McCabe’s longtime friend Rich Baxter had this to say:
Mike McCabe passed away today on March 13, 2018, he was one of my best friends for over 30 years. In our early friendship he took me up to the Grand Lodge in North Jersey for a ceremony – he wanted me to consider joining the Masonic Lodge. I never did join but I always knew that Mike was of the highest standard that a Mason could be, he lived and breathed the Masonic traditions and embraced them. When he saw wrong with this lodge that had shady dealings going on, he reported it. That’s the way Mike was, an honorable man who had character beyond belief. He held himself to a high standard and expected that of others in the Masonic Brotherhood. To be thrown out of the Masonic Lodge was something I never expected that other Masons could get away with. They may have done this to him but I believe the bad karma will eventually come back on them- the cowardice and malice they showed Mike is yet an example that evil and corruption exists in the least expected places. No, the Lodge never voted Mike McCabe back in, but he will always be a good standing Mason and person in my eyes and in the eyes of many who knew him. God bless, Mike, Rest in Peace, my brother.
McCabe was expelled from the Grand Lodge of New Jersey on very minor infractions that did not live up to the severity of unmasonic conduct. He also wrote an expose of his Grand Lodge for pulling the charter of his Lodge, Trimble Lodge, after a vote did not go the way the Grand Master wanted. McCabe claimed that the Grand Lodge confiscated the well-endowed funds of Trimble Lodge to bolster its own shortcomings.
McCabe sought a new trial and/or reinstatement claiming the Grand Lodge did not follow its own Constitution, By-Laws and rules and regulations. He never received one, but he never lost his faith in the Craft which he served so well. His many accomplishments in Freemasonry will live on forever and his legacy as a Freemason will shine brightly as a path to emulate.
” I would like to leave you with this thought: The tide recedes, but leaves behind bright seashells, on the sand. The sun goes down, but gentle warmth still lingers on the land. The music stops, and yet — it echoes on in sweet refrains. For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.” (quoted from here).
One might be inclined to ask why Mike McCabe is being so persistent in trying to get an appeal for his case, an appeal the Grand Lodge of New Jersey is trying to stonewall? Why doesn’t he just let it go?
“I once sat in a Camden County courtroom and heard the attorney representing the Grand Lodge successfully argue that neither a Masonic Lodge nor the members of a New Jersey Masonic Lodge were entitled to be treated fundamentally fair by the Grand Lodge. I sat there and wondered what type of organization had I devoted 20 plus years of my life to, to find out that is how they view me? No Brother I know ever knocked on the inner door, expecting to be treated as a second class citizen.”
Another good reason would be the actions of his Grand Master in regards to his Lodge, Trimble Lodge. That Grand Master forced the three Lodges which met in the same building (worth several million dollars and co-equally owned) to merge. Trimble Lodge was one of the three and was very well endowed thanks to the generosity of several of its deceased members.
Each of the Lodges held meetings and votes were taken. The members of Trimble Lodge and one of the other Lodges voted overwhelmingly against the forced consolidation. After the results of Trimble’s vote was announced, 49-2 against the proposal, the District Deputy acting under the instructions of the then Grand Master, walked up to the East, picked up the Lodge’s Charter and stated that Trimble Lodge was closed.
He left with the charter while the meeting was still in progress.
McCabe then provides us with an explanation of why he thinks that the Grand Lodge of New Jersey is out of control.
On December 1, 2004, Trimble Lodge went to court to obtain an injunction against the Grand Master and the Grand Lodge to prevent this forced merger. This legal action was only taken as an act of last resort, so as to permit the affected lodges the time needed to attempt an amicable resolution of the underlying issues with some members of Ionic Lodge (and Grand Lodge). It would have also afford those lodges the time needed to present the another side to these issues at the appropriate Grand Lodge forum, where actual facts could be presented and hearsay, distortions and misrepresentations could be refuted.
During the course of the court hearing, the presiding judge asked the attorney representing Grand Lodge a question something along the lines of Is a Masonic lodge entitled to be treated fundamentally fair (by either the Grand Lodge or Grand Master)? The Grand Lodge attorney’s reply was NO. The judged then asked If the members of a Masonic lodge were entitled to be treated fundamentally fair? The Grand Lodge’s attorney responded that the members of a Masonic Lodge “Are not entitled to be treated fundamentally fair”.
As to the motivation of New Jersey Grand Lodge in acting this way it could be pointed out that the Grand Lodge had committed itself to donating a significant amount of money towards the upkeep of the Battleship USS New Jersey of which Grand Master Ryan is a Trustee) Also it appears that the Grand Lodge was taking heavy losses in its various financial investments. It could be speculated that Trimble Lodge’s money was Grand Lodge’s financial bailout.
One thing was for sure, the fact that the Grand Master over ruled the votes taken by the Lodges and mandated a merger by edict requiring all Lodges to turn in their Charters with one new Charter granted for the creation of a new Lodge also contributed to McCabe’s persistence in battling Grand Lodge. Once again he tells us:
“An American’s most precious Civil Right is the right to vote and the right to have the results of that vote recognized, regardless of the final outcome.”
Keeping all this in mind, McCabe started to do some deep digging which has continued after his expulsion. And what he found explains how the Grand Lodge of New Jersey can get away with acting as it does.
He found that in 1902 the Grand Lodge of New Jersey’s committee on Masonic Jurisprudence (the Wallis Committee) was charged with identifying “the ancient landmarks of Masonry” and reporting “what those landmarks are, as applicable to the Masonic law of New Jersey”. The Wallis Committee submitted a report that borrowed from MacKey’s 25 landmarks, ignoring some and combining others. It submitted 10 Landmarks for consideration by the Grand Lodge, one of which was entirely new and not found elsewhere in Masonic tradition. Landmark No. 3 stated:
“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 one stroke of the pen the Wallis Report vastly expanded the scope of a Grand Master’s authority while at the same time making much of the Grand Constitution worthless, null and void. Nowhere in the entire text of Mackey’s seminal work, “The Landmarks, Or The Unwritten Law,” or in his complete 25 Landmarks, is any language found that remotely suggests that a Grand Master has that type of unrestricted authority granted by the “Landmarks.” Nor can one find this Landmark in any other Grand Lodge in the United States.
The acceptance of a Landmark should not be taken lightly. For something to be a Landmark it must me universal and have existed since time immemorial. Something dreamed up in 1903 to increase the power of Grand Masters does not meet the criterion of being a Landmark.
Sometime after 1903 these 10 Landmarks were inserted into the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey and for any number of years Grand Masters have used Landmark No. 3 to do whatever they wanted and to rule and govern in whatever manner they so desired.
Application of Landmark No. 3 over rules provisions in the Grand Constitution that were there long before it was.
“The Grand Lodge shall have power…to make all by-laws, rules and regulations not inconsistent with this Constitution.’ (Section 2-18).
“A Lodge cannot deprive a Brother of his Civil rights.” (Section 29-27).
But Landmark No. 3 is inconsistent with the Constitution and does deprive Brethren of their Civil Rights.
How is this Landmark reconciled with the General Regulation?: “You admit that it is not in the power of any Man or Body of any Men to make innovations in the body of Masonry.”
It can’t and it has increasingly been used to deny due process, suspend or expel members at will, and overturn the results of votes taken by the Brethren.
McCabe remarks, “That one important issue that has been completely ignored is the primary purpose for any Constitution. That is to limit or restrain arbitrary authority. Landmark No. 3 eliminates that restraint.”
In 1983 Past Grand Master Rutledge, an attorney, was brought up on charges of theft, tried and found guilty at his local Lodge. However, the Grand Lodge stepped in and said that a local Lodge cannot decide the punishment process in the case of a Past Grand Master, and moved the penalty sentencing phase to the Grand Lodge level. Rutledge objected and took his case to the civil courts, all the way to the New Jersey Supreme Court. On May 10, 1983 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in Rutledge v. Gulian that “Landmark 3 explicitly authorizes the Grand Master to intermit any rule or regulation other than a Landmark.”
The court’s precedent setting ruling, upheld both the primacy of New Jersey’s 10 Landmarks, and the Grand Master’s authority in dealing with the organization’s internal controversies.
If that was the end of the story it would be bad enough and perhaps prompt us to suggest that the Brethren of New Jersey meeting in Grand Session should change their Constitution. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish with a Grand Master who rules with an iron fist and who has the power to overrule and negate any votes taken by the Brethren.
But that is not the end of the story. McCabe dug deeper and he found New Jersey Grand Lodge’s dirty little secret.
In July of 1983, only two months after this Supreme Court case had been decided, the Masonic Service Association of North America (MSANA) published its revised Sixth Edition of Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry – As Adopted, Followed or Undecided by the Fifty-One Grand Lodges of the United States.
New Jersey’s then Grand Secretary supplied the information to MSANA and McCabe checked with Richard Fletcher, director of MSANA, to ascertain that no additional information had been added since 1983 nor any revisions made. After listing New Jersey’s 10 Landmarks the Grand Secretary of New Jersey added this note:
“Our records from 1903 show that the report of the Committee was received and adopted, but nothing in the report recommends that adoption of the ten Landmarks reported. We have adhered to them even though there was no official acceptance by the Grand Lodge.”
So New Jersey’s 10 Landmarks including Landmark No. 3 were never voted on and thus were never legally accepted by a majority vote of the members of the Grand Lodge meeting in Grand Session as required by its Constitution. They were just inserted into the Constitution without approval.
Section 2-23 of the Grand Lodge’s Constitution stipulates that “no alteration or addition shall be made to this Constitution unless proposed in writing, and supported by representatives of five Lodges: and a fair copy thereof, certified by the Grand Secretary, shall be forwarded to all the Lodges under the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge for their consideration, until its next annual communication, and such proposed alteration or addition shall not take effect unless there shall be thereof the votes of two-thirds of the members present.”
Considering that the MSANA probably took a number of months to compile the data for its publication it is fair to say that the Grand Lodge of New Jersey knew that its 10 Landmarks were not legally adopted while the New Jersey Supreme Court was hearing Rutledge v. Gulian and which was decided favorably for the Grand Lodge of New Jersey based on the validity of Landmark No.3.
McCabe put it this way, “The funny thing is that the Rutledge decision was handed down only a couple of months before the MSANA pamphlet was published (The Grand Secretary along with the elected Grand Line were defendants). I believe that this information would have (could have) changed the entire outcome of the decision had the court known the information divulged in the MSANA Publication 2 or 3 months later.
The ugly hand of unbridled power has once again been unleashed by another dictatorial, tyrannical, oligarchic Grand Lodge. This time it is New Jersey. And the recipient, six time Past Master Mike McCabe, is not taking it lying down.
McCabe found that an unauthorized member of his Lodge was writing checks to the tune of $10,000 and not turning over $7,000 in receivables to the Lodge Secretary, but instead was depositing those funds into a Lodge checking account neither the Lodge Secretary or Treasurer knew existed. When he called this to the attention of his District Deputy he was told that if he had proof that this had taken place he needed to file formal charges against the Brother(s) involved at a Communication of his Lodge.
McCabe thought this peculiar because while he, like many other Brothers in this situation, might have a snippet of information only the Grand Lodge could investigate books and records fully to make a complete case and that needed to be done first before any charges were filed. McCabe’s District Deputy told him not to bring up the subject again unless he was willing to file charges.
Both before and since this particular episode occurred, Lodge Secretaries and Treasurers have been suspended by Grand Lodge, for allegedly failing to provide their installed successors with a Lodge’s books and records.
McCabe persisted because Grand Lodge’s in-actions in this instance was even more puzzling since Lodge funds had been expended without the knowledge or consent of the Lodge’s elected fiduciary officers. The existence of this Lodge checking account had been withheld from them.
And because he persisted and wanted the matter thoroughly reviewed it appears that for no legitimate reason, Masonic charges were filed against him, a Masonic trial conducted and he was eventually expelled. The Charges were threefold:
He had disobeyed the orders of his Worshipful Master to produce documents backing up his allegations.
He disobeyed the direct order of his District Deputy not to bring the subject up anymore but to file charges himself.
Possession and control of stolen property – stolen aprons.
Charge #3 was a made up bunch of malarkey thrown in to make the situation look worse than it was. This charge was based on hearsay because the individuals who made the accusations concerning the theft of Lodge property were not the individuals who preferred and signed the charges against him. Grand Lodge rules require the person making the allegation must sign the charges. The individuals that signed this charge refused to testify, admitting that they had not been present when the alleged offense supposedly occurred. Instead two other Lodge members testified in support of the allegation, one of these being the Deputy Grand Master. McCabe was found not guilty and exonerated on this charge but he was found guilty on the other two charges and expelled.
McCabe claims that 20 or more violations of Section 13, Charges and Codes for Trial, occurred at his trial as well as numerous other violations of the New Jersey Constitution.
In regards to charge #1 – “A Lodge cannot…..compel him to first submit his complaints to the Lodge” (Section 29-27)
In regards to charge #2 – “District Deputy Grand Masters have no authority to ……decide questions of Masonic Law” (Section 16-02). The power to decide all questions related to Masonic Law (or serious Masonic issues), rests solely within a Grand Master’s purview.
McCabe could not find another Mason to represent him so he represented himself and as the saying goes had a fool for a client. It seems hypocritical that McCabe’s Grand Lodge was persecuting him for allegedly ignoring two bogus charges made against him, but turned a blind eye to the numerous violations of the Constitution permitted during his trial process.
Moreover a Mason brought up on charges to a Masonic trial is supposed to be tried on unmasonic conduct or a Masonic offense. According the Grand Lodge Constitution expulsion is reserved for individuals who have been found guilty in a civil court of law for committing 1st or 2nd degree criminal activities, or at a Lodge’s discretion, 3rd or 4th degree criminal offenses.
What McCabe was charged with was trivial and does not meet this criterion. Since when is notifying the New Jersey Grand Lodge of potential violations of its rules and regulations a criminal offense? Expulsion is not a punishment that fit the crime in this case.
Lastly McCabe alleges that the charges are unconstitutional and that a Grand Master willfully and knowingly violated his own Grand Constitution.
The accuser that alleged that McCabe was in the possession of stolen property did not sign the charges as required.
The penalty phase of the process was held at an emergent Communication, in violation of Section 13-83
The Constitution requires that the members of a Lodge shall be summoned to meet at a regular Communication, for determining the degree of punishment to be afflicted on the accused. That summons was required to be signed by both the Worshipful Master and Secretary of the Lodge, and embossed with the Lodge’s seal. None of this was done.
The Grand Master ordered every Lodge Trestle board in New Jersey to publish McCabe’s expulsion and this continued for many months. This violates the Constitution where it says, “It is improper to print the names of suspended or expelled Masons in circulars issued by Lodges.”
These and many other irregularities too numerous to mention constitute what McCabe alleges as a violation of his civil rights.
A legal opinion regarding civil rights violations from private and semi-public organizations has been offered by the US Supreme Court and was used in a decision between New Jersey homeowners and their Homeowner’s Association board.
“New Jersey is among the few states to require private entities to provide some Constitutional protections. Most states have concluded that only governmental actors can interfere with an individual’s Constitutional rights. The U.S. supreme Court has agreed, but has held that states may provide broader protection if they choose, and the New Jersey courts have gone further in that direction than any others.”
The article on this court case also highlighted some important practical applications of the rights of those involved.
“In balancing the interests of the parties, [we conclude that the homeowners’] rights to engage in expressive exercises, including those relating to public issues in their own community …must take precedence over the [association’s] private property rights.”
“Your regulations must be fair and reasonable, they must not violate public policy, and they must be authorized by the community’s covenants or bylaws. That’s not new legal ground; just good governance and common sense.”
It must be remembered that Grand Lodges who have incorporated and become a nonprofit corporation are no longer an “untouchable”, solely private entity. They must abide by the rules of incorporation of that state and obey all civil law regarding the regulation of said corporations. Such civil regulation of Grand Lodge takes precedence over and supersedes Masonic tradition and the by-laws, rules and regulations that Grand Lodges have written in their own private Constitutions.
Grand Lodges are not exempt from Civil rights law that has been codified by civil governments. Because they are now a semi-private, semi-public corporation, Grand Lodges have brought themselves into the civil sphere and must adhere to civil constitutional guarantees that are required of corporations.
As such, when a Grand Lodge violates the rights of an individual member and does not follow its own published rules in its Constitution and refuses to follow civil rights as has been specified by civil law in regards to corporations, then an aggrieved member such as Mike McCabe has a legal case with Constitutional issues that buttress his claim that his civil rights were violated.
And right now all Mike McCabe is asking for is an appeal so that he can be heard again, with competent counsel to put forth his arguments based on the additional research he has accomplished. As of this moment McCabe has shown no inclination to take his case into the civil courts. The Grand Lodge of New jersey would be wise to grant Mike McCabe an appeal and another hearing.