What do you think we can do about this other than to return to teaching Masonry the way it is supposed to be taught, The more involved we become in public affairs, the more public we become. There are far too many folks that for one reason or another blame Masons for all ills and chills in the world. One of the reasons for that is that through the years we have become more public. We want the public to recognize what we do; many believe it is a way to solicit members without soliciting them directly. We do not need more members, we need better ones, Men who really understand what Masonry is, Men who see not the color of skin, but look deep inside the man to find his true colors, Men who truly seek the betterment of mankind, Men who do not look for power or self-gain.
Yes, Men like Derek Gordon have been falsely crucified unjustly, however, it was because the rank and file (today mostly made of men who joined simply for social reasons) have been allow to climb to the top while those of us who knew trouble was brewing failed to do what was necessary to stop the rot from within. In my view, the less broadcasted about it the better. Now is the time to start tightening up the west gate, now is the time for those who are real Mason should step forth and begin teaching the tenets of Masonry from the beginning.
Tis only when we can rid ourselves of tyrants and power-hungry mongels that we will began to climb out of the hole we have dug for ourselves.
When one’s ox is not being gored one tends to think of somebody else’s complaint as trivial and the fuss made to be detrimental to an over all good institution with a good reputation.
Now one can put their hands over their ears, hide their eyes or bury their face in the sand but that won’t change what is happening.
If these injustices were isolated incidents than airing them publicly and going to civil court would be the wrong and detrimental course of action. But they are not. Masonic abuse is running rampant across America. The stories are too numerous and too nasty to ignore anymore. A couple of pedophile priests in the Catholic Church was not worth making waves over.
But rampant pedophilia had to be brought out into the open and dealt with. And civil courts had to get involved with private religion.
I’ll bet you remember the baseball Black Sox scandal of 1919. At that time all the owners were in complete control of their ball teams with no oversight – no meddling. But after the scandal all the owners got together and agreed that something had to be done so this did not happen in the future. That’s when the first Baseball Commissioner was born.
Freemasonry must learn how to police itself and quite frankly if it does not sooner or later the government will step in and put and end to civil rights violations. If one wants to see the government leave Freemasonry alone, then the best thing one could do is work to an amiable solution to solving injustices in house. That might require doing something new and thinking outside the box but things have gone too far.
I have proposed a number of suggestions but I do not have the answer. A Masonic Supreme Court of the U.S.A., compulsory arbitration and a national Masonic Bill of Rights were ideas I came up with.
Those who bemoan the good name of Freemasonry being besmirched across the land most come up with some generally agreed upon solution. For doing nothing, the status quo, is the road to disaster. And we who are pushing and shoving Masons to do something, instead of criticizing we who are exposing these injustices, could better make a good use of their time by helping to come to a solution rather than trying to hush up the problem a la the Catholic church thereby enabling the purveyors of injustice to continue in their unjust ways.
I do agree that something needs to be done, but the rot is too deep because of inaction of good men.
Good men can still make a difference. But if Freemasonry is to survive, it must be done by masons.
For many years churches, Christians and other faiths had religious freedom in the United States, then one day, and you remember Madeline Murry Ohare, said that it offended her child that we prayed in school and the ACLU was born. Now, nativity scenes, Crosses and open prayer is against the law.
But I foresee the Masonry being banned here as it has been in other countries. Do you really think the bringing these cases to court will change anything at all?
The bigots will only be more careful of their actions.. I believe that your idea of a national Masonic tribunal is a good and should be pursued.
And I am doing something to change the future by instruction new candidates in the old way of morality and charity, teaching brotherly love and truth. It is imperative that we return to being an educational institution if we are to survive. We cannot undo what has been done nor repair the damage, but we can change the future with education and guarding the west gate for future masons.
I believe Frank Hass was wronged and so was Derek Gordon and others. But you need to read other opinion on the reverse side too. There are two sides and sometimes more to every story.
What if it does go to court and the bad guys hire really smart attorneys and win the cases. We also have to think of that possibility.
There is much to be learned about public whims and fancies and little of it good.
Think further then the next move on the chess board. I want masonry to survive, and free of government intervention.
I laud your dedication and insistence to Masonic education. A knowledgeable Mason is a committed Mason. But in this zeal to instruct there must be an equal zeal to protect the rights of each individual Mason. We cannot let our beloved fraternity be taken over by a bunch of thugs. We cannot have Al Capone in the Grand East and expect to disseminate the virtues of Freemasonry.
I laud your commitment to excellence. It is much needed in Freemasonry. But I worry that all the good will be co-opted by a bunch of hacks and Chicago Mafia in the Grand Lodges.
I have in the past advocated that any Masons elected to the office of Grand Master must pass a written test of Masonic knowledge in order to assume the office. People think I’m nuts for that.
In the end to keep the government out of Freemasonry and to keep the anti Masons from nipping at our heels, we must learn how to police ourselves.
I additional suggestion I have made is to use The Masonic Service Association of North America as an arbiter in cases of serious Masonic complaint. The Grand Lodge and the accused would send written response to MSANA and would be available for questioning via telephone. MSANA would act as a arbitration service that would be binding on all American Grand Lodges. It’s not a perfect idea but it’s thinking about doing something, more than most are doing.
Lastly – come on – expelling a Junior Past Grand Master for his actions in office. You have got to be kidding me. Allowing that to happen is a major PR failure. We expect young men to join our organization after actions like that?
Going to court will help. It will make the indifferent stand up and take notice and do something. Do you really think that the courts should not have become involved in the Catholic church’s pedophile priest problem?
Don’t fight it. Join in making Freemasonry better by insisting that Freemasonry is no place for petty tyrants and little Hitlers. And keep up the good work. We need more men like you!
I like your suggestion about MSA and what they can do…but remember the rot goes deep. Those we pick to be arbiters must pass a stringent test of true moral character if they are to sit in judgment of the craft.
I still fear going to civil court will kill open meetings in the USA, Masonry will have to go underground to survive.
I have watched for years as our court systems have become a mockery of justice. Maybe one of a 1000 receive an form of true justice. And unless Frank or Derek have wealthy benefactors, their chance of winning in court is almost nil. As most of those in power are fairly well off individuals who will stop at nothing to remain in power, Money will be no object. Unless our Plaintiffs have an attorney that is very good that works for free.
I am truly sad to say that our justice system plays only to the tune of those who can afford to win regardless of the cost. True, Some Grand Lodges may fall along the way but that too will hurt the rank and file.
I do agree the time for cleansing is now..but we must do it from the inside, There are those of us who are willing to stand but not alone. The numbers must be great to overwhelm the rotten apples, and for sure we would know the standing of real masons verse those who exist in card files only.
MASONIC APPEALS TO THE COURTS: IS THIS WISE ?
One may well appreciate the frustrations and sense of Masonic betrayal that have caused M.W. Bro. Haas to drag the Grand Lodge of West Virginia into the courts in an attempt to resolve the issues involved.
This is especially so when it appears that fundamental values on which the United States was founded and continues to support are claimed, not without credibility, to have been ignored entirely within Masonry as administered by the current leadership of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia.
Initially, the first thought was that the aggrieved person should simply walk away and, in company with others so aggrieved, establish their own, new, more acceptable Masonic lodge or Grand Lodge. However, walking away is not the answer because, as has been pointed out, there are not enough Masons who want to walk away. Any one or any very few opting for “secession” would find themselves alone and without the numbers or resources to actually establish alternate lodges or Grand Lodges with any viability or firm foundation in either numbers or finances. Thus, walking away is not an option.
However, resort to the courts and legal system may not be the best route to solution or resolution of the very real and very serious concerns associated with this matter. Given time and sufficient outrage it is not unreasonable to expect that the majority of all the West Virginia brethren may eventually replace their current leadership and otherwise take steps themselves to remedy the situation from its currently reported most unsatisfactory state.
There seems to be a sense of urgency and of impatience at work. Not all problems can be solved before the half hour is up and it’s time for the commercial, to propose an analogy. Given the possible implications of rushing into the courts, outlined below, might it not be the better part of wisdom to give all the brethren of West Virginia, as opposed to the smaller number of current Masonic leaders there, some time to address these issues from within?
The legal basis for intervention of the courts into the internal affairs and proceedings of Masonry in West Virginia is reasonably clear: as an incorporated body, the Grand Lodge of West Virginia is therefore obligated to conform to the same laws as the rest of society, being now in law a public, corporate individual. Essentially, it is required to conform to the larger laws of the state and the nation on the same basis as a bank, a restaurant or a manufacturing business, to take three examples. The court has already seized itself of jurisdiction to require the Grand Lodge of West Virginia to obey and follow its own rules, whatever they may be.
There is an old saying applicable to this situation: “Be careful what you ask for, as you might get it.” There is also a principle of experience that needs to be noted, sometimes referred to as “ The Law of Unintended Consequences,” the essential sense of which is that in seeking one goal or object a whole host of results not desired or anticipated nonetheless arise.
The concern is that, despite the real and very serious issues and the clear and understandable frustrations, in going to the courts and the public legal system M.W. Bro. Haas and those who support him in this action may be opening Freemasonry to legal orders and larger interference than they, themselves, either desired or expected.
The court has already apparently ruled that race is a relevant issue for the court’s attention and possible Orders, despite the denial of this by the Grand Lodge of West Virginia. Whatever the truth of this, and it may well be true, yet there remain any number of other very valid legal concerns of which this court, or any other state or federal court, might well be seized of jurisdiction, using as a recent and valid precedent the legal proceedings launched by M.W. Bro, Haas, as above.
For example, religious tests for membership. It is not impossible that a court might well forbid any religious test or specific belief statement for membership. In almost every Grand Jurisdiction, in some form or other, a candidate is asked to profess a personal belief in a Supreme Being. If once the courts are empowered or invited to investigate Masonry’s rules and proceedings, we might find a Grand Lodge under court Order forbidding any such a religious test for membership in a public, incorporated organization. Yet, always claiming Masonry is not a religion, or a substitute for a religion, the Craft would not be able to avail itself of religious exemptions, such as those granted to established Churches or denominations.
Although the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Federal Constitution failed to gain ratification of sufficient states before the time permitted expired, in 1982, yet there remains considerable legal ground for courts to intervene in cases of public, incorporated organizations that forbid membership or participation only on grounds of gender
Masonry is a poster child for a sexist organization. When you deny membership to any person without regard to that person’s character, finance, morality, adult status, good reputation or beliefs simply on the ground that person is female, then you are clearly sexist with respect to your membership rules. To plead in mitigation that there are branches of Masonry for women, and that Masonry strongly supports families, marriage and the dignity and humanity of women will not solve the problem: you refuse to admit on the grounds of gender alone. This is what will be the focus of a court in any legal challenge. Again, we will hear the refrain: you must obey the same laws and the same rules as everyone else, as you are no longer strictly a private club.
Our Masonic rules, although often in different particular language, require Masonic punishment, even expulsion from Masonry, depending on specific things members may say. For example, traditionally a public declaration of atheism is often grounds for expulsion. How will this, and other restrictions on what Masons can or cannot say, stand up in the United States in the face of the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution if appeals may be made to state and federal courts that this public, incorporated organization, a Grand Lodge of this or that state, is violating the First Amendment rights of its member or members? Indeed, would the promises and vows of our Obligations be seen by a court to be “unconstitutional,” based on the argument that, as a public, incorporated organization, it must obey the same laws and the same rules as everyone else? And, remember, there would be no basis to claim exemption as a religion, since Masonry has always denied it is any such thing.
These are examples of the earlier reference to “ the Law of Unintended Consequences” and the old saying, “ Be careful what you ask for, as you might get it.” In seeking to invoke the power of the state or national courts, and the wider laws of the nation, in order to enter into Freemasonry to address a particular concern, however frustrating and however serious, very significant precedents are set in motion, possibly constituting a veritable Pandora’s box of unforeseen consequences in the near future.
In addition to those considerations, there is another concern. We all know that Freemasonry is beset by vicious, relentless, active real enemies, persons and interests that desire our entire destruction and complete overthrow or dissolution. In bringing our internal concerns, real and serious as they are, into the full glare of public court proceedings, do we not give to these enemies of Freemasonry powerful and effective ammunition to attack us?
Will they not claim, for example, “ Court finds Masonry racist!” Or, “ Court rules Masons dishonest and unfair to their own members! “ All of a sudden, these statements are given the cloak of respectability not previously available to religious fanatics, whacko conspiracy nuts, or persons whose motives are rooted in profit for themselves or a mere desire for personal notoriety. Slightly re-worded pronouncements from the Bench would provide a highly effective anti-Masonic propaganda vehicle for our real, external enemies, a result that M.W. Bro. Haas certainly would not want and would certainly find deplorable. And, yet, it is a very possible consequence of appealing to the secular, external legal system.
This is all the more discouraging as the Craft has recently benefited enormously from positive publicity, publicity that is nation wide and that could not possibly be purchased, in such mass audience movies as “National Treasure,” and the Dan Brown books. As a result of this court case, and the example and precedents it may set for future court cases, we might lose all of that benefit, not only in West Virginia, but also across the nation.
The process by which Committees of Inquiry or Investigation, calling on an Applicant at his home most usually, reach a determination of suitable or not suitable for membership in Freemasonry might well come under legal scrutiny on the basis of the court taking jurisdiction over all or part of the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia.
Rejected applicants, or their sponsors, might well come before the courts demanding transparency in the reasons for rejection, especially by the Committee of Inquiry or Investigation. Without that transparency, they could well argue, the real motive might be religious (We don’t like Muslims in our Lodge) or racist (We don’t like Asians in our Lodge) or homophobic ( He looks gay) or even regional ( We don’t want Yankees from New England in our Mississippi lodge). If members of Committees of Inquiry had to reveal their specific reasons or motives, under oath under penalty of perjury in a public court with the media and the press present, it would seriously constrain any Committee, any time, reporting unfavorable, even when the reasons would be far more respectable than those given above. For example, the real reason might be the applicant was lacking in financial resources to the point where if he did pay dues it would impact his ability to support his wife and children properly. In itself, this is a perfectly respectable reason for reporting “unfavorable” to the lodge, but imagine the consequences if it had to be made public in a court in the presence of the rejected applicant, his sponsors, his family, his employer, and the media.
As we all know, civil proceedings in the courts are expensive. It is said in defending itself the Grand Lodge of West Virginia has already spent a considerable sum of money, although the reported amounts vary widely. One has to assume the financial resources of any Grand Lodge are not bottomless pits of money, and that significant sums spent by members and Grand Lodges in enriching lawyers might well have been devoted to more worthy and more socially valuable objectives in terms of the ideals and objects of Freemasonry.
In the interests of transparency, this author desires to state he is a Freemason, and a Past Master of his lodge; that he is not a citizen of the United States; that he is not a member of any United States lodge or Grand Lodge, and that he is a member of his own lodge and Grand Lodge in good standing. He does not desire his name or that of his Grand Lodge to be published in order to avoid a tidal wave of e-mails, phone calls or unsolicited materials either to himself or to his Grand Lodge.
What this is about is basic Constitutional guarantees, guarantees which all citizens, corporations, banks and Wall Street must adhere to and when they don’t they are prosecuted.
It’s not OK for anybody, any organization or any entities mentioned here to practice racism, to discriminate because of color of skin. It’s not OK for all of the above to restrict free speech over and above Constitutional and legal restrictions. It is not OK for all of the above to slander, libel and otherwise abuse individuals. It is not OK for for all of the above to fail to render due process.
AND IT IS NOT OK FOR FREEMASONRY TO PARTICIPATE IN ANY OF THOSE VIOLATIONS EITHER. There is no attempt to write new regulations or takeover Freemasonry here. There is no indication that the courts, the government, want to rule Freemasonry. What they want to do here is make Freemasonry abide by the same set of rules everybody else has to observe.
And Freemasonry, now that it is a public corporation, must abide by the by-laws which it publishes. That is usually a condition of incorporation.
You may be right, that Pandora’s box has been opened. But Freemasonry has no one to blame but itself. It brought itself out of being a totally private organization into the public sphere. But the problem is it continued to act as if it was still a totally private organization when it wasn’t. It did what it pleased, in violation of Civil Rights legislation and in violation of its own rules. The Frank Haas case was a good example where expulsion was carried out without a Masonic trial on charges that were false. And The Grand Master even lured Frank Haas into his home Lodge on false pretenses so he could surprise expel him on the spot in front of his father and friends. What arrogance!
And in the face of that here is what you have to say:
“I am concerned that this litigacious brother, in seeking justice for real or supposed poor treatment, may create a situation ultimately very harmful to Freemasonry itself. I think he would have been far wiser to simply resign- walk away – and organize his own new Lodge or movement. I still think voting with your feet is preferable to seeking relief from government, which may “invade Freemasonry” rather like a public bull in a private china shop”.
This is the old traditional view within Freemasonry that you keep everything in house, that you don’t sully the name of Freemasonry with your own personal problems. I must say a similar view is held by many Police Departments. Even if they know a fellow officer is “dirty” they will never tell on him to protect the virtue of the entire organization. This is also the position that the Catholic Church took in regards to Pedophile Priests. Hush, hush, sweep it under the rug for to allow such horror to become public would destroy the good name of the Church and lose it membership. And in so doing the Institution is allowed to survive and go on, but the lives of the harmed individuals are devastated and demoralized and never made right.
Well the Catholic Church has changed in this regard and so can Freemasonry. Freemasonry is a monopoly. By and large, unless you are willing to do what I have done, if you don’t like what it is doing your only recourse is to quietly leave. Because Mainstream Grand Lodges are the only true verified, recognized game in town. If a civil organization, a business, a corporation had a monopoly and was caught performing questionable practices you would be all over them, screaming for their throat. But because it is Freemasonry you want to let it get away with it. You want to give them a free pass.
The reason Masons are taking Grand Lodges to court is that they have no other recourse. Freemasonry refuses to police itself. Freemasonry regards itself exempt from any oversight- and please don’t tell me that Grand Lodge is made up of individual Masons with votes who can stop and change anything they want. That is theory but not reality and those that espouse that line are divorced from reality. The citizens of Cuba could have thrown Castro out a long time ago and those of Iran could get rid of their rulers if they really want to and those of North Korea could have a more beign government if they really wanted it. And if you buy that I have a bridge to nowhere for you to invest in.
The plain fact is that if your are dealt with unjustly by Grand Lodge there is no other way OUT but to take the abusers to civil court. There is no way to overcome injustice when the deck is stacked against you. You only have to look in depth at the stories I have written on Derek Gordon and Mike McCabe. If Freemasonry would submit to compulsory arbitration, if it had a Supreme Court to appeal executive decisions to, if it had a Bill of Rights that protected the rights of the individual Mason – then you could say that it was making some attempt to govern justly.
BUT A MONOPOLY THAT CONSIDERS ITSELF ABOVE THE LAW WILL NEVER BE CONCERNED WITH THE RIGHTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL.
I think people just don’t want to deal with it and would rather see him leave the party than try to make the situation right, which makes for an interesting argument itself for what is truth.
In my own head, once I get past the justice and fairness aspect – at the end of the day, its a business, a business that “they” want to run the way they want to – to provide a particular user experience and a particular theme, despite who or what it offends. And, like any good patron, guests don’t want to rock the boat because the user experience appeals to those experiencing it, the ideas, the teachings, the practice. Those who are the regular attendees are the ones who shape the policy and craft the experience. So, that must mean that those in attendance like the way it operates. With that in mind, I think Fred, to often we aggrandize Masonry to be like government, that it is as noble and purposeful, but the reality is that it just isn’t that grand or purposeful. At the end of the day, its just a charitable dues collecting business that facilitates a retirement home with the dues of its members, give some to other sponsored charity, but doing little in the broader community. It does little in the way of charitable community work (feeding the poor, fixing injustice, founding museums, opening universities, etc). Some lodges do some individual work, give scholarships, do food or blood drives, but at the end of the day you seldom hear about massive in social development form Freemasonry. In fact, I think you could argue that the most social development comes out of the Shrine through the hospitals, but sadly is a few steps removed from the blue lodge. My point to this now long paragraph is that Masonry is not government, it is merely a membership organization that sees itself in a more esteemed light. Personally, I don’t think we can demand of it what we demand of our government because it is a mainly volunteer body that operates without an organized mandate. So, as a user, why rock the boat, why ask for it to do more than what I myself am willing to put into it?
On the spectrum of what offends and what doesn’t offend, the plight of Frank does not rank higher than the injustices against him, meaning that his issue is just causality to keeping the status quo as no one has the energy to change the system.
So, is it an organization of principals or just an organization of ideals? The former we do every day, the latter we merely strive for without really caring if we attain them. Its really a hard light to look upon it in, is it really a moral philosophy that is a social champion or just a place we pay dues to annually to go and pay lip service to higher ideals. If the latter, then do we even deserve to be called “just and upright men”? What social justice is there if we can’t even be fair in our own house?
And your comment is? Yes you who have just read this.