One might be inclined to ask why Mike McCabe is being so persistent in trying to get an appeal for his case, an appeal the Grand Lodge of New Jersey is trying to stonewall? Why doesn’t he just let it go?
McCabe tells us:
“I once sat in a Camden County courtroom and heard the attorney representing the Grand Lodge successfully argue that neither a Masonic Lodge nor the members of a New Jersey Masonic Lodge were entitled to be treated fundamentally fair by the Grand Lodge. I sat there and wondered what type of organization had I devoted 20 plus years of my life to, to find out that is how they view me? No Brother I know ever knocked on the inner door, expecting to be treated as a second class citizen.”
Another good reason would be the actions of his Grand Master in regards to his Lodge, Trimble Lodge. That Grand Master forced the three Lodges which met in the same building (worth several million dollars and co-equally owned) to merge. Trimble Lodge was one of the three and was very well endowed thanks to the generosity of several of its deceased members.
Each of the Lodges held meetings and votes were taken. The members of Trimble Lodge and one of the other Lodges voted overwhelmingly against the forced consolidation. After the results of Trimble’s vote was announced, 49-2 against the proposal, the District Deputy acting under the instructions of the then Grand Master, walked up to the East, picked up the Lodge’s Charter and stated that Trimble Lodge was closed.
He left with the charter while the meeting was still in progress.
McCabe then provides us with an explanation of why he thinks that the Grand Lodge of New Jersey is out of control.
On December 1, 2004, Trimble Lodge went to court to obtain an injunction against the Grand Master and the Grand Lodge to prevent this forced merger. This legal action was only taken as an act of last resort, so as to permit the affected lodges the time needed to attempt an amicable resolution of the underlying issues with some members of Ionic Lodge (and Grand Lodge). It would have also afford those lodges the time needed to present the another side to these issues at the appropriate Grand Lodge forum, where actual facts could be presented and hearsay, distortions and misrepresentations could be refuted.
During the course of the court hearing, the presiding judge asked the attorney representing Grand Lodge a question something along the lines of Is a Masonic lodge entitled to be treated fundamentally fair (by either the Grand Lodge or Grand Master)? The Grand Lodge attorney’s reply was NO. The judged then asked If the members of a Masonic lodge were entitled to be treated fundamentally fair? The Grand Lodge’s attorney responded that the members of a Masonic Lodge “Are not entitled to be treated fundamentally fair”.
As to the motivation of New Jersey Grand Lodge in acting this way it could be pointed out that the Grand Lodge had committed itself to donating a significant amount of money towards the upkeep of the Battleship USS New Jersey of which Grand Master Ryan is a Trustee) Also it appears that the Grand Lodge was taking heavy losses in its various financial investments. It could be speculated that Trimble Lodge’s money was Grand Lodge’s financial bailout.
One thing was for sure, the fact that the Grand Master over ruled the votes taken by the Lodges and mandated a merger by edict requiring all Lodges to turn in their Charters with one new Charter granted for the creation of a new Lodge also contributed to McCabe’s persistence in battling Grand Lodge. Once again he tells us:
“An American’s most precious Civil Right is the right to vote and the right to have the results of that vote recognized, regardless of the final outcome.”
Keeping all this in mind, McCabe started to do some deep digging which has continued after his expulsion. And what he found explains how the Grand Lodge of New Jersey can get away with acting as it does.
He found that in 1902 the Grand Lodge of New Jersey’s committee on Masonic Jurisprudence (the Wallis Committee) was charged with identifying “the ancient landmarks of Masonry” and reporting “what those landmarks are, as applicable to the Masonic law of New Jersey”. The Wallis Committee submitted a report that borrowed from MacKey’s 25 landmarks, ignoring some and combining others. It submitted 10 Landmarks for consideration by the Grand Lodge, one of which was entirely new and not found elsewhere in Masonic tradition. Landmark No. 3 stated:
“The Grand Master…may suspend, at his pleasure, the operation of any rule or regulation of Masonry not a ‘landmark’…suspend the installed officers of any Lodge, and reinstate them at his pleasure, and is not answerable for his acts as Grand Master.”
The acceptance of a Landmark should not be taken lightly. For something to be a Landmark it must me universal and have existed since time immemorial. Something dreamed up in 1903 to increase the power of Grand Masters does not meet the criterion of being a Landmark.
Sometime after 1903 these 10 Landmarks were inserted into the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey and for any number of years Grand Masters have used Landmark No. 3 to do whatever they wanted and to rule and govern in whatever manner they so desired.
Application of Landmark No. 3 over rules provisions in the Grand Constitution that were there long before it was.
“The Grand Lodge shall have power…to make all by-laws, rules and regulations not inconsistent with this Constitution.’ (Section 2-18).
“A Lodge cannot deprive a Brother of his Civil rights.” (Section 29-27).
But Landmark No. 3 is inconsistent with the Constitution and does deprive Brethren of their Civil Rights.
How is this Landmark reconciled with the General Regulation?: “You admit that it is not in the power of any Man or Body of any Men to make innovations in the body of Masonry.”
McCabe remarks, “That one important issue that has been completely ignored is the primary purpose for any Constitution. That is to limit or restrain arbitrary authority. Landmark No. 3 eliminates that restraint.”
In 1983 Past Grand Master Rutledge, an attorney, was brought up on charges of theft, tried and found guilty at his local Lodge. However, the Grand Lodge stepped in and said that a local Lodge cannot decide the punishment process in the case of a Past Grand Master, and moved the penalty sentencing phase to the Grand Lodge level. Rutledge objected and took his case to the civil courts, all the way to the New Jersey Supreme Court. On May 10, 1983 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in Rutledge v. Gulian that “Landmark 3 explicitly authorizes the Grand Master to intermit any rule or regulation other than a Landmark.”
The court’s precedent setting ruling, upheld both the primacy of New Jersey’s 10 Landmarks, and the Grand Master’s authority in dealing with the organization’s internal controversies.
If that was the end of the story it would be bad enough and perhaps prompt us to suggest that the Brethren of New Jersey meeting in Grand Session should change their Constitution. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish with a Grand Master who rules with an iron fist and who has the power to overrule and negate any votes taken by the Brethren.
But that is not the end of the story. McCabe dug deeper and he found New Jersey Grand Lodge’s dirty little secret.
In July of 1983, only two months after this Supreme Court case had been decided, the Masonic Service Association of North America (MSANA) published its revised Sixth Edition of Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry – As Adopted, Followed or Undecided by the Fifty-One Grand Lodges of the United States.
New Jersey’s then Grand Secretary supplied the information to MSANA and McCabe
“Our records from 1903 show that the report of the Committee was received and adopted, but nothing in the report recommends that adoption of the ten Landmarks reported. We have adhered to them even though there was no official acceptance by the Grand Lodge.”
So New Jersey’s 10 Landmarks including Landmark No. 3 were never voted on and thus were never legally accepted by a majority vote of the members of the Grand Lodge meeting in Grand Session as required by its Constitution. They were just inserted into the Constitution without approval.
Section 2-23 of the Grand Lodge’s Constitution stipulates that “no alteration or addition shall be made to this Constitution unless proposed in writing, and supported by representatives of five Lodges: and a fair copy thereof, certified by the Grand Secretary, shall be forwarded to all the Lodges under the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge for their consideration, until its next annual communication, and such proposed alteration or addition shall not take effect unless there shall be thereof the votes of two-thirds of the members present.”
McCabe put it this way, “The funny thing is that the Rutledge decision was handed down only a couple of months before the MSANA pamphlet was published (The Grand Secretary along with the elected Grand Line were defendants). I believe that this information would have (could have) changed the entire outcome of the decision had the court known the information divulged in the MSANA Publication 2 or 3 months later.
And now you know the rest of the story.