Arkansas is Imploding
Awhile back the Mainstream Grand Master of Arkansas visited the Grand Session of Arizona. However, he refused to attend any of the ceremonies or meetings of the Grand Session because there were Black PHA Masons present in a tyled Lodge. He only attended the Grand Session dinner because it was not a tyled session.
I passed on this story when it came out because I had just released the Derek Gordon story not long before and I didn’t want to just sit back and constantly nitpick by taking pot shots at Arkansas every other week. However further developments in the whole Arkansas approach to Freemasonry compels me to once again comment on the situation in that state. At the same time nobody seems to care or think it applicable to their Freemasonry. Consequently Arkansas Mainstream keeps on imploding while the rest of us in Freemasonry have no comment nor take any action. So once again The Beehive will report what is happening in hopes that someday, someone will think it important enough to do something.
The Arizona story was published by that fine Masonic blogger “The Burning Taper” in his piece “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?” and here is what he had to say on the subject.
It seems many rank-and-file Masons, in many locales, are becoming more and more fed up with the actions of Grand Lodge leaders.
This short article was sent to The Burning Taper recently. The author wishes to remain anonymous, for fear of retribution for reporting events and expressing his opinion.
Arizona Grand Lodge Annual Communication began with the Royal Banquet on Wednesday evening, June 2, 2010 prior to the official opening of proceedings on Thursday morning.
The Head Table consisted of Arizona Grand Lodge officers and their wives. Seated near them were the visiting dignitaries representing various Masonic grand lodge jurisdictions. There were 13 listed on the list handed out to all attending members. Most were “line” officers representing their State or jurisdiction with two currently sitting grand masters.
The two grand masters attending the Banquet were Most Worshipful Martin E. Warren, Grand Master of Masons from the Grand Lodge, F&AM of Arkansas, and Most Worshipful Lewis R. Brent, Grand Master of Masons from the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arizona. They were not seated at the same table.
When the Grand Lodge opened in Due Form in the 3rd Degree on Thursday morning the MW Lewis R. Brent from Prince Hall was present, but the MW Martin E. Warren was conspicuously absent. He was not seen in any of the subsequent tiled lodge meetings all day Friday or on Saturday.
It is the custom of the Grand Lodge that, when a pedestal officer (Grand Master, Senior Warden and Junior Warden) leave their stations during the proceedings that they place the Jewel of their office on one of the brothers in the room.
Several times during the proceedings on both days, the Senior Grand Warden Brook Cunningbrook chose a highly decorated Phoenix policeman, who is a member of one of the Arizona F&AM lodges and had been shot in the line of duty, to sit high on the chair located on a pedestal in the West to replace him temporarily. He is black.
There were two other black members of Arizona F&AM lodges present and the Senior Grand Warden had them also replace him in the West. It is quite an honor to do this.
In this case, in my opinion anyway, it was kind of an “in your face” type of gesture to some of the members of the Arizona jurisdiction who have moved to Arizona from one of the 10 states that do not recognize Prince Hall and have complained about having to sit in a lodge with a black man. Whether it was directed towards the Grand Master of Arkansas, I can only speculate.
What’s interesting about this is that the Grand Master of Arkansas spent the money to fly to Arizona only to have dinner. Since it is customary for Grand Lodges to pay for the travel expenses of their grand masters, I wonder if the brethren of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas got their monies worth. Since he did not attend any of the business meetings by sitting in a tiled lodge with a black man but only attended the social functions, it seems to me that he spent a lot of money just for a free dinner and drinks, even if the cost came out of his own pocket.
This obviously was an example of the kind of “Imperial Leadership” prevalent in many jurisdictions and is not restricted to Arkansas alone.
More recently another source, who will remain nameless to protect him from expulsion, alleges that Van Buren Lodge of Mainstream Arkansas planned a visit to view The Oklahoma Native American Indian Degree Team perform in Heavener, Oklahoma. When the Worshipful Master of Van Buren Lodge found out that Black Masons would be present he canceled the trip. Furthermore it is alleged that Arkansas Mainstream Masons present at this decision repeated an Arkansas Grand Lodge directive that prohibits any Masons from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas attending any Masonic functions where Black Masons are present.
This source also contends that the Mainstream Grand Lodge of Arkansas is lying to its membership. He points out that the Grand Lodge Grand Session Minutes of 2010 show lawsuits being won by the GL when if you look for those lawsuits using legal aides, you can see that ARGL lost. Its reminiscent to me of of Orwell’s 1984.
This continuous bloodletting by Mainstream Arkansas has led to the spawning of a support group for suspended and expelled Arkansas Masons. Its name is C.A.U.S.E.
This group meets in secret as any current members of the Grand Lodge would be expelled. It also is a service only available to unjustly suspended and expelled Arkansas Masons and specifically excludes any so dropped for moral turpitude.
Its purposes and objectives are:
1) Support group
3) Legal Aid
6) To get men out of Masonry thinking about Masonry again
C.A.U.S.E. is open to suspended & expelled Arkansas Masons as well as current members who wish to aid such men. While its membership and place and time of meetings cannot be shared with non members, the group will soon have a website.
This group has a start up membership of about 50 men. Currently C.A.U.S.E. leaders are helping the membership with trying to become members in other jurisdictions, lawsuits against Grand Lodge and esoteric discussions and speakers. It must be remembered in the case of civil action it has been alleged that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas has pulled the charter from some wealthy Lodges and closed them down in order to add that wealth to the Grand Lodge coffers.
Remember that when a Mason is unjustly expelled in one jurisdiction the wrong cannot be corrected in another jurisdiction (although C.A.U.S.E. is trying). All Masonic jurisdictions will mutually support one another in their suspensions or expulsions – no matter the reason. Frank Haas has been the only Mason in modern times to crash this barrier and that was just recently.
If you look at how many men are in C.A.U.S.E., which is only weeks old, and then add in former Masons in the same position from other states, you have a rather large group of disaffected Masons nationwide. These are for the most part good, honest men who have been wronged, and who sometimes seem overly angry and bitter. They are ripe for being picked up by another Obedience, many who are classified as irregular and clandestine by Mainstream Masonry.
These are men who certain Masonic societies and forums will drop from their membership rolls once they have been suspended or expelled. To be wronged and then to be shunted, ostracized and damned is something that only fuels the fire of bitterness and hatred.
Yet those in power who do wrong are never chastised by their peers. They are never held accountable for their actions. There is no recourse to correct a run away, rogue Grand Lodge.
The righteous minded, ass kissing, bean counters left in Mainstream Masonry will pontificate that if there are problems in a Grand Lodge then it is only the business of that Grand Lodge and nobody else’s and all that is needed to correct matters is for the Brethren as a whole to vote to change things.
They haven’t met the Arkansas Grand Master who is alleged to have forcibly removed and expelled an 80 year old member from Grand Lodge Session who made a motion that displeased him who is the same Grand Master who is accused of having committing an immoral act that sacks every brother who attempts to bring him up on charges by expelling them without trial.
Where were all these holier than thou Masons when the Grand Master of Arkansas banned Masonic E-Mail? Where were they when Past Grand Master Frank Haas was snookered into coming to a meeting so that the Grand Master could embarrass him by expelling him in front of his father and friends without prior notice?
The other mantra used by those on the inside is, wait awhile, when all the old guys die off, things will change. In the meantime – don’t rock the boat. Very bad advice, indeed. There is no reforming Grand Lodges which function as bastions of the KKK who remake themselves anew with each new generation. When any thought, word or deed, and attempt at making things right is met with instant expulsion without a trial then you have a rogue Grand Lodge out of control that is governing its membership as the North Korean government governs its citizens. The only thing that is going to stop a Grand Lodge like this is action from the outside.
C.A.U.S.E. is not standing around and waiting for somebody else to do something. It is going ahead to first take care of the hearts and souls of those men who have been so unjustly wronged, and then to mitigate some of the damage being done by a Grand Lodge who only thinks of itself and amassing more and more power.
Perhaps this movement will catch on in West Virginia and elsewhere.