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


Friday, September 03, 2021

It Goes On: Knights Templar GM Johnson Issues Decisions Against Great Priory CBCS

by Christopher Hodapp

It seems that the troublesome Grand Encampment/CBCS/Great Priory of America issue continues to rise up like the ghostly mists and miasmas that drift over once-bloody ancient battlefields, awakening the souls of the long-dead from their brief slumber 'neath the silent clods of the valley to forever walk the Earth in search of peace.

Or something like that.

At the Triennial of the Knights Templar Grand Encampment of the US last week, the assembled members of the Grand Encampment overwhelmingly voted to nullify former edicts and decisions from the last decade that had forbidden Templar members from belonging to the Great Priory of America (GPA) of the Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte (CBCS), and expelled existing members of the GPA from its ranks. The resolution to bury the hatchet passed last week with more than 75% in favor. They also voted against a totally separate resolution (again with more than 75%) that attempted to declare the GPA clandestine.

(Forgive the imprecise wording here – I'm trying to summarize for the sake of brevity. You can see the actual resolutions HERE at this post from August 24th.)

With a super-majority voting in favor of putting this issue to rest, it would appear that the rank and file Knights are in favor of moving on. But it seems that GEKT/GPA feud hasn't ended after all. 

Or as said Stephen Boyd said to Charleton Heston after getting scuffed up in the chariot race in Ben Hur"It goes on!"

After little over a week in office, Grand Master Michael B. Johnson of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the US issued four official decisions (see image below) regarding the actions of the GEKT's Jurisprudence Committee, actions of the immediate Past Grand Master, and the CBCS Great Priory of America during the Triennial. Further, the final notice in his letter declares that, regardless of the vote taken at the Triennial, the GEKT still officially finds the GPA to be an "unrecognized Templar Order operating within the United States of America, in direct conflict with Section 3 of the Constitution of the Grand Encampment" and that membership in the GPA remains incompatible with membership in the GEKT (to enlarge, click images below):

Templars, interested bystanders, and train wreck enthusiasts who have been around for ten or fifteen years want to make this struggle about clashing egos and personalities, and there's no denying that has played a part. But there's a lot more to it besides "Let me in to your snooty club or I'll burn down your tree fort." 

The GEKT says the GPA is a competing Templar Order, based on the Latin wording identifying themselves that's found on their originating charter, and GPA says it isn't anything of the kind. Legal arguments center around the minutiae of each organizations' constitutional laws and regulations, and whether the GEKT has any right to claim what they've claimed and do what they've done over the last decade. 

Esotericists decry the GPA for holding the CBCS Rectified Rite degree system hostage in the U.S., suitable only for a little clot of Extra Special Masons. Indeed, the GPA declares on its website that the CBCS is "the summit of Christian Knighthood and is the only comparable Order in this country approaching civil knighthood in Europe. It is guarded carefully and only conferred infrequently upon those who are deemed worthy." 
The GPA is constitutionally restricted to no more than 100 members nationwide, and for much of their 78 year history, it's been less than 48. In fact, the GPA has protested when American Masons have traveled to foreign countries to receive the Rectified Right degrees in another priory, claiming this infringes on their territorial rights over the whole of the United States and, presumably, all of its Masonic citizens, even though the GPA  likely would never have invited those traveling Masons to join them. And they have long fought against the formation of additional U.S. priories.

Meanwhile, rank and file Masons want to know "This affects me...how?" Truth is, it doesn't. 

While the conflict appears close up to resemble a pair of bellowing mastodons having a go at each other over who owns the watering hole, in reality it is a distraction that continues to turn off potential Templar members who want nothing to do with what appears to them to be a pissing match between big-shots. Or as one former Sir Knight said to me years ago shortly before demitting, "The only reason the Templars wear swords as part of their uniforms is so their officers can stab each other in the back."

Not everybody has been following this epic saga for the last eleven years. Right Worshipful Brother Oscar Alleyne gave an online presentation ("What's the Beef?") earlier this week on a Refracted Light podcast about the origin of the CBCS and Great Priory of America, and the ongoing discord with the Grant Encampment. 

Oscar is a talented researcher and a careful presenter – his talk does not take sides, and he doesn't assign blame or virtue to anyone in this conflict personally. If you are interested in the history of the Rectified Rite, the CBCS, the GPA and the Grand Encampment's ongoing battle, give it a listen.

Meanwhile, "It goes on..."

UPDATED 9/8/2021 4:43PM

Two large documents were prepared for the Triennial explaining the historical origins and opposing positions of the Great Priory of America/CBCS and the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar USA. You need to read both documents to see the disagreement from both sides. These two pdf documents can be accessed HERE.


  1. Fascinating. Unfortunately, for now, membership in the GPA may be similar to belonging to a real secret society, Yale's Skull and Bones style.

    But I love ALL my Brothers, so please don't ask me if I know any members.

    The attitude is a little different in England, it seems.

    On the Mark Mason Hall website, we read in part, about the CBCS:

    "A very old and very elite Masonic body".

    "Regular membership of CBCS was traditionally restricted to literally just a handful of the most senior Knights Templar!"

    Now what's quoted next is interesting:

    "However, many English Masons, quite LEGITIMATELY, took the step of crossing the channel to Belgium, where membership was more easily obtainable."

    Anyone who has studied A.E. Waite in depth knows he sought out knowledge in many areas of the Occult which have little or nothing to do with regular Freemasonry and he took many Masonic degrees.

    But the Masonic rite cherished the most by Waite was the CBCS.

    And interestingly enough, there is someone overseas selling a Masonic t-shirt in America through "Redbubble" with a picture of Waite's profile on it and his connection to the CBCS.

  2. Masonic work, whether chivalric or templar or capitular or cryptic or symbolic blue, is a unique way of experiencing classes and instruction in ethics, morality and philosophy. Disciplining those who want more education in aspects of the Craft is a futile prohibiting of teaching that may not conform to your own view. It's censorship. It contradicts the purposes of Masonry.
    It's book burning and childish.


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