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


Monday, July 26, 2021

Grand Master of Florida Condemns Cuban Human Rights Violations

by Christopher Hodapp

On July 19th, MW Jeffrey S. Foster, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Florida F&AM, issued a letter condemning human rights violations in Cuba, and encouraging all other grand lodges to do the same. (Click the image below to enlarge.)

This comes in the wake of two weeks of anti-government demonstrations against Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel and crackdowns by authorities.

The Grand Lodge of Florida is in amity with the Gran Logia de Cuba.

Monday, July 19, 2021

North Carolina Masonic Foundation Seeks New Development Officer

by Christopher Hodapp

The North Carolina Masonic Foundation is hiring a new chief development officer. Established in 1929, the Foundation helps fund operations at the Grand lodge of North Carolina's Masonic Home for Children at Oxford, and WhiteStone, a Masonic and Eastern Star retirement community in Greensboro. The NCMF also financially assists the Charles Edward Cathey Scholarship Fund, the Masonic Historic Preservation Fund, numerous lodge-sponsored scholarship funds, and more.

The Foundation is a 501c3, non-profit corporation and all contributions to it are tax deductible.

According to the listing:
[T]he Chief Development Officer will develop and implement a philanthropic vision with charity partners and key stakeholders that will sustain and expand the Foundation’s annual revenue of $400,000 and $87M endowment to fulfill the charitable interests of Masons across North Carolina. The Officer will build a comprehensive development program with key metrics designed to identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward donors and lead a team of three to actualize that plan.
Based in Raleigh, the job will require relocation to North Carolina (unless, of course, you already live there).

(H/T Carl Davis)

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Arson Fire in Hempstead, New York Damages Prince Hall Lodge

by Christopher Hodapp

Nassau County police in Hempstead, New York are seeking information about a “person of interest” after an arson fire at the local Prince Hall Masonic hall on July 15th. The fire was set at the front door of Hempstead's Doric Lodge 53, causing an unspecified amount of damage.

According to a story on Patch.com, police say the call for the fire came in at 4:10 a.m. at 95 Westbury Blvd. in Hempstead. The local fire department responded quickly to the scene and got the blaze under control. One person was inside of the building when the fire broke out, but he escaped without injury.

Nassau County Fire Marshal, Arson Bomb Squad and Crime Scene Squad are currently investigating. They say a person of interest was seen in the vicinity of the lodge at the time of the fire, and they released this surveillance photo later that day

Authorities are asking anyone with information about this arson to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS, or call 911. All callers will remain anonymous.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Grand Lodge of Cuba Issues Statement on Protests

by Christopher Hodapp

(This story has been updated 7/25/2021)

Anti-government demonstrations have rocked Cuba all week as that nation's economy continues to collapse. Thousands of Cubans have filled the streets protesting the nation's Communist leadership over the economy, food and medicine shortages, price hikes, and the government's handling of the pandemic. 

Protests began on Sunday in the city of San Antonio de los Baños, southwest of Havana, but have quickly spread across the country. Observers say these are Cuba's worst anti-government demonstrations in decades. That's considered significant because critics against the government in Cuba usually face harsh punishment. 

On Wednesday, MW Ernesto Zamura Fernandez, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Cuba (Gran Logio de Cuba de Antiguos Libres y Aceptados Masones), issued a statement to his members concerning the civil unrest in that country. (Click the image to enlarge.) The Brother who forwarded it to me included this translation:

Declaration of the Grand Lodge of Cuba of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons 
Because of the situation in the country, we have advocated among the masons that fanaticism not prevail, that not enmity nor hate nor violence prevail among Cubans, that rights be defended firmly and in the correct manner and that they always be on the side of justice; all with the objective of preserving peace. Similarly, we have urged the Government that dialogue and tolerance are the paths to resolving any differences and to respect the rights of citizens. 
Today we watch with sadness that something that could be seen coming due to discontent and grievances among the population has materialized in protests around the country. It is not strange that the authorities and security forces would try to dissolve and contain them. But it is also the case that the excessive use of force by those empowered to keep order is concerning. Based on the facts from Masons throughout the country, we consider that [the use of excessive force] only tend to exacerbate passions more and in the long term harm the peace of the nation.  
The call for confrontations between Cubans is unacceptable. These errors should not be normalized because once implanted they end in discrimination, injustice and separation. They have taught us over three centuries that Cuba is made by all, belongs to all, and for the good of all. 
A day such as today, the 14th of July [anniversary of the Cuban revolution/coup] thrust our society devoted to Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and we remember the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Man that makes clear that all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights; it proclaims that all are equal before the Law and have, without distinction, rights to equal protection under the Lay against all discrimination; and affirms that everyone has right with perfect equality to be heard publicly. 
The Grand Lodge of Cuba and the Masons, whatever their conviction, are on the side of the Cuban people and advocate for peace, concord and social justice. We urge tolerance, the search for truth and fraternal love be the modes that prevail in all circumstances.

UPDATED JULY 25, 2021:

The Supreme Commander of the Scottish Rite in Cuba, Illus. José Ramon Viñas Alonso, issued his own letter to President Miguel Diaz-Canel, accusing the government of constantly blaming the country’s problems on the U.S. trade embargo rather than recognizing his own responsibility (click image below to enlarge). 

The following is an imperfect machine translation of his letter. I do not speak or write Spanish and I do not wish to misrepresent his precise wording. If anyone can provide a more correct translation, please forward it to me at hodapp@aol.com:
We are writing to you with the purpose of letting you know our rejection of your position and direction [as the head] of the country, for summoning, inciting and ordering a confrontation with violence towards the Cuban people, also arrests and violence against peaceful protesters and citizens who think contrary to the system that you represent. At the same time, we declare our disagreement to always justifying the crisis in which the country is plunged due to external reasons ([the U.S.] Blockade), without recognizing the responsibility and ineffectiveness of [your own] government.
88 years ago during the government of General Gerardo Machado Morales, this same Supreme Council wrote to the president [condemming] the violence against his people. [As their] worthy heirs today we do the same. This social outbreak throughout the island shows the manifest dissatisfaction in which the country lives. [T]he members of the Supreme 33rd Degree Council for the Republic of Cuba, being part of the Institution that in that time most influenced the independence and society of this country, we have the prestige and history as guarantors and thus assume our position on the side of the people from Cuba, without considering in these [words] any disrespect for [your] high investiture as president of the country, but as a sincere and necessary position.
Illus. Alonso later posted on his Facebook page that he had been summoned to a police station where three officials questioned him over the letter. In a show of the growing sense of defiance in Cuban society, he suggested that the officers should instead visit the Masons where they could all speak on an equal footing. “As I left, there was a cluster of brothers waiting for me, defying the curfew about to start – Masonic pride… thank you, thank you!”