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

BE A FREEMASON

Sunday, December 31, 2023

AASR NMJ Past Commander David Glattly Speaks Out


by Christopher Hodapp


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.

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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.

[snip]

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." 
 
[snip]

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.