The Derek Gordon saga continues. The Grand Lodge of Arkansas has rescheduled Gordon’s Masonic trial but demanded he bring a copy of his military orders as proof he was performing duty for his country on the originally scheduled day. It promised Gordon that he would receive a new letter in the mail by Friday April 16, 2010, outlining charges and setting forth a new date. Friday April 16th has come and gone and Gordon has received no correspondence from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. This follows a pattern set by the Grand Lodge in the proceedings against Gordon. Gordon never received the first letter notifying him of Masonic charges. As Secretary of the Lodge he never received any notifications of changes made at the 2010 Grand Session. He had to go out and find brothers who had that information available because materials were taken when the charter was arrested. Also, the Grand Lodge of Arkansas refused to provide that information to him. The 2010 data was sent just last week after finding someone who had a copy.
You will remember that in their first letter to Gordon, which the Grand Lodge never sent directly to him either, stating the charges against him were: –
The sole accusation poised is based upon entry 4.0.61 in the digest. That states: “The…use of cipher rituals of the three Symbolic Degrees of Masonry is forbidden; and ANY Mason who shall hereafter…use anything purporting to be a cipher ritual or written, printed or otherwise delineated ritual or exposition of Masonry shall be expelled from Masonry.”
Now Gordon cannot remember ever having knowingly violated this provision of the Grand Constitution. So he asks for an explanation of the charges. He states that:
I stand accused of “un-Masonic conduct” for reasons that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas refused to delineate. The Grand Inquisitor (Chairman, Grand Lodge Trial Commission), John Penrod, was kind enough to inform me that I must determine the causes of action the Grand Lodge of Arkansas has against me. And, the Inquisitor refused to provide materials that might shed light on such issues.
Again after many attempts to reach the Grand Master by telephone Gordon finally is successful. He poses the same question. Please be specific and tell me where, when and how I have violated 4.0.61. The Grand Master refuses to answer. The Grand Master demanded that he come to the trial and answer all of their questions. At that time he would find out the details.
Now if you know Masonic procedure and basic legal procedure and civil rights, not to mention common decency, you know right away that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas is not handling this process correctly.
For something to compare how the Grand Lodge of Arkansas is conducting itself, here is a manual from another Grand Lodge on how to run a Masonic trial: http://www.grandlodgeofvirginia.org/education/publications/Masonic_Trial.pdf
“Aside from everything else, the internal judicial process of GL of Arkansas appears to resemble more the traditions of the Soviet Union than the best principles of the Common Law and legal heritage of England, which informs all public and other judicial process in both our countries.”
An accused person must be so under a pre-existing statute or rule (That is, no law no crime.)
- What is not forbidden is permitted
- All charges shall be clearly stated and given to the accused well in advance of any further process or trial
- The accused is presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty
- In civil law on a preponderance of the evidence and in criminal law beyond a reasonable doubt
- The accused is entitled to full disclosure of all evidence known or collected well before a hearing or trial
- The accused is entitled to know all the prosecution has, whether it is to be used in court or not
- The accused is entitled to subpoena witnesses and compel their attendance and testimony under oath
- The accused has the right of appeal to a superior bench or tribunal on points of law or new evidence
- The accused has the right of professional or expert counsel or representation
- The accused has the right to know all his/her rights at the time of arrest or at the start of any proceedings
* Evidence itself collected illegally or improperly cannot be admitted in the case against the accused
Perhaps GL of Ark. needs a course in basic civics.
Gordon thought at first that he was being charged with violation of a brand new Grand Lodge ruling made in the 2010 Grand Session because that is what Sebastian Lodge #706 was charged with.
The sequence of events and their close proximity to their execution hold the whole Grand Lodge process in suspect. First you had webmaster Gordon posting the Grand Master’s directive prohibiting the purchase of Arkansas Masonic license plates on Sebastian Lodge’s website with provision that this was not necessarily the point of view of Sebastian Lodge. Just a few days, literally 3 days, later Grand Session convenes and a new anti electronic law is passed followed by in just a few more weeks until the closing of Sebastian Lodge by the Grand Master and the initiation of charges against Gordon. A good case could be made that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas instituted the new legislation for the sole purpose of expelling Derek Gordon.
The Grand Master uses this new law to pull the charter of Sebastian Lodge and close it down.
What is on Sebastian’s website has been put there by Gordon. So it is only natural for him to initially think that the charge is related to the posting of Masonic information for public view. But Gordon is able to demonstrate that all that he has posted on Sebastian’s website he has drawn from the Grand Lodge website and other chartered Lodges of Arkansas linked on the Grand Lodge website.
THEN THE GRAND LODGE OF ARKANSAS PROMPTLY CLOSES ITS WEBSITE. So, there is no lasting proof that Gordon can point to. (The website has since relaunched)
And to further weaken the validity of its position the Grand Lodge of Arkansas is prosecuting, using a brand new law, before it has informed all its constituent Lodges that the new law was made. Sebastian Lodge receives the notification of the anti electronic communication addition to Grand Lodge’s by-laws along with the letter of charges filed against Gordon and a Masonic trial date all at the same time. That means that the Grand Lodge is proceeding against violators of its new law before anybody has been notified that the new law exists. That fact strengthens the position that the only reason they created the new law was to prosecute Gordon.
Gordon searches for another reason the Grand Lodge might be prosecuting him and remembers associating with Black Masons at Mainstream Lodges in Oklahoma and Prince Hall Masons in the military service. Since he has so informed Grand Lodge of these activities and suggested to Grand Lodge to pursue Prince Hall recognition he wonders if this is the real reason for charges being filed against him.
When you sift through all this information you have to ask yourself if this is a normal manner for a Grand Lodge to act. If you are a Mainstream Mason in say Vermont or Illinois or California or Iowa or Minnesota would your Grand Lodge be going through these contortions to purge members? And I will play a little Bill O’Reilly here – “And you say?”
The Grand Lodge of Arkansas proudly announces its purge of others also.
There are other more overriding issues here. It is not just about racism, although that surely is a component. It’s just as much about the abuse of power, un-Masonic conduct by Grand Masters and Grand Lodges, in short tyrannical leadership.
From the earliest of Speculative Masonic ages the Royal Society and Freemasonry were connected. From 1640 into its formal formation in 1660 Freemasons like Elias Ashmole, Sir Christopher Wren, Sir Robert Moray and Dr. Desaguliers brought the Royal Society and Freemasonry together in the pursuit of light. Free thinkers, leaders in the arts and sciences, political and societal action in behalf of the worth of the individual, the philosophy of the Enlightenment all characterized what Freemasonry was all about and its unique ability to harmonize many diverse elements in one body under one roof.
But as practiced in America, many Grand Lodges are no longer receptive and accepting of different opinions, practices and lifestyles. They are exclusionary not only purging Blacks, Jews and Catholics but casting out anybody who wishes to think for themselves.
Some Mainstream American Grand Lodges refuse to allow a Master Mason in their jurisdiction to express what Freemasonry means to them, to talk about Freemasonry or to think for themselves. They demand that their Brethren shut up and let the Grand Lodge do their thinking for them. They squash openness and reforms at every opportunity they get.
The power that American Mainstream Grand Lodges possess today is far stronger than 50 years ago. Before 1960 Grand Lodges were more like equal partners with their chartered local Lodges. The Local Lodge and its Worshipful Master stood supreme in the governance of its own affairs. Oh, yes there were Grand Lodge requirements, Grand Lodge forms to fill out and send in and a Grand Constitution to uphold. But rarely did a Grand Lodge attempt to mess in the affairs of a chartered Lodge under its jurisdiction. The Worshipful Master was supreme in his own Lodge and the Grand Lodge handled affairs on a District or state level while also offering advice and help when a local Lodge asked for it.
The 1960’s saw American Masonic membership take a nosedive. In response to what Grand Lodges saw as the sluggishness of its constituent Lodges to take the necessary measures to boost membership, Grand Lodges jumped in and began making demands on subordinate Lodges. Grand Lodges made the case that only they could, by pooling resources, initiate large expensive programs to attract new members. They used this excuse to then make more demands on local Lodges and take over some of their Lodge’s decision making.
The result of this power shift also had a profound influence on the financial well being of local Lodges. As Grand Lodges assumed more and more power they not only were able to reap the rewards of giant, state-wide fundraisers which only they could afford to finance but also financial backing, donations and gifts bypassed local Lodges and went directly to the coffers of Grand Lodges. Subordinate lodges became more and more financially strapped and Grand Lodges refused to send any money back down to them. As local Lodges pleaded for financial help, Grand Lodges would only provide help with strings attached. Those strings enabled them to make decisions in local Lodges that in days past would never have been allowed.
There is an old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Now Grand Masters always have had supreme power, but the boundary line of their duty was always spelled out so that there were many avenues that were off limits to them. Once any limits to Grand Lodge power were eliminated it paved the way for a small Oligarchy to control a whole jurisdiction.
There are benevolent dictators and there are oppressive dictators. The latter sitting in the Grand East act like the potentate of a Right Wing Masonic Militia. There are many examples of this abuse of power, among the most recent are:
1) The Grand Master of West Virginia expels Past Grand Master, Frank Haas without a trial, for his reforms and policies while he was Grand Master. The Grand Master calls Frank Haas a few days before his Lodge’s Communication and asks him if he will be attending as he is going to visit the Lodge, but he gives no hint as to the nature of his visit. Then before Brothers and friends he blindsides Hass with an expulsion by edict. This Grand Lodge prohibits any discourse with “clandestine” Masons. If you can’t even speak with Prince Hall Masons it makes it pretty hard to start the process of recognition. But what is most distressing about this Grand Lodge is not just its racism but its ability to stop Master Masons from speaking out or discussing any Masonic matter.
The Millennial Mason had this to say about the situation in West Virginia at the time:
“As I am sure most of you are aware, it is a terrible, repugnant state of affairs within the borders of West Virginia for the average Mason. If he voices support for M.W.B. Frank Haas’ case, he is expelled through edict. The Grand Lodge is using hidden codes within their communications to flush out critics of their policies if that critic should give the communication to the Masonic Crusade. It is truly a story that even a fiction writer could not have invented.”
2) The Grand Lodge of Georgia through devious means convinces two Worshipful Masters to prefer charges against Gate City Lodge and its Worshipful Master for raising a black man in direct violation of the Grand Lodge statue that says non whites cannot become members. This method demands a Grand Lodge trial and bypasses the local Lodge handling of this affair. It also shields the Grand Master from direct involvement in taking this action. Eventually the charges were dropped after Gate City Lodge sued the Grand Lodge in civil court.
This brings us to the present state of affairs in Arkansas. The Grand Lodge of Arkansas is bringing Derek Gordon to trial and possible expulsion, but they refuse to be specific about what he has done wrong. In so doing they follow a pattern illustrated by Georgia, West Virginia and a host of others before them. The pattern may involve racism and, also, cultural and religious discrimination all of which are abhorrent and un-Masonic. Yet the overriding ability to act in such an un-Masonic manner can be laid at the bed of the enormous all-pervasive power Grand Lodges have assumed.
This absolute power has led some Grand Lodges to act in an arbitrary manner including some or all of the below:
- All Masonic trials are initiated by the Grand Master
- All Masonic trials are conducted by a Grand Lodge tribunal
- The Grand Master can expel by edict or on sight without a trial
- The Grand Master can pull the charter of a Lodge and close it down without having a reason or giving prior notification
- Masonic discourse outside the jurisdiction is prohibited
- Publicly discussing Masonic matters is prohibited
- Using electronic means to discuss Masonry is prohibited
- Disagreeing with the Grand Master is grounds for immediate expulsion
- Owning operating or posting on a Masonic website is prohibited
- Organizing and creating a group, club or organization of Masons outside of Lodge Communications for whatever purpose without the approval of the Grand Master is strictly prohibited.
- Writing and publishing Masonic articles, papers or books that haven’t been first approved by Grand Lodge is disallowed.
- Submitting to an interview by the press or going on a radio or TV show dealing with Masonic matters must have prior Grand Lodge approval.
The theme that runs through all this is fascism which is anathema to Masonic tradition. Those members of the Royal Society who were also Masons centuries ago were not stopped from speaking their mind. Freemasonry has always prided itself on being inclusive, not exclusionary, of permitting differences in all aspects of society to co-exist in a big tent philosophy. Some of the great free thinkers of the world, some of the greatest mystics, some of the greatest spiritualists, many of whom were never conformists, were Masons and were never expelled for their views.
Here is another way in which the Grand Lodge of Arkansas wants to cement its control as was passed in the 2010 session.
Again I have to ask is muzzling Masons a proper use of Masonic authority? And you say…………………………
Is ethnic (or individual) cleansing a permissible Masonic policy?
And you say……………………..
Should any racism be tolerated in a Masonic jurisdiction?
And you say…………………..
Do we all live on a Masonic island or is American Masonry all interconnected?
And you say………………………………
American Freemasonry has failed Derek Gordon. There are too many Neros in American Freemasonry who will fiddle while Masonry burns.
And you say………………………
If you want to help Gordon don’t write to him or waste your time addressing the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. Write, call, E-Mail your own Grand Lodge and ask them to put a stop to this kind of Freemasonry.