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


Sunday, December 31, 2023

AASR NMJ Past Commander David Glattly Speaks Out

by Christopher Hodapp

UPDATE: SUNDAY, MARCH 10, 2024, 8:00PM: Several weeks after this story first appeared here on February 15th, the AASR-NMJ Supreme Council publicly released the findings of an independent financial audit, multiple independent investigations of the allegations made against David Glattly which led to his resignation back in 2022. The results of all of these inquiries refute Glattly's version of events that he posted here at the end of December, and corroborate the accusations against him made by the internal whistleblower in the Lexington office.

Please see: 

Also, please see my apology on March 10th for taking any side whatsoever in this matter:  My Deepest Apologies: Is Red or White Wine Best with a Plate of Crow?

UPDATED 2/20/2024, 4:00AM to include a leaked copy of the letter written by a whistleblower referred to in Glattly's statement: 

When Illus. David Glattly 33° was elected as Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction back in 2017, it was expected that he would serve what has traditionally been a long term of office. He succeeded Illus. John McNaughton in the position, who had just kicked off what was to be "a new path" for the NMJ. That path began with an extensive demographic survey of American men to discover the public's awareness of Freemasonry, and that led to the creation of a unique advertising campaign to stir new interest in the entire Masonic fraternity.

Commander Glattly's first year in office introduced the "Not just a man. A Mason" ad campaign, and it has since been widely adopted by numerous grand lodge jurisdictions throughout North America, as well as by individual local lodges. Under his leadership, the NMJ assembled its own in-house video production unit, and in 2020 when the COVID pandemic suddenly shut down most large, public gatherings of any kind (like lodge or AASR Valley meetings and degree work), the NMJ went to work shooting high-quality video versions several of the Rite's degrees.

A new wave of excitement and enthusiasm swept across the AASR-NMJ. The advertising campaign succeeded at increasing membership at both the grand lodge and the AASR levels, while the Hautes Grades education program and the Rite's increased book publishing initiatives were all helping to retain – and even increase – membership for the first time in decades. The online streaming program, "Thursdays at the Rite", and the presentation of some degrees on video during online reunions kept members engaged throughout the COVID shutdowns. The NMJ's social media presence was extremely active all through the COVID mess, and the Glattlys were excited to start traveling again once restrictions were dropped.

But suddenly, at the August 2021 semi-annual meeting of the NMJ in Cleveland, Ohio, something surprising happened. After just four years in office, SGC David Glattly, suddenly and without warning, announced his retirement. (His brief farewell message was reprinted in the Northern Light magazine.) 

In his message, he explained that he and his wife Monica had both been hit with medical issues that would be problematic for his many duties and extensive travel schedule for the Rite. They decided they needed "a slower pace in life." 
He was succeeded in office by Illus. Pete Samiec 33°, who was, in turn, succeeded in August 2023 at the NMJ's meeting in Louisville by Illus. Walter F. Wheeler 33°. Meanwhile, the Glattlys retired to Florida, years before they had anticipated doing so. 

Monica Glattly tragically passed away last fall.

So what happened? Why did SGC Glattly suddenly leave office in 2022 with very little explanation, apart from his farewell message?

The short answer is that David was driven out of the office, despite his dedicated and visionary leadership and the successes it brought to the Rite. After two years of silence, he finally felt he needed to explain his version of what went on, unbeknownst to the membership and the Masonic world. The result is a ten-page document explaining his side of the story and his view of what really happened behind the scenes. It shouldn't be surprising that the accusations made and actions taken by several of the NMJ's trustees may very well have taken a serious toll on Monica's emotions and health and contributed to her premature death.

Glattly originally drafted his letter to be read at last August’s Supreme Council meeting in Louisville, but decided to hold it back until that meeting ended. He forwarded it to me several weeks ago, but our annual California RV excursion kept me busy and distracted, resulting in my tardiness in posting it.

Freemasonry, like so many volunteer groups, must rely on men who are either saints, or martyrs, or both — preferably both. The final lines of David's message are some of the saddest words I've ever encountered when it comes to Freemasonry, or ANY organization or company that requires extreme dedication and enormous amounts of time:

"Never push a loyal person to the point where they no longer care."

I wish this phrase appeared in every Masonic officer installation ceremony just to remind our own leadership of just who keeps this fraternity alive from year to year, through thick and thin, in sickness and in health. So often we push men to the breaking point, and we throw them away at our own peril.

Click the pages below to enlarge them.

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UPDATED 2/20/2024, 4:00AM: A very wise friend and Brother has always said to me, "It's a mighty thin pancake that doesn't have two sides."  The AASR-NMJ has not made any of their documentation public, but David Glattly in his message refers to a letter of accusations against him written by a whistleblower and sent to the Supreme Council. In the interest of fairness, I attach the "other side of the pancake": below is a copy of that initial internal letter, which was publicly leaked last week on the Freemasonry Subreddit of the Reddit boards (Click images to enlarge):

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Saturday, December 16, 2023

Family Of Murdered Texas Mason Suing Lodge For Negligence

Brother Robert Wise, 55, was killed in July after officer's installation
(Photos: McAllen Lodge 1110 Facebook page)

by Christopher Hodapp

The family of a Texas Mason who was murdered outside of a Masonic hall following an officers' installation ceremony has just filed a civil lawsuit against McAllen Lodge 1110 alleging negligence.

Brother Robert Wise was shot and killed in the lodge parking lot the evening of July 10, 2023, allegedly by an anti-Mason named Julio Diaz, who actually shot a video of the murder as it happened and posted it to his social media page.

A story on the MyRGV.com website reads, in part:

The surviving family members of a McAllen Masonic Lodge member’s summer murder filed a lawsuit saying the organization should have known about what they say is growing anti-Masonic resentment across the country.

And Robert Wise’s wife and children said they should have known about 35-year-old Alamo resident Julio Diaz, who is accused of fatally shooting Wise, 55, and posting a video of the murder to social media.

His surviving family members filed a lawsuit against McAllen Masonic Lodge No. 1110 on Nov. 27, alleging their negligence killed Wise because they ignored what they call a national trend of vandalism and threats against Masons, and because they did not install a light and security camera system purchased in 2022 until after Wise’s murder.

They also allege that the organization failed to warn its members about Diaz, who was known to the organization, because Diaz allegedly committed an act of arson at a Weslaco Masonic Lodge, which the McAllen members frequented, according to the petition.

McAllen Masonic Lodge No. 1100 is located at 118 N. 11 Street.

Wise walked out of that building on July 10 after being a member for more than two years and after a ceremony where he was named a “Junior Deacon.”

Police allege that’s when Diaz fatally shot him.


Following Wise’s murder, on July 28 at the McAllen Lodge, McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez met with members and “stated the obvious.”

“At night, when one enters or exits the McAllen Lodge, the parking lot and surrounding area and the front of the building had no lighting. It was pitch black,” the petition stated. “The premises was unlit, unfenced, and completely unprotected from any trespasser at the time of Wise’s murder.

“The McAllen Lodge knew how vulnerable it and its members were, but did nothing.”

But even before this meeting, the petition says a popular blogger who writes about Masonic news, had been reporting that ever since the COVID lockdowns that “there has been an alarming increase throughout the U.S. and Canada in incidents of vandalism and arson against Masonic halls by admitted paranoid anti-Masonic extremists and conspiracists.”

(NOTE: I believe this is in reference to stories appearing on this website, which in no way could have predicted – or prevented – what happened. - CLH)

Then, on Dec. 6, 2021, the McAllen Lodge was vandalized and the location “became emblematic of the national trend on a local level.”

“Aware of the national trend and seeing it play out in their front yard, leaders of the McAllen Lodge pushed for the purchase of the light and camera system after this incident,” the petition stated. “Despite the full knowledge of the national and local trend of violence toward Masons, it took another act of vandalism in December of 2021 at the McAllen Lodge to prompt the purchase of a light and camera system.”

That happened sometime in 2022 when the McAllen Lodge purchased a light and camera system for about $2,000, according to the lawsuit.

“However, the light and camera system was not installed until months AFTER the murder of Robert Wise. In the wake of this security failure the criminal activity targeting the McAllen Lodge continued,” the lawsuit stated.

(NOTE: I have no way of knowing the veracity of these claims, but early reports immediately following the murder stated there was surveillance footage of the lodge's parking lot that provided details to law enforcement. The petition goes on to make the bizarre claim that the lodge wasted money on an entertainment event that would have been far more responsibly spent on security systems, as though lights and cameras could have in any way dissuaded the murderer from his premeditated action. - CLH)

On March 30, 2022, someone vandalized the location with graffiti that read “Sorcery against the Holy spirit and the human race must all be stoned to death.”

After that happened, the person who was the third in command sent text messages to the top two people in charge and the petition said nothing was done.

“Five months later, on September 15, 2022, the criminal struck again. The McAllen Lodge was vandalized, the front glass door smashed and fuel thrown into the building to start a fire,” the lawsuit stated.

After this incident, the petition said a high-ranking member on a state level sent out a message warning people to be vigilant and to secure the lodge building.

“Both the McAllen Lodge and the Grand Lodge had actual knowledge of the national trend and the specific threats to the McAllen Lodge,” the lawsuit stated. “What happened to Robert Wise was completely foreseeable and yet no action was taken.”

(NOTE: For decades, Masonic lodges have often received non-specific, threatening messages, accusing Masons of heresy, secret plotting, devil worship, mind control, and a raft of economic, political and religious conspiracies. Allegations like these date back as far as the early 1700s, and several states have reported numerous instances of finding anonymous warning letters plastered to lodge doors or stuck in mailboxes. It's infinitesimally rare for any actual harm or damage to come from these kinds of threats, but it's still unnerving to find them. Police won't act until an actual crime is committed, and judges often don't like sentencing obviously nutty people to jail time over their beliefs in conspiracies or overzealous religious beliefs. So what exactly is a lodge supposed to do when faced with these kinds of messages? – CLH)

The petition then cites two more arson attacks on Mason buildings on a national level and then another arson attack at the Llano Grande Masonic Lodge on Feb. 21 in Weslaco.

Julio Diaz remains held in the Hidalgo County
Adult Detention Center on an indictment charging 
him with murder and arson. He has a $1 million 
bond on the murder charge and a $5,000 bond
on the arson charge.


“This act should have prompted action. Julio Diaz, the alleged murderer of Robert Wise, videoed the Weslaco Lodge fire and uploaded it to his Instagram page,” the petition stated. “Now violence had a name and a face and it lived right next door. The McAllen Lodge routinely met at the Weslaco Lodge and Diaz knew it." 

On Aug. 7, Masonic leadership finally ordered the McAllen Lodge closed permanently.

“Too little … too late. Robert Wise was dead,” the lawsuit stated.

Read more at the myRGV.com website HERE.

Reviewing this long, sad story tonight, my heart ached once again for Brother Wise's grieving family. Understand that I am in no way making light of his family's grief and loss. But there's no way the lodge should be blamed for his murder. The arson fires, graffiti, online threats and other hate-filled actions of anti-Masons around the world that have been spotlighted by this blog are infuriating to all of us. But when you consider the tens of thousands of local Masonic halls around the globe that have NOT been attacked in any way, trying to predict and prevent every four-alarm lunatic's deranged attacks ahead of time isn't possible, or even feasible. All the lights and cameras in the world wouldn't have prevented this horrible act of hatred and extreme religious zealotry.

Moreover, suing the lodge won't bring Brother Wise back to life, nor will it do anything to prevent future anti-Masonic attacks on other Masons.

So why the lawsuit? 

Many decades ago, my brother and I were ardent teenaged railfans, and we would travel far and wide to photograph and make audio recordings of trains. One particular trip, I had a new Super8 film camera with an especially wide-angle lens I wasn't quite used to yet. As a train came blasting out of a tunnel in rural Tennessee, I was crouched low on the ground capturing an incredibly dramatic angle of the action, while peering only through my viewfinder. My brother Mike suddenly realized with horror that I was mere inches from having my head ripped off by the locomotive's low-riding front step. He leapt over to me, reached down, grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, and hurled me out of its path at the very last second.

As we both lay on the ground gasping for breath, I wondered aloud if some slick lawyer might have talked our parents into suing the railroad, had I been decapitated by one of their trains, even if we were trespassing and I had clearly been a completely irresponsible moron. 

"No," Mike said, rolling it over in his mind. "This railroad is declaring bankruptcy. You never sue anyone poor."

"Who would they sue then," I asked.

"Why, Eastman Kodak, of course," he replied. "Kodak manufactured the film that went into your camera, and you wouldn't have even been here if it weren't for that damned film. Definitely Kodak."

UPDATE: Texas GM Smith Ignores Trustees and Removes Grand Secretary From Office

by Christopher Hodapp

Just a few days after The Texas Masons For Truth website reported on a failed attempt to remove Grand Secretary Justin Duty (photo above) from office at a called meeting of the Grand Lodge Trustees, Texas Grand Master G. Clay Smith apparently has now decided to ignore that Trustee vote and just go it alone.

Information is fluid, but it is currently our understanding that Grand Master G. Clay Smith has removed Grand Secretary Justin Duty from office and instructed him to turn over his keys and passwords. A Form 1 has been filed and the Grand Master is expected to accept the charges. 
G:M: G. Clay Smith is taking these actions supposedly based on the issue of payroll deductions. The payroll company forgot to deduct for benefits in [Duty's paycheck], which was resolved and paid for last February.

We expect to hear about Grand Treasurer Rick Townsend’s removal in the coming days.

One source tells me that Townsend's office may have missed a due date for some sort of payment earlier in the year, and that this will be the justification for bringing Masonic charges against him.

Back in March, Smith had ordered an extensive audit of the Grand Secretary and Grand Treasurer, zeroing in on a fundraising event from 2022: proceeds came from the sale of a special limited batch of whisky that had been donated to the Grand Lodge for this purpose. According to the information surrounding the event, all sales were conducted outside of the purview of the Grand Lodge and were not held on Masonic property. It was conducted in strict compliance with Grand Lodge law and the laws of the State of Texas. GM Smith's investigation (conducted by just two members of the Finance Committee) found no errors or impropriety on the part of either office.

It's looking more and more certain that the 2024 annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Texas is going to be a grotesque bloodbath come January. None of this will be any good for Texas Freemasonry. A faction in the Grand Lodge regards Immediate Past Grand Master Brad Billings and the brethren who supported him last year as nothing but a noisy group of "frat boys" whose influence on the membership must be rubbed out at any cost. Billings has made his intentions of running for Grand Secretary this year known, and Justin Duty had intended to run for Grand Junior Warden. 

The trouble is that Billings and his team successfully brought new enthusiasm and positivism to Texas Masonry in 2022 that few others have in recent years, and their supporters aren't likely to just fade away. Removal from office, suspensions, expulsions – these types of actions frequently backfire when they're attempted, and martyrs have a funny way of outlasting their tormentors.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Texas: Attempt To Remove Grand Secretary Fails

by Christopher Hodapp

Backroom intrigues continue in the Grand Lodge of Texas as their annual communication approaches in January. The Texas Masons For Truth website is reporting on an unsuccessful attempt by current Grand Master G. Clay Smith and Deputy GM H. Bart Henderson to remove Grand Secretary Justin Duty from office prior to their annual meeting.

During the weekend of the Texas Grand Chapter and Grand Council annual gatherings, a closed-door meeting of the Grand Lodge Trustees was called by GM Smith to accuse the Grand Secretary of mismanaging his office, and to remove him from his administrative duties. A majority vote of the Trustees is required to do so.

According to the website story:

Multiple Masons reported shouting coming from the room. At one point, RW Duty was seen waiting outside the room, presumably because they were voting on the matter of removing him.

G:M: Smith is not acting alone. P:G:M Reese Harrison and Bro. Russell Brown are reported to have requested G:S: Duty’s removal after an audit found benefits not deducted from G:S: Duty’s paycheck. This clerical error was corrected as soon as it was discovered.

While Masonic political allegiances change, it appears the relationship between G:M: Smith and D:G:M: Henderson has remained strong throughout this year. With G:S: Duty outside the door, the remaining Trustees would have been the G:M: Smith, D:G:M: Henderson, G:S:W: Raborn Reader, G:J:W: Jim Rumsey, and Grand Treasurer Richard Townsend. 
G:S:W: Reader, G:J:W: Rumsey, and G:T: Townsend must have voted against for [the] removal to fail, but we are still gathering details.

We are acutely aware certain Past Grand Masters have continued to work behind closed doors to undermine the will of the Grand West.* 
  • P:G:M: Terry Stogner, as seen handing charges to the Grand Master during an open installation of Grand Lodge,
  • P:G:M: Wendell Miller, as a member of Brooklyn Lodge where the charges against P:G:M: [Brad] Billings were filed, and
  • P:G:M: Paul Underwood, known to be conducting off-the-record investigations at the request of G:M: Smith

* The Grand West is an unusual term used by Texas Freemasons to describe the assembled voting members of their Grand Lodge when assembled.

What's behind all this smellodrama? It seems that Grand Secretary Justin Duty has the intention of running for election as Grand Junior Warden in January, and is seen by many as being aligned with Past Grand Master Brad Billings and current Grand Junior Warden Jim Rumsey. Billings himself is also rumored to be running for the Grand Secretary's position. So the political maneuvering this year has been an ongoing scheme to prevent the "Billings team" from even coming up for a vote.

I suspect that, if one were to poll all of the men who voluntarily demitted from Texas Freemasonry in the past year, you'd likely find that a large swath of them would tell you they left because of the ongoing political infighting and backstabbing going on within the officers of their Grand Lodge. Texas politics have long had an ugly reputation for viciousness – precisely the sort of thing that shouldn't be going on within Freemasonry. And the longer these attempts to subvert the vote of their members go on behind closed doors, the more collateral damage will be suffered by the fraternity as a whole.

There's a good reason why many grand lodge jurisdictions don't permit nominations from the floor and don't permit actually "running for office." Politicking always leads to factionalism. In many jurisdictions, a sitting grand master (or committee) appoints a man to the bottom of the grand lodge line and he advances through the chairs, just as in a Masonic lodge. Over the course of the next 5 to 7 years, long range plans have continuity, men grow into the job (or drop the ball) with several years that permit removal if he's just not leadership material or can't handle the time commitment. Sure, allegations of cronyism arise over appointments and the seemingly un-democratic election process. But I think I'll take that over these kinds of ugly backroom battles and political allegiances. Masons who occupy the dark squares of the tessellated floor eventually move on (or pass on), but they leave way too much blood on the carpet on their way out.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Friday, December 01, 2023

Anti-Masonic Vandalism: Freemasons' Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland Damaged

by Christopher Hodapp

Historic Freemasons Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland was damaged last Tuesday when one or more unknown vandals smashed a window and damaged the building's exterior.

From a story in the Belfast Telegraph by Niamh Campbell:

It was reported that a window above a door at the property in Arthur Square was smashed sometime between 8.45pm on Monday evening and 11am on Tuesday morning.

A male was observed acting suspiciously in the area at around 10pm on Monday evening, and officers say they “would be keen to speak with him”.

The PSNI said he was dressed in a black hoody with the hood up, an orange top hanging below the hoody, grey bottoms, and that he was carrying a black bag.

The Masonic hall, adjacent to Victoria Square shopping centre, is home to dozens of Freemason Belfast lodges.

Posting on the Irish Masonic Network’s social media page, a member shared images of the vandalised building and stated: “With great sadness I have to report a sustained attack on Freemasons Hall Arthur Square.

After the Vatican issued a new statement in November reaffirming the Roman Catholic Church's rules forbidding their congregants from becoming Freemasons, there has been a major uptick in offensive online anti-Masonic commentary. There has already been a steady increase in reports of attacks on Masonic halls throughout the world in 2023 in the form of anti-Masonic graffiti, break-ins, arson fires, and other forms of deliberate damage. 

Belfast Freemasons Hall after its 2007 renovations

The Belfast Freemasons Hall was originally opened in 1870, and underwent a complete refurbishment in 2007. It is home to numerous Masonic lodges, appendant bodies, and the Donegal Masonic Club.

According to the Hall's website, the renowned Belfast artist John Luke was commissioned in  spring 1955 to execute a mural depicting “Solomon Building the Temple” in The Provincial Masonic Hall Rosemary Street. Measuring 31feet long and 7feet high, it was completed November 1956, and the artist was paid £375. In 2000 the mural was appraised at £3 million.

Police are continuing to investigate the case.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Grand Priory of America (CBCS) Tries To Halt Texas Educational Lecture

by Christopher Hodapp

UPDATED - Wednesday, November 29, 3:55PM: An earlier version of this post wrongly identified Bryan Leroy Hill as the current Great Prior of the Grand Priory of America. He was succeeded in office by Allan Surratt. I've also made corrections to Roberto Sanchez' Masonic record. Both errors were mine alone, and I apologize for any confusion they may have caused.

MW Roberto Sanchez is an extremely energetic and dedicated Texas Freemason, and has been for more than two decades. If you regularly attend Masonic Week outside of Washington DC, you might very well have met him. In addition to his Texas membership, he's also a Past Grand Master and the sitting Grand Chancellor of the Gran Logia del Estado de Mexico (Grand Lodge of the State of Mexico). He served as Master of Gray Lodge 329 in Houston back in 2011, and was part of a group determined to provide a high-quality lodge experience to their members. Since then, he’s gained an international reputation as a popular speaker, and served as an officer in several appendant organizations. 

Back in 2006 WB Sanchez, along with Gray Lodge's Past Masters Lex Leckie and Greg Weisinger created what they hoped would become an American equivalent of the English Prestonian Lecture. It was named after the lodge's charter Master, Alfred Stephens Richardson. Roberto was an early speaker, and it continues through today. Gray Lodge's A.S. Richardson Lecture is usually held at a hotel or restaurant, and some of the top Masonic authors and historians have been invited to speak there over the years. (2011 must have been a lean year, as they invited me.)

This year will be the 15th annual A.S. Richardson Lecture, and the speaker will be Alun Thomas-Evans, a fascinating U.K. Mason who is well-versed in the history, development and philosophy of countless esoteric organizations, some related to Masonry, and some not. He will be speaking about the Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte (in English, the Knights Beneficent of the Holy City, or CBCS, using its French initials), the Rectified Scottish Rite, and a closely related body known as the Waite Order (named after Arthur Edward Waite, who is a topic all by himself). The event is to take place on December 1st at the Embassy Suites in the Energy Corridor in Houston ($80 apiece, in case you’re interested deadline for tickets is Thursday, November 30th). CLICK HERE to register through Facebook. Act fast. 

Now, longtime readers here may or may not remember over a dozen years ago when a dispute over this obscure, invitational, Masonic-related side organization most commonly referred to as the CBCS blew up into a national and international Masonic food fight. It was a mess. A BIG mess. This was truly Masonic minutiae of the most arcane kind, and to fully understand what was going on at the time took lots of explanation (here are some old links in case you really want to wade into this morass, or see the cheat sheet below). 

Well, just in case you thought the whole ugly, stinky mess finally died out, it’s back again.

Now it seems that Allan Surratt, the current Great Prior of the Grand Priory of America (the U.S. wing of the CBCS) has sent a letter to the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas demanding that the A.S. Richardson Lecture be blocked because of its subject matter. It seems that the GPA doesn’t want anyone to even speak about their organization and its various related topics, and they are demanding that the Grand Master shut it down.

Only a tiny problem with making such a demand: the Grand Lodge of Texas has a swollen rule book that’s the size of the last Dallas phone book: it’s more than 500 pages long, which may be a sad record for US grand lodges. Texas Masons over the years have inserted reams of new and ever more tediously minute regulations into their Masonic code, and a big section of it deals with appendant and other Masonically-related organizations operating within their jurisdiction: the Grand Lodge must approve every single group that requires their participants to first be a Freemason. Every such group must petition the Grand Lodge of Texas for recognition, and must be approved by a vote of Grand Lodge. If it ain’t listed in their Code by name, it ain’t recognized in Texas. And it doesn’t matter how many Past Grands, 33rds, Sovereign-Thises-and-Thats, or Big Name Celebrity Masons happen to belong to it. It’s just like getting backstage at the Taylor Swift concert. You gotta be on the list, or the exit door is that way. And the Grand Priory of America (CBCS) isn’t on the list. 
It seems its storied and privileged officers and members never bothered to ask over almost 100 years. Whoops.

The Great Prior’s other objection is that WB Alun’s lecture will be talking about other versions of the CBCS and its related bodies outside of the US that the GPA isn’t part of.


The Great Prior of an unrecognized Templar-related organization that’s spent more than a decade and untold thousands of dollars in lawsuits defending their lineage, sovereignty and exclusivity in order to remain a tiny invitational supper club (“because them 33rds let in too much riffraff)” never got around to getting recognition in Texas, which is the home to several of its very own high-profile officers, members and – interestingly enough – attorneys. They include Reese Harrison, Michael Wiggins, and Brian Dodson – all Past Grand Masters of Texas. And the GPA doesn’t want anyone talking to Texas Masons about ANY un-recognized CBCS body, even though they themselves aren’t recognized in Texas, either.


The good news is that, as of Wednesday, November 29th, the Grand Master is apparently siding with the lodge in this little imbroglio, and was unmoved by the GPA's demand. The lecture will go forward.

If you don't know anything about this mess (or tried to put it out of your mind), here’s the cheat sheet on the history of this long tale of woe and misery: 

  • Portions of the European CBCS/Rectified Scottish Rite rituals and origins involve the Knights Templar, and have done so since the 1700s; 
  • The Grand Encampment of the Knights Templar (GEKT) found the GPA to be infringing on their sovereignty over all US Masonic Templary, in part because their charter clearly states that the CBCS is a Templar organization; 
  • The American wing of the CBCS – the Grand Priory of America (GPA), organized in the 1920s - promised by the 1930s not to work their Templar degrees or ever publicly claim they were Templars; 
  • The GPA stopped conferring the degrees and became a tiny, invitational, exclusive dinner club for Past Eminent Grand Masters of the KT and celebrity Masons; 
  • By 2000, officers of the GPA began representing themselves on foreign visits as a Templar organization, and protested that US Masons were receiving CBCS degrees in England, France, Belgium and elsewhere, violating their “exclusive” status - GPA would not permit CBCS members who joined European Priories to attend their meetings and would not honor their credentials; 
  • GEKT declared that the GPA was again illegally violating THEIR sovereignty; 
  • The GEKT's GM William H. Koon received a warrant from a French CBCS body to create their own American Grand Priory, and subsequently suspended existing GPA members who refused to drop their “old” GPA membership; 
  • Lawsuits more lawsuits and counter-lawsuits flew like bats out of a belfry; 
  • GPA leaned heavily on the Conference of Grand Master Masons of North America to withdraw recognition agreements from the GEKT and shut down all US Templar Commanderies; 
  • ME Grand Master Dixon of GEKT reluctantly shut down its “new” CBCS Priory; 
  • A decade later, GM Nelson of the GEKT acted to remove any holdover language from their regulations, reinstate the suspended GPA members, and finally put this quagmire to rest. (Knightly News from 2021 Grand Encampment Triennial
  • His immediate successor attempted to reverse that action, incurred the wrath of a weary mass of KT members, and got removed from office in an almost unprecedented action. (As the Sword Turns: Called Conclave Removes Templar Grand Master Michael B. Johnson

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Arizona Anti-Mason Posts Videos of Degree Rituals Taken Surreptitiously

by Christopher Hodapp

Following the statement last week from the Vatican reaffirming the Church's longstanding prohibition of Masonic membership for Catholics, the usual platoon of online anti-Masonic wing-nuts came tumbling out onto the Intertubz to post and re-post all the usual anti-Masonic tropes and conspiracy allegations. Most are easy to ignore, or simply dispense with by citing factual information, if anyone wants to bother wasting that much time and breath. (I've got a whole book dedicated to telling the true facts about this fraternity - not that the antis care to believe it.) But one person in particular on X-formerly-Twitter has generated a lot of discussion among Masons themselves — not out of offense or anger or indignation, but out of sadness, more than anything else. 

A self-touted "traditional Catholic influencer", "undercover journalist" and "whistleblower" called Kyle Clifton has been gleefully circulating videos of private Masonic ceremonies he claimed to have shot with a hidden camera after having joined a local lodge. Images on his posts and other clues quickly pointed to his location as Arizona. 

Lodge tylers everywhere should be familiar with his face and background, in case he turns up in your neck of the woods. That's his profile picture, depicting him with the Arizona state flag, but looking for all the world like he's sporting a radiant, holy halo of sanctity (or more correctly, smug sanctimony). 

On his various social media pages he sports an 'America first' ball cap - perhaps he missed the details that America's first president and scores of other founding luminaries who created the Declaration of Independence and hashed out the Constitution were Freemasons. But more of his absurd phobias and errors anon.

On Tuesday this week the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge F&AM of Arizona, MW George Rusk, issued a statement concerning this incident and verifying the source as an Arizona Mason:
"One of our members has posted on social media videos of our ritual. This is a breach of trust and a violation of his obligation to the craft. He took an oath and could not keep it. The information he posted is not unknown to the internet; a simple search will find something similar. But his posting did expose him as someone who cannot be trusted more than it exposed our Fraternity.

"The Grand Lodge is investigating this incident and will act upon the results according to the Arizona Masonic Code and legal advice from Grand Counsel. I request that you refrain from spreading any rumors, but if you have direct information about the posting send it to the Grand Secretary.”

This may come as a shock to those breathless readers of InfoWars and other sites that have been celebrating Kyle's puerile little incident all week, but our Masonic rituals are scarcely a Big Secret. And that's been true for a very long time. But Masons value our privacy every bit as much as Kyle, his fellow RadCaths, the staff of InfoWars and its audience all do. 

Exposés of Masonic ritual have existed since about ten minutes after the organization of the premiere grand lodge in London in 1717. When Samuel Pritchard's Masonry Dissected was published in 1730, the printer couldn't keep it in stock, it sold so fast (likely more to Masons themselves than the general public, to be used for learning their degree work). When the Nazis goose-stepped their way into Paris and began identifying French Masons, they shot an anti-Masonic propaganda film that exposed the ritual of the Grand Orient de France. In the Internet age, videos of Masonic ritual – either photographed surreptitiously, or recreated by former Masons themselves – have been circulated before. And fully typed-out Masonic rituals themselves have been posted on the web since at least the 1980s. Masonic "secrecy" has never really been about hiding our initiatic rituals from the outside world, and the various attempts to embarrass us or somehow make us apoplectic over being "exposed" don't really give us fitful nights fretting about it.

There's a certain aspect of these incidents that's always been comical. On the one hand, many comments responding to Kyle's videos have been soaked with the usual allegations of soul-destroying spookiness, Devil-worship, Satanic symbols, along with a raft of offensively anti-Jewish rhetoric, claiming the rituals are anti-Christian blasphemies and that Masons are really just evil Jews or their willing henchmen in the whole "global domination" fantasy. 

Young-shaver-me-lad and "undercover journalist" Kyle alleged in his posts, "The masonic oath & penalties are sworn over, essentially a Jewish Talmud. The 3 lamps are illuminated to mock our Holy Trinity." Such accusers believe Masons to be all-powerful, world-controlling, bald-headed, cat-stroking super villains. On the other hand, the same commenters go on to say the whole thing is a bunch of silliness, giggling over a group of middle-class guys engaging in bad acting and spouting mumbo jumbo. Puffy flyover-country Protestants who secretly pretend to be Moloch-worshiping Old Testament Hebrew priests.

So what are we – malevolent, all-powerful evildoers, moronic dupes, or suburban backyard vaudevillians? I'm confused.

Of course, Kyle himself seemed more preoccupied with the colossal prank he was pulling than in actually paying any attention to the ritual and lectures he went through when he joined. If he actually looked at the book that he took his own obligation upon, I'll bet fifty quatloos and a groat that it was a King James Version of the complete Holy Bible, and not the "Jewish Talmud" (which would be a neat trick anyway, since the last complete Talmud I saw a couple of years back filled ten large hardback volumes and about two feet of bookshelf real estate – and Masonic altars aren't usually that big). Or perhaps he mis-typed and meant the Tenach, the Hebrew origin of the Old Testament. 

In any case, it appears that he never bothered to discover that his very own version of the Bible (presuming he actually owns one) also includes the Old Testament. A subsequent video he shot depicts a large family heirloom-type King James Bible on the lodge altar, customized as a gift for Freemasons with introductory pages explaining many biblical passages and unfamiliar archaic terms that appear in Masonic ritual. It's not any sort of bizarrely edited or abridged "Masonic Bible," which he would know if he had actually checked the full text and table of contents. But perhaps he's just unfamiliar with reading Biblical text. If he had, he'd know there's an awful lot it has to say about deceivers.

The one sure thing about two-faced people is you can't trust either one. By posting these videos, Kyle exposed far more about what sort of man he really is. He clearly lied from the moment he expressed a false interest in joining, knowing his church of choice prohibits Masonic membership. In most cases, a potential candidate asks a friend or co-worker known to be a Mason if he can join — so Kyle knowingly and wittingly lied to that friend. Every step he took was deliberately deceitful, and at multiple times in his degrees he was asked ifhe was willing to proceed or withdraw. He clearly believed his deceit was just fine because he was really in the service of righteousness. . . or something. 

In light of that, who in their right mind would ever trust him now? Who'd hire him as an employee, knowing that he lies on applications, can't be trusted to keep anything private just because he was asked to do so, and makes up his own version of situational ethics? What boss would have him? What friend can ever trust him? What spouse would ever believe him? 

The truth about Masonic secrecy ever since the very beginning of the fraternity is that it's about honor. In the end, everything civilized human beings do requires honor, because your word has got to be your bond. Civilization depends on it. If you say one thing but do the opposite, society will eventually get the message and turn its back on you. If you can't keep something as dumb and trivial as a handshake or a password a secret simply because someone asked you to, how can you be trusted in anything else you say or do?

Zealous people determined to tear down Freemasonry for their own religious purposes will never be convinced that quite literally millions of Masons from 1717 up to today would never voluntarily join – and stick with – anything that was evil, sacrilegious, nefarious, or remotely ‘satanic’. Among the millions of men who have become Freemasons over three centuries have been thousands of devout Christian clergymen, and possibly hundreds of Jewish rabbis, Muslim imams, and countless other priests and leaders from among the world’s major religions. To believe that those men in particular would have any desire to belong to an organization that openly or surreptitiously engages in activities that propagate the worship, glorification or veneration of Satan – or any other spiritually evil entity of any stripe – is a completely unhinged delusion. Masonic ritual encourages every man to study his own faith, to participate in his own religion's congregation, to consult the ancient texts deemed to be holy by his own religion to find his path to eternal salvation. That includes Kyle. Freemasonry is not a religion, nor are we a path to a glorious resurrection and afterlife. And we've never claimed to be.

This is a fictional, spooky movie, boys and girls - not a Masonic meeting.

The fraternity occasionally has attracted men who really are hunting the spooky-ooky dressing up in black robes, chanting backwards in badly conjugated schoolboy Latin, burning incense and sacrificing the big-breasted blonde virgin on the altar stuff they've seen in moldy old 60's Hammer horror films (usually led by Christopher Lee). If they actually get as far as going through the very real Masonic degree rituals, they're bitterly disappointed to find out that we really aren't raising the dead and worshipping some hoary old demiurge after all.

Once the dust settles, Kyle will doubtless be expeditiously expelled from the fraternity (if he hasn't already quit or been booted out by his lodge and the grand lodge). And, contrary to what his cheering "I've exposed the Masons!" audience might childishly believe, that will be the sum total of the "penalties" he will suffer. Because, as he was doubtless told during his degrees, those "bloody penalties" he was "threatened with" during the "Masonic blood oaths" are purely symbolic, and have been from the start of the fraternity. Actually, they were rooted in what began as disfiguring penalties in medieval Europe, which prevented a man's body from being buried in the consecrated ground of a churchyard. 

Catholic churchyards, I might add.