The Pope, or General or Grand Master of New Jersey pulled the charter of Trimble Lodge for no apparent reason other than greed. But first it asked the Lodge to vote on its fate. When 95% of the Lodge voted to remain as they were, the Grand Master said, well you didn’t vote the way I wanted you to so I am over ruling your election and taking your charter. You are no longer a Lodge in this jurisdiction. Silly us, we thought that the process as laid out by the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey should be binding.
Then when another Pope of New Jersey Masonry goes after McCabe he does so on trumped up charges reminiscent of Derek Gordon’s fate in Arkansas and in one of the charges uses surrogates to file a fake, false charge reminiscent of Gate City Lodge No. 2’s fate in Georgia. All along the way the Grand Master violates the tenants of his Constitution and the spirit of due process. He does so by wanton disregard of his jurisdiction’s most sacred document. Now it no longer becomes the importance of the process but the importance of the leader.
UNCONSTITUTIONALLY CHANGING A CONSTITUTION
The Grand Lodge Oligarchy in New Jersey outlawed its Constitution. You can’t insert a clause in a Constitution that says the leader can ignore any and all statues that he wants to. By doing so you have dispensed with the necessity of having a Constitution. This seems to be the trend in modern Mainstream Masonry. The rule of law has been replaced with the cult of the leader.
But it wasn’t always this way. In fact that is far from the tradition of Masonry. For centuries a Grand Master’s power was delineated in the Constitution which spelled out exactly when and how he could interfere in the affairs of a local Lodge. Under the Constitution local Lodges as well as individual Brothers had rights too and spheres of influence that a Grand Lodge could not violate without permission. Just as in the civil separation of church and state we had separation of Grand Lodge and local Lodges. And Grand Masters adhered to the letter of the law.
But that has gone by the boards in today’s Masonry. And that is precisely the problem that has infected Mainstream Masonry today. Grand Lodges have become like civil governments, jealous of their power and taking extraordinary measures to keep, preserve and protect that power while constantly adding to it. In the process Grand Lodge’s have trampled on the civil rights of its members and overridden their own Constitutions which were written to limit their powers.
Instant Suspensions and Instant Expulsions without a Masonic trial by Grand Masters are not in the tradition of Masonic jurisprudence. Neither is pulling charters and closing down Lodges that are vibrant and healthy for purely political reasons. There has to be some recourse to the Brotherhood for relief from out of control Grand Masters who have eliminated all limits on their power. And that recourse has to be something beyond dumping the problem back on the individual members to correct. If a Grand Master can over ride and negate any vote taken by the Grand Lodge acting as a body then he is as entrenched in power as Castro is in Cuba.
Here are four suggestions. Pick one, or suggest another.
- A National Grand Lodge
- A National Masonic Constitution and Bill of rights
- A Congress of elected Masons in every Grand Lodge who write and interpret Masonic law
- Abolish the Grand Lodge system altogether
The sad fact is that that the Frank Haas story in West Virginia, the story of Halcyon Lodge in Ohio, the Gate City Lodge No.2 story in Georgia, the Derek Gordon story in Arkansas and the Mike McCabe story in New Jersey are all the same peas in a pod. And tomorrow there will be another story somewhere else, and another and another and another until American Masonry decides to reform and police itself deciding that it is an American institution not just a state body with a states rights attitude and a Confederate mindset.