Another Response To Missing The Boat

Brother Junius adds his 2 cents to How Freemasonry is Missing the Boat.

This essay makes a good point. The “trick.” if I may so term it, is to lead the nation in a broad and benevolent sense without, in fact, drifting into distinct political and social philosophies – socialism, capitalism, big government, small government, more taxes, less taxes and so on and so forth. This is not an easy thing to do, although it may be easy to say or suggest.

Secondly, I think something else was or is involved, and it is rather difficult to put into words. From about the late ‘sixties until, perhaps, the first five years of this century, we have dealt with a generation of men who were not, by-and-large, “joiners,” in the sense of entering clubs, church congregations, service groups and, of course, Freemasonry. It seemed as if that kind of interest had largely evaporated into thin air, so to speak.

Even as late as 1990 there was talk of large-scale “coccooning,” in our society, where people wrapped themselves in the private world of their increasingly spacious and luxurious homes, communicating externally by the Internet and importing entertainment, news and even conversations with others using all the new communications technology even then evolving. People ” went to meetings,” without ever leaving the house; they “travelled” all over the world and within the nation by high definition, 50″ flat screen televisions; they “went shopping and to the bank,” on the Internet and at places such as E-Bay; they “went to the movies,” with Netflix and movie channels – and so on and so forth. Many even “went to work” all or most of the time in the home-based study, or operated businesses out of the basement or the garage!

There is evidence of this in the decline of all kinds of groups other than Masons, such as the Loyal Order of Moose, the Oddfellows, Lions, Optimists and so on.

At the same time, the minority who were joiners were attracted to organizations, which, by their own nature, were not compatible with or were even hostile to Freemasonry.

I also approve of the mention of multiple causation: it was not only the economic and social equality of women, but partly; not only the rise of all kinds of exciting, absorbing and available alternate forms of free-time entertainment, but partly; not only increased physical mobility over distance, and more frequent migration from one area or town or city to another, but partly; not only a combination of religious fundamentalism and active evangelism on the one hand and the decline of so-called mainstream, older denominations on the other, but partly; not only fewer and fewer male children per married couple, but partly.

I do agree that trying to market Freemasonry as if it was some sort of commercial product, such as soap, a vacume cleaner, or even a car, was and is a mistake.

In a similar vein, the centralized organization of large and very public Masonic charities may well have done a great deal of good socially, and while not necessarily invalid in itself, had little or no effect on long-term, steady increase in membership.

There is some indication that the world may be about to turn yet again. Here, in Ontario, our Grand Lodge appears at least to have stopped the bleeding – last year, and the year before, we had a modest net increase ( 2% or so) in total membership for the first time in decades.  Partly, this might be attributed to an active Friend to Friend program the lodges have been encouraged to use at the lodge level, involving personal friends of Masons, and often their wives or fiancees, dining together and having a presentation in the Lodge rooms about Freemasonry – a bit of its history, some of its ideals, and information about costs, time and so on.

However, having said that, I think something else is going on. One way to put it would be the old idea that success feeds on success, and one happy, inspired new member is likely to produce more, given a little time. Doing good ritual is an example. We have found that lodges consistently doing good ritual are lodges that the younger brethren are proud of, and are something they do not hesitate to talk about with their non-Masonic friends or colleagues at work.  Younger members also appreciate the following:

  1. Social events involving the ladies, however modestly run: BBQ, wine and cheese reception, restaurant dinner, dinner-dance evening, and so on.
  2. Immediate opportunities to lead in the life of the lodge – Education, running the web site, acting as social leader, auditor, long range planning chairman, and so on
  3. Getting started into the Chairs asap.

One other point: it is becoming increasingly evident to me at least that there are a lot of younger adult men out there who are looking for some group or organization that has a philosophic or even a spiritual dimension, but without a formal, restrictive theological system. If this be so, and I believe it is, then Freemasonry is poised to provide what is desired. In essence, “we have an appfor that.”

Brother Junius

Response To Missing The Boat

The Beehive recognizes that not everybody will agree with the opinions expressed here.  In fact as many won’t as will.  Yet in the spirit of fair and balanced journalism Freemason Information is not hesitant to publish counter opinions that take issue with what has been published.  We here remain committed to publish any and all legitimate, reasonable replies to what is stated here.

And so we come to a contrary opinion form a friend and well respected Mason from Georgia, Brother Alton Walston, Past Master Lodge #35.  To Walston’s friends he is known as ole Blake and the following is his response to How Freemasonry Is Missing The Boat.

It is truly amazing that Freemasonry can be viewed so differently by the members.  Could it be that many want to make Freemasonry fit into their own designs and make it become what it was never meant to be.

In this paper and attempt is made to make Freemasonry leader of men. Nothing could be further from it’s original mission.

In the early days of operative masonry, the builder had secrets, not so  much as to keep knowledge from the world at large but to keep it pure.  Today those secrets of the builder art are still passed from mouth to ear, or should I say “By observed example”.  Those who would believe that freemasonry has told all its stories really have not done a lot of observation. Thousands of volumes have been written on the craft both before and after the transformation, but still much of what the builders knew is still a mystery to the lay world.  The fact that it is a mystery tells us that those secrets were kept from mankind intentionally.

The operative mason did not strive to lead the public nor to engage in social  reform. But it did teach man the trade, art, and science of build, including mathematics, geometry, weights and measures, and the most important art of teaching.  It never taught men to lead. but it did teach men to be good at the trade and in business and personal interaction among the people.

As   it was true in the operative world, so to, is it true in the speculative world. Masonry was never supposed to be the leader or pillar of the community but it was supposed to teach men how to handle these positions.  Many stories have been handed down of the good deeds performed by masons and the public had no idea that it was masons that did the deed.  That was the intent of our ancient brethren their wisdom prevails today.  Much of the problems that masonry faces today in Grand lodges and even local lodges stems from the fact that they went all out to let the community know who they were and how much they did for the community.

As masonry operated in the background to help our world provide a better life, it flourished and grew because men saw the work and wondered who and how it was done. Slowly information leaked or was planted and the seeker came wanting to help.

However in open society not only does the populace gather at trough for handouts and the benefits of Masonic charity but they have come to demand it.  Aren’t we taught somewhere that “although Freemasonry is a charitable institution, we would not wish to take upon ourselves one who would become an immediate charge.”

There is no reason that masonry should become a public venture, it has all the qualities that build leadership and good men. It is those men then that take society upon themselves.  Not Freemasonry.  We are not in the need for more members, we are in the need for men who come willing to learn and who are willing to carry on the teachings of freemasonry.

When you play at the public well, all are exposed,  Demands are made that may exceed the ability to help.  While if it were quietly done many in true need could be helped.  Society needs honorable men. Masonry makes such men.  Masonry was never supposed to take on leadership

It provides the men to fill those positions.  When masonry becomes a public entity, it is open for ridicule and resentment.  Quietly, it is the world’s most beneficent organization.

Sorry but I do not agree that masonry is missing the boat.  The problems we have are internal and becoming public, more engaged in society will only make those problems worse.

Society creates big “Is and little “yous” Masonry teaches just the opposite.  Its teaching put all men on the level.  That is as it should be. When freemasonry can return to it assigned task of teaching good men to be better men, it will start to regain its once honored prominence. But so long as we endeavor to be a public entity, we will continue to fail and lose members.

We as masons have done far more behind the scenes to liberate humanity and make a better life for millions then all the public benefits ever done in this country.  I was reminded of that just the other night when going through some very old lodge minutes; our city did not have a hospital and though many had often approached the county commissioners and tried to get one started nothing had worked.  But at a lodge meeting several of the brethren got together and agreed to purchase some land with the express purpose of building a hospital.  That parcel of land was given to the city with the provisions that a hospital be built or the property reverted back to the owner. The deal was handled by attorneys that belonged to lodges in neighboring counties so the only folks that really knew of the gift were the brethren of the lodge. It remains a secret today.  There have been many incidents of this nature across the country.  Behind the scenes we can work wonders but in the public view our hands are tied in many, many ways.

That’s my take on it

ole Blake

Do you have an opinion on this subject that you would like published?  Or perhaps you have a comment for the comments section. WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Lawsuit Settlement Costs Prince Hall Virginia $300,000

The Richmond Free Press reports that the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia has settled a lawsuit with the Virginia Prince Hall Shrine.  The Shrine in the Prince Hall system has run afoul of Grand Lodges in recent years. The issues across Prince Hall nation revolve around not recognizing the Grand Master as having ultimate supreme authority, the Shrine admitting expelled Masons and non Masons and other examples of the Shrine going its own way.

Associated Press/Claus Bjoern Larsen, Polfoto
The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia has agreed to settle three separate multimillion-dollar lawsuits involving another Masonic group called the Prince Hall Shrine, which is based in Tennessee.
Under the agreement, the Virginia organization would:
• Pay the Memphis group $300,000; and
• Re-instate Masons and Order of the Eastern Star members who previously were suspended for belonging to state affiliates of the Memphis-headquartered Shrine or its women’s auxiliary, the Daughters of Isis.
The settlement was the result of court-ordered mediation between the two groups. It is to become final once it receives expected approval from the court.

The litigation began in 2009 after Larry D. Christian of Williamsburg, then most worshipful grand master or president of the 5,000-member Grand Lodge, issued what some consider a loyalty order. The order barred Shrine members from participating in Masonic rituals and also banned them from entering Masonic lodges, including the ones to which they belonged.

Rest of the story here.

The larger issues are:

  1. Is Freemasonry going to continue to do battle in civil courts?
  2. Is Mainstream Freemasonry going to face the same split?
  3. Are Grand Lodges on a losing streak in civil courts?

Seeking Answers, Hearing Consequences

Most of us have a Mentor/Confessor, somebody special and trustworthy we go to when things don’t make sense or problems ensue. I have been in touch with mine quite often lately regarding the developments in Mainstream Masonry and the difficulties in reporting same.

Grand Lodges are in a lot of trouble these days and Freemason Information has reported some of the worst case scenarios. We do so in the hopes that reforms will be made by informed Brethren who were in the dark about such goings on.

Yet 50% of the time we are greeted with derision instead of applause. Many have called us harmful to the Craft and a bunch of Grand Lodge bashers.

So I have taken to running these articles by my Mentor/Confessor for him to peruse and he has followed the developments of Grand Lodge abuse as it has unfolded for the last two years. At first he was incredulous thinking that perhaps there was much exaggeration or even misinformation from bad sources going on. As the stories multiplied and he checked them all out he finally saw what we saw.

When Nebraska hit the news I asked him if he had any special insights besides affirmation that he would like to share with me, something that might shed more light on the situation and perhaps heal some ill feeling.

This is what he sent me:

A grand lodge begins to sign its own death warrant when its internal governance and judicial procedures depart significantly from the accepted values and standards of the wider society of which it is a part.

Just as the seventeenth century English poet, John Donne, famously observed that, “No man is an island, entire of itself,” so too is this true of a grand lodge, any grand lodge. The conceit that a grand lodge can isolate itself, as if it truly was a sovereign entity in fact as well as in grandiloquent title, as if its members had no other emotional or intellectual loyalty to anyone or anything else, and as if a wider public was neither of concern to the grand lodge or itself had any interest in the doings of the grand lodge, is not only false in itself but a lethal basis for suicidal action by a grand lodge.

The general rank and file of the fraternity will forgive a great deal in the way of human frailty; they will accept errors arising out of honest error; they will generally cast a forgiving eye upon mistakes grounded in ordinary organizational inertia. But, when error arises out of conscious greed, the deliberate and knowing exercise of Masonic tyranny, or indefensible and arbitrary violations of the ordinary standards of fairness, square-dealing and honesty in order to conceal crime, promote racism or protect unworthy individuals from the ordinary consequences of their own deliberate and knowing transgressions, then the collective wrath of an outraged membership must, inevitably, descend upon those responsible.

As per the Letters of Junius, “The subject who is truly loyal to the chief magistrate will neither advise nor consent to arbitrary measures.”

Most recently, the manifestation of such withdrawal of consent has taken the form of judicial appeal to the secular courts. It has also become a prominent feature of Internet Masonry, a kind of modern version of the Committees of Correspondence that flourished in the colonies just prior to the more formal actions of the American Revolution. At some future point, it may take the form of mass resignations or demits from existing grand lodges, a kind of “vote with our feet” reaction. Lately, a return to pre-grand lodge Masonry in the form of the appearance of a few independent, sovereign individual lodges has appeared as an alternative organizational possibility.

In terms of the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln once observed that, “If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we must live through all time or die by suicide.” Such is the situation of Freemasonry in America: our Craft is so strong in itself, so grounded in the finest principles and ideals of the Enlightenment, that, if it is to be fatally weakened or even destroyed, then it must be ourselves who do the deed.

Brother Junius

Fred Milliken,Freemason Information,The Beehive

At The Crossroads Of The Many Paths of Freemasonry

Masonic Relevance In The 21st Century

I am observing many Masonic friends these days going through some deep soul searching as they try to reconcile Freemasonry with their own personal goals and the legacy for society that they would eventually like to leave behind. Many of these soul searchers are Masonic writers or “communicators” of some kind, well versed in the meaning of Masonry. Yet some feel powerless against the rising tide of Masonic irrelevancy as they see it. Others have found some other organization, cause or path that more reflects what they want to do with their life. Still others who revel in the Craft still feel that their active involvement therein robs them of the time that could be spent in other worthwhile pursuits.

We all have our religious, political and moral belief systems to act out in varying degrees of involvement as well as career paths with study in our field of endeavor.  All that to which we subscribe so deeply also has to be matched with our commitment to interpersonal relationships, especially our families. All in all sometimes this requires a very difficult balancing act.

Along comes the Information Age which knocks Freemasonry for a loop. In its early stages Masonic leaders either ignored it or refused to accept it.  When the inevitable came to pass most of official Freemasonry-dom were “Johnnies come lately.” Many the Freemason who has bemoaned the reduction not only of Craft membership but of Lodge attendance. Many fail to realize, however, how much Freemasonry one can imbibe sitting home in front of the computer. Why leave the house, fight the traffic and dress up in a monkey suit when one can sit by the computer in shorts and T shirt with a slice of pizza in one hand and a beer in the other and get as much out of Freemasonry as those not only attending Lodge but those who are even members. I fail to see the difference between a One Day Class and watching the same thing at home on a good HD-TV. And while Grand Lodges sat on their Internet hands, individual Masons on their own were setting up Masonic websites, discussion forums and producing Masonic videos.

Right about here readers will extrapolate that Internet Freemasonry lacks one crucial ingredient, namely that of personal relationship and bonding and also experiencing Freemasonry “in the flesh.” To that end that Craft keeps blossoming out Side bodies and degree upon degree upon degree to make sure all its members get to really “experience” the Craft. But then how many ways does it take to say the same thing over and over?  In its desire to cement the Brotherhood into a membership of dedicated true believers, Freemasonry makes sure that members experience the Craft again, again and again……………..and in the process is sowing the seeds of its own demise.

One only has to look at today’s culture and the different methods of bonding that the next generation has embraced to know that the tired old ways of application aren’t going to work anymore. It’s Facebook, Twitter and texting that dominates today’s communication and consequently its formation of relationships. More and more married couples are telling us that they first met on the Internet. That’s not to say that the message of Freemasonry is in jeopardy; no, the message is timeless but the application generationally deficient.  How many Grand Masters do you think have a Facebook page and who tweet and text on a regular basis? It’s not such a far out question when you realize that we have a President hip to such methods and who used them to help him campaign.

Yet Freemasonry is being torn apart by competing methods of application. Again to make sure you got it, there is no problem with the message, it’s the messengers.

One faction is Freemasonry as the buddy bonding society. Candidates are whisked through the degrees at lightning speed. Lodge meetings consist of degrees or business but never esoteric lessons. The Craft is one big social arena where fish frys, banquets, bowling leagues and motorcycle clubs abound.

Another faction is Freemasonry as a charitable society heavily geared to the dispensation of massive Institutionalized Charity, so much so that there is minimal time for social activities and even less time for esoteric study.

The third faction is Freemasonry as a research and study society devoted to the pursuit of knowledge in the context of ethical application.  This faction sees Freemasonry as a philosophy and spawns such applications as Research Lodges and esoteric study clubs.

The first three factions follow the tenets of Freemasonry – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. The fourth does not.

The fourth faction is Freemasonry as a quasi military style society full of rank, privileges, ribbons and medals and the attainment thereof.

Each faction is at war with the other offering the one and only true way for Freemasonry’s salvation.  In some areas Freemasonry tries to incorporate all factions in a hybrid super model that not only requires a good amount of money but also an inordinate amount of time commitment. Depending on where you are in the country and what model your Grand Lodge has chosen to pursue decides what type of Freemasonry you are experiencing.

Where does all this leave our Masonic soul searchers?

To properly answer that question we must sign on to the notion that Freemasonry is not society’s savior nor was it ever intended to be. Freemasonry is not a place of doing it is a place of being. In the modus operandi of your life you live out your path or your destiny on two levels.  (1) First there is the religion or philosophy that guides one to what courses of action to take. (2) There are the courses of action taken based on the values one has chosen.

All the factions trying to redefine Freemasonry only muddies the waters. Long after Masons in human bodies have departed this world and Lodges have ceased to exist, the thought, the philosophy of Freemasonry will live on. It will never disappear.

It is Freemasonry that creates our value system as Masons. The Craft is designed to do no more than that. Expecting Freemasonry to take the next step of action in implementation of its values is asking too much. That’s an individual decision to be made for an individual path.  Like snowflakes no two paths are identical. Therefore, those that feel that Freemasonry is not doing enough are asking from it unintended consequences.

If you want to be a Little League coach, man a soup kitchen, build a playground, visit the elderly in Nursing Homes, be a Boy Scout leader than go do it.  Recognize that it is Freemasonry that got you to the point of going to do such. But don’t castigate Freemasonry because it isn’t doing those very things.  Freemasonry isn’t doing it’s being. Freemasonry is what gave you the values to go do these things, nothing more, nothing less.

Trying to get Freemasonry to be the be all and end all of life is placing a burden upon it that is far too great. Right now Freemasonry is in meltdown because of unrealized expectations. If feelings of worth and usefulness are things most important to you, then don’t become a professional Masonic social climber, pulling rank and showing off all your medals. Keep Freemasonry in your life simple and focused on its calling. Then it won’t disappoint you but will serve your purpose well.

Fred Milliken,Freemason Information,The Beehive

A Case For Decentralizing American Mainstream Tribal Freemasonry


Fred Milliken,Freemason Information,The BeehiveFreemasonry in the United States is at a crossroads and now is the time to do some soul searching and make some tough decisions.  The question that needs to be asked is, are Freemasons going to continue to allow the erosion of the power of the local Lodge?  Are they going to halt the spread of invasive, centralized Grand Lodge rule over every aspect of Freemason’s lives?

The plain fact is, ALL FREEMASONRY IS LOCAL. That was not a contested notion in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The power of decision making rested in the local Lodge and Grand Lodge was more of a facilitator and adviser. It was once the job of Grand Lodge to organize its territory and attend to the ceremonial functions of grandeur and pomp leaving the “running of the business” to each individual chartered Lodge. Oh, there were broad guidelines including in some jurisdictions Landmarks to go by. But in reality the Grand Master used to function much as the present day King or Queen of England does.

That has all gone by the board. We have a new era of Grand Lodge dominance with strict top down rule. Right about now the reader will butt in with the thought that Freemasonry is not a democracy. Well, yes and no. The Worshipful Master of the local Lodge has and has always had unlimited power to rule and govern his Lodge.  He can rule it as a democracy or he can rule it by Master’s edict. He has by-laws, rules and regulations of Grand Lodge and the Landmarks to abide by. In generations past Grand Lodge requirements were of a general nature leaving broad room for local interpretation and application.  Not so today. Grand Lodge rule is very specific and detail orientated.  While the Lodge Master has always been granted absolute power within the guidelines enumerated, the Grand Master has never traditionally been granted such power.

It is only since the 20th century that Grand Lodges and Grand Masters have usurped power and decision making from local Lodges. There are two plausible reasons that we might surmise for the Grand Lodge power grab.

  1. The failure of local Lodges to address the problem of declining membership
  2. The over commitment to buildings, charities and other Grand Lodge promises that could no longer be affordably sustained in the light of a drastic decrease in money coming in.

Where there is a vacuum, someone, something will rush in to fill it. But we need to ask ourselves as Masons is this the best course of action? Is this the best way of governing ourselves or are we actually stifling creativity and strangling development?

Glenn Beck offers some observations in his new book Broke that are applicable. While they are made in the atmosphere of the civil, political world, they can offer Freemasonry some insight.

“The world of innovation and the world that is our federal government are on two separate bullet trains headed in opposite directions. Technology is getting smaller, faster, and is doing more with less; the federal government is getting bigger, slower, and doing less with more.  The new trend in business is decentralization; the trend in government is exactly the opposite.”

“Over the last century the government has taken control of virtually everything it could get its hands on, from education to energy, from finance to health care.  It’s hard to understate the enormity of what has happened, but consider this: The number of federal regulators has more than tripled over the last fifty years to keep up with the government’s growth.”

“And yet, for all the talk about innovation and technology, most of government’s policy prescriptions remain surprisingly clunky and outmoded.  When they want to ‘fix’ the auto industry, they appoint a czar.  When they want to tackle environmental issues, they appoint a czar. Health care?  Green jobs?  Bank bailouts?  Czar, czar, czar.”

“It’s ironic, but to cut through the bureaucracy and get things done, politicians like to create another level of bureaucracy.”

“That, of course, is the opposite of how successful companies operate.  The tendency in business is toward shifting away from centralized technology and a top down management style and replacing it with a looser, flattened, decentralized management.  Out with the old mainframe computer, in with the iPad; out with middle managers in corporate headquarters, in with franchise owners or branch managers who have real authority.”

“The reason this trend is happening is simple: It works.  Just look around at the companies that are doing well.  I can guarantee you that very few of them have a centralized bureaucracy with workers paid to punch the clock instead of innovate, create and make informed decisions.”

“Technology is decentralizing power and giving individuals more choices and freedom at lower costs and higher quality.  The internet itself is about as decentralized a system as could ever be created (although some are even trying to centralize control of that). You can pick the applications you want on your cell phone, do your banking online, buy virtually any product on the planet, and get news from a whole host of sources, some as small as an individual, some as large as a Fortune 500 corporation.  And that’s exactly the point: Decentralization helps create more freedom.”

“We are in the midst of a revolution in decision making and control and the reason is simple: Decentralization improves performance, generates new innovations, and empowers individuals by encouraging them to take on greater responsibility in return for greater potential rewards.”

So which model should American Mainstream Freemasonry emulate? There is today a large Masonic presence on the Internet.  Is there a need for a Masonic Internet Czar with centralized control to rule and govern Internet Freemasonry?

Where we are today is one step below a feudal Masonic system.  In Middle Age England (and elsewhere) Earls and Barons ruled all powerful little fiefdoms much like Grand Lodges in Mainstream Masonry have in every state. The only difference is that in the feudal system money and homage and support had to be passed onto the King.  We have no National Grand Master in the United States. That makes our American Masonic System tribal, a bunch of smaller kingdoms, inside the larger territory we know as the United States, answerable to no one.

If you look at Afghanistan today you see a tribal system of government. The President is a mere figurehead, all power being rested in warring tribes. Some African nations have the same model. Before the white man came to America Native American tribes ruled the land. Tribal governance is perhaps the worst way to organize and rule a territory. The levels of dissimilarity grow in a tribal territory and often there are clashes and jealousies. Mexico is on its way to becoming a tribal territory as warring drug cartels assume power the government used to posses.

Tribes develop their own particular styles and ways of doing things that are often quite different from other tribes in their area. This tends to blur any concept of nationality, leaving residents not citizens of a country but rather members of just a tribe.

The antidote to tribalism is not outlawing tribes and replacing them with an all powerful, centralized government, but rather diffusing any institution of total control, restoring localism with a federated national consensus.

That describes where we are at today in American Freemasonry. A host of tyrannical Masonic fiefdoms have been empowered, allowing each jurisdiction to make up whatever rules it desires, often times rules and regulations that destroy the real meaning of Freemasonry. Not only is there no American Masonic identity, neither does the tradition of ALL FREEMASONRY IS LOCAL exist anymore. Local Lodges have been stripped of all of their power.

All the recent cases of tyrannical Masonic abuse by Grand Lodges are directly proportional to the amount of centralized power they have grabbed. There is nothing in the history and traditions of American Freemasonry that permits lifting of a Lodge’s charter without reason or recourse, expulsion without a Masonic trial, all Masonic trials held at Grand Lodge, refusal to allow private Masonic websites in the jurisdiction, automatic expulsion for legal Masonic discourse via E-Mail, not allowing sponsorship of DeMolay & Rainbow or for them to meet in a Masonic Lodge and the list could go on and on.

Beck tells us this:

“Professor Lino Graglia of the University of Texas Law School once explained that keeping power decentralized and at a local level ‘controls tyranny’ and produces greater diversity and respect for individual preferences. ‘It can be shown arithmetically,’ Graglia wrote, ‘that as an issue is decided by larger units, involving more people, the likelihood increases that fewer people will obtain their preference and more will be disappointed.’”

The choices before us are really narrowed to three.

  1. The status quo – which most will choose
  2. A National Grand Lodge
  3. Decentralization

Choices one and two will only prolong the agony and are or would be the major cause of disillusionment within the Craft.

Jury Sides with Grand Lodge in West Virginia

grand lodge of west virginiaFrom the Charleston Gazette, it seems that a jury has sided with the Grand Lodge of West Virginia.

The Original story begins:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County jury sided Wednesday with the Grand Lodge of the West Virginia branch of the Masons against a former grand master who sued after he was expelled from the group, claiming the organization had violated its own rules.

The jury declined to award Frank J. Haas, an administrative law judge from Wellsburg, any damages, even though Kanawha Circuit Judge Carrie Webster ruled that the Masons breached its contract with Haas.

The jury also decided that the state’s Grand Lodge and past Grand Masters Charles F. Coleman II and Charles L. Montgomery had not defamed Haas, placed him in a false light, or committed outrageous conduct toward Haas, who was also a past grand master.

Bob Allen, Haas’ attorney, said after the verdict was announced that Haas was very disappointed, but accepted the jury’s decision.

Haas, who served as the state’s grand master from October 2005 to October 2006, said that during his tenure, he tried to make West Virginia Masonry more inclusive in terms of nationality, race, disability, age and religion. He said he wanted to bring the organization’s policies more in line with federal and state public policy.

Haas’ progressive agenda, which came to be known as the Wheeling Reforms, passed at the Masons’ annual communication that year in Wheeling. The vote — in which some members, according to custom, had full votes and some had quarter votes — resulted in a tie, with Haas casting the tie-breaking vote himself.

Days later, Coleman, who succeeded Haas as grand master, issued an edict setting aside Haas’ agenda, citing voting irregularities that he and others had witnessed.

You can read the full published story (Wayback Archive) here.

Additional reading
Lest We Forget.

West Virginia Court Rules That It Has The Power To Force Freemasonry To Follow Its Own Rules

Message from Haas, post trial – Masonic Crusade – Archive

Freemasonry In Civil Court: From The Mailbag

Brother AB:

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.

The Beehive:

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.

Brother AB:

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.

The Beehive:

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!

Brother AB:

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.

Brother CD:


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.

The Beehive:

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.


Brother EF:
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.

West Virginia Court Rules That It Has The Power To Force Freemasonry To Follow Its Own Rules

From The West Virginia Masonic Website, “Masonic Crusade”, comes this breaking news that will disperse heartburn if not fear across Mainstream Freemasonry

MWB Frank Haas will be in court on Monday 12/6/10.

The Judge has apparently ruled in a pre-trial hearing the following:

1. The Grand Master did not have the authority to expel a member based on the Laws of Masonry (West Virginia Lawbook).
2. The State of West Virginia has the authority to rule and force a private organization to follow its own rules.
3. The Grand Lodge had filed a motion to NOT allow any discussions regarding race. Their argument was that race was not pertinent to the case. She denied it and my understanding is that she indicated that it IS pertinent to the case.

grand lodge of west virginiaAs the Beehive has pointed out previously,  Grand Lodges that have incorporated (and most if not all have), now are no longer purely private organizations but they have entered the civil world and are now subject to civil authority and to the rules of incorporation of their state. They no longer can violate the Civil Rights of their members.  They can no longer get away with injustice with impunity. Civil courts will rule upon their practices because they have removed themselves from the exclusive private world into the public sphere.  This they did of their own free will and accord and now it is time to pay the piper.

This could have far reaching effects for the high profile cases of Derek Gordon in Arkansas and Mike McCabe in New Jersey and many other Freemasons across the nation who have been treated unjustly by their Grand Lodges.

Stand by. Freemason Information will keep you abreast of this story as it develops further.

The Great Canopy of the Heavens is falling.

Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics." - Mark Twain - from the North American Review

I was plugging in some numbers from the MSANA recently to update myself on the trend in membership from my original analysis in 2007, the results of which I published in the piece “So what? The Dynamic of Masonic Membership.”

In it you may, or may not want to, recollect the trend of membership numbers from 1960 to a projected 2010. In the piece, the numbers ran in a more or less steady declination of 20% per decade at an increasing clip.

Given our proximity to the fiscal 2010/2011 calendar, I wanted re-calculate the numbers for 2010, and there is some good news to report, but not without a dire observation.

In the last 10 years, the original work projected a 29% decline, but a recalculated 2010 projection (adding in 1999 in lieu of 2010’s numbers) value comes back at only 26% declination. A 3% change is not enough to turn the tide, but it may offer a glimpse of a changing trend which might push out further projected losses based on continued work to increase that change. Or, the 3% change might just represent a smaller pool from which to pull total losses from, reflecting the overall drop in membership – Fewer members to lose from equating to a lower members loss.

The numbers trued up like this:

1999     to     2000
1,902,588   1,841,169   -61419   -3.2%

2000    to    2001
1,841,169   1,774,200   -66969   -3.63%

2001    to    2002
1,774,200   1,727,505  -46695   -2.63%

2002    to    2003
1,727,505   1,671,255   -56250   -3.25%

2003    to    2004
1,671,255    1,617,032   -54223  -3.24%

2004    to    2005
1,617,032    1,569,812   -47220   -2.92%

2005    to    2006
1,569,812   1,525,131    -44681   -2.84%

2006            2007
1,525,131     1,483,449  -41682   -2.73%

2007    to    2008
1,483,449     1,444,823  -38626  -2.60%

2008    to    2009
1,444,823     1,404,059  -40764  -2.82%

Total Decrease -498,529
– 26% 1999 – 2009

Equating to a 26% net loss – less than the two preceding decades, 1990 – 2000 and the projected 29% at the time of writing the original piece in 2007, which is good news. However, before celebrating, the total loss still represents the overall change in data to fall into the established parameters of an in excess of 20% loss moving into the second decade of the 21st century.

An interesting note, the Grand Lodge of New Mexico and the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island both held positive gains in the 2008/2009 fiscal years with increases of 16 and 143 new members (respectively) over their loss, so clearly these two states are doing something in the right direction.

In the original, I made this observation:

The overall calculation led to an extrapolation, if the fraternity lost on average 560,152 members, per decade – from 2010 to 2020, our national number of members would be under 1 million members at 738,303. In ten more years 2020 to 2030 our national member base would be 178,151.

With the data trending in that manner from 1999 to 2009, it would seem that the observation is bearing out with little change, the 20%+ drop rate is trending right as predicted.

So what do we do about it?