Nebraska: A Predictable Masonic Mess

Looking at the Masonic mess in Nebraska certain questions come to mind, such as, “How did we get to this point in Freemasonry where something like this can so easily happen? “  A hundred years ago in the Craft would any of the participants acted in this manner?  What is the difference between now and then? The answer to the last question may offer a clue as to why so many stories like this are so prevalent today. It seems like every few months another Masonic mess hits the scene.

nebraska flagParsons’, the outgoing Grand Master, logic is that the rules and regulations in the Constitution and by-laws of Nebraska will not allow a quick enough response for justice to take place.  Watts, the incoming Grand Master, who should be tried and convicted immediately and thus become ineligible to become Grand Master will not happen by following the rules, he thinks. So Parsons with some Past Grand Masters and other members of the Grand Lodge have decided that if the rules are deficient they no longer apply and they must take the law into their own hands. Watts will use his powers as Grand Master to delay his trial until after his term of office is up, they say. He could through controlling parliamentary procedure sidetrack or squash motions to challenge his authority or question his authenticity if he is allowed to assume the Grand East immediately.

It seems to me that here is an instance where the Grand Lodge has been hoisted on its own petard.  Grand Lodges have deliberately allowed the power of the Grand Master over the Craft to reach hither unheard of heights. It was OK when the Grand Master was lording his authority over subordinates but now that it is the Grand Master versus his own Grand Lodge and Grand Master versus Grand Master and Past Grand Masters the tables have been turned and many look aghast at such horror.

It is precisely this trend in the Grand Master’s absolute power with no constrictions –  not voting members of the Grand Lodge or the Constitution of the Grand Lodge –  that has moved Masonic trials from the local Lodge into the chambers of the Grand Lodge chaired by the Grand Master and then ultimately to expulsions with no trial whatsoever. And right along with that goes the power of the Grand Master to revoke subordinate Lodge charters immediately on the spot and at will. So it only follows that a Grand Master can refuse to seat a duly elected successor or in the case of Frank Haas for a Grand Master to expel a Past Grand Master without a trial.

That amount of power has enabled Grand Masters in voting Grand Lodges to control the agenda and refuse to allow certain motions or votes to take place declaring then unconstitutional or not correctly drawn up or ultimately “not in the best interests of the Craft.”

It is not the rulings of the 21st century all powerful Grand Master that are always detrimental.  Many Grand Masters are quite benevolent and operate always with the best interests of the Craft in mind. It is the breakdown of the rule of law, the violations of its own Constitution that doom Freemasonry to chaos and anarchy. In civil society it is precisely the rule of law that separates third world machine gun political nations from those who obey the law even when the rulings are not in their favor.

Freemasonry seems to be going down this same lawless path.  It is the Old Wild West relived where Sheriffs and Judges rule with extraordinary powers and justice is a quick hanging without taking time for the formalities of the law.

The sooner Freemasonry recognizes why it is having all these problems and restores the rule of Masonic law is the sooner Masonic messes disappear from today’s news.

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About Fred Milliken

Fred is a Past Master of Plymouth Lodge, Plymouth Massachusetts, and Past Master of Paul Revere Lodge, Brockton, Massachusetts. Presently, he is a member of Pride of Mt. Pisgah No. 135, Prince Hall Texas, where is he is also a Prince Hall Knight Templar . Fred is a Fellow of the Phylaxis Society and former Executive Director of the Phoenix Masonry website and museum.

Comments

  1. J.Luis Castaneda says:

    “A hundred years ago in the Craft would any of the participants acted in this manner? What is the difference between now and then? The answer to the last question may offer a clue as to why so many stories like this are so prevalent today.”

    As horrific as this situation is, we have to remember that while Freemasonry is a force for good it is still a human institution and is therefore by definition imperfect. I think that the notion that this is a symptom of modern Freemasonry’s Grand Lodge system and that somehow there was once a golden age when these things didn’t happen is fairly unfounded if not down right erroneous . It is not that “stories like this are more prevalent today” as much as that the internet didn’t exist 100 years ago.
    Even so there is plenty of documented evidence that stories like this were at least equally prevalent 100 years ago.

    If there were no Grand Lodges abuses of power would just take place on the local lodge level which it does anyway. If anything the Grand Lodge system is more often a deterrent against spurious degree mills that charge unsuspecting candidates exorbitant fees while offering little or no real Freemasonry in return. I would also venture to say that instances when a Grand Lodge uses its power in disciplining or admonishing a local lodge or individual it is more often than not in the right.

    The Grand Lodge of Nebraska might be responsible for this mess, but the belief that therefore it is the Grand Lodge system in general that is to blame is what is refereed to in logic as a fallacy of affirming the consequent. Furthermore it seems apparent to me that this argument is constructed with a dogmatic adherence to libertarian principles. I myself have some libertarian leanings but to approach any topic predisposed with a particular philosophical bias leaves little room for critical thinking.

    While I acknowledge that there have been several abuses of Grand Lodge power in the last few years no one outside the state involved would have known about them even 20 years ago. I am perfectly content with the way my jurisdiction is governed and would hazard to guess that the majority of my brothers are as well.

    J. Luis Castaneda, 32°
    SD, Multnomah Lodge No.1
    A.F.&A.M. of Oregon

  2. I agree that there are many good Grand Lodges that do outstanding work. I also agree that many actions taken by Grand Lodges to discipline or remove members for their actions are justifiable and need to been taken. I also realize that “the good old days” are not always what they are cracked up to be.

    That being said there seems to be an increase in the number of incidents warranting Grand Lodge action against its members. But most discouraging is the marked increase in grave and severe Grand Lodge actions. And even worse is the number of actions that have been taken by Grand Lodges that are illegal, unconstitutional and involve outright lying by the Grand Lodge. “Put up” charges seem to be on the rise and something that Grand Lodges did not resort to in the past. Heretofore cases of misconduct were reported and dealt with according to custom and law spelled out in the Constitution and by-laws. And there were numerous cases in the past that merited action. But inventing charges and falsifying testimony was not widely employed in years past. It is today.

    This is the first time I can remember that a junior Past Grand Master was expelled by his successor without a Masonic trial. In fact if you investigate the case of Frank Haas in the jurisdiction of West Virginia you will find that he was lured into his Lodge under false pretenses to be expelled in front of his own father without any chance to defend himself. Now that’s being vindictive.

    If you have followed some of the stories here on Freemason information you can see similar egregious cases in those of Derek Gordon of the jurisdiction of Arkansas, Mike McCabe of the jurisdiction of New Jersey and Gate City Lodge of the jurisdiction of Georgia.

    Two jurisdictions exemplify what I am talking about, Arkansas and West Virginia. Arkansas in the last 50 years has lost 90% of its Masonic membership. I know we have all seen a dip in membership but none of us in the United States have seen losses that great. Arkansas has also prohibited its membership from sending any E-Mails with Masonic content and has shut down its website. West Virginia refuses to allow York Rite, Scottish Rite, DeMolay or Rainbow in its Lodges and also refuses to join the Conference of Grand Masters. In addition if you have lost a limb you are disqualified from Masonic membership.

    There are ten jurisdictions that refuse to recognize Prince Hall and many of these also refuse to admit any black men.

    I do not believe that one has to give up his civil rights to be a Mason and while I agree that the Grand Lodges that are operating properly outnumber that ones that aren’t the latter are giving Freemasonry a terrible black eye.

  3. Kenneth L. Miles says:

    Although things are happen around us we all must stay on point and try to continue to keep teaching what is right no matter who we are but those are just my thoughts but if it hurts us you be the judge. Moving Forward God Bless.

  4. Hiram Art says:

    Brethren, lets take a good look at the Investigating Committees, I have even heard that
    at times it is quite ok to call the prospective candidate on the phone, and after a few
    comments, the investigator finds it convenient to go with his favorable opinion, and
    when the candidate shows for Initiation, the so called investigator has to, for the time,
    introduce himself to the candidate. Could his be a part of the ptoblem?

  5. A Nebraska Mason says:

    The main problem is that in Nebraska the Grand Master is not elected. The Deputy Grand Master is elected and becomes Grand Master after a year. Most local lodges, and individual masons, don’t know exactly what is going on with Grand Lodge, most couldn’t tell you who the Grand Master even is (although at this moment I’m not sure I could either) I do know that RWB Watts has been very decietful through this, but I also know that no Grand Master or GL officer pre 2003 has anything to do with any of the trials, so that also makes me suspicious also.
    What is being left out is the Grand Lodge officers, including RWB Watts met after the incident in December where he promised all present that if all charges were not dropped he would resign from office for the good of the fraternity. The week before Grand Lodge his pre-trial hearing took place and most charges were held over for court, and Deputy Grand Master Watts did not resign. What changed in those 2 months? Did he suddenly think that pending felony charges on the Grand Master would not reflect badly on Masonry?

  6. cheryl mcdermott says:

    i have the masonic seal on my head what does that mean milton mcdermott my father was a a mason

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