Grand Lodge Grab For Power, The Aftermath of Georgia

The immense silence you hear from Georgia these days is the result of the charges being dropped against the Worshipful Master for admitting a non White but it is still not clear to me whether charges still remain against the Lodge. The charges were dropped because of the intercession of a Brother outside the jurisdiction and the publicity that was generated to rally public opinion.

The ability to talk about the charges, in all the published forums, has lead to better decisions.

What the situationin Georgia brings to mind though is the rising degree of power inherent in the position of leadership.

What have we gained here in light of all the turmoil, all the stories plastered across the newspapers, and all the discussion that resulted from such an embarrassing situation to the Craft? Has all this just been quietly swept under the rug and we go forward with business as usual?

Then and now a number of Brothers said that in such a situation a Brother should follow the jurisprudence of Grand Lodge, using the system he obligated himself to. But when they throw you out how do you take the next Masonic step?  You are no longer a Mason.  What Masonic recourse do you have when you have been expelled?  What is there left for you that you can do within the Masonic system on the outside looking in? And if you feel that you are being railroaded by a small minority who have power, whereas the Grand Lodge as a whole considering all the many members would never do such a thing to you, what tools do you have to defend yourself against a stacked deck?

When the Grand Master has it in for you the Brother brought up on charges is at a distinct disadvantage.

That is why the charges preferred have always been left to the Local Lodge, so that the Grand Master and Grand Lodge do not have the absolute power of a dictator.  There is no Hitler in Freemasonry – until now!


It would seem in these issues, that Grand Lodges are making a grab for power.

Actually it has been going on a long time without notice.  That is because we are fragmented into 50 fiefdoms of Masonic power.  If there was a United Grand Lodge of the United States Mainstream this would never have happened. But, alas, we have decided in this country to disperse Masonic power among the 50 states with no overall U.S.A. oversight. So each Lord of the Manor operates as if in medieval times, a power only loosely connected to the King.

I have been following this issue for a long time which is a movement in post WWII Masonry to consolidate power solely in the hands of the Grand Lodge and to make each Grand Master an arbitrary power.  The roots of this are difficult to find, but it has been a gradual progressing leading to the loggerheads we are seeing today.

This is a sad development for Freemasonry used to be a cooperation between Grand Lodge and the local Lodge for the betterment of the Craft. But slowly but surely across the U.S.A. from coast to coast the ascendancy of Grand Lodge control is spreading, putting those in any opposition of Grand Lodge policies in jeopardy of being expelled.

This is not how it should be.

There should always be the avenue open for fair and polite and diplomatic difference of opinion and debate.  But Grand Masters today hold any disagreement with their course of action to be treason and cause for expulsion.

This does not make for a healthy and viable Fraternity.

What it does is stifle dissent and creativity in favor of total subordination.  Many who enter the Masonic portals as a volunteer, unpaid organization have no patience for such things.  Our greatest loss in members today is not through death but through those just walking away from the Craft.

The story below is just such a tale, in the idea of a Grand Lodge running amuck.  it comes from a Brother who I know and trust.

What he has reported to me is that his Grand Lodge has decided to move all Masonic trials and discipline out of the local Lodge into Grand Lodge under the dominion of the Grand Master.  He is a good brother, one who rarely complains, and again someone I trust as a brother. He is a Past Master who possesses a very good understanding of the Fraternity and a great knowledge of its tenets.  He has achieved great merit in civil society, starting as a bush pilot in Alaska, and then progressing on to a stint in Vietnam as a US Army pilot and still later to a commercial airline pilot in both aircraft and helicopters.

In my eyes he has distinguished himself as a model citizen.

In the past, he made the mistake of questioning the actions of his Grand Master and all has been downhill, Masonically, since.

Recently his Grand Lodge has decided to put all the power in the hands of the Grand Master, making him the de-facto arbiter.  Given his past, this brother believes that this does not bode well for the fraternity.

While he has been willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the Fraternity by exposing his name to me and his Grand Lodge, I have chosen to keep his anonymity and let his commentary stand alongside the changes to the Masonic code that he finds chilling.

So in his message which is presented below you will find XXX substituted for his Grand Lodge or state and YYY for his name as well as other substitutions for designations deemed necessary to keep this message one of content and not of individuals.

So how, under these circumstances, do you know this to be true? I ask that you take the word of the brother who gave them to me in charge.  Please read carefully the most erudite observation of a Brother in hurt.

Our brothers correspondance


A frightening and potentially dangerous piece of legislation has been voted in, at the 2009 annual XXX Grand Lodge Communication.

The resolution totally takes away the individual Brother’s right to be  judged by his true Masonic peers, in his own Lodge – a primal Masonic concept and tradition; an “American” tradition. According to the new Resolution, the subordinate Lodge can receive; but MUST relay a Masonic charge to the Grand Lodge for a Grand Master’s Trial, nothing more. In the State of XXX, Subordinate Lodge Tribunals are ancient Masonic history.

Was there a method to a madness?

The XXX Masonic Code specifies that the proposed Resolutions be mailed to each Lodge Secretary 60 days before the annual XXX Grand Lodge Communication, essentially specifying that the proposed Resolutions be read in Lodge at the last meeting before the Grand Lodge session, meeting in June. Those members who do not attend the last available meeting, more particularly Past Masters – having a vote in Grand Lodge, have little or no notice of what their future holds. Instantly, the term “clever,” comes to mind. Why should any Grand Lodge resort to being “clever?” Read on:

The XXX Code specifies that any Lodge shall meet at least twice per year. There is a set of XXX Lodges whose irregular meeting schedule precludes their ability to read those resolutions in Lodge, as mandated by the XXX Masonic Code! The instant question goes to the ability of any resolution to “Masonically” process through the “XXX Grand Lodge Code Commission” or the XXX Grand Lodge Jurisprudence Committee! Yet, the entire set of 2009 Resolutions did just that.

The passage of this particular Resolution leaves most XXX Masons to eventually ask – “What the hell happened?” The Grand Lodge answer can only be, “You had your chance; you voted it in. Or, you should have at least been there.” – invoking the “shame reflex,” of the Jonestown “Coercive Persuasion” methodology – it works.


This Resolution was presented in the fashion of providing ‘relief’ of the complexity of a local Lodge Tribunal. It’s only reasonable to assume that if a Lodge can confer the degrees, a Tribunal shouldn’t be much more complex than the intake of a new member. In the previous Code process, there was adequate time for the appropriate members to prepare for a Tribunal from scratch. If the Lodge wasn’t prepared, either the Grand Lodge needed to assist; and question the Master as to why he didn’t – per his Installation Charge – “…cause the Code to be read in Lodge, that none may plead ignorance.”

The new Code allows as little as 20 days, from receipt of charges, by the defendant, to the trial date. That’s obviously inadequate for preparation against truly serious charges. Imagine coming back from vacation to discover a total surprise in the form that you’ve been expelled!


W. Bro. YYY gave the following account of a previous personal encounter with what amounts to “Masonic tyranny.”

According to W. Bro. YYY:

“Psychologists use the term “Scoptoma,” to describe the frailty of the human mind to perceive only that which it expects or wants to perceive. The spouse would never cheat, the child would never start a fight, your best friend would never lie about you or cheat you out of money. We’ve all seen it – blind faith.

In that same blind faith mindset, several years ago, I complained via E-mail to the Grand Master about a Lodge’s practices, which were nothing less than extremely disturbing to any reasonable Masonic mind. I was told by the Grand Master, in essence, to mind my own business.

The matter was extremely serious to the craft, as a whole. My subsequent E-mail rebuttal to the Grand Master earned me a Grand Master’s Summons. Add a surprise and pre-written Reprimand for allegedly making an implied threat against the sitting and incoming Grand Masters – totally false. I only cited an obvious and serious threat to the Craft – begging Grand Lodge action.

I attended the Summons with the reasonable expectation of a heated verbal lecture. BUT, I more correctly feared an Inquisition. That’s exactly what I walked into. No due and timely notice allowed! A Masonic trial – hah!

The falsity of the charge was established in the first two minutes of my meeting with the Grand Master (alone); I still came away with that reprimand – signed after the mutual clarification that the alleged charge was false!

A mistake in a heated mindset is one thing, deliberate libel is another.

The pre-written reprimand speaks to its own inequity, Masonic, or otherwise. Upon threat of suspension or expulsion, the language of the Reprimand forbade me from ever communicating any details of my original complaint – in any manner – which essentially prohibited an appeal. So much for the First Amendment. So much for Masonic due process. All at the hands of a Grand Master. As they say, “…go figure.” Nothing “…on the level” about the matter.

Worse, one must ponder how many Grand Lodge hands handled that Reprimand, not asking “When was the trial?” There was no Masonic judicial process. Imagine that of a Grand Master! Imagine the Grand Lodge silence, since then. (Add the 2009 legislation.)

Or, if one cares to argue, “Show me where it says that the Grand Master CAN’T do such a thing.” I would refer any such person to the place where it doesn’t say that a Grand Master can’t commit Libel.

As Lord Acton so accurately stated, “Power Corrupts; absolute power corrupts – absolutely.” Freemasonry is supposed to be about Charity and Fellowship; not ‘power.’

I walked out of the meeting, with the Grand Master’s signed Reprimand in hand, in a state of disgust; but satisfied that the joke was on the Grand Master, having pre-written the Reprimand, based upon a false allegation – and failing to follow Masonic due process. That deed by a Grand Master is no minor event; as was the subsequence Grand Lodge silence.

Sadly, it didn’t end there.

Approximately a year and a half following my ‘Reprimand,’ another pass was made at me – behind my back; again, no due & timely notice. Via the rumor mill, I was advised that a “Purple Team” had approached the Master of my Lodge, insisting that I be tried and expelled. Lacking any viable charge, the Master wisely refused. The Master recently verified the encounter.

Thus, with that trail of Grand Master’s punishment, actual & attempted, I submit that all XXX Masons should appropriately seriously fear the new code. I question how many had a clue, as to the seriousness of this Resolution, prior to its passage. More importantly, is this in any way indicative of similar changes, in other jurisdictions?

In the shadow of the above mentioned ‘Reprimand’ event came a committee, to write the draconian legislation. In the pamphlet this was described as a means to bring “discipline” to the Jurisdiction. While “Justice” is a traditional Masonic tenet; it was clearly usurped by ‘discipline.’

Enter Resolution XXX

(The number in brackets is the page number in the Grand Lodge pamphlet of Resolutions for the 2009 session.  The actual code changes are in block quotes.)

Independently of ANY OTHER Masonic judicial process, a XXX Grand Master would have the independent, arbitrary and tyrannical power to suspend a Mason for a definite, or indefinite period of time. That power being uniquely independent of the proposed ‘trial’ procedures. Thus, the Grand Master could constructively expel a Brother, unilaterally, for a term which would exceed his remaining years of life, via “Suspension” only. Such a Suspension can be appealed, but – realistically –  to what probable outcome? At least in the XXX Jurisdiction– being polite – obedience to the will of the Grand Master is the norm.

Sec. 3.01 Const. {P.2}

Grand Master’s Powers. The Grand Master has power to:

Subsections 1 and 2, no change

3. Suspend, for a definite or indefinite time, any Brother from the rights and privileges of Masonry for Un-Masonic Conduct,

(Renumber subsections 3-11)

UnMasonic conduct is not defined to any truly adequate degree. It could be as simple as name-calling, in the name of Freemasonry – versus an otherwise  private quarrel – regardless of whether or not the descriptor is otherwise appropriate in the profane world.

The resolution additionally puts Masonic ‘shields’ around sitting Grand and subordinate Lodge Masters for any ‘official’ wrong doing during their term, then protects them after the fact.

Say goodbye to the Level. How many horror stories have we heard, which would now be both effectively licensed and insulated? Inadvertently inciting a heated debate in Lodge would suffice for expulsion charges – all a matter of who is ‘hooked-up’ and who isn’t.


2. Charges of Un-Masonic conduct may not be preferred;

A.      By an unaffiliated Mason and shall not be received nor shall any action be taken on such charges; nor

B.      Against a Brother involving private wrongs or private legal rights, monetary or otherwise, unless the allegation clearly shows fraud; nor

C.    Against a Brother involving matters of political or sectarian character; nor

D. Against a sitting Grand Master or Worshipful Master for official acts as Grand Master or Worshipful Master; nor

E. Against a Past Grand Master or Past Worshipful Master for official acts performed while serving as Grand Master or Worshipful Master,

Again, the Resolution can compress a Brother’s response time and preparation time to as little as 20 days – at the option of Grand Lodge

Worse, this section (B.) constructively cancels part of the Masonic Obligation – taken with hands upon the Bible – not to CHEAT, WRONG, or defraud a Brother … .


So a Brother brags about selling another a car to another Brother with undisclosed known and expensive maintenance problems; don’t mention it to the selling Brother’s Lodge, or Grand Lodge, it’s not Masonically pertinent as of June, 2009.


“…involving private wrongs or private legal rights, monetary or otherwise, …” The Brother is a wife-beater and/or drug dealer; it’s no longer Masonically pertinent. Read the new Code! Take it up with the civil courts, he’s welcome in his Lodge, until then. Can’t get the law interested; deal with it!


The arrogance of this resolution is appalling by any Masonic standard. The Resolution makes a joke of the words, “…furthermore promise and swear…”


Sec. 27.05 B.L. {P.2}

Service. Due service of the citation shall be deemed complete when made by either of the following procedures:

1. Personal Service.

A. Delivering a copy of the citation directly to the accused; or

B.     Leaving a sealed envelope addressed to the accused, containing a copy of the citation, at the accused’s usual place of abode with a person of suitable age and discretion residing therein.

2. Postal Service. Depositing the citation in a postage pre-paid envelope in a U. S. Post Office within the Grand Jurisdiction, addressed to the accused at his last known post office address. Service of the citation by Postal Service shall be deemed complete 5 business days after deposit in a U. S. Post Office. Mail shall be by certified mail, return receipt requested.

A minimum of twenty days shall have expired following date of service of the citation before the trial shall commence.

The Resolution provides the ability to charge a Brother either at his Lodge; OR at the Grand Lodge level – directly, bypassing the subordinate Lodge. (And the Brother’s actual Masonic peers.)

Sec. 26.10 B.L. {P.19}

Invoking Grand Lodge Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge may be directly invoked by the filing of charges with the Grand Secretary, who shall notify the Grand Master. The Grand Master, upon determining the charges, if proved, against a Brother constitute a Masonic offense, shall order the accused to appear and answer the same before a Grand Master’s Trial Committee. If the Grand Master finds that the charges, if proved, would not constitute a Masonic offense, the Grand Master shall notify the accuser and the accused of his decision.

Under the new code, there is no requirement to involve the Brother’s own Lodge. The wise know what that means, when favored “Grand” political personalities enter the picture – which isn’t supposed to happen, but we all know that it does.

From my personal ‘reprimand’ experience, there should be no doubt, as to the potential outcome. All a matter of the option and convenience of Grand Lodge, et al. The Grand Master will make the final decision as to whether or not a charge goes forward. If a Brother is not ‘connected,’ he can be in for a nightmare. I respectfully submit that undeniable risk isn’t to be deemed “Masonic!

According to the new code, if a charge is presented to a subordinate Lodge, the Master is mandated to either forward it to Grand Lodge, or order another officer or member to do so. There is no allowance for “… not proper to be written.” “Masonic” piques and quarrels, being distinct from “private,” are sufficient, under this Resolution.

The XXX Grand Lodge goes so far as to assert jurisdiction by claiming the authority to try and/or punish a visiting Brother, from another Jurisdiction. (As opposed to referring an alleged offense back to the Brother’s appropriate Jurisdiction.

Sec. 26.03 B.L. {P.17}

Preferring Charges

1. Charges of Un-Masonic conduct may be preferred against a Mason, including any unaffiliated Mason who is residing or sojourning within the Jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge, by:

A.    Any member of a Chartered Lodge; or

B.    Any Chartered Lodge; or

C.    The Junior Warden when directed by the Worshipful Master; or

D.    The Junior Warden when no other Brother has preferred charges of Un­Masonic Conduct.

In the event that the Junior Warden is unable or unwilling to prefer charges, that duty shall devolve to the Senior Warden; however, the Worshipful Master may direct any member of the Lodge to prefer charges of Un-Masonic conduct for and on behalf of the Lodge.

Imagine walking into Lodge, only to be ordered to prefer charges, which you have no competent knowledge of. In many Lodges, the attendance is so low, that such could easily happen. Essentially a Masonic ‘contract.’

The code provides no “effective date.” Will past offenses be ‘Grandfathered,’ under the existing Code? Will the ‘new’ Code permit past alleged offenses to be dragged up and attended to, under the new rules? With no established “ex post facto” time firewall, anything can happen.


At the end of the proposed Resolution, the Jurisprudence Committee asserted that the expense of any such trial would be paid by Grand Lodge. Specifically –

The expenses of a Masonic Trial shall be paid by Grand Lodge.

What the Jurisprudence doesn’t indicate is that the costs, at Grand Lodge’s discretion, can, thereafter, be passed on to either the defendant or the plaintiff. What particular costs? What limit, if any? Calling upon a Past Master to come from ZZZ, for example, to VVV (to sit on the Trial Committee) could quickly cost hundreds of dollars. That’s not the same magnitude of expense, for a ‘local’ Brother.

There is no provision for the location of the “Trial Committee.” What would it cost for a Brother to attend his own proceeding and any appeals? In today’s economy, how many Brothers would be forced to endure a “default judgment,” for lack of adequate time and/or defense funds? Why did the Jurisprudence Committee not display the whole truth?

Sec. 28.12 B.L.

Expense of Trial. The expense incurred in conducting a Masonic Trial shall be paid in the first instance by Grand Lodge, but may be assessed as costs against one or both parties to the controversy, as determined by the Grand Master’s Trial Committee. Such costs shall not be assessed against an acquitted Brother.

In other words, the Grand Lodge would ‘front’ the expense reimbursements, but could redirect any and all expenses to the defendant and/or complainant.

The Jurisprudence Committee claimed that the change makes the ‘trial’ process “simplified.” To the intelligent observer, nothing could be further from the truth. Start with the twelve pages required to describe the proposed changes. Just note the “expense” provision, relative the unlimited choice of Trial Committee members. At either the subordinate Lodge or Grand Lodge level, the process is complex, time consuming, potentially excessively expensive to a single Brother; and loaded with damaging controversy – add politics. The Lodge controversy over the trial and outcome of one such trial could shred a subordinate Lodge.

The Jurisprudence Committee account uniquely stated that the local Lodge would determine whether or not the charges, if proven, constitute a Masonic offense. The Committee fails to mention the available alternative Grand Lodge process, which can totally and optionally bypass a subordinate Lodge.

  • The Constituent Lodge shall only determine whether or not charges of un­Masonic conduct, if proved, constitute a Masonic offense.

A “hooked-up” and malicious Brother can take his charges directly to the Grand Lodge – no questions asked.  Why was only part of the resolution described?


Sec. 26.10 B.L. {P.19}

Invoking Grand Lodge Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge may be directly invoked by the filing of charges with the Grand Secretary, who shall notify the Grand Master. The Grand Master, upon determining the charges, if proved, against a Brother constitute a Masonic offense, shall order the accused to appear and answer the same before a Grand Master’s Trial Committee. If the Grand Master finds that the charges, if proved, would not constitute a Masonic offense, the Grand Master shall notify the accuser and the accused of his decision.

Note, also, that there is no provision for a ‘brief’ from the defendant, stating why the charge should not go forward. Where are the scales of justice?

How many Masons were adequately informed, so that they could reasonably and competently consider the potential impact upon the XXX Masonic membership? XXX Grand Lodge aside, this new code also serves as a model of tyranny for any Jurisdiction.

Too many Lodges are currently nearly empty. Regardless of this Legislation being implemented in the form of actual Masonic charges – anywhere –  how many Masons will shy away from their Lodge, for fear someone will be on a truly threatening and arbitrary ‘power-trip.’ How many “scores” will be settled by such a code? A single case is too much for any Mason to approve or endure. I respectfully submit that un-Masonic history clearly indicates that the risk is too high.

The most damning question of all – “How long before the news media decides that this mater is newsworthy?”

W. Bro. YYY wrote to as many as he could contact:

“Admittedly, I have a personal stake in this Resolution; leaving me to ask, “Who is more qualified to testify, than the victim?”

For the sake of the Craft, I encourage all who receive this to forward it to all on their Masonic E-mailing list, inside and outside this Jurisdiction. This resolution can only open the door to potentially unbridled ambition and personal power, unworthy of any Mason.

In my own Lodge, the resolutions were not read – rather, summarized by the Deputy – sort of. Did the ‘Code’ prescribed 60-day “warning” allow your Lodge to read them? Is this the first that you’ve seen of this matter?

Think for yourself; and act for the good of Freemasonry.”

(Thereafter, the Resolution passed with a 90% vote.)

Posted in The Bee Hive.

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 Executive Director of the Phoenix Masonry website and museum.


  1. I agree, power is consolidating in the Grand Lodges. However, I think the more disturbing trend, is that much of this comes from the Lodges themselves. Lodges cannot be bothered with this or that, and expect Grand Lodge to solve the problem for them.

    At least in my small view of all things Masonic, I’m much more concerned about Lodges who are unwilling to take their future into their own hands, and expect the Grand Lodge, or Grand Master to do everything for them (aside from running the fish fry/pancake breakfast etc…).


  2. The trend follows into Lodges I know of and their CLOSE ties to Grand. You can’t say anything against so-in-so he is friends with Grand [officer].
    Master of Lodge [] disregards Grand’s request for action on an event … but is a friend of Grand [officer], nothing happens. Officer of Lodge [] disrupts a 3rd Degree and Loudly conspires against a member of Lodge IN THE DEGREE …. but is friend of Grand [officer]… nothing happens, in all cases Grand warns the Brother submitting the UnMasonic Conduct … turn your eyes or else.

    A Brother was being brought up on charges from an unaffiliated Brother, past master and current master by-pass Lodge Secretary and hand out a demitt form, brother in question calls Grand and gets Grand to officially have nothing more occur from that Lodge concerning him! Um, ….

    Sad Days

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