under A.F.M. (ancient free masons) rituals. We are not going to allow the infiltration of irregulars that could possibly challenge our sovereignty and our rituals.

    You need to research and learn the truth why they aren't considered "regular". Again it's my opinion they are a bunch of racist that don't want harmony, they want Power. Go look at the SC Prince Hall GM's address to craft. Here's there link to their website: https://www.mwphglsc.net/.

    Educate yourself with truth, seek it daily and become enlightened. Seek and you will find, Ask and it shall be given, Knock and it shall be opened.

    Most Glorious Lord God, the great architect of the universe, the giver of all good gifts and graces. Thou hast promised that where two or three are gathered in thou name, you will be in the midst of them and bless them......we ask this of you daily!!! So Mote it Be, Amen

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  16. Brother Hodapp,
    I have several questions for you.

    Do you think GLoT is being racist by having a law to expel any member that is associated with the communist party?

    Also do you think it is racist to ask a question on a petition if you believe in the U.S. Constitution?

    Also do support other Grand Lodges presenting resolutions to NOT recognize the Grand Lodge of Texas based on the above two reason.

    Also on your comment number 4. “Not one of the politicians honored by PHA GL’s has an A or B rating from the NRA” You made the statement as if you saw the PHA resolution. The lodge you are talking about, wanted to recruit co-sponsors for four resolutions. Our lodge received a copy. I saw the resolutions. That was not on any of the resolutions. I have no idea what you are talking about. Could you please explain.

    All four resolutions were based on facts and how they related to our masonic laws, the petition we sign and our obligation. There was not word about race or implied. All four resolutions were very well written. I could not find one thing that was in error. I was only trying to contribute facts, more than likely, Masons around the United States had not thought about.

    I was told when I joined your opinion would be respected and defaming Texas masons especially when you disagree with them is un-masonic. You can disagree with another Brother’s point he is making, but insulting him! Getting emotional leads to decisions based solely on emotion. How you write reflects on Masons and Masonry in general.

    I am sorry if our principle tenants, our Masonic laws, our petition questions, and our obligation offends you. My question to you is, quite honestly, why are you a Mason?

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    1. Jack,

      Do you think GLoT is being racist by having a law to expel any member that is associated with the communist party?

      No, not at all. And I do know that several states have similar wording in their codes that cite communism and fascism as being incompatible with Masonic tenets, or something similar.

      Also do you think it is racist to ask a question on a petition if you believe in the U.S. Constitution?

      No, of course not. I'm not suggesting any racism in any of these references.

      Also do (sic) support other Grand Lodges presenting resolutions to NOT recognize the Grand Lodge of Texas based on the above two reason.

      Of course not, and I would never suggest anything of the kind.

      Also on your comment number 4. “Not one of the politicians honored by PHA GL’s has an A or B rating from the NRA” You made the statement as if you saw the PHA resolution. The lodge you are talking about, wanted to recruit co-sponsors for four resolutions. Our lodge received a copy. I saw the resolutions. That was not on any of the resolutions. I have no idea what you are talking about. Could you please explain.

      I have copies of the supporting material that was circulated around Texas hunting co-sponsors, and that phrase is quoted verbatim from that material. I couldn't possibly make up anything so absurd out of thin air. The material absolutely included a list of specific black senators, congressmen and civil rights figures who had been honored or made members by Prince Hall grand lodges around the country, and all were described collectively as "Communists." And the NRA reference was most definitely included. You're welcome to send me your email address and I'll forward it on to you.

      Honestly, I never put up a story about these proposed resolutions when they were being circulated in Texas because I knew the Internet would blow up with outbursts and insults and pitched battles from critics everywhere.

      As for your final paragraph, of course I'm not offended by your state's Masonic obligation, petition questions, or anything else. I will say I had long conversations with my own late brother-in-law when he was preparing to petition a Texas lodge several years ago. He was a deeply learned and philosophical man, and he did not treat the answers he gave lightly. But he felt I had misled him specifically because of the Constitution and Holy Scriptures questions. He demanded to know why I had told him that Masonry was apolitical and non-denominational, yet the questions seemed to him to be something quite opposite. "You said there was no discussion of politics or religion, yet here are both on this petition," he said. And we phoned each other for several days as he thought it through. So I am perhaps over-sensitive to them because they caused several days of disagreement within my own family.

      Why am I a Mason? I'm not offended by your petition or obligation, but I am offended by the tenor of your question. I am a Mason quite literally BECAUSE of a group of Texas Masons and their example. And what I post here is always tested by the admonition, "To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care." I get no pleasure posting negative stories, and far prefer positive ones. But I also get no pleasure seeing men who lose track of what this fraternity has always been meant to be: a sanctuary for men of all faiths, financial or social status, and other such classifications to come together to seek a bit of respite from the outside world, united by the commonality of Freemasonry everywhere on the globe. Not separated by the petty differences of the profane world.

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  17. https://4daa4d86-63d7-40fb-999f-8a5cfb42d7cc.filesusr.com/ugd/ea68f0_4adedd4e4d8f41fbb79548a1a108c464.pdf

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  18. When does a treaty becomes null and void?

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