Third Degree On The Blue Ghost

Recently, the Bee Hive attended a third degree ritual aboard the The Blue Ghost, an Essex class aircraft carrier out of Corpus Christi Bay in Texas. The event was hosted by Oso Naval Lodge No. 1282 at the Museum on the Bay on Saturday, September 10th,  2016.

Master Mason’s Degree 

USS Lexington

USS Lexington

U.S.S. Lexington

Known as “The Blue Ghost,” the Lexington is one of 24 Essex class aircraft carriers built during World War II for the United States Navy. The ship, the fifth US Navy ship to bear the name, is named in honor of the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington. She was originally to have been named Cabot, but she was renamed while under construction to commemorate USS Lexington (CV-2), lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942.

The Lexington was commissioned in February 1943, and served in several campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations, receiving the Presidential Unit Citation and 11 battle stars for World War II service. Like many of her sister ships, Lexington was decommissioned shortly after the end of the war, but was modernized and reactivated in the early 1950’s, being reclassified as an attack carrier (CVA), and then an antisubmarine carrier (CVS). In her second career, she operated both in the Atlantic/Mediterranean and the Pacific, but spent most of her time, nearly 30 years, on the east coast as a training carrier (CVT).

She was decommissioned in 1991, remaining active longer than any other Essex-class ship, and was donated for use as a museum ship here in Corpus Christi. Lexington  was designated a national Historic landmark in 2003. Though her surviving sister ships, Yorktown, Intrepid and Hornet carry lower hull numbers, Lexington was laid down and commissioned earlier, making Lexington the oldest remaining aircraft carrier in the world.

USS Lexington

USS Lexington

I head up Route 358 from North Padre Island to the Crosstown Expressway and then onto Route 181 in Corpus Christi, Texas. As I cross the bay on a high arching bridge, there she is, The Blue Ghost in all her magnificence. Coming off the bridge I wind my way around to ground level and park a block away. I walk towards my destination.  A double sized golf cart waits for me at the bottom of the ramp. Soon I am on my way up the long ramp that will take me on board the retired aircraft carrier, the USS Lexington, The Blue Ghost. I am here to witness a Third Degree on the Lexington by a very special Degree Team.

USS Lexington

USS Lexington

I think back to the meaning of Lexington to me. Lexington seems to end up following me or I it wherever I go.

I was born and raised in Lexington, Massachusetts the birthplace of the American Revolution. It was this Lexington for whom the USS Lexington was named. It was here on April 19, 1775 that Paul Revere rode into Lexington with other riders and proclaimed, “The British are coming, the British are coming.”  I went to church 100 feet from the Lexington Green where the first battle of the American Revolution was fought on that day. My mother was secretary of the church. She also worked weekends at the Buckman Tavern beside the Green as a historical story teller to visitors. The Buckman Tavern is where The Lexington Minute Men gathered on that early morning of April 19, 1775. I would become Master Councilor of Battle Green DeMoaly also just off the Green. Much later I would return to Lexington’s Simon Robinson Lodge as Master of Paul Revere Lodge with the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team to exemplify the Third Degree and participate in a Tri Table Lodge.

The Degree Team

The Degree Team

This night I would witness the Third Degree by a team of Masons from the Grand Lodge of Texas AF & AM drawn from all over Southeastern Texas who were Grand Lodge award winning Ritualists.The host Lodge was Oso Naval Lodge No 1282. Grand Master, MW Wendell P. Miller was in the East for the Second Section of the Degree. District Instructor PM Mike King was the producer of the degree and sat in the West for the Second Section.

Wall Screen

Wall Screen

For the reenactment of the Legend of Hiram Abiff, the players were all dressed in ancient costumes. Upon the giant wall behind the South was a huge video screen which the Grand Lodge used in conjunction with the Lecture and the Charge. In addition to these two, there was also an Apron and a Bible presentation.

The degree was flawless and very well done. Long pieces of ritual were recited from memory without mistakes and with great flourish. At its conclusion, the Grand Master was presented with a few gifts as mementos of the occasion among which was a very decorative flag.

After the Degree, we gathered to greet new friends and touch base with old ones. Most of the Brothers present were not familiar to me which gave me a good opportunity to make new friends. Many pictures were taken including me with the Grand Master.

MW Wendell P. Miller & PM Frederic L. Milliken

MW Wendell P. Miller & PM Frederic L. Milliken

Grand Master Presented A Flag

Grand Master Presented A Flag

What was most impressive to me was the fact that you don’t often see a Grand Master performing degrees at the local level. Grand Masters are too involved with Administration and Ceremonial functions to actually do ritual in a Degree. And few remember their ritual from long ago. Not this one, MW Wendell P. Miller did not miss a word of a lengthy ritual part.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye. Hugs all around and back out into the night and onto the deck of the Blue Ghost we went. From that vantage, there was a beautiful view of Corpus Christi all lit up in the night. We took the same cart back down the ramp and dispersed.

As I left the Blue Ghost late at night, I turned back and snapped a couple of pictures that really gave meaning to the Lexington’s nickname. Once again, I had celebrated Freemasonry in fine style!

The Blue Ghost

The Blue Ghost

Arkansas Prince Hall Grand Master Cleveland Wilson Takes The High Road

We don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonize. The same is true with people.
Steve Goodier

Life’s like the piano and the violin, it’s about how smart you could play the melodies to make a good harmony.
Lucy ‘Aisy

Grand Master Cleveland Wilson

Grand Master Cleveland Wilson

The lessons of life often come hard. It takes years and a lot of hurt sometimes to “get it.” And it takes a giant of a human being to “let go.”

Such a man is Arkansas Prince Hall Grand Master Cleveland Wilson.

I know. I have talked with him face to face many times.

The easy way out is to wag your finger, to wall yourself up in your own little world, to bunker down and say the hell with everybody else. But that’s not the way of Freemasonry.

Freemasonry is universal and a light unto the world. Even when there is contention where no contention should exist, Freemasonry can heal the darker side of man if you will just listen to its message.

Grand Master Cleveland Wilson is listening. He knows the true meaning of Freemasonry. And so he is going to take the high road and to be out front as a healer and practitioner of peace.

That’s why Grand Master Wilson has issued a proclamation that the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas will recognize all and every legitimate Bodies of Free and Accepted Masons who recognize Prince Hall wheresoever dispersed across the face of the globe. Whether that Body recognizes the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas or not, it doesn’t matter.

42 states now recognize Prince Hall. Very few  of them recognize Prince Hall Arkansas. Now Prince Hall Arkansas recognizes them all.

Here is the way I see the thinking of Grand Master Wilson.

We’re going to love you whether or not you love us back. It’s the 21st century. We are moving on. We are not going to be about conflict, contention or competition with anybody. We’re into what Freemasonry is all about – peace and harmony.

Now that’s a man who “gets it,” who has “let go.”  That’s a great Mason who is taking the high road.

The text of note, at the end of the document, saying:

BE IT RESOLVED, that it shall be the policy of the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas to recognize and offer to enter into fraternal relations with any all Grand Lodges which (1) hold a seat in the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America, Inc. and (2) have entered into an agreement, treaty, or compact or recognition with the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge who is a member of the Conference of Grand Masters of Prince Hall Masons, Inc. in their respective state, and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that policy shall be made effective 22, February 2014.

Arkansas Prince Hall Recognition page 1

 Arkansas Prince Hall Recognition page 2

Arkansas Prince Hall Recognition page 3Arkansas Prince Hall Recognition page 4

 You can view the original Prince Hall of Arkansas Recognition Letter here.

Grand Lodge Of New Jersey Destroys Another Great Masonic Career

403-Copy-300x225The Grand Lodge of New Jersey is at it again. This time it has suspended well respected PDDGM Dennis R. Winter for correcting and disagreeing with Grand Lodge – essentially nothing. And at the same time it has refused to grant him a Masonic trial.

This has become a common tactic of Napoleonic Grand Masters as they use a loophole of suspending indefinitely, perhaps forever, without expelling thereby not being able to be accused of arbitrarily ruining a Mason’s Masonic life.

You might remember that we have been this road before with Mike McCabe who was railroaded out of the Craft in New Jersey for essentially the unMasonic conduct of opening his mouth.

New Jersey has a long history of tight fisted out of control Masonic government.

The bone of contention is once again as it was with McCabe, Landmark #3 which states:

“The Grand Master…may suspend, at his pleasure, the operation of any rule or regulation of Masonry not a ‘landmark’…suspend the installed officers of any Lodge, and reinstate them at his pleasure, and is not answerable for his acts as Grand Master.”

In other words the Grand Master can do as he dam well pleases. There is no limit to his power for this Landmark can overrule every other Landmark in the New Jersey Constitution. It’s a SUPER Landmark. In fact all that is really necessary for New Jersey Mainstream Freemasonry is to just have this one Landmark as it voids all the others anyway.

Furthermore as we exposed 3 years ago in the Mike McCabe story, the New Jersey Landmarks were never voted on by the body of the Craft in Grand Session as required by the New Jersey Constitution. They were never officially approved but merely inserted into the Constitution by taking an end run around the proper procedures of the Grand Lodge as so stipulated in its Constitution. And the powers to be today will never submit the Landmarks to the New Jersey Craft as a whole for approval because they know they would not pass with Landmark #3 in them. So these Landmarks are illegal, the Grand Master’s rulings are illegal and the suspension of Winter is illegal.

Yet the question that needs to be asked is a statement of all power to the Grand Master without limitations really a Landmark? This is what we will explore further but first let’s hear Winter’s story in his own words.




I was summoned to the Grand Lodge Fellowship Center on August 28, 2013 to meet with the  Grand Master for allegedly “Having issues with the Grand Lodge on the way the Grand Lodge was being run.”

Rather than sitting down as men and as Masons to discuss the issues, the meeting was more of a Police interrogation. (Note: the Grand Master is a retired Police Sergeant from the now disbanded Camden Police Department).

The entire Elected Line was there and I was informed that my conversation was being recorded and I informed the Grand Master that his conversation was being recorded as well. He did not like that.

My issues with the Grand Lodge were 1) I found out that the ads in the Freemason Magazine were Not being paid for; 2) I called the Editor of our privately paid magazine which had an ad in (by Reverend Frank) advertizing Marriages, Civil Unions, and renewal of vows. I took issue with the fact that it looked like we, as Masons were promoting Civil Unions and I do not believe that as Masons, who are taught that the “Holy Bible the Inestimable gift of God to man is given to us as the Rule and Guide for our faith and Practice, and in that Book it states that marriage is between a man and a woman, that we should not have such an ad in our magazine; 3) I found out that a District Deputy Grand Master in one of our Districts tried to qualify a Senior Warden, who had not been elected Master. I called the Grand Instructor and told him what this District Deputy tried to do and he told me that he would talk to the Grand Master about this problem; and 4) I called the Grand Lodge to inform the Grand Secretary that a piece of Legislation that was passed at Grand Lodge was listed incorrectly in the Freemason and since I knew that the Grand Lodge was updating the Constitution, I wanted to make sure that the wording would be correct.

The Grand Master told me that I “berated” the Editor of the Freemason for a half an hour. That  never did happen. We talked about the issues that concerned me. The Grand Master told me that I should know, as a Past District Deputy Grand Master that any Volume of Sacred Law can be on the Alter. I do know that. And I also know that No recognized volume of Sacred Law condones civil unions or gay marriage. He told me that I should know the chain of command, that the Freemason Magazine is the Grand Master’s magazine and if I had an issue 1 should have called him. (I thought, #1 that the Freemason was “OUR” magazine and if someone has a problem with what is published, that they should talk to the Editor of that paper or magazine.)  Note: I did apologize to Grand Master if he thought I did not go through the correct chain of command … He then told me that I should not interfere with another District or District Deputy Grand Master. I told him that my concern was with the entire fraternity and what was being done in this fraternity is being done properly.

After the interrogation was over, the Grand Master told me that “You can go home now”. 

On September 20, after just getting home from giving the Funeral oration for a departed brother of my Lodge(Note: 1 also did a Funeral Oration for another Lodge on the morning of the day that one was to appear for the summons), 1 received a phone call from a brother Mason asking what was going on .. I asked him what he was talking about and he told me that he was just informed that the Grand Master had suspended me. 1 was not officially informed until I received the letter from the Grand Master on September 23,2013. (Emails went out to the Elected Line, Past Grand Masters, all Lodge Secretaries, District Deputy Grand Masters and appendant and coordinate bodies before I was informed of my suspension).

He did this by suspending any By-Law, rule or regulation relating to Title Four, Article XI, and Trial of Charges by (Printed Landmark #3) In addition the wording in this so-called “Landmark” cannot be justified from Mackey’s list of 25 Landmarks or any other adopted Landmarks recognized in this country or by the Grand Lodge of England. To this date I have been suspended even though the preferment and determination of charges has not been made and the Grand Master has not allowed me to have a Trial, even though I have asked for one …

Also take notice that the Grand Lodge of New Jersey has not adopted any Landmarks … Some Grand Masters in New Jersey have used this (Landmark) even though it has not been adopted by our Grand Lodge.

This is evident by the 1903 Grand Lodge proceedings and the Wallis Report of Masonic Jurisprudence and also the Past Grand Secretary’s remarks in The Masonic Service Association’s pamphlet on “Landmarks” which states “Our records from 1903 show that the report of the Committee was received and adopted, but nothing in the report recommends the adoption of the ten “Landmarks”. We have adhered to them even though there was no official acceptance by the Grand Lodge”.

The Grand Lodge Constitution of New Jersey clearly states in Title Four, Part 5. Legal Rulings “Opinions of the Grand Master, in the interpretation of Masonic Law or Landmarks, become established decrees and permanent rules of action only when adopted by the Grand Lodge”.

This Grand Master has violated the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey and denied me my Civil Rights as an American, as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the New Jersey Grand Lodge Constitution. Title Four, Section 3, Part 3 Protection of Civil Rights: A Lodge cannot derive a brother of his civil rights, such as a resort to courts of justice for the redress of injuries, nor compel him to first submit his complaint to the lodge for its action.

Also, since all of the issues that I had are now being addressed by the Grand Master, it sure proves that they were legitimate concerns.

Please remember, this action by the Grand Master is a vendetta against me. I do not hold the Fraternity in New Jersey responsible for the unmasonic and improper acts of this Grand Master.

As I have told many concerned brethren, there is nothing wrong at all with the Institution of Freemasonry. The problem is that we sometimes elect a brother who really does not understand the fraternity and will abuse the authority of the Office of Grand Master to satisfy a personal vendetta …

Dennis R. Winter, P.D.D.G.M. 21st Masonic District
November 8, 2013

There are three main points to consider in analyzing this abuse of power by the Grand Master of New Jersey.

1) The New Jersey Landmarks were never voted on and approved by the Grand Lodge as a whole. They were never legally passed but merely inserted into the constitution thereby bypassing proper procedure.

2) An unlimited power clause is not a Landmark. Landmarks are the basic principles or cornerstones that define the fraternity. Putting into the Landmarks a tactic is an illegal grab for power.

No other Grand Lodge gives the Grand Master absolute power as contained in the Wallis Committee’s Report of 1903, which attempted to identify 10 specific Landmarks. Specifically parts of Landmark 3, which state:

“He may create lodges by his warrant and arrest the warrant of any lodge.

He may suspend, at his pleasure, the operation of any rule or regulation of Masonry, not a “Landmark.” He may suspend the installed officers of Any lodge and reinstate them at pleasure, and is not answerable for his acts as Grand Master”

The language contained in this part of the new “Landmark”, nor the concept of a Grand Master being able to disregard whole sections of a written constitution is not found in Mackey’s list of Landmarks. No Masonic Jurisdiction in the United States has ever granted their Grand Masters such broad expansive authority based on their Landmarks as New Jersey’s Landmark No.3 suggested.

3) Grand Lodges were never set up to be a tyranny. Grand Lodges were not designed to operate in this manner. This is not the tradition of Freemasonry. Grand Lodges were created to be the administrative arm of a group of constituent, local Lodges.

M.W. Brother Dorworth’s 2013 Masonic Leadership Conference in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania for the Officers of Lodges in New Jersey had a book that was required reading for the participants.

The Book titled Laudable Pursuit: A 21 st Century Response to Dwight Smith by the Knights of the North states under Part Three: the section on “To be invested with what we were divested”. (Pg.12)

1. “Can we expect Freemasonry to retain its past glory and prestige unless the level of leadership is raised above its present position?”

James I of England once purported, it is … “sedition in subjects, to dispute what a king may do in the height of his power.” We give to our Grand Masters the Devine Right of Kings and pray that use such powers wisely. Sadly, our law does NOT take into account the man who believes in his own divinity. Nor does it take into account for the simple man who gets his feelings hurt and retaliates against those who disagree with his actions. Specifically, the power of a Grand Master to suspend a Mason until the next meeting of Grand Lodge must be eliminated. There must be checks and balances in the form of a required seating of a Trial Committee, made up of Past Masters, NOT Past Grand Masters or Grand Lodge officers to rule on the suspension.

[5] Even the Grand Lodge of England in 1723 and until today, who’s country was and is ruled by a Monarch, state in their Book of Constitutions: General Laws and Regulations for the Government of The Craft:,”#15., Abuse of Power by Grand Master: If the Grand Master should abuse his power and render himself unworthy of the obedience of the Lodges, he shall be subject to some new regulation, to be dictated by the occasion; because, hitherto, the Antient Fraternity have had no reason to provide for an event which they have presumed would never happen.

Like the Pope who is absolutely the last word in spiritual matters but not infallible in civil matters, the Grand Master was never intended to have life and death powers over individual Masons or even local Lodges but rather possess the power to organize and manage his jurisdiction while at the same time holding the post of ceremonial leader.

The government of Freemasonry was modeled on the monarchial system that was in vogue in the 18th century, but the Grand Master was a King with a Parliament which means he governed with limitations. Those limitations were the by-laws and the Constitution of his jurisdiction along with voting rights where applicable. It was never intended to be a Fraternity where the average Mason had no civil rights at all and was in a position to be at the whim and mercy of its leader. Those Grand Lodges that are now operating in the United States as tyrannical dictatorships trampling the civil rights of the Brethren at large are illegal, immoral, unconstitutional and totally outside the bounds of Masonic tradition.

The Grand Master of New Jersey has taken this abuse one step further by becoming a bully. There is nothing like sticking the blade in and then twisting it around to cause maximum pain. His latest edict is to prohibit any suspended or expelled Mason from attending an open installation, open to the general public.  It seems as if the motto of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey is – when we screw you over we do it doubly well.




WHEREAS, The ceremony of Installation of the Officers of a Masonic Lodge is Masonic ritual; and subject to Title Four: By Laws Part 8 paragraph d & Title Seven: Appendix 7.5.8d; and,

WHEREAS, pursuant to Masonic Regulations,(above) an “Open Installation” of Lodge Officers is permissible if the members of the lodge shall have voted therefore, and the District Deputy Grand Master of the District shall have approved of the same; and,

WHEREAS, the authorization of an Open Installation by the District Deputy Grand Master is conditioned upon him being satisfied that the ceremony shall be conducted in a dignified and commendable manner; and,

WHEREAS, the persons who may attend an open installation are Master Masons in good standing, and their invited family and friends, who are members of the community and who may not necessarily be Masons; and,

WHEREAS, since the ceremony will be open to members of the community, and may be their only exposure to Masonic ceremonies, and hence is even more important that the ceremony be conducted with dignity and peace and harmony; and,

WHEREAS, suspended or expelled Master Masons may be tempted to attend such an open installation, and whose presence could disturb the peace and harmony of the Lodge, and also be interpreted as violating the Obligation of all Master Masons to refrain from holding Masonic conversation with suspended or expelled Masons; and,

WHEREAS, the preservation of peace and harmony within this Grand Lodge is of great importance to this fraternity, for the good of the craft and for the preservation of such peace and harmony, it is this Day of November 12,2013.

EDICTED AND ORDERED, that no suspended or expelled Masons, who remain within the penal jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge, may attend any open installation of any Lodge within this Grand Jurisdiction. The District Deputy Grand Masters and Worshipful Masters are directed that in the event that a suspended or expelled Mason endeavors to attend any open installation, they shall prevent the ceremony from proceeding until such time as they are satisfied that the suspended or expelled Mason has departed the premises, or that the installation is to proceed as a closed installation. The identity of the suspended or expelled Mason shall be communicated to the Grand Lodge at the earliest practical opportunity following any such incident.

So Ordered,

M.W. David A. Dorworth,
Grand Master

Dated: November 12,2013
William L. Morris,
Grand Secretary

None of the actions of PDDGM Dennis R. Winter consisted of Masonic misconduct. This is simply a case of a thin skinned Grand Master  who cannot countenance anybody having a different opinion than his and who will not allow, correction, suggestions or input from others in his jurisdiction. And to squash all other Masonic thought and intimidate those who might be considering speaking up he resorts to suspension and expulsion without cause and without due process. This is exactly why Mainstream Freemasonry is in trouble. Grand Lodges and Grand Masters have become control freaks.

Until Mainstream Freemasonry in the United States decides to discipline itself, these abuses will be repeated over and over again. While each jurisdiction has its own sovereignty it does not have the right to change Freemasonry or to make up bogus Landmarks. And when it does those compliant Grand Lodges must threaten those who disrespect Freemasonry with non recognition.


The Grand Master’s Rooftop Table Lodge

R to L: GM Wilbert M. Curtis, DGM Michael T. Anderson, GSW “Big” Bryce Hardin, GL Ivory Johnson

R to L: GM Wilbert M. Curtis, DGM Michael T. Anderson, GSW “Big” Bryce Hardin, GL Ivory Johnson

The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas recently held the Grand Master’s Table Lodge on an open air rooftop overlooking a view of downtown Dallas, Texas. The event was hosted by Metropolitan Lodge No. 146, Wor. Jerome D. Lacy presiding.

The Table Lodge is a tyled Entered Apprentice Masons Lodge. It harkens back to the Mother Grand Lodge of 1717 where one of the reasons for its formation was to hold the Annual Feast. Soon the Grand Master of that time directed there be installed into the ceremony the old, regular and peculiar toasts and health’s of Freemasons. Over time a Table Lodge became a prescribed ceremony with a ritual all its own.

Table Lodges in Colonial America were quite common as many Lodges actually met in taverns and a full course meal became part of “going to Lodge.”  As the decades passed and a new century began, Table Lodges were continued as a way to promote fellowship, kinship and pride in Masonry.


“The Table Lodge had a most unusual pattern. Its entire meeting was conducted around the table, and the helpings of food and beverage were served in such a way they did not interfere with the other concerns of the Lodge. The arrangement of tables resembled a giant horse-shoe, with the worshipful Master in the East, at the center, and both Wardens in the West, at the opposite ends. The Lodge was opened with an invocation and closed with a song.”

“At first, there was an address, followed by many toasts and songs, but as time went by the lecture was omitted and the number of toasts and songs decreased. The final figure that was set for the toasts was seven, and in some Jurisdictions that number is still retained today.”

Under its skillful formula, the names of objects in the room were changed. The table was the Trestle Board, the cloth – the standard, the food – the materials, the glasses became cannons, the beverage – powder, the bottles – casks, the napkin a flag, forks were pickaxes, knives were swords, and spoons were trowels. To fill the glass was to “charge” it, and to drink it was to ‘fire’”.(1)

Fred at the Grand Master’s Rooftop Table LodgeToday a Table Lodge has its own set of rituals, with its own particular opening and closing ritual as well as a seven course meal with seven toasts, one after each course.

The ritual of The Ceremony of the Seven Toasts is as follows:

Right hand to arms.  (The right hand touches the glass).
Ready.  (The glass is raised breast high, aim extended forward).
Aim.  (The glass is brought to the lips).
Fire, Good Fire, Fire All.  (All drink).
Present Arms.  (The glass is brought to the second position in unison with the Worshipful Master, then the glass is brought to the left breast, then to the right breast, then again to the second position so that the movement makes a triangle.  This triangle is made three times: then the glass is brought to the table in three moves – it is first carried a little to the left, then to the right and finally forcibly in unison to the table).

The Battery, three times three ( clapping 3X right over left, left over right, right over left).  (Done)

ALL    Vivat,  Vivat,  Vivat.  (Right arm thrust upward with each Vivat).
Advance swords.  (Knife is raised breast high, arms extended forward).

Poise swords.  (Knife blade is elevated slightly, about 45°)

Salute with swords.  (Knife handle is brought to within a few inches of the chin with the blade elevated about 45°)

Swords at rest.  (Knife handles are carried in unison forcibly to the table – preferably in a flat position to prevent table damage).

The Battery, three times three.  (Done)

ALL    Vivat,  Vivat,  Vivat.  (Right arm thrust upward with each Vivat).(2)

Wor. Jerome D. Lacy led us in all the toasts except the one to himself and other Worshipful Masters. The toasts were as follows: To the –

  1. President of the United States of America
  2. Most Worshipful Grand Master and the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge
  3. The Worshipful Master and all sitting Masters
  4. The Wardens and all sitting Wardens
  5. Past Masters
  6. Other Officers and visiting Brethren
  7.  To all Masons where-so-ever spread over the face of the globe

A great meal was had by all. The Table Lodge closed with all Brethren forming the Mystic Chain (arms crossed in front and clasped to the Brother to your right and left)  and singing the ancient song written by Scottish  Poet Laureate  Brother Robert Burns in 1788– Auld Lang Syne.

Should old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should all acquaintance be forgot
And auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne

(1) HISTORY OF THE “TABLE LODGE” – State College Masonic Lodge No. 700 F&AM –

(2) How To Conduct A Table Lodge, Phoenixmasonry –

A Prince Hall Perspective On The Universalism Of Freemasonry Through Religious Toleration

California-sealThe Beehive is proud to present an article from Brother Samuel L. Parker, Sr. of The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Of California. Prince Hall Freemasonry is blossoming with thinkers, writers and reformers who want to bring to the Fraternity an intellectual involvement that can only bring about a new renaissance.

Brother Parker is addressing the concept of religious toleration within the Prince Hall family. He makes a strong point that Masonic Universalism is dependent on elimination of sectarian religious practices in the Fraternity. We would make the same case for partisan politics.

In “Ruling and Decision #3” the Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida, on November 28th, 2012, ruled and decided that Paganism, Wiccan and Odinism, Agnosticism, and Gnosticism beliefs and/or practices were NOT compatible with Freemasonry.[1]  Based on his conclusions, the Grand Master directed that … “any member of the Craft that professes to be a member of one of the groups mentioned above shall tender his resignation or suffer himself to a Trial Commission whose final outcome will be expulsion…  On May 28th, 2013, it is reported that the Grand Lodge of Florida voted to rescind the Grand Masters’ Ruling and Decision.

 After reading of the policy reversal in Florida, I began hopefully envisioning a room full of Prince Hall Masons exercising that same manly consciousness and mustering the fortitude to examine the religious understandings and policies of (even) a Grand Master, and say “No” to a policies and practices which are not consistent with morally correct Masonic values, laws, and traditions.  Each of us is, faithfully obliged in the dignity of the character of that celebrated artist, to faithfully discharge that duty to carefully preserve, never suffer the infringement of, nor countenance a deviation from, the Landmarks of our Order – by Grand Masters or anyone else.

 I am hopeful that, in light of the reversal of the Grand Master’s policy in Florida, that we members of Prince Hall Masonic bodies seize upon a learning opportunity and consider our policies and practices regarding sectarian religious perspectives and practices (including learning what sectarian practices are, and looking for ways to determine whether these practices exist in our lodges and grand lodge events).

 As one example, in PHA lodges and grand lodges, you will invariably (to my knowledge) find the Holy Bible on the altar of open lodges as an “indispensable part of the furniture of every Lodge.”  To be clear, I am suggesting that the Holy Bible is not on the altars of Prince Hall Lodges as “a representation of” or “an example” of “a” “Book of the Law.”  In practice and unofficial policy (even perhaps “official” in some jurisdictions), the Holy Bible sits on the altars of Prince Hall Lodges as “The” “Book of the Law.”  Accordingly, most (are taught and) would believe that the lodges are complying with the 21st Landmark of the Order, when, in fact, they are violating the Landmark.

 In a Masonic setting, viewing the Holy Bible as “The Book of the Law” fosters mis-education and mis-informing candidates and Masons that Masonry is a “Christian organization.”  When candidates and Masons understand that Landmark 21 requires “…that “a” “Book of the Law” shall constitute an indispensable part of the furniture of every Lodge…” they may then view the Holy Bible on the altar as “a” (one of many) representation(s) of a Book of the Law.  Policies and practices that insist on having “only the Holy Bible” open on the altars of working lodges creates the (easily correctable) appearance of hypocrisy between the Landmarks of the Order and the policies or practices of our Lodges and Grand Lodges.  The appearance can be easily corrected by displaying other examples of a “Book of the Law.”

 If you are having trouble thinking of a valid and appropriate example of a Masonically-correct Book of the Law, you are probably an example of a “victim” of the “Christian organization doctrine/perspective.”  There is relief available to you, thru Masonic education.  The Lodge is not a church.

 The significance of understanding that Masonry requires “a” Book of the Law on the altars of open lodges could present teaching moments when candidates and Masons find various Revealed Books of the Sacred Law on the altars of open lodges.  The practice of putting other Books of Law on the altar (as equal representatives of the principle of revealed texts), might hint to and suggest religious tolerance.  It might also remove a peg in the argument that Masonry is a Christian organization.  Perhaps it might even enable investigating committees to give favorable reports on candidates who are not religiously persuaded by the book that is “always” on the altar of the lodge.  In the long run, some may even discover that there is a distinction between Landmark 21’s “Book of the Law” and the Holy Bible.

 I am not averse to a Holy Bible being placed on the Masonic altar “as an example or representation” of “the” Volume of Sacred Law.  I am opposed to a Holy Bible being placed on the Masonic altar as “THE” (sole and exclusive) “Volume of Sacred Law.”  There is a great difference. 

 If you think it is a trivial matter and just a semantical equivocation, ask your Worshipful Master or Grand Master to place (and leave open) ANY other Volume of Sacred Law.  (Do not try this if you are not prepared for a backlash.)

 Masonic universality is the principle that should govern the practices in our lodges – not the values, practices, and incongruent interests of any particular church doctrines.  Masonry is not an extension of a single church doctrine.  Christian Lodges, Muslim Lodges, Catholic Lodges, etc. should be oxymorons – from a Masonic perspective.  The results of too many uncontested years of tolerating, permitting, and advocating a false perspective (that Masonry is founded on Christian principles and based on the Holy Bible) is divisive and has led to too many Masons and potential Masons being the victims of this mis-education and religious intolerance.

Relief is in sight….

Bro. Samuel L. Parker, Sr.

Ohio Brother Comments ON The Frank Haas Situation

Ohio Freemasons

Ohio Freemasons

Some facts about Haas Yes he was expelled. I have the edict in front of me. He was not afforded a Masonic trial again. Our Grand Master cites a section (27.01c) that does in fact say that the EA and the FC should not be re-conferred. Doesn’t say that they can’t just says they shouldn’t. This is a lame excuse to take this action. If in fact this is this Grand Masters position they he should, he must, and is now bound to expel any Ohio Master Mason that has ever been a pro-tem candidate at their Lodge Inspection or any other time a pro-tem is used. There is no difference.

Lets be very clear about this WV is AF&AM and Ohio is F&AM. They are not the same degrees. So if I want to belong to AF&AM lodge then I must surely have to conform to their ritual and the same would also be true.

Frank was never given a masonic trial in WV and was never charged with a Masonic offense.; Even the Supreme Court of WV ruled that what they did did not follow their own rules. The only offense Frank was guilty of was trying to bring WV into the 21 Century.

It is well documented that WV Grand Lodge has taken their cause to other states to try to convince them to cut ties with Ohio over this issue. Our grand Master has chosen to take the easy way and has bowed to outside pressures. He has also basically slapped the 3 previous Grand Masters in the face by these actions. I will be sending a letter of protest to our Grand Master, maybe he can expel me in return.

Brother Jay Mayberry


More Light On The Arkansas Shriner Purge

shrinersA big factor in this whole  Arkansas Shrine affair has been overlooked by many. Potentate Buffington who was expelled from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas was not also expelled from the Shrine BECAUSE HE WAS STILL A MASON. He had dual membership also being a member of the Grand Lodge of Iowa. AND THE GRAND LODGE OF IOWA REFUSED TO EXPEL HIM.

So what do all you legalists have to say now? If Buffington’s own Lodge found that he did nothing wrong, if the Shrine found that he did nothing wrong and if the Grand Master of Iowa found that he had done nothing wrong and refused to expel him, could it be that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas is wrong and out for a vendetta?

Such action or non action by the Grand Lodge of Iowa is setting a precedent. It follows the Grand Lodge of Ohio giving Past Grand Master Frank Haas sanctuary after being expelled from West Virginia. It looks as if Grand Lodges may not always rubber stamp support decisions by other Grand Lodges. The good old boys network is showing some cracks.

More light is shed by a letter from Theodore Corsones, General Counsel Emeritus of Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children and also a Past Grand Master.

“The fault lies with the Grand Lodge of Arkansas not with Shriners International. The Grand Master of Arkansas has adopted a “scorched earth” policy against the Shrine in his Grand jurisdiction because Shriners International will not allow him to decide who should be a Shriner in Arkansas. A summary of the facts are as follows.”

“Potentate Buffington was asked to run for a second term as potentate of Scimitar Shriners – which is lawful under Shrine law. The Grand Master did not want him to do so because he wanted another Noble to have the office.”

“Potentate Buffington left it to the members of the temple to decide and the temple members elected him for a second term.”

“Social Event. Buffington had a Christmas party at a country club. Other parties were occurring at the same time. One of the other parties had a DJ who was playing extremely amplified music. The DJ was asked to lower the volume. He complied. A member of the other party went to Buffington’s party and complained that they had no right to interfere with the other party. Words were exchanged. The country club looked into the matter and found no wrong doing by Buffington. (This was not pleasing to the Grand Master)”

“Masonic Lodge. A complaint was filed in Buffington’s Masonic lodge in Arkansas alleging that Buffington conducted himself improperly at the Christmas party. The lodge investigated the matter and dismissed the complaint alleging no wrong doing by Buffington. (This was not pleasing to the Grand Master).”

“Scimitar Shriners. Buffington’s temple was asked to look into the matter. The temple did, and found no wrong doing by Buffington. (This was not pleasing to the Grand Master.) “

“Grand Lodge of Arkansas. The Grand Master then, without a trial, summarily suspended Buffington from Masonry in Arkansas and told Buffington he could appeal if he wanted to. Buffington did appeal. The Grand Master then selected the three persons who were to decide whether he was right or wrong in suspending Buffington. Needless to say, his three appointees carried out the execution of Buffington as they were expected to do by their appointment. They found Buffington guilty.”

“Shriners International. Shriners International held a hearing at the 2012 annual session at Charlotte, NC as to whether or not Buffington should be expelled from the Shrine because of being expelled from Masonry in South Carolina. A hearing was held and it was determined that Buffington was a member in good standing in Masonry in the Grand Lodge of Iowa and, therefore, he was eligible to remain a Shriner. (This was not pleasing to the Grand Master of Arkansas.)”

“Grand Lodge of Iowa. The Grand Master then asked the Grand Lodge of Iowa to expel Buffington from Masonry because he, the Grand Master of Arkansas, had done so. The Grand Master of Iowa stated that he would investigate the matter. He did conduct an investigation. He then informed the Grand Master of Arkansas that Buffington had done nothing wrong so he would not suspend or expel Buffington from Masonry.”

“As a result of all of the foregoing the Grand Master adopted his “scorched earth” policy against Shriners in Arkansas by issuing an edict that anyone who remained a Shriner in Arkansas had to self-expel himself from Masonry by December 15, 2012 or he, without any trial, would expel them from Masonry. Further he would not allow any Masonic lodge to issue a demit from Masonry to any Shriner (rightly fearing that such Masons would join Masonic lodges in other states). This is Masonry as it is presently practiced in the Grand Lodge of Arkansas.”

“Now, you have the basic facts.”

“I am proud to inform you that Shriners International is blessed to have Alan W. Madsen as its Imperial Potentate during this unprecedented time. He is standing tall for what is right and proper. He will not allow Shriners International nor Shriners Hospitals for Children to be destroyed by the unconscionable acts of those that have lost all common sense and no longer practice fraternal love and amity.”

“If you have any questions, do not hesitate to communicate with me.”


Theodore Corsones

General Counsel Emeritus of Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Deputy General Counsel

M.W. Past Grand Master


Mainstream Dichotomy


The ramifications of the Florida Masonic religious ban reach far beyond the borders of Florida which we will point out momentarily. But first it is worthy to note that other gross violations of Masonic conduct by Florida Brethren have existed for years without any disapproval or reprimand outside the Sunshine State.

For years I have heard of stories of how African American Mainstream Masons from New York (and elsewhere) who were snowbirds spending 6 months of their year in Florida were treated. The Beehive has recently consulted with three Florida Past Masters to verify this practice and ask if it was still in force.

When a “Black Man” appeared at a Florida Lodge for visitation carrying fully accredited papers and knowledge from another Mainstream jurisdiction, the Florida Lodge would refuse to open or if already opened would immediately close. The “Black Man” would then be admitted inside the Lodge room where some explanation for this procedure would be offered by the Master, such as the candidate failed to show up tonight so we have cancelled the degree work. Then a Past Master would rise to give a Masonic education lecture. The Lodge remained closed as long as the “Black Man” remained in the building. The information I have received and verified through three Florida Past Masters is still going on and is the unwritten policy of the Grand Lodge that no man of color ever be allowed into a Florida Mainstream tyled Communication, certified Mainstream Master Mason or not.

To the best knowledge of this author no Grand Lodge or Grand Master in the rest of the American jurisdictions has ever publicly scolded or criticized this Florida practice even though it is widely known to be going on.

So what hope do we have that any other jurisdiction will take any action against Florida’s latest religious ban? But they should.

Suppose you are a Vermont Freemason and a Wiccan who wants to visit a Florida Lodge while on vacation. Chances are good that you will be denied admission. Suppose that you are a Vermont Freemason and your job transfers you to Florida. So you join your new Grand Lodge and demit from your old one. You happen to be an Odinist ignorant of the recent Florida religious ruling. Now the Grand Lodge of Florida will expel you and under the good old boys mutual agreement to honor all things another jurisdiction does, Vermont will not let you be reinstated there. You are now on the outside looking in.

But how will Florida know what your religion is, you ask? That’s easy. The good old boys network has established the rule in most American Grand Lodges that before embarking outside your jurisdiction you must first receive the permission from your Grand Lodge who will contact the Jurisdiction you are going to for you. Now when it happens that you are going to a regressive, tyrannical regime like Florida, West Virginia, Arkansas and others the Grand Secretary there will ask the visiting Brothers skin color and his religion. If you think Freemasonry is Universal, think again. Maybe in other parts of the world but not here.

While Grand Masters across the nation may be keeping their mouths shut rank and file Brethren are not. Some objectors have set up a Masonic Landmark Restoration Community Facebook Page  – and here is a letter being circulated from that site that pretty much explains the problem:

On November 28, 2012, the Grand Master of Florida, the Most Worshipful Grand Master Jorge Aladro issued a Ruling and Decree stating that participation in alternative religious belief systems, “primarily Paganism, Wiccan and Odinism, and secondarily Agnosticism and Gnosticism” were not compatible with Freemasonry.

This ruling, known as Ruling and Decision No. 3, further states that any Freemason “that professes to be a member of one of the groups mentioned above shall tender his resignation or suffer himself to a Trial Commission whose final outcome will be expulsion since there is no provision to allow anything contrary to the Ancient Landmarks”.

As Freemasons, we are not defined by our religious or spiritual practices; rather, we are defined by our character and our work. While spiritual beliefs may augment or act as a catalyst in our path as men and Freemasons, it is ultimately an inner voice that guides us on our quest towards improvement and self mastery. That inner voice is an expression of the Divine, which we, as Freemasons, recognize and accept as such. Without belief we can never be Freemasons, as our very institution demands it in both written and spoken word. As Dr. Mackey stated so eloquently in the NINETEENTH Landmark;

“A belief in the existence of God as the GRAND ARCHITECT of the universe, is one of the most important Landmarks of the Order. It has been always deemed essential that a denial of the existence of a Supreme and Superintending Power, is an absolute disqualification for initiation. The annals of the Order never yet have furnished or could furnish an instance in which an avowed atheist was ever made a Mason. The very Initiatory ceremonies of the first degree forbid and prevent the possibility of so monstrous an occurrence.”

We also recognize that God has many names and is worshiped in many ways. The Masonic Institution is not a religion; however, it expects each Brother to follow his own faith. Furthermore, the Masonic Institution imparts that the method of worship is sacred to each individual and ought never be judged or constrained by others, most especially a Brother Mason. Finally, belief in God ought never be confused with methods of worship. The religions and spiritual practices identified as “incompatible with Freemasonry” in Ruling and Decision No. 3 all demand belief in a Supreme Power; which in turn satisfies this most important Landmark.

At this point, you may be asking why a Freemason from the Grand Lodge of Vermont is so concerned with the affairs of another Grand Lodge. There are a number of reasons for this and I would like to outline some of them here:

– In the “Ceremony of Recognition of the Flag” we are reminded that we “worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience” because of the freedoms accorded to us, which are exemplified by our National Colors. Ruling and Decision No. 3 violates the Masonic spirit of religious tolerance as it’s celebrated in this Ceremony. If left unchallenged, this poses a moral dilemma for all established Free and Accepted Masonic Lodges in the United States. This country was founded on religious freedom and many of the builders of our country were Freemasons who understood firsthand the tyranny of religious preferences.

– In the Middle Chamber Lecture, we are taught about the universality of Masonry. We may have jurisdictional boundaries, but we are all Brothers nonetheless. Therefore, when we see that a Brother is in distress, it is our duty to help. At least two Florida Freemasons have, with great reluctance and deep regret, turned in their dues cards and resigned from Masonry by Order of the Grand Master of Florida, in accordance with Ruling and Decision No. 3. Theirs is a deep sense of abandonment and sadness after having successfully petitioned for admission; been accepted by unanimous ballot; and been regularly initiated into our Fraternity. They not only passed the requirements as specified in the NINETEENTH Landmark; they were also open when pressed on their religious and spiritual pursuits, despite the fact that established protocols dealing with religious tolerance prohibited that type of questioning. These distressed Brothers are blameless and have been unjustly removed from a fraternity that they still desire to remain a part of.

– Vermont Brethren are guaranteed by the FOURTEENTH Landmark the right to sit in all regular Lodges when sojourning out of State. For any Vermont Brother who subscribes to any of the prohibited religions or beliefs, he may find himself turned away from Lodges that fall under the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Florida. This also jeopardizes relocating Brothers with similarly prohibited religious or spiritual beliefs. Though they may have dedicated their lives in service to the Craft in Vermont; they will have their petitions rejected by the Grand Lodge of Florida for their “incompatible” religious beliefs.

The TWENTY-FIFTH Landmark of Freemasonry demands that ALL Masonic Landmarks remain inviolate; that no one may add, subtract or modify in them in the slightest. Ruling and Decision No. 3 has indeed modified them by adding a religious qualifier that excludes men from the Fraternity – including previously raised Master Masons. This is in direct violation of the spirit and letter of these Landmarks. Interestingly enough, the Grand Lodge of Florida published following passage in the official publication titled, “Booklet No. 1: The Lodge System of Masonic Education”:

“To the same effect is the ancient law forbidding that a candidate or Brother shall be questioned as to his particular mode of religious faith and also that no sectarian matters shall intrude within a Lodge. Just as it would mean the ultimate destruction of Freemasonry if it were to make itself over into the hands of a political party, so would it mean its death sooner or later to surrender itself to one particular religious Faith or belief.”

In summary, the act of qualifying religious beliefs as a prerequisite to petition for membership, or, remain a member of the Grand Lodge of Florida puts the Grand Lodge of Florida in a state that is incompatible with the principles and Landmarks of Regular Free and Accepted Masonic jurisdictions in the United States.

It is my hope that the Grand Lodge of Vermont can assist our Brothers in Florida by petitioning the Grand Master of Florida to reconsider and repeal Ruling and Decision No. 3.

Should this petition go unheeded by the Grand Master of Florida, then I respectfully request that the Grand Lodge of Vermont withdraw Official Recognition of the Grand Lodge of Florida, as their modifications on the Landmarks of Freemasonry puts them into a branch of Freemasonry that is fundamentally different than all established Regular Free and Accepted Masonic Grand Lodges in the United States.

Thank you for taking the time to read this note.

With every best regard, I remain,

Brother Joseph Netzel
Worshipful Master
Friendship Lodge #24 F & AM
Charlotte, Vermont.

Florida Mason Bro. Mark E. Kolitko-Rivera on his Masonic Blog  – Freemasonry: Reality, Myth, and Legend™

-has written a resolution that he will present to the next Florida Grand Session for repeal of Rule No 3. I hate to burst his bubble but the Grand Master is not going to allow that to get to the floor of a Grand Lodge Session.

But this brings out a larger overriding issue that The Beehive has been trumpeting for years now. And this is how can you have two totally different types of Freemasonry under one roof (Mainstream) in the same country? We have the progressive, philosophical Grand Lodges of The North and West versus the regressive, tyrannical Grand Lodges of the South and East. They are so radically different that one could say the other is not really practicing Freemasonry. You do not find this dichotomy in England or Canada or Australia nor even in Prince Hall here in the States. If you travel across Canada from British Columbia to Nova Scotia you will find that Freemasonry is just about the same wherever you go even though its ritual may differ. But a Mainstream Mason from California would be shocked at the way Masonry is practiced in West Virginia and a Mason in Arkansas would be shocked at the way Masonry is practiced in New York.

We have a big problem in American Freemasonry, namely racial and religious bigotry within the Fraternity. And the sad part is that nobody within Mainstream wants to do anything about it. They all cling to the tradition of not messing with somebody else’s business. Whatever another jurisdiction does it’s not for me to meddle with, they say. But it is. What one jurisdiction does reflects on the whole fraternity and right now a few Confederate Freemasons are giving Masonry a black eye. They are ruining it for everybody.

The Beehive calls this “States Rights Freemasonry.” Civilly States Rights as it applies to civil rights and basic human rights was over ridden by federal power when President Eisenhower sent troops into Little Rock. Then that “new way of thinking” was augmented by the work of Martin Luther King.

Perhaps today Mainstream American Freemasonry needs its own Eisenhower and Martin Luther King, men bold enough to initiate the change needed and damn all the rules and regulations that prohibit it.

Freemasonry wherever it exists in the United States, no matter the Obedience, has no right to abridge the Civil Rights and the First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution of its members.

There are a couple of solutions here that would not be hard to do. First any Progressive Grand Lodge that feels that another jurisdiction has violated the principles of Freemasonry and is practicing rogue or bogus Masonry can remove recognition of that jurisdiction. All it takes is some intestinal fortitude.

The second solution is one that addresses the seriously fractured operations of U.S. Freemasonry. While Canada has 10 Grand Lodges for its entire country the United States has 51. This opens our highly mobile society in the Information Age to too many fiefdoms of often feudal power making American Freemasonry indefinable.  There is no oneness, sameness or cohesiveness to it, no universality. Not even the Landmarks are uniform in Mainstream U.S. Freemasonry. There is no such thing as American Freemasonry. And that doesn’t cut it for this high tech, highly mobile, diverse, multicultural, giant of a nation we have become.

It would solve a lot of problems if Mainstream Masonry in the United States were to adopt some common structure, rules and practices. A National Constitution could accomplish these ends without giving up state sovereignty.

Many a Mason across the nation has been heard to lament that nothing seems to get done. Problems are being recognized and solutions offered but reforms never get passed. Meantime correctable situations go from bad to worse. The reason for this can be traced to the basic flaw in most jurisdictions of having just one year terms for Grand Masters. Grand Lodge officers spend years campaigning to get in line and then when they finally reach the pinnacle of power they become a lame duck leader 6 months after taking office. There is not enough continuity to institute any long range planning. There are too many struggles for political power and not enough programs for long term development. Becoming Grand Master becomes a feather in one’s cap, a prestigious accomplishment of honor and power, a badge to proudly display but not a means for long lasting good government.

Lodges with one year terms for Grand Masters tend to be governed by a cadre of Past Grand Masters. That’s where the real power lies. It is these leaders that choose the next Grand Master or the next entry into a progressive line.

The Beehive recommends that those Masons who are members of tyrannical, rogue Grand Lodges should add a dual membership with another Grand Lodge in the nation, preferably a progressive and enlightened Grand Lodge. Vermont would be a good choice, but there are others. In this manner Masons might be able to shield themselves from arbitrary expulsion at the whim of Grand Masters. Those Brethren in Arkansas, West Virginia, Florida and other Confederate Masonry need to have protection from their Grand Lodges. Dual or plural membership would be that safety valve although there is no guarantee that if your primary Grand Lodge expels you that your secondary Grand Lodge would not follow suit. But if the expulsion was not an egregious offense but rather a tyrannical excuse lacking merit, then it is hard to believe that a “fallback” Grand Lodge would do the same.

One thing is for sure, if Mainstream Masonry continues down the road it is going without making some major reforms it will self destruct. Many jurisdictions have only half the membership they had 20 years ago. American Freemasonry is wounded, bleeding and suffering. If it doesn’t swallow some medicine soon it will shrivel up and die, the remnants being only an idea on the Internet.

American Freemasonry would do well to heed the words of Abraham Lincoln.

June 16, 1858

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.

We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation.

Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.

In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.

I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

It will become all one thing or all the other.

American Mainstream Freemasonry must choose one way or the other. Will it be the White only, Christian only Freemasonry of the South and East or will it be the enlightened, progressive acceptance of diversity and universality of the North and West? Will it be Grand Masters who follow their Constitutions and open their Grand Lodges to shared government by consensus or will it be a Grand Lodge where the Grand Master is Pope and dictator who can thumb his nose at his Constitutions?

A Masonic House divided against itself cannot stand.

Sometimes in life you have to think outside the box no matter how long it has always been done one particular way.

The Grand Lodge Of Arkansas Continues Its Masonic Purge

I know that many of you who read the first article on The Grand Lodge of Arkansas versus The Shrine are looking at what has taken place from a purely legalistic and Constitutional view. If a Master Mason has been expelled from his Grand Lodge and The Shrine refuses to expel him also, then The Shrine is guilty of harboring a non Mason.  But this only looks at the actions of one of the two parties, just The Shrine. What if the actions of the Grand Lodge were illegal, unconstitutional and un-Masonic in the first place? Then the first action by the Grand Lodge, if illegal, cannot make the response by The Shrine illegal. I urge all to look at both sides of the question. Perhaps this letter from the Imperial Potentate will help explain the situation and will create better understanding of the position of the Beehive when it talks about rogue Masonry practiced by tyrannical Grand Lodges.

Shriners International Response

Scimitar-ShrineBy now, each of you have received a letter from the Grand Master of Masons in Arkansas dated November 1, 2012 “justifying” the action he has taken against Masons in the state of Arkansas. I know many of you personally. I respect the offices you hold and your ability to listen to all sides of the issue and to independently and fairly make your own assessments.

I now report to you and present you with the facts as they occurred. My report will be a little lengthy but you are entitled to all the facts.

Floyd R. Buffington (herein “Buffington”), a Master Mason, was elected potentate of Scimitar Shriners for 2010. Under Shrine fraternal law he was eligible to serve a second year as potentate if elected. He chose to seek a second year. This did not meet with unanimous approval. Among those disapproving was a past potentate of Scimitar. This past potentate was supporting and nominating another Brother and Noble for the office of potentate. Efforts were made to dissuade Buffington. He chose to let the membership of Scimitar Shriners decide the issue by their ballot. They did, and chose Buffington as their potentate for a second term.

Buffington invited several of his friends to a dinner at a local country club. This was during the Christmas season and other dinners and parties were being held at the country club on the same evening. In another room there was a party for teens and the music was being provided by a disk jockey. The amplified music was very loud and was disturbing other patrons in the country club. A guest of Buffington met with the DJ and asked him to please lower the volume and then he returned to the Buffington dinner. Shortly thereafter, a mother of one of the teens (who was not a wife of a Mason and who had no Masonic affiliation) became irate at the request to lower the volume and entered the Buffington room. A verbal confrontation took place, i.e., “she said and he said.” The mother then left the Buffington room and returned to the teen party. These events at the country club were not “Masonic” events nor were they “Shrine” events.

Soon thereafter, the past potentate mentioned above communicated his displeasure with the reelection of Buffington and his “conduct” at the country club to the Grand Lodge; and the “conduct” to the directors of the country club.

Country Club Action

The directors of the country club referred the matter to the club’s investigation committee. It reviewed the entire matter and, at the conclusion of its investigation, it determined no wrong doing by persons in attendance that evening. However, a letter of reprimand would be placed in the file of the aforesaid past potentate (who was a member of the country club and who obtained permission for the dinner) as his responsibility of “hosting” the dinner  required that he should have been at the country club at the time of the dinner.

Masonic Lodge Action

The disappointed past potentate mentioned above, then filed a complaint of unmasonic conduct in the lodge of Buffington. The investigating committee consisted of three Past Masters – none of whom were Shriners.

I want you to hear their own words.

“The party at the Country Club was neither a Masonic function nor a Shrine function. The party was held after the election of the new potentate for 2011. There was another party going on at the country club for teenagers and the music was intolerably loud. Different people had gone over to the loud party and asked them to please turn the music down a little. A mother of one of the girls attending the party became irate over being asked to turn the music down. She came over to the party of the Shrine people (Floyd’s party) and (she) was using foul language and there was a confrontation of words. No one could say for sure what was said. We are sure that the confrontation was not very pleasant. Under the circumstances we probably would not be very pleasant either.”

The findings of the lodge investigation committee go on to say:

“The charges brought against Floyd Buffington have a threefold problem.

“First, the man bringing the charges was not even there. Anything he knows is hearsay.

“Second, he was backing a man for potentate that lost the election (against Floyd Buffington).”

“Third, this (man who bought the charges against Floyd Buffington) received a reprimand from the Country Club over the confrontation at the Club.

“Brother Buffington was also threatened that charges would be brought against him if he did not resign as Potentate.

“It is plain that Brother Elder (the man who brought the charges against Floyd Buffington) could have underlying motives for preferring charges against the man who won the election (for potentate).

“It is our belief that this is not a Masonic problem but a Shrine problem and the Shrine should handle any problems that occur at their functions.

“It is the committee’s recommendations that (this) lodge take no action on these charges.”

As a result of this report, the Blue Lodge declined to bring any charges against Buffington.

Scimitar Shriners Action

The Shrine looked into the matter and found no cause for disciplinary action against Buffington.

Shriners International

At the 2012 annual session of Shriners International, the Grievances and Appeals Committee reviewed the matter and made to its report to the Representatives stating that Buffington was a member in good standing in a Masonic lodge located outside of Arkansas and that no action against him was warranted. The Representatives, by their unanimous vote, concurred and the matter was concluded.

Grand Lodge of Arkansas Action

The rumblings from Grand Lodge continued and, finally, Buffington received a letter from the Grand Lodge stating that he was suspended from Masonry – “effective immediately” because of the Country Club situation. The suspension letter went on to say:

“While every Freemason has a right to express himself, we must each maintain the responsibility of doing so in a behavior consistent with our Obligation and in a moral and upright manner. You have “allegedly” consistently failed to meet these standards of conduct and proven to be reprehensible in your general behavior and language.” The letter went on to say “you are hereby ordered to remove all Masonic emblems such as rings, lapel buttons, car emblems, etc. immediately upon receipt of this notice or if caught additional charges will be filed.”

So, by virtue of the pen of a Grand Master, without any hearing of any kind, by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, the potentate of Scimitar was suspended from Masonry. The letter went on to inform Buffington that the Grand Lodge would subsequently convene a trial to hear his case. It did not mention, however, that the trial commission would consist of members personally selected by the Grand Master – the same Grand Master who suspended Buffington from the Grand Lodge.

Later, Buffington received a letter from the chairman of the Grand Lodge Trial Commission. He stated that he had been appointed by the Grand Master to serve as chairman of the Grand Lodge Trial Commission to conduct a Masonic trial on charges of unmasonic conduct in that he allegedly used foul and inappropriate language in front of women and children. And that these charges were filed by the Grand Master of Arkansas. So, the Grand Master files the charges and then this same Grand Master appoints the members of the trial commission to try Buffington.

This letter concludes that the “Trial Commission’s proceedings are not governed by Rules of Law, and character witnesses will not be allowed.” The last sentence then foretold of the outcome of the Trial Commission appeal by saying, “Should you choose not to be present at the trial, I have enclosed a “self-expulsion form.

Well, Buffington did attend the hearing before the trial commission with Masonic Bro. Larry Holt as his counsel, knowing full well that the outcome would be in accordance with the wishes of the Grand Master. Buffington presented the facts as they actually occurred and responded to all questions asked. You would be proud of the manner in which he faced this special trial committee of the Grand Master.

It was, of course, to no avail. The members of this special trial commission found in favor of the man who appointed them – the Grand Master.

Since that date, there have been many expulsions of Shriners from Masonry by the Grand Lodge. All the elected officers of the two Shrine temples in Arkansas have been expelled for attending Shrine meetings; or for allowing a fax machine in an office to be used to transmit a message about the treatment of brothers by the Grand Lodge; and others have been forbidden from driving Shrine children to and from Shrine hospitals.

Finally, Bro. Larry Holt who defended Floyd Buffington before the Grand Lodge was expelled. He received a letter to appear at Grand lodge on a date certain at 1:00 p.m. No reason for his attendance was given to him. He arrived at 1:00 p.m. and at 1:05 p.m. he received a letter of expulsion from the Grand Lodge.

Let me read just a few paragraphs of a letter that was written by a worthy and respected Mason about the situation in Arkansas:

“Brethren, I am not here to defend or condemn the Shrine, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, or the Grand Lodge. I am here to defend a Master Mason who is no different than you or me. Is he perfect? No. Has he made mistakes? Yes. But so have you and I. He has done nothing worse than things that you and I have done? Jesus said “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

“Some of you may think that Floyd and I are real close pals. Nothing is farther from the truth. I hardly know Floyd. I have seen him in lodge a few times and we are friends but not close friends. However, I do know when a man is being railroaded. I would defend any Master Mason that is treated in this manner.

“This whole mess stems from disgruntled Shriners who are upset over losing the election for Potentate in 2011. There was a man appointed to the Grand Lodge investigation committee who once told Floyd that if he did not resign as Potentate that charges would be brought against him. I don’t know how he got on the investigation committee, but I know it insured that charges would be brought.

“The man who brought the charges originally is a Shriner and a board member of the Country Club. He was very upset because Floyd won reelection as potentate and that his man lost. So, even though he had arranged the party at the Country Club, he did not attend. When the Shriners would not remove Floyd the only other thing he could do was to personally bring charges against Floyd in his Blue Lodge. When that didn’t work his last alternative was the Grand Lodge.

“The actions at the Country Club are not why this brother is being charged. Floyd was told by the member of the investigation committee that if he would resign as Potentate that charges would not be brought.

“When the matter was sent to his home lodge, I was on the investigation committee along with two other Past Masters. Our findings were the same as the Supreme Shriners findings. There is no wrong doing here and a trial is not warranted. That should have been the end of it.

“Ego, ambition, politics, wealth, domination, power and superiority are the driving forces behind all wars and even disagreements between two people. Master Masters are supposed to be above all of this. Question: What came you here to do? Answer: To learn to subdue my passions and improve myself in Masonry. Are we learning to subdue our passions here? No, we are learning how to dominate others.

“I think that the action taken by the Country Club was all that was necessary. They reprimanded the man who was not there to supervise the party that he set up.” The same man who brought charges against Floyd Buffington.”

My fellow Nobles, according to my best judgment the Grand Lodge has already suspended or expelled numerous Masons who are members of Scimitar and Sahara Shriners. More are in the pipeline. The Grand Lodge has brought these two temples to their knees but they continue to believe in the greater good of human nature. It is no exaggeration to say that you are their last hope.

There are literally hundreds of examples that I can recite to you about the attitude of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas toward Shriners, but I will instead move on.

Imperial Potentate,

Alan Madsen

Florida Masonic Scandal

2 Down, 19,998 to go: FL Grand Master Quantifies the Purge

Corey Bryson who was forced into resigning from the Grand Lodge of Florida because of his Pagan/Deist religious beliefs has written some follow up information in the new blog he has started, Musings Of A Pagan Mason (the page has since been taken down). This sheds further light on how radical fundamentalist the Grand Master of Florida really is. Here are some excerpts from Bryson’s blog:

Concerning Fighting the Charges:

“Not one Officer of the Lodge reached out to me and said this, either before or after my resignation. I spoke with the Jr. Warden who delivered the Ruling. He made it emphatically clear to me that if I fought the Ruling, I would be expelled from Masonry for life. There was no other option. The Lodge WOULD NOT come to my defense. I spoke to several Past Master, who told me that I should resign, leaving myself with the opportunity to come back at a later date.”
“Personally, I spent about 24 hours determined to go down swinging, fighting this atrocity with my last breath. Then I remembered my Obligation, which indicates that I am obliged to obey the laws and edicts of the Grand Lodge. I’m a pretty straight-forward kind of guy. Those who know me well will tell you: if faced with a decision to do the easy thing or do the right thing, I’ll do the right thing. I’m not trying to claim perfection, because I surely am not that. I make mistakes, and have been known to screw things up royally, like anyone else. I just have a personal sense of honor and integrity that prompts me to do the right thing even when no one is looking.”
“I didn’t have the option of hiding behind my lodges “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. I was already “out.” I was “out” with the officers of my lodge before I was accepted for the 3 Degrees of Masonry. I also know that the Grand Master was aware of me before his visit to our lodge on 10/25. Now, don’t make the mistake of assuming that I disagree with the choices of other Brothers indicated under this Ruling. I hope they stay hidden during this (literal) witch hunt and until the nastiness ends.”
“I took my friend Brother Odinist out to dinner last night. It seems strange referring to him like that, because a man is much more than his religion or creed. It was his request to address him as such, though. In the end, that title is why he was required to leave FL Masonry. My Brother was quite upset, borderline depressed with the current injustice. You see, his class was scheduled to be raised last night, and as far as I know the remaining Fellow Crafts were. Along with the Ruling about Proscribed religions, the Grand Master of Florida Jorge L Aladro also ordered that Bro. Odinist’s progression be halted immediately. He was not allowed to wait a week, be raised, and then resign. Even the acceptance of his petition was deemed invalid.”
 “While talking over things, we discussed a conversation that we had with a Lodge Officer. This officer stated that during a meeting, the Grand Master made the statement that there are approx. 45,000 masons in the State of Florida. He went on to say that there should only be 25,000, because they were the only REAL Masons. It was said that there are 200 individuals suspected of being of the proscribed religions. Doing the easy math, if the Grand Master can root out all of the Pagans, Wiccans, Odinists, Agnostics, and Gnostics, he still has 19,800 slots to fill.”
“This all begs the question, who is next? We can only guess at that. Will the next statement proscribe Hermeticists, Rosicrucians, Kabbalists, Unitarian Universalists, Deists, Hindus, Jainists, Sikh, Sufi, Buddhist, New Age, New Thought, Esotericists, or Thelemics? Or maybe there will be a list of Denominational churches that a prospective or current Mason will be required to be a member of. It seems a slippery slope once a tolerant and enlightened society, as Masonry is supposed to be, starts to limit their degree of religious tolerance.”
“Will it be the Gay Masons? After all, one could assume that homosexuality is a moral abomination to the Grand Master. Thus any Gay Mason would automatically be unable to uphold the Grand Masters idea of the Moral standards of Masonry.”
 “Since we are on the subject of “Sexual Immorality”, what about those who are having relations with someone whom they are not married to? Will they be the next Masons on the chopping block? By any standards of fundamentalist or mainstream Christianity, fornication is immoral. Would that preclude a man from becoming or remaining a Mason? Maybe there should be a “no shacking up” clause in the digest.”
“What about those with criminal convictions? I know that they would normally preclude a man from becoming a Mason, at least until his civil rights are restored. But what about the plethora of ignored offences. The most common seems to be DUI. Will that get you kicked to the curb?”
Florida Masonic Scandal“What is the new standard of tolerance to be? How picky does the Grand Lodge of Florida have to get in order to reduce their numbers by nearly half? Even trying to make myself think like a bigoted, intolerant fundamentalist I can’t come up with much more than this list. I’m sure there are other population groups targeted, but only time will tell who they are. Maybe the next Ruling will shed some “light” on that subject.”
“As for myself and Bro. Odinist, we will keep on keeping on, fighting the Good fight for the True Masonry we love. We are both hoping to find a home after this time of adversity. We both believe in the ideals of Masonry as we know them, and as shown throughout history.”
Florida has a tradition of being a favorite Native American Indian area. I am wondering if the Grand Master of Florida would accept a Native American Indian who practices traditional Indian spiritual worship? One thing is for sure, Florida Masons aren’t smoking any peace pipes yet.