Mainstream Masonry Must Police Itself

You might remember Greg Stewart’s interview of me where I said:

English: The 1919 Chicago White Sox Team Photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: The 1919 Chicago White Sox Team Photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There must be SOMETHING to hold American Grand Masters responsible and accountable to acceptable Masonic practices. Otherwise Freemasonry in the United States is whatever a Grand Master and a Grand Lodge says it is, and you end up with 51 versions of Freemasonry, and sometimes Freemasonry out of control. There is a difference between differences because of tradition and differences solely for the purpose of an agenda that ends up corrupting the Craft. There is an urgent need in the United States for an American Masonic identity that binds all states and all members of the Craft in one common purpose and outlook.

This need not be some cumbersome bureaucracy added onto American Freemasonry. It could be as simple as a national Constitution and Freemasonry in the United States could be overseen by existing Masonic apparatus – the Conference of Grand Masters and the Masonic Service Association of North America.

Let’s look at an analogy – professional Major League Baseball. In the 20s you had the Black Sox scandal precipitated by abuses of the owners. In addition team owners were doing whatever they wanted with no standardized practices. Finally baseball realized it could not operate this way anymore, that the total freedom and separateness was dooming the national pastime. So the owners got together and appointed a Commissioner of baseball that still exists today. It keeps all the teams operating under the same set of rules and practices thereby eliminating corrupt and hurtful practices.

Like baseball teams, American Grand Lodges should not be able to do whatever they want. Now we perhaps don’t want a Commissioner of Freemasonry but we could continue on with a National Constitution with any administering or adjudication performed by the Council of Grand Masters with the help of the MSANA. This solution is simple, not adding any bureaucracy and keeps the sovereignty of each state Grand Lodge.

Greg Stewart then said: “You make an interesting point, one I’d like to come back to someday.”

Well Greg today is the day.

I was prompted to remember all this by two stories that were prominent in the news today, December 23, 2014. The first story was that of Detroit center Dominic Raiola being suspended for stomping on Bears defensive tackle Ego Ferguson on Sunday. Who suspended him? Why the NFL League Office on orders from Football Commissioner Roger Goodell. This was Raiola’s sixth rules violation related to player safety.

Now each football team is like each Mainstream Grand Lodge in the United States, a sovereign entity all to itself. But each team must answer to a higher power so that they are all playing by the same set of rules and that infractions in code or conduct are disciplined.

The problem with American Freemasonry is that there is no check on abuses. While baseball, football, basketball and hockey all have National Commissioners overseeing fair play, Freemasonry does not. It is much easier in other countries that have only one Grand Lodge. There is no competition to muck up the works. But in the good old U.S.A. there are 51 Grand Lodges who go their own separate way without ever having to worry about being disciplined for any infractions they desire to make.


I said there were two stories that illustrated this point. The other was this headline: Pope Francis to Curia: Merry Christmas, you power-hungry hypocrites.

The Pope listed 15 ailments of the Vatican Curia. Of the 15 we will mention these:

4) The ailment of excessive planning and functionalism: this is when the apostle plans everything in detail and believes that, by perfect planning things effectively progress, thus becoming a sort of accountant. … One falls prey to this sickness because it is easier and more convenient to settle into static and unchanging positions. Indeed, the Church shows herself to be faithful to the Holy Spirit to the extent that she does not seek to regulate or domesticate it. The Spirit is freshness, imagination and innovation

6) Spiritual Alzheimer’s disease, or rather forgetfulness of the history of Salvation, of the personal history with the Lord, of the ‘first love’: this is a progressive decline of spiritual faculties, that over a period of time causes serious handicaps, making one incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one’s own often imaginary views. We see this is those who have lost their recollection of their encounter with the Lord … in those who build walls around themselves and who increasingly transform into slaves to the idols they have sculpted with their own hands.

7) The ailment of rivalry and vainglory: when appearances, the colour of one’s robes, insignia and honours become the most important aim in life. … It is the disorder that leads us to become false men and women, living a false ‘mysticism’ and a false ‘quietism’.

8) Existential schizophrenia: the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the progressive spiritual emptiness that cannot be filled by degrees or academic honours. This ailment particularly afflicts those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic matters, thus losing contact with reality and with real people. They create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life.

14) The ailment of closed circles: when belonging to a group becomes stronger than belonging to the Body and, in some situations, to Christ Himself. This sickness too may start from good intentions but, as time passes, enslaves members and becomes a ‘cancer’ that threatens the harmony of the Body and causes a great deal of harm – scandals – especially to our littlest brothers.

15) The disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism: when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power into goods to obtain worldly profits or more power. This is the disease of those who seek insatiably to multiply their power and are therefore capable of slandering, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally in order to brag and to show they are more capable than others.

Now what this all illustrates is that large, unwieldy, bureaucratic Institutions become easily corruptible and that Freemasons can step over the line into the Dark Side just as the rest of the world can.

It also shows, in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, that large institutions can create a bureaucracy that insulates itself from accountability. And that, in this case, a top down rule and regulation has not worked well.

We are all sinners, as some clerics will say. Others might remark that some sin more often and more gravely than others. Whatever the case may be most of us do lock our houses and our vehicles, put firewalls and antivirus programs on our computers and are cautious when in strange environments. We do support a Police Force and The Military for good reason.

Yet we do not apply any of these safeguards to Freemasonry. Thus we have allowed Freemasonry to go unchecked, unpoliced and never to be held accountable for whatever it wants to do. The result is that some of Freemasonry has become tyrannical and abusive (notice I said some not all). We have one Grand Lodge that wrote a Landmark into its Constitution that stated whatever the Grand Master ruled was the law and was to be accepted without question. This Landmark overruled any and all other Landmarks. Now do you think any of the Sports Commissioners would allow a team to get away with that?

Perhaps if Freemasonry had policed itself the injustice that West Virginia perpetrated on PGM Frank Haas would never have been allowed. Perhaps the Grand Lodge of Arkansas would not have tried to expel Derek Gordon. Maybe the Grand Lodge of Georgia would not have tried to expel Victor Marshall or treated him so shabbily. Perhaps the Grand Lodge of Florida would not have threatened to expel Corey Bryson and Duke Bass for non Christian religious beliefs to the point that they resigned.  And we could go on and on and on.


So what’s the answer? I have no definitive answer except that Mainstream Masonry must try somehow to police itself. Maybe the Conference of Grand Masters could form a Supreme Court among itself and only meet when some event requires a ruling. Thus it would not be a permanent bureaucracy. One thing is for sure, the Catholic Church model doesn’t work well either.

United States Mainstream Freemasonry has been in need of an American identity for years instead of a “states rights’ mentality. Mainstream’s father, the Grand Lodge of England (now UGLE) did not operate this way. There is one Grand Lodge and therefore a strong English Masonic identity. I realize that many other nations have multiple Grand Lodges but how many have as many as 51? If you can get your mind into thinking American not Californian or Texan or Virginian then maybe you can see some sort of cohesiveness to American Freemasonry where we all play by the same rules and we all accept the same foundation. Couple that with some kind of National policing mechanism and American Mainstream Freemasonry might actually grow.

But there is no panacea here. Look at the failures in the Catholic Church. Look at the shortcomings of Roger Goodell in the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson affairs. It seems as if corruption is always with us. Is it human nature? I don’t know. I’m not here to pass judgment but to help think of solutions. The one thing I do know is that if Dominic Raiola can be disciplined for stomping on another player, Mainstream Masonry can do the same to Grand Masters and Grand Lodge officers who stomp on their members.

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

Fred Milliken,Freemason Information,The Beehive

From Perception To Knowledge To Wisdom

I recently received correspondence from old friend, Brother Tim McCurry from Tennessee.

He points out a common problem with Mainstream Lodges. That is that Masonic education equals ritual memorization.  But all ritual memorization makes you is a parrot and a parrot doesn’t think it just mimics. Knowledge comes from the art of contemplation that allows us then to internalize that which our senses have encountered.

W. L. Wilmshurst

W. L. Wilmshurst

When a Mason reads Pike, Wilmshurst, Pound, MacKey, Claudy, Butler and others he begins to realize what he has memorized means and how it makes a difference in his life. Thus he has gone from perception to knowledge. When that Mason uses that knowledge to govern his life and make himself a better person he has stepped up from knowledge to wisdom.

The trick is to get Masons to read.

Here is what McCurry had to say:

I watched a most inspiring video last night that was created by a member of the United Grand Lodge of England.  Brother Julian Rees has truly inspired me to become a better Mason!

 Approximately seven years ago, we had a Worshipful Master sitting in the East who truly and sincerely desired to create more Masonic education within our lodge. Therefore, he first asked for volunteers amongst the Brethren to create ANY small topic concerning a lesson to be learned from Free-masonry.  He didn’t place any restrictions on what the Brethren could present; so long as it was something about our rituals, or something that they had learned while being a Mason. I am ashamed to say, that not one Brother ever came to our stated meeting and presented any such lessons. Our poor Worshipful Master ended up having to do this at each of our stated meetings himself.

 Sure!  We have “Masonic Education.”  Many of the Brethren seem to think, that if you can memorize one of the three lectures flawlessly and without error, you have obtained “Masonic Education.”  But, my concern is, have we presented enough knowledge to the newly made Mason coming into our ranks?  Have we given enough knowledge to that new E.A. to even know what Free-masonry is all about?  I don’t think so.  No, we impart upon the newly made Mason that he only has three lectures to laboriously memorize as perfectly as he can; but if that new Brother makes a mistake of not “dotting his ‘i’ or crossing his ‘T,’ we strictly enforce the use of such perfection in syntax.  Do we explain to him the meaning behind those words?  Some would say that we do this with what we call the “Third Section of the Degree.”  Here in Tennessee we have the so-called “Stereoptical Lecture” in the First Degree.  You know what it is!  It is that “so-antiquated slide show” where the pictures look as though they were created way back in the Nineteenth Century. So, we always have a Brother with the “slide clicker,” or the advance button, laboriously spitting out the lecture that accompanies the slide show as though he was reading it from a book.  No!  As a matter of fact, sometimes the Brother actually does read this lecture out of the book!

 But, have we really imparted Masonic Knowledge to that newly made Brethren?  Or have we imparted the idea that all you really need to do is laboriously learn the three lectures, pass them on, and become a Master Mason?  In essence, are we treating our Masonic ritual as though it were a “Mason’s Mill,” where we pass these young brothers off as soon as we can, and as quickly as we can teach them those three lectures?

 Brother Julian Rees inspired me with his words last night!  I do not know this Brother.  I have never met him.  But, his eloquent talk that he gave inspired me to learn more!  He taught me, that we as Brothers are on a spiritual journey; that there is more to Masonry than ham sandwiches and coffee.  Therefore, I present Brother Rees to you with the hope that he will inspire you with his words as much as he has inspired me.  I wish I could present this “little talk” by Brother Rees to the Brethren at my own lodge!

March 6th A Legacy Of Having Been Tried, Sometimes Denied, But Always Ready To Be Tried Again


Two hundred thirty seven years ago today, on March 6, 1775, Prince Hall, Cryrus Jonbus, Buestop Slinger, Prince Rees, John Carter, Peter Freeman, Benjamin Tiler, Cuff Bufform, Thomas Sanderson, Prince Taylor, Cato Spears, Boston Smith, Peter Best, Forten Howard and Richard Tilly were made Master Masons in a British Army Lodge of Irish register. The Lodge gave them the privilege of meeting, marching in procession, and burying their dead, but not conferring degrees. In March, 1784, Brother Hall petitioned the Grand Lodge of England for a charter which was issued September 29, 1784, but was not delivered until April 29, 1787, establishing African Lodge 459 on May 6, 1787. Four years later, on June 24, 1791, the African Grand Lodge was formed with Prince Hall as Grand Master. MWB Hall died December 7, 1807. Subsequently, in his honor, the Lodge became M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F&AM, of Massachusetts. Today, the great majority of US state Grand Lodges as well as the Grand Lodge of England and many international Grand Lodges recognize Prince Hall Lodges.

It may seem strange to some because of the fierce determination for the astute ,mason of darker persuasion to be identified, not just as a mason, but as a Prince Hall Mason.  There is a difference in “masons.”  Because of the trials and tribulations that we, as Prince Hall Masons have endured, it is with a great sense of pride to be privileged to wear the name.  It is mute and vocal testimony to the fact that, “Prince Hall, we’re still here!”

A lot of things are not appreciated in life, sometimes because the method used in gaining the honor, the privilege, or the tangible product, is not one where it called for a sacrifice of some sort.  Not so with Prince Hall Masons, for we have, “been up the creek, and down the river.”  The Prince Hall Mason can truly say, “I have often been tried, but never denied…”  The background, the legacies, the involvement of the Prince Hall Masons in the growth of the meaningful things that were gained in the Black Experience and the Black Church, speak louder than the negative reports that sometimes seep into our midst.  Prince Hall Masons have many things to be proud of, because of the sacrifices made by those brothers and sisters in by-gone years.  I for one do appreciate the many years of their sacrificial efforts.

Because of its beautiful history, Prince Hall Masons have come under attack, by word and deed.  There have been court cases, negative media coverage, and by and large, an exclusion from the pages of history found in libraries or in private collections, sorry to say.  However, little by little, the story is being told of the many worthwhile things that have been done in the name of human endeavors by those brethren of the craft.  Because of its beautiful history, Prince Hall Masons have had to endure many groups professing to be “masons.”  Some even carry the name, “Prince Hall Mason,” but the result is not the same.  It is said that “Imitation is the highest form of flattery” or something to that order.  However, when the term, “mason” is used, everyone should be aware that it does not always mean, “Prince Hall Mason” and there is a difference.

When one considers Prince Hall, one can readily understand why there would be attempts at duplicating the fraternity that bears his name.  It is a proud name, one that can stand up to the criticisms that may come from opponents; one that can, because of the many brothers and sisters that wear the name, withstand the court cases and innuendos of smaller minds.  Prince Hall was a man that American History can be proud of, even though some today may feel threatened by the love some members have for their order

Freemasonry is a system of morality, a system that is shared between members of the Masonic Family, and then is shared with the community at large.  It is not a secret system, for the lessons come from the Holy Bible, the Holy Koran, the Vegas, and many other religious books found wherever there is a system of religious ideals.  Because of the Judeao-Christian principles practiced by the bulk of the Prince Hall membership, it stands to reason the main teachings regarding Freemasonry would come from the Holy Bible.

Prince Hall may not have foreseen the results of his endeavor way back in 1775 when he and 14 other Blacks were initiated into the Masonic Order.  He may not have foreseen the many hundreds of thousands of members world-wide that we see today.  But Prince Hall did believe in a God that “sits high” and looks low.”  That belief was fostered down through many generations of Afro-Americans, and now includes members of all racial persuasions.  It is a dream come true for anyone that dared to dream in 1775.  We cannot say that those members did dream in 1775, but I am sure that the same God that blessed their endeavors back then is still in the blessing business, for we are the recipients of His grace and goodness.  Our very survival and presence bear witness to that.

It was not in man’s cards that we be here, for the mason of old had to “be tried, sometimes denied, but stood ready to be tried again.”  Those days of physical opposition are gone now.  The days of being in court, defending your right to be called Prince Hall Masons, are now history.  The blood that was shed for the right that was taken for granted by all other Americans, shall not be in vain, and we revere our dead members, we celebrate the birth of our founder and benefactor, Prince Hall, the man, the mason, the patriot, the preacher!  We’re still here, Prince Hall! (1)

(1) Prince Hall, We’re Still Here, Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arkansas –

The Bee Hive is indebted to Brother Antonio Caffey, PM St. Mark’s Lodge No. 7, Columbus, OH for an excellent video and for The Phylaxis Society and The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Of Arkansas for text.

square and compass, freemasonry, S&C, freemason information

Will A Collapsing World Bring Down Lodges With It?

Over the last decade here is what local Masonic Lodges should have been doing.

They should have increased their dues sufficiently to not only pay for the running of their Lodges but also have salted away some money in the bank account and investments. Instead of doing fund raisers they should have looked for additional income by renting out their Masonic Hall or any collateral property attached to the Hall owned by the Lodge.

They should have been seeking endowments from their members and instead of authorizing the Treasurer to take the extra income down to the bank and buying a CD, the Lodge should have hired a certified financial planner.

In urban and suburban situations Lodges in one area should have tried to operate all from one building. If you travel to England you can find as many as 20 Lodges meeting in one building, and Brothers paying $20 or more each meeting for a meal and the festive board. In our very mobile modern society where there was once a Lodge in every town, today it would be much more economical to have just one Hall per Masonic District.

These ideas have certainly been posted on this site before. So why repeat them now?

With Europe collapsing before our eyes; with the United States economy faltering, unemployment above 9% with no signs of abating, GDP growth in the neighborhood of an anemic 1%, the stock market tanking, one has to wonder about the financial stability of Masonic Lodges.

Those that have refused to run their Lodges like a business and have insisted on doing Masonry on the cheap may not be able to survive if the country’s economy continues to worsen. Especially vulnerable are rural Lodges and Lodges who cannot consolidate buildings. Those Lodges with a building all their own with no tenants, low dues and no money in the bank account or in investments probably will not survive.

We could be looking at the largest amount of Lodges disbanding and turning in their charters in the history of this nation.  If we are it will be because many Lodges refused to take the necessary steps to put themselves on a sound financial footing when they had the opportunity. Any good businessman will tell you that you salt away some money in good times for a rainy day fund to tide you over in bad times. Lodges that failed to look ahead, failed to do any long term planning and operated by just squeaking by will suffer the consequences and pay the ultimate price.