Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Grand Lodge of Alabama meets this week

Amidst, I'm sure, lots of eloquent words, much recognizing of esteemed visitors, and gold-chain rattling, the Grand Lodge of Alabama is meeting for its annual communication this week (Monday through Wednesday).

High on their list of things to vote on is a proposal to lower the minimum age to become a Mason to eighteen.

Noticeably missing from the list is any mention of recognizing Prince Hall Masons, or of rescinding the century-old rant against "negro Masons" still on the books at the Alabama grand lodge.

And I don't expect they'll be hearing any speeches similar to the one given by Bro. Alex Harris in 1999.

As a thought experiment, we've posted several imaginary sentries outside the doors to the Grand Lodge meeting. Their job is to count the number of black Freemasons who enter the meeting. Can't wait to find out the final tally.

Image: Bro. Theophilus Eugene "Bull" Connor (1897-1973), Alabama police commissioner, public service commissioner and outspoken segregationist during during the 1940s, 50s and 60s. He was reportedly a Freemason and a "very active" Shriner. It was Connor who ordered the police to have the German shepherd dogs attack protesters, and the fire department to turn their firehoses against them, in Birmingham in 1963. One disgusted fireman said later, "We're supposed to fight fires, not people."

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22 comments:

  1. Seems like the old timers are tightening the grip, not loosening. A reactionary response I'm sure. It is sad that they haven't realized the damage they are doing to their own interests by holding the line. A better reaction would be to show renewed humility in accepting changes that still leaves the Jurisdiction intact yet acknowledges that all others aren't monkeys. Or else they will loose all control...and already are.

    W.M.
    Enjoying a Caribbean vacation away from all this in-fighting.

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  2. I attended last year's Alabama Grand Lodge meeting. I was Junior Warden of my lodge. It was definitely my last Grand Lodge meeting. There were more rednecks per square foot in that room than at a NASCAR race. You can be assured there will be no black men present at the racist Alabama Grand Lodge meeting.

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  3. Bull Connor was a very active Alabama Mason by the way.

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  4. Interesting how negative each of these responses is...I wonder: is it a reflection of the article? Also, I get the feeling that no one who actually attended Grand Lodge this year (I did not attend, either, so my position here is probably questionable) has commented. BTW: for a blog which claims to be "progressive", why is it that you keep trotting out ancient and near ancient (a 7-year old speech comes to mind)incidents to bolster your arguments? Can you not get a bit more up-to-date with your information? Just thinking out loud here...Happy Thanksgiving!

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  5. Seven years is only ancient to dogs.... it's a mere few minutes in the history of Freemasonry.

    Besides, I have to mention Bro. Alex Harris' speech from 1999 because no one has had the gonads to offer up a similar discussion at the Alabama Grand Lodge since.

    — Widow's "Did I say I was progressive?" Son

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  6. I think the admission of 18 year olds into Lodge is a brilliant attempt at solving two vexing social problems: one, the decline of membership among Masons, and two, the woeful lack of quality day care in America.

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  7. Well the newly elected(promoted) GM is having his honors Day at the local Baptist church so much for "Masonry is not a religion."
    Honors Day for MW Grand Master Stinson will be at Southside Baptist Church in Greenville, Al.
    on Saturday, Dec 1st.
    Lunch will be served at 12:30

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  8. Sorry, I didn't sign my name in the last post:

    H. Rubelo

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  9. "..no one has the gonads to..."

    What about you taking this up? Surely you can petition for a spot on next years' agenda...I'd bet that you will be welcomed and listened to. Point #1 is: if there is no action connected to your words (and words are not actions), your credibility is suspect.

    Point #2 is, you have a point... but your attack-dog tactics (how's that for a quick allusion to your article? LOL) may be doing more harm than good. Why not try some positive spin on this? Focus on some of the basic philosophies of Freemasonry - brotherhood, enlightenment,etc. - and argue that recognition is a natural expression of these philosophies? Hey, here's a thought: why don't you get the PHWM to contribute some thoughts? I e-mailed him yesterday (and I aplogize in advance for branding the BT and the LRUS as being like "a couple of white guys sitting around talking") and asked him to clarify th PH position on the recognition issue. I'm interested to hear what he has to say....

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  10. It is not possible to change the Grand Lodge of Alabama's position on race. The Grand Lodge of Alabama is supported by its membership, the vast majority of whom are old, ignorant, redneck racists. Thus, any effort at change from within is utterly futile.

    As an Alabama Mason,I see three alternatives: (1) ignore the whole thing and forget about Masonry; (2) ignore the whole thing and wait for the old men to get older and die; (3) reject "mainstream" Masonry and do something different. I became disillusioned with Alabama Masonry over the course of 2006, and I am still weighing the alternatives.

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  11. Well, nemo, I'm truly sorry that you became disillusioned. It happens. The hard thing is to keep trying in spite of your disappointments....and you, as an Alabama Mason (a Masonic family to which I also belong), should let your voice be heard in places where it MATTERS, like in your Lodge or your York or Scottish Rite body. Demitting out of despair is, to me, akin to suicide - a sin because it implies that Deity has no power to change a bad situation. Maybe if you saw fewer "rednecks" and tried them as Brothers? All of this name-calling and finger-pointing isn't accomplishing a whole lot.

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  12. The Gl of Alabama is doing just fine without any of you. What grand lodge needs balcks in their fraternity? The answer to that is none

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  13. Two more responses to this thread & I'm out:
    First, sis kelley (I'd love to know how you got the three lights out of your keyboard!): I agree...even though I joined the Lodge at 21, I was unready maturationally and intellectually for Masonry. 18 is too young - I have said so in Lodge and urged our representatives to vote against it. My own 19 year-old son, whom I love, is not ready (though he thinks he is) and I will not recommend him until I think he is.

    Second: to H. Rubelo, holding an honors ceremony in a place of worship, be it Baptist, Methodist, synagogue, or cathdral, is hardly out of character for Masonry. Where should it be held? At Joe Muggs or Barnes & Noble? C'mon, my Brother, let's be more reasonable than that!

    To all and sundry: have a great Thanksgiving, enjoy your families and friends today, and, when Saturday arrives, remember the Tide in your prayers (they will need the help, LOL)!

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  14. "and you, as an Alabama Mason (a Masonic family to which I also belong), should let your voice be heard in places where it MATTERS, like in your Lodge or your York or Scottish Rite body." [Imehaffy]

    I raised the race issue and was asked to drop it by certain Grand Lodge officers. They explained that the membership would not support a clear statement against racism. It was at that point that I realized I was dealing with a bunch of rednecks. The only way to avoid seeing them as such is to close one's eyes.

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  15. The Widow's Son needs to check his facts as the resolution "as to negro masons" of 1876 is not still on the books of the Grand Lodge and in fact never was. If one would read a little bit past the resolution in the 1876 Alabama Grand Lodge Proceedings, they would find that the resolution was referred to a committee of three and subsequent Annual Proceedings make no mention of the resolution ever having come to a vote of the Grand Lodge, hence the resolution "died in committee" and never became official Grand Lodge policy. This is something I have confirmed with the Grand Lodge.

    I did attend the recent Grand Lodge Communication and can assure you that all present were gentlemen, not rednecks. The forum of free speech that was accorded to those members wishing to participate in the discussion of the issues before the Grand Lodge was exemplary and something every Alabama Mason should be proud of. Remember gentlemen, we meet on the level regardless of our outside titles or distinctions.

    There is, unforunately, racism present at the individual member level and because of our balloting procedures one member can prevent the admission of a petitioner for any reason what so ever and cannot be questioned as to why he voted the way he did. I cannot believe you are suggesting that we change our balloting procedures so I do not know what you hope to accomplish.

    I would propose that any Alabama Mason that is upset that a change in fraternal relations with the Prince Hall lodges was not on the Grand Lodge's agenda this year, should look no further than himself for the failure of its inclusion. If you want changes made, you must start in your lodge and petition the Grand Lodge. Being inactive only allows the practice to continue.

    Some things to think about...

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  16. Yes, dear Brethren, going inactive or demitting from your lodge does no one any good. Nemo, if you were the JW in 2006, then you should be the SW in 2007 and soon you should become the WM of your lodge in 2008, and as such, you'll become a VOTING member of the Grand Lodge of Alabama, and as WM, I would submit the resolution to recongize PHA Masons for 2008's Annual Grand Communication, and then participate to assist in its being at least considered, even if it does not pass, at least get it in the minds of those present that it is something worth considering. Have any of you thought that maybe the PHA Masons don't want the recognition of the GL of Alabama? If they do not wish for it, which might be the case, then why waste the time pushing for it? There must be two working at this, if the Grand Lodge of Alabama extends recognition to the PHA Grand Lodge, and they in turn, do not offer such to you, then you've accomplished nothing, as recognition must be a two-way event. I wouldn't be surprised if the PHA Masons in Alabama would be opposed to any relations with the GL of Alabama after the way those dear brethren have been treated for such a long time down there and how they've been treated.

    My point being, STAY INVOLVED, don't quit, Masonry needs you as much as you need Masonry to make you into better men. If you quite, Nemo, then you'll never be Grand Master, and thus the change you seek will be for naught, I hope to hear that you'll soon be installed as your lodge's Worshipful Master, congrats in advance!

    Here in Virginia, although recognition exists between the two Grand Lodges, some local lodges on BOTH sides continue to practice racial discrimation, by denying visitation priveleges to those of the opposite race. Before I can visit a PHA Lodge, I must first have my DDGM contact their DDGM and arrange for my visit, and they must vote on it, and I'm told that I have about as much chance being allowed to visit a PHA Lodge as they do visiting mine, which is no chance at all. So, although I push for communications between the two, racial prejudices exist in both camps, not just ours alone.

    Don't be foolish enough to think that our PHA brethren aren't human, and that they harbor no prejudics, to think so would be foolish and just plain ignorant of human passions which we both have.

    I love my PHA Brethren, and I do associate with them as individuals, but I've not sought to visit a PHA Lodge in my area, as I've been told by some PHA brethren that my chances of being allowed to visit are slim to none, and until such time as the local lodges on both sides change their views, communication will not exist even though our Grand Lodges are in accord with each other.

    God bless you all and keep up the good work of building the Fraternity up and in continue to serve your lodge and Grand Lodge.

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  17. As I mentioned in my last comment, I raised the issue and was asked to drop it. I'm no Don Quixote.

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  18. Number 1, if there is no race qualification currently on the Grand Lodge books (and there is not), why do we need a resolution saying that blacks cannot be denied admission based on race? Number 2, what effect do you think said resolution would have? Yet again, Brother, the racist ideals of individual members becomes prevalent at the ballot box - not in our Constitution. Our balloting procedures have more effect on the racial composition of our membership than does the Grand Lodge Constitution. Now, I believe our balloting procedures are the way they are for the good of the Order, but I acknowledge that it can be misused to block a petitioner for the wrong reasons. I do not believe the balloting procedures should be tampered with.

    Hypothetically, if you could find one lodge in Alabama where there exists not one racist member, or at least not one present for the balloting, then we would have our first black Alabama Mason (not PH). Such is the situation in the South, particularly with the older generations, that you could find some not racist, but not all. That is the nature of our culture, there is nothing to be done about it immediately. Also, you have to factor in misinformed brethren (much like the Widow's Son) who have been convinced or otherwise persuaded that the resolution of 1876 actually gained Grand Lodge approval (which it did not) or the various other reasons that brethren may be led to believe the fraternity is "whites only" or that blacks are not allowed (I have heard 4 or 5 other kind of outrageous claims). The only way we can combat racism within the Alabama Grand Lodge and subordinate lodges is to stay active in the lodge and take on leadership positions. Educate your brethren. Attain the proficiency certificates and proper knowledge of the ritual that command so much personal respect within the fraternity. Then you may be a part of the tidal wave that is to eventually sweep Alabama Masonry shining light where there was darkness.

    I like to think of it this way. I know the Grand Lodge does not sanction using race as a factor for membership (we also have Native American and Middle Eastern Alabama Masons). Sure, there are brethren that will not allow a black member at this time. I also know, though I disagree, that those brethren are voting their heart for the good of the order and I cannot fault them for voting in accordance with their heart and conscience - even if I believe they are wrong. There is nothing I can do about their vote though. It is their's alone as a Master Mason. I also know that the day will come when white and black Alabama Masons can sit in lodge together. How do I know that? Because I commit myself to that cause. Just because Alabama Masonry isn't perfect doesn't mean you should quit. You should work harder in the lodge to make it a better place for future generations. It's not my lodge, it belongs to posterity, I am merely the current caretaker.

    Last, but not least, who says the Alabama Prince Hall Masons desire fraternal relations? It is a two way street and I have heard of no call from the Alabama PH GL for recognition.

    I ask that you do not collectively call my brethren "rednecks" or "racists" anymore. They deserve more respect than that and if you still desire to make that claim then I demand that you prove it.

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  19. Brad wrote: "Such is the situation in the South, particularly with the older generations, that you could find some not racist, but not all. That is the nature of our culture, there is nothing to be done about it immediately."

    Your observation is correct. And that is the problem.

    I will not comply with your "demand." It is a fair statement that the vast majority (which is the term I have used repeatedly) of Alabama Masons are older, blue collar, rural men. It is likewise a fair statement that the vast majority of men fitting that description in our state harbor racist sentiments. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, and the old men aren't going to change. Someday, things may be different, but for now, it is no better than it can be given the demographic makeup of the membership. I'm glad you are enjoying your Masonic experience, and I wish you all the best. My experience has left me unimpressed.

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  20. "Anonymous said...The Gl of Alabama is doing just fine without any of you. What grand lodge needs balcks in their fraternity? The answer to that is none."

    I agree wholeheartedly. The GL of Alabama has no need of balcks.

    However, it would probably nice if they decided to let blacks join.

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  21. I'm suspicious if the anonymous poster is a Mason at all. He could be, but how do we KNOW? I know, you don't know if I am either, but those are the breaks.

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  22. Thank you for the discourse. Hope to sit in lodge with you one day!

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