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Thursday, January 27, 2022

GM of Georgia Issues Edict Banning Widows Sons Motorcycle Riders


by Christopher Hodapp

The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Georgia F&AM, Donald C. Combs, has just issued an edict in his state (No. 2022-2) forbidding the Freemasons in his jurisdiction from belonging to the Widows Sons International Masonic motorcycle riders association. Georgia Masons who do not comply by dropping their WS membership risk expulsion from the fraternity. Further, the edict orders ALL Masonic-related motorcycle clubs and associations in Georgia to disband, with the exception of motorcycle clubs affiliated with the Shrine. (Click images below to enlarge.)





This is not the first time this has happened in the U.S.

Back in 1998, a group of Masons who shared a love of motorcycles organized the first chapter of the Widow’s Sons Masonic motorcycle riders club, led by Brother Carl Davenport out of Chicago, Illinois. Open to all Master Masons, the goal of the Widows Sons was (and is) to promote motorcycle riding among Masons, and to promote Masonic membership among the general public. They regularly support and contribute to Masonic programs that help widows and orphans of Brother Masons. But almost from the outset, there was a cohort of Masons who strongly objected to the public image of the Widow’s Sons, and criticized the group’s first logo design, patches and leather vests as looking entirely too much like an unsavory outlaw motorcycle gang. 


Original logo for the Widows Sons included a sultry, red leather-clad 'Widow.'
(Image from Hiram's Knights website)

Their early vests often featured a Masonic square and compass, and a common objection was that Masonic symbols would be seen in bars on brethren who may not be able to subdue their passions. It was especially objected to in states where a grand lodge forbade Masons from serving and consuming alcohol at lodge functions. And their earliest logo featured a sultry 'widow' dressed in red leathers looking entirely too MILF-like. By the early 2000s, several grand masters around the U.S. issued decisions and edicts against the group, and in more than a few cases, ordered the groups to completely shut down, threatening expulsion for Masons who defied these orders. Other states forbade the wearing of Widows Sons signature leather vests in Craft lodge meetings.

(See Grand Master of Texas Edict: Widow's Sons Motorcycle Group from 2011; I don’t believe that anything has changed in Texas since then concerning Masonic biker groups.)

Photo: widowssonsinternational.com

Unfortunately, Masonic motorcycle associations have always - and continue to attract - extra scrutiny from critics and more than a few grand masters. Motorcycle-riding GMs in general have no issues with them, but plenty of other GMs find them problematic, asserting that motorcycle clubs of any kind attract an unsavory sort of man and are antithetical to the upstanding image that Freemasons have historically cultivated. There are also allegations that the state grand chapters of the Widows Sons set themselves up as a conflict of interest with grand lodges.

Over the last couple of hundred years or so, enthusiastic Masons have often sought to form special interest clubs or groups with like-minded brethren based on their professions, hobbies, or obsessions. There are Masonic veterans’ groups (National Sojourners), fishing clubs, gun clubs (like Hiram's Rangers Western action shooters club), stamp-collecting groups (Masonic Philatelic Club), RV owners (National Camping Travelers ), Masonic luncheon groups (like High Twelve International), and lots more. The most obvious manifestation of this phenomenon can be seen in the Shrine. Upon joining a local Shriners temple, new members are often encouraged to join and participate in a specific affinity group like the clowns, Masonic or Shriner degree teams, little car drivers, classic car enthusiasts, model railroad clubs, boat owners, private plane pilots (the “Flying Fezes”), and often one of the most popular, motorcycle riders. 

Other states have managed over the years to hammer out agreements between their grand lodges and the Widows Sons, so hopefully this will be a brief incident.

UPDATED 1/27/2022 9:00PM

A closer reading of the edict gives a better sense of what it is attempting to address. From his edict I took away that the GL of GA must officially recognize or authorize any group calling itself ‘Masonic,’ and that the entire collection of clubs being disbanded or forbidden never bothered to officially get those approvals. I believe he’s saying, ‘Clean up your act, decide if you want to be Masonic, and apply for approval with the proper committee. Let’s do this right instead of ignoring the GA code and procedures.’


12 comments:

  1. It's sad that one person's OPINION is the reasoning for the ban on MC clubs. Although our trust is put into the GM for ideas to promote the betterment of masonic organizations, I believe that this is close to "abuse of power". I would almost demit to another state lodge, rather than have my freedom to chose what club I desire to be a part of, dictated to me.

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  2. Oh dear, I had no idea there was any conflict between the Widow's Sons and the Grand Lodges.

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    1. Not Grand Lodges, just specific Grand Lodges. Some jurisdictions have no issues with Widow's Son and others even support them. FYI.

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  3. The Grand Master of Masons in Georgia had his reasons for issuing this edict. After serious problems between members, and the conclusion of Masonic Trials resulting in suspensions it became necessary. I personally own and ride a Harley, I don't belong to a club and wouldn't belong to a club which wears the S&C in bars or to field parties. We can't ignore the fact that Free Masonry is a Christian Fraternity, just read the Constitution, and your Grand Lodge Manuals and Code books. With that in mind, we should always walk and act as such. May the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob be with you. We don't need more Masons we need Better Men to become Masons.

    James Anderson, Past Master

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    1. If Freemasonry is a Christian fraternity, then why are there Masonic brothers of Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim and other such various faiths out there? Besides, how is being part of the Widow's Son in opposition to Masonic (or even Christian) values?

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    2. Freemasonry is NOT a Christian Fraternity... at least not in my jurisdiction, and I believe in most jurisdictions.

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  4. With respect to Brother Anderson, there is general agreement that Masonry in the 18th century jettisoned a good deal of Christian allusions that had been associated with its guild and livery associations, and became a force for the late Enlightenment and deism, attracting secularists.

    Prayers in a Masonic meeting should not invoke Jesus, and candidates should have a book of their choice on the altar when they are initiated, not if they wish one of the various versions of the King James Bible or any of the others versions, some of which are very different from each other and even add or omit material...Templarism is of course another discussion.

    Using the Masonic symbols is dodgy because whether they are copyright protected in at best uncertain given different legal decisions. As for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and jacob, time passed and demarcated their careers, and spo whether they shared the same deity has been argued in heated discussions of the various versions of god that appear in the Old Testament, -- a reason why religion is not discussed in lodges is that there is no intention to define the Grand Architect and one can reasonably interpret the concept as being an allusion to the life force or purposeful universe or love or perhaps one of the deities in the Hindu pantheon or any of many other gods as offered in various sects -- snd all of that is left to the individual.

    In sum then, it is reasonable for a university or ngo, or any other society, to require members to desist from using their membership to promote something -- good or bad as you may think -- quite outside the boundaries of membership, and to eject those who refuse to conform. But us not, as we so alas frequently do, get into seeing it as a theological or sectarian issue.

    More simply put, you shouldn't put Masonic symbols on the chewing gum you are trying to sell, or on the slot machines in your gas station where slots are legal.

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  5. Not happy at all with this decision !!!!

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  6. Ah yes, I'm sure that thus is help Masonary expand and enter the future

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  7. I recognize that there is more information on this matter than I am apprised of, so I simply wish to express my prayers and well-wishes to all the brethren of Georgia and pray for them the best outcome.

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  8. The Widow's Sons is NOT a MC, it is a RA. Know the difference.

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  9. I guess what I read from the edict is the WS is not forbidden, just suspended, until the Grand Chapter clears up the issues that concetned the Grand Lodge of GA?

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