Saturday, June 12, 2010

Guess who's coming to dinner?

It seems many rank-and-file Masons, in many locales, are becoming more and more fed up with the actions of Grand Lodge leaders.

This short article was sent to The Burning Taper recently. The author wishes to remain anonymous, for fear of retribution for reporting events and expressing his opinion.

Arizona Grand Lodge Annual Communication began with the Royal Banquet on Wednesday evening, June 2, 2010 prior to the official opening of proceedings on Thursday morning.

The Head Table consisted of Arizona Grand Lodge officers and their wives. Seated near them were the visiting dignitaries representing various Masonic grand lodge jurisidictions. There were 13 listed on the list handed out to all attending members. Most were "line" officers representing their State or jurisdiction with two currently sitting grand masters.

The two grand masters attending the Banquet were Most Worshipful Martin E. Warren, Grand Master of Masons from the Grand Lodge, F&AM of Arkansas, and Most Worshipful Lewis R. Brent, Grand Master of Masons from the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Arizona. They were not seated at the same table.

When the Grand Lodge opened in Due Form in the 3rd Degree on Thursday morning the MW Lewis R. Brent from Prince Hall was present, but the MW Martin E. Warren was conspicuously absent. He was not seen in any of the subsequent tiled lodge meetings all day Friday or on Saturday.

It is the custom of the Grand Lodge that, when a pedestal officer (Grand Master, Senior Warden and Junior Warden) leave their stations during the proceedings that they place the Jewel of their office on one of the brothers in the room.

Several times during the proceedings on both days, the Senior Grand Warden Brook Cunningbrook chose a highly decorated Phoenix policeman, who is a member of one of the Arizona F&AM lodges and had been shot in the line of duty, to sit high on the chair located on a pedestal in the West to replace him temporarily. He is black.

There were two other black members of Arizona F&AM lodges present and the Senior Grand Warden had them also replace him in the West. It is quite an honor to do this.

In this case, in my opinion anyway, it was kind of an "in your face" type of gesture to some of the members of the Arizona jurisdiction who have moved to Arizona from one of the 10 states that do not recognize Prince Hall and have complained about having to sit in a lodge with a black man. Whether it was directed towards the Grand Master of Arkansas, I can only speculate.

What's interesting about this is that the Grand Master of Arkansas spent the money to fly to Arizona only to have dinner. Since it is customary for Grand Lodges to pay for the travel expenses of their grand masters, I wonder if the brethren of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas got their monies worth. Since he did not attend any of the business meetings by sitting in a tiled lodge with a black man but only attended the social functions, it seems to me that he spent a lot of money just for a free dinner and drinks, even if the cost came out of his own pocket.

This obviously was an example of the kind of “Imperial Leadership” prevalent in many jurisdictions and is not restricted to Arkansas alone.

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  1. Thank you for sharing this information. I am AZ brother and was not privy to what had occurred here. As a proud white man I am now an even more proud Master Mason knowing my Grand Lodge honors our work by viewing a brother by the light he may provide and not by the prejudices instilled in him at a young age. To invite the guest from Arkansas to share in that light along with the other brothers who have been tricked into thinking the make and quality of man is based on something so indiscriminate as his family origins is truly the work and duty of a Master Mason. Thank you Grand Lodge for welcoming with loving arms our fellow brethren who by no fault of their own come from families and communities where they have been taught to fear and hate, thank you for showing us the way to brotherly love.

  2. What MWGM Gene Warren did was wrong. This racist attitude of the ARGL and that of many of the subordinate lodges towards blacks must come to an end. I know the GL of England pulled PH's Charter. That was a long time ago. How about now? I've got no problem sitting with and accepting a good, qualified black man into lodge. We speak brotherly love and tell our new EA's that they can go to any lodge in the WORLD. But, they (Non-Whites)can't come to one in Arkansas. Wake up! If attitudes are not adjusted and soon, Masonry in Arkansas will cease to exist.

  3. I would suggest that Freemasonry in Arkansas doesn't exist anymore as it is. I've heard a lot of reports about the abuses and I'm well aware that their numbers have dwindled rapidly. Organizations such as Arkansas and other similar Grand Lodges are destroying Masonry for all Masons in the United States. The young men of today and of tomorrow will have the ability to find out much about Masonry online before joining. The obvious horrors are spilling out online. It's a time where we either force changes to clean up our ways or we just sit on the deck of the sinking ship and drink some koolaid.

    Might I point out that I've been watching the new website that has been on many Masonic forums and it seems to be proof that we're in dire straits.

  4. It is beyond time that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas be subjected and thus investigated for numerous violations of the Civil Rights Act regarding racial discrimination. I would invite any MM in AR to seriously consider a class action lawsuit inorder to put an end to this once and for all. The US Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas has jurisdiction as this is a federal, not state, matter.

  5. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse the GrandLodge of Arkansas is bound and determined to prove everyone wrong. It appears the GrandLodge is now going after one of the crown jewels of Masonry, The Shrine of Arkansas and itsmembers. It appears the first order of business is to oust the Potentate andattempt to shame him within the state. First there is local lodge investigationwhich finds all the charges to be totally unfounded but then the Grand Lodge hasto do their own dirty work and open a separate investigation. Then in typicalArkansas style they pretty much declare him guilty and have ordered himto remove all Masonic jewelry and decals and suspend him without atrial. Yes without a trial!. Suspension without a trial is un-American andseemingly beyond any Masonic tenant. Rumor in Little Rock has it once thePotentate is gone there are other officers that have already been threatened withsuspension. Perhaps its time to pull Arkansas Charter and give it to someone that still believes in the tenants of Free Masonry. Absolute power corrupts and it just gets worse with each passing year. Where have all the good men gone? Why do we spread hatred and discontent among our Brothers instead of bringing all good men together?

    It appears there is a bone to pick and when one digs alittle deeper you find the new Arkansas Grand Secretary was booted out of theShrine for nonpayment of dues. Not paying Masonic related bills should be groundsfor Masonic charges when you consider what others around the state have beencharged with. There should be plenty of Masonic work that needs to be done inArkansas without drumming up charges on the dues paying members that work tomake this a better place. Picking on the Shriners should be at the bottom ofthe list considering they probably bring more to Masonry than the ill conceivedlofty and vengeful ideas the Grand Lodge has been bringing to the table.


  6. Standing Strong is certainly correct in his posting. I would take it one step further, aside from going on the federal side I would also take the investigating commmittee of the GL, along with the GM and his officers into civil court. In the instance I am referring to there is no actual witness coupled with the fact that the accused is not allowed face the accusor thus the GL is has no qualified immunity from a civil lawsuit. Take these bottom feeders into a court of law and put an end to this nonsense once and for all. Proud Mason

  7. While I am no lawyer I have heard stories of men collecting over 250,000 from every one of his accusers. While that may seem like a lot of money it could never heal the pain caused by trampling someone’s name in the dirt like what has happened here.
    Your call to arms on the class action suit has been generating some interest here. As one man said “If this institution has lowered itself to this level then it is time for good men to act”. There are several Master Masons in the state that do not belong to “this” faltering grand lodge. Arkansas would not stand a chance after they walked out on Grand Lodge session because Prince Hall Masons were there. Their blatant disregard for human life has to be stopped.

  8. Yes, there is case law on this subject...take that to the bank. The AR Grand Lodge reminds me of Hitler in many ways. Our fraternity was not founded in such a manner to have a few simple minded persons placed in their current positions. To cut to the chase the US Attorney for the Western District has been requested to intercede and thus investigate this matter by myself. This does not preclude any civil action[s] that should be forthcoming. Class action is a real possibility. As a MM, a 32nd degree and also a Shriner it is my firm belief that the GL of AR e.g. its current officers, should be removed from office. Having said that every MM in AR should seek membership in an adjoining state and only affiliate with AR soley to hold an office. While our obligation is such that we have to ansewer to the jurisdiction where we reside other GL's are well aware of what is going on and thus, in all probability, not take nor honor, any orders of the AR GL

  9. Brothers, I know Past GM Warren. He is a good man. He did not attend those meetings because we are not allowed to sit in a Prince Hall lodge or confer with any of their members. Prince Hall lodges and their members are considered clandestine and illegitimate. Bro Warren sat in my lodge on St Johns night and pleaded with us to end this practice. He even told us of his trips to AZ and OK where he could not sit open lodge because of this archaic and racist edict. He is not a racist. He did this so he would not have charges brought against himself. Yes, I am sure this edict is related to racism. Which is wrong. The GL of AR is out of control. I am holding in my hand right now a letter(dated 12/8/11) from the current GM that de-recognizes the Shrine. All Shrines of North America have been declared clandestine and illegitimate by the GM of AR. But I digress. As a recent Past Master, we had a fine black man petetion our lodge this year. He is an Iraq war vet and very well mannered. I was told by the Grand Secretary that the GL of AR does not discriminate. I even recorded our conversation without his knowledge. I do not trust anyone associated with the GL of AR. I was told that we do have black members in the state of AR. Specifically, in Searcy and Charleston I was told. Racism is everywhere and unforunately it will never go away. Needless to say, word got out and the man that petitioned our lodge was not voted in.
    I do not have the time or patience to get into all of the things wrong with the GL of AR. But can only say that they act like a dictorship and are out of control. And until the blue lodge members of this fine state take control and boot them out it will only get worse.

  10. For the Record, Kentucky has been mentioned as a state not recognizing Prince Hall Masons, this misconception has been formally corrected(see below). Also African Americans have been joining our Masonic groups for years. That being said, some lodges were slower to the changes.


    Book of Constitutions under Item 5 of the Standing Resolutions, following the list of Grand Representatives.

    Whereas: The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge (PHGL) of Kentucky, F. & A. M. was constituted under a warrant from the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio in 1866, and

    Whereas: The membership of PHGL of Kentucky has established a rich tradition of Freemasonry in the Commonwealth, and

    Whereas: The PHGL of Kentucky has petitioned the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, F. & A. M. to recognize their sovereignty over lodges chartered under their authority within the Commonwealth of Kentucky, separately and distinct from the sovereignty of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, and to enter into an informal relationship between the two Grand Lodges, therefore

    Be It Resolved: That the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, F. & A. M. confirms the sovereignty of the Prince Hall Grand lodge of Kentucky, F. & A. M. as a Regular Masonic body in Kentucky, and welcomes an amicable relationship between the two Grand Lodges.

    Section 17 of KY Grand Lodge Constitution

    17. Negative Reference - Race, Creed, Faith
    Whereas Freemasonry is universal in scope, and professes to be a Brotherhood of
    man under the Fatherhood of God, and;
    Whereas the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, Free & Accepted Masons is a full member
    of this worldwide Brotherhood, and;
    Whereas our Ancient and Honorable Fraternity welcomes to its doors and admits
    to its privileges worthy men of all faiths, creeds and of every race who believe in a Supreme Being, as stated in our Degrees and lectures, and;

    Whereas there is no reference to the exclusion of any petitioner with regard to race, creed, and/or faith in any of the accepted Rituals and/or Monitors authorized for use within the constituent lodges chartered by the Grand Lodge of
    Kentucky, F. & A. M., and;

    Whereas it is incumbent upon the Brotherhood to abide by the Laws, Rules, Regulations, and Edicts of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, F, & A. M. and be
    what they profess to be;

    Therefore be it resolved:
    That no negative reference is to be made by any officer or member of any lodge chartered under the constitution of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, F. & A. M. in reference to a petitioner’s faith, creed or race at any time in the conferral ofthe Degrees—i.e. lectures, obligation, by proficiency lecturers, etc.— or during any lodge Communication.

    Further, it is the responsibility of the Master of each lodge constituted under the
    Grand Lodge of Kentucky, F. & A. M. to insure strict compliance with this
    edict, and, further, have it read by the lodge Secretary at the following three
    Stated Communication of the lodge following its reception.
    Any lodge found in violation of this directive will be subject to Masonic discipline

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