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.
Parsons’, 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.