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Saturday, March 26, 2022

Flash! GL of Louisiana Votes in Favor of Prince Hall Recognition... Sort Of


by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: This story will be updated as more details are received.


This afternoon at its 211th Annual Communication in Lake Charles, the Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana F&AM successfully voted in favor of joint recognition with a Prince Hall (PHA) grand lodge, which reduces the number of states without reciprocity of recognition down to just four now.

Sort of.

It seems that the mainstream Grand Lodge of Louisiana (established in 1812) has passed joint recognition of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Maryland (PHA, established in 1876), NOT Louisiana. I think this may be the first time this has happened in the history of American Freemasonry regarding Prince Hall amity agreements.

However, the voting members of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana decided NOT to recognize their own state's Prince Hall counterpart at this time. Their decision was based upon the preponderance of evidence of ongoing irregular activities carried out by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Louisiana (established in 1869) and its MW Grand Master Ralph Slaughter. 

I've been told that GM Slaughter has allegedly issued charters outside of Louisiana in jurisdictions of other existing regular grand lodges with already established territories, which violates Masonic ground rules involving regularity and recognition. I'm still seeking clarifications of that. Slaughter was also involved in a coup that split apart the MW Prince Hall's Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction* into two parallel groups and resulted in lawsuits over legitimacy and ownership of the organization.

With this development in mind, I can't really say "And then there were four..." regarding amity agreements between mainstream grand lodges and their Prince Hall counterparts, but I can take them off the list of the last holdouts in the U.S. So I made Louisiana a neutral gray color on the map for the moment.

The last four remaining states without any recognition between mainstream and Prince Hall (PHA) grand lodges whatsoever are: Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

This story will be updated.


*Th actual legal name of their legitimate Scottish Rite SJ is the United Supreme Council, 33 Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Prince Hall Affiliation, Southern Jurisdiction of the United States.

Slaughter's illegitimate group is ALSO calling itself the United Supreme Council, 33 Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Prince Hall Affiliation, Southern Jurisdiction of the United States.

18 comments:

  1. I spent quite some time on the phone with our late Bro. Ralph McNeal to get this agreement with Maryland on the drawing board. The hope was that it could happen about a year or so ago (with Ralph alive) but sadly, it did not happen then.

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    1. Nicely done, Michael. I do wish Ralph had seen this happen. Honestly, who in 1989 when Connecticut was the first to adopt joint recognition with their Prince Hall GL would have ever thought we'd still be dealing with this three decades later?

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    2. 100% correct move. Other PHA GLs don't recognize LA PHA so why should LA GL recognize them. This shows that LA Masonry desires recognition, but only of worthy PHA.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. Chris, what I meant to say was that I was not at the meeting. I had no direct part in this particular event. "Nicely done" can't apply to me. :-)

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  2. The collateral bodies present further challenges in various jurisdictions. Many are de facto segregated and should be dealt with forcefully. Moreover, Prince Hall lodges are not the only Black lodges with a claim to legitimacy. At time when the decline in membership is accelerating, partly as a consequence of the long closings because of the virus, we are saddled with problems that will remain for the long term future. In too many jurisdictions there is a huge and continuing lack of decisive and imaginative leadership. We need to offer a choice of co-ed as well as male and female lodges, to moor the royal arch and cryptic degrees to groups of blue lodges, to see what kind of national activities can be offered in our buildings such as educational tutoring,to embrace virtua zoom as part of required continuing educational requirements to maintain membership, to have teams of building experts that make changes in lodges such as elimination of fixed seating...in other words a lot of change immediately before we lose what remains of our legacy.

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    1. Introducing that sort of complexity into the mix, at a point of some progress, might be just the thing to motivate the least progressive elements to dig in their heels and provide another couple of decades of frustration. It sounds to me as if the MWGL of Louisiana is making an effort to finally do the right thing, while taking pains to do so within due bounds. I can't quite see the other "reforms" mentioned as even remotely critical to the survival of the Craft but rather, perhaps, even as "baby with the bathwater" issues.

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    2. If you decide to allow coed lodges or any other nonmasonic activity, just because numbers are low, you are already losing your legacy. That is a terrible idea. You guard the west gate, at all costs. Using your logic let's just let anyone in, who cares if they are pedophiles or other vile humans...just a terrible idea. Freemasonry is special, if you do not keep it that way, you become just another thing that people will not join.

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  3. "Prince Hall lodges are not the only Black lodges with a claim to legitimacy." Who else has that claim that you are referring to?

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  4. After 35 years as a Mason in the GL of PA, my first education in the problem PHA has with bogus lodges came from Bro. David Pugh in The Phylaxis article on the subject. Seems like a large difficulty.

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  5. Brother Joshua, for example competing Prince Hall origin lodges exist in mAny states. As a specific example, a considerable number retain membership in the national compact which other Prince Hall lodges adamantly allege broke up completely and disappeared in the 19th century. There is ample evidence that some grand lodges retained their national affiliations and that the grand lodges that have been recognized by the largely white grand lodges are only part of the story. Alongside that are the strains of Hiram and St.John grand lodges, again largely black. The Prince Hall lodges that the largely white grand lodges deal with are only part of the story, but have pursued the notion that they are the only descendents of the Boston story. Let me get a couple helpful sites.

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    1. Prince Hall Origin disbanded in 1878 and was illegally reorganized by William D Matthews in 1888. Between 1880-1888 there was no proceedings to prove continued existence. They are a clandestine organization and do not have proper lineage. The strain of Hiram amd St John's GLs that you speak of were started by an expelled mason. Once again no proper lineage.

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  6. Brother Joshua, here is a s succinct site from one of the Hiram strain, which references the national compact. http://www.hiramgrandlodge-md.org/. I have been impressed by the Hiram grand lodges in terms of ritual work and charities.

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    1. The NGL or Compact has a split amongst itself so the NGL is still considered Clandestine and Bogus.

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  7. brother Joshua, here is a site on the national compact that deals with the competing Prince Hall issue: https://www.phonationalcompact.com/history

    there are of course other compact claimants.

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  8. Brother Bill, the membership situation does not appear to be solved by European style lodges with emphasis on quality dining and formal dress and ritual, or one day classes, or the proliferation of charities -- all have which certainly have great merits. An argument might be that the contraction in membership produces somehow more quality, but that doesn't seem self-evident. Historically, many things viewed as irregular or reforms have been part of freemasonry such as in some transitional working/speculative late medieval lodges having women as matronly-motherly figures. The still largely unplumbed history of the companionage where masonic lodges and the trades co-exist quite apart from the grand lodges we generally focus on, offers plenty of examples. So describing changes as reforms might better be described as looking at the past for answers. Clearly we have a crisis which we are not meeting, and having gone from well over four million members in the USA we now are less than a million and certainly from an actuarial perspective will be at a half million or less in short time. In the resulting scramble, whole libraries have been lost, important pipe organs junked, precious documents dumped, and so on -- carnage of our past. An observer might say we are unfit to be stewards of our inheritance.

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  9. Speaking upon the ignorance of the Southern United States Grand Lodge’s of state unwillingness to accept Prince Hall Masons as brothers along with PHA Grand Lodges in their states I must firmly say, to deny the descendants of Africans the privileges of masonry for any reason would be akin to the denial of a child to their parental lineage. After all was it not in Africa (i.e.: Egypt, Abyssinia), specifically Ethiopia and its progeny, that
    we find the development of the sprit of Masonry including the arts, sciences, and religions of humanity and civilization studied by Freemasons today. If anyone doubt the wisdom of Ethiopia? Today, Ethiopia remains a seat of knowledge and spiritual wisdom, with its many pillars and pyramids along side its claim to
    the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. The word “University” is also African in origin, for that is where Africans studied the universe. The graduation cap is merely a variation of the fez worn by the learned of Fes, Morocco. Ethiopia is the first Christian nation, which gave Latin to the Roman Catholic Church. That is the very reason we find three African Popes in early Church History. The bible documents this fact in the account of Phillip and the Eunuch sent by Ethiopia’s Queen. I have but one last reply to those in doubt, that in the days of King Solomon‘s renown and splendor, Ethiopia sent her daughters to prove him with hard questions. The same King that Freemason venerate. If this be true, THEN WHAT MUST BE HER SONS’ WISDOM! Truly, if the African race and its descendants have no legitimate claims to Masonry, then it is illegitimate to all the rest of mankind.

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    1. My Brother Shawn Papillion, you write: "Speaking upon the ignorance of the Southern United States Grand Lodges of state unwillingness to accept Prince Hall Masons as brothers along with PHA Grand Lodges in their states I must firmly say, to deny the descendants of Africans the privileges of masonry for any reason would be akin to the denial of a child to their parental lineage."

      Are you saying that PHA Masonry accepts every group that calls itself a Grand Lodge which is composed of "descendants of Africans"? Of course you are not saying that. The Phylaxis has a commission on such groups. See: https://thephylaxis.org/bogus/bogus-organizations.html . The first line on that page reads: "There are more African American Bogus Masonic Organizations in the United States than there are Legitimate Grand Lodges around the World."

      You are a member of the PHA GL of LA. You are my Brother. I have published a paper of yours in the Journal of The Masonic Society. My GL (The GL of LA) has no cause to doubt the legitimate Masonry in the hearts of any of the members of the PHA GL of LA. The problem is solely with your GM. I'm not going to get into the problems as most who know the situation, know the problems. I will only say that fraternal relations now exist between the GL of LA and the PHA GL of Maryland. Soon, relations will be with other PHA GLs. I hope and pray that things change in your GL so that we can move in the direction that helps everyone.

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