On December 27, 2005 the United Grand Lodge of America of Accepted Free-Masons was established by Freemasons from Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Kentucy, Indiana and Texas. Masonic ties were dissolved between these Masons and the Blue Lodges they were members of and the Grand Lodges which have jurisdictions over those lodges.
There is historical precedence for this type of schism, but you have to look back to 1751 to find the last major split among the Brethren, when the Antient Masons established their own Grand Lodge in defiance of the Moderns.
According to its website, the new United Grand Lodge of America (UGLA) wsa established with the goal of and for the purpose of returning "to the principles of the Grand Lodge of 1717 and the true spirit of Speculative Free-Masonry." Its mission? To further the "Brotherhood of All Mankind under the All-Seeing Eye of Deity through the enlightenment of humanity."
Just as Martin Luther and other reformers created Protestantism by protesting against the Catholic Church because they felt the Church had overstepped its authority and become tyrannical, so those Masons who formed the new Grand Lodge of America believe the Grand Lodge of Georgia (and those of certain other states) have attempted to establish "an absolute Temporal and Spiritual Tyranny over the Free-Masons."
As evidence, UGLA's Declaration of Independence lists 13 Facts, or grievances against the Grand Lodge:
- The Grand Masters have convened clandestine committees for the purposes of spreading ill will, false rumors, and conducting character assassinations against lawful brother Master Masons, thus disrupting the Peace and Harmony of the Craft, and bringing into question the moral integrity of the Masonic brotherhood.
- The Grand Masters have refused to answer repeated appeals for clarification of the recognition process in this jurisdiction, and have forbidden other Grand Lodge officers and Free-Masons from discussing it, thereby allowing and promoting racial segregation and religious intolerance.
- The Grand Masters have issued un-Masonic and unreasonable Edicts to punish and expel brothers without the benefit of due process, and to usurp the judicial authority that has always been vested in the lodges.
- The Grand Masters have usurped every Mason’s right to a Masonic trial before his peers within his own lodge, and replaced it with a commission of judges chosen by the Grand Masters who hold their respective offices at the pleasure of the sitting Grand Master.
- The Grand Masters have denied all attempts to restore a system of Masonic education that would educate the brethren in the history, philosophy and symbolism of the Craft, the better enabling the Grand Lodge to control the Masonically ignorant brethren and usurp further powers away from them and their lodges.
- The Grand Masters have violated General Regulation XII of the Ancient Constitutions, which clearly states that “The Grand Lodge consists of, and is formed by the Masters and Wardens of all the regular particular Lodges upon record,” by replacing the sitting Wardens with Past Masters who have no authority in the governance of the Lodges, and are not the elected representatives of the brethren.
- The Grand Masters have engaged in electioneering within the individual Lodges through character assassination and the spreading of misinformation, allowing only those who agree with their Regime a voice and vote at the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge.
- The Grand Masters have purposefully attempted to drive away all educated and professional men who would question their actions, resulting in an overall decline in membership of over fifty percent since 1963 and reducing the financial viability of the order.
- The Grand Masters have purposefully misinformed the youngest and newest members of the Craft about their Rights as Free-masons, and have seduced them into a blind obedience of their Dictates and Edicts based on their obligations before God and the Craft, without regard to the limitations stated before those obligations were contracted.
- The Grand Masters have promoted and allowed the Lodges to collect monies from the public for the purpose of keeping and maintaining the Lodges and not for the benefit of any real charity, thus perpetrating a fraud against the public and bringing into question the moral integrity of the institution.
- The Grand Masters have failed to act swiftly to expel and remove known felons from the fraternity, and in some cases have chastised the brethren who attempted to have them expelled, thus bringing into question the moral principles of the institution.
- The Grand Masters have failed to intervene and stop the spread of rumors against brothers thereby creating confusion and disharmony in the Craft and the Lodges, thus allowing disharmony and un-brotherly conduct to prevail.
- The Grand Masters have acted to protect the financial interests of the York and Scottish Rites by illegally declaring the thirty-five other known Rites of Free-Masonry “clandestine,” thus depriving the Free-Masons in this jurisdiction of their right to advance their understanding of universal Free-Masonry.
I have no personal knowledge of some of these "Facts," but I do know that my lodge, under direction of at least one officer of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, has attempted to "run me off" by threatening charges against me for the "crime" of following the Masonic Code regarding a convicted felon in our midst, and for speaking up about certain violations of Masonic Code going on in our lodge. As an "educated and professional" man, I have definitely been shunned by my Brethren, one of which has publicly declared that I "read too much."
The new United Grand Lodge of America has also published online its Rights of Free-Masons and Lodges statement. The Grand Lodge is to simply serve as an administrative body; its primary function is to charter new lodges. Authority and decision-making remains where it should — the local lodge. This Bill of Rights should serve well to assure the Brethren that the politics and manipulations of a Grand Lodge will not again despoil the name or the reputation of Free-Masonry.
The Rights of Free-Masons & Lodges
I. Free-Masons shall not be compelled by any Masonic authority to do anything they deem to be in conflict with what they owe to the Deity, Their Self, Family, Neighbor or Country.
II. Free-Masons shall not be compelled by any Masonic authority to reveal their religion.
III. All Free-Masons shall have the right to a Trial by their Lodge, and no other Masonic authority shall have the power to try them for Masonic offenses, or to Suspend or Expel them.
IV. All Free-Masons shall have the right to demand in writing any and all Charges against them signed by their accuser(s).
V. All Free-Masons shall have the right through their Lodge and the Grand Lodge to compel other Free-Masons as witnesses to testify in a Masonic trial.
VI. All Free-Masons shall have the right to freely speculate upon and interpret the ancient Symbols of Free-Masonry and to present their conclusions before the Craft.
VII. All Free-Masons shall have the right to Freedom of the Press, limited only by those things which all Free-Masons agree are Secrets of the Craft.
VIII. All Free-Masons shall have the right to refuse to sit in any Lodge, of which they are a member, with another Free-Mason who is not a member of that Lodge.
IX. All Master Masons shall have the right to run for any office in their Lodge or in the Grand Lodge, and no Grand Master, Master or other officer shall have the authority to appoint any Mason to any office.
X. All Master Masons shall have the right to belong to any of the various Masonic Rites.
XI. All Lodges shall have the right to choose the Symbolic Rituals they will use to initiate candidates so long as those rituals comply with the Ancient Landmarks of the Craft or Masonic Tradition.
XII. All Lodges shall have the right to establish their own By-Laws and conduct business in a way that best suits the needs of their members.
XIII. All Lodges shall have the right to conduct Festive Boards in the traditional manner with beer, wine and spirits.
XIV. All Lodges have the right to be represented at the annual communication of the Grand Lodge by their elected Master and Wardens.
XV. All Lodges shall have the right to determine the Masonic status of any visitor or petitioner and the Grand Lodge shall never usurp this authority through granting itself the power of recognition.
XVI. No Lodge’s Charter can be arrested unless three-quarters of the members of the Grand Lodge at its Annual Communication are in agreement.