Tuesday, March 18, 2008

'Masonry through the (rearview) looking glass': Frank Haas' speech to the Philalathes Society

What follows is the text of the speech given by M.W. Bro. Frank Haas, expelled Past Grand Master of Masons in West Virginia, to the Philalathes Society in February, 2008. It is reprinted from the blog Masonic Crusade.

Masonry Through the (Rearview) Looking Glass

By Frank J. Haas, MPS

Thank you very much for your brave invitation. I know that there is some controversy about my being here. Some of you have examined your consciences about whether you should listen to me, break bread with me, shake hands with me, appear in the banquet room with me, stay in the same hotel as me, and where to draw the line. I respect that fidelity. I am hopeful that this will be only a temporary strain on our fraternal relations. I am honored to accept an invitation that I did not seek. I have the highest respect for The Philalethes Society, and I would not do anything intentionally to harm it.

I very much wish that the circumstances that brought us together might have been dispensed with, but I have gained a great deal of unsought notoriety of late. This Society exists to research problems confronting Freemasonry. I have a problem. Some say that I am a problem. I have been a Philalethes member for quite a few years. I can relate to you my perception and my recollection of what has happened recently to Freemasonry in West Virginia and to me, and I can offer my opinions on these events. I will tell you what happened — beginning at the end.

Listen to the Red Queen from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
“No, no!” said the Queen. “Sentence first — verdict afterwards.”

“Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice loudly. “The idea of having the sentence first!”

“Hold your tongue!” said the Queen, turning purple.

“I won’t!” said Alice.

“Off with her head!” the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.

In a similar fashion, the capital punishment of Masonry was meted out to me. Sentence first, verdict irrelevant, trial — well, details, details. I was expelled summarily by the Grand Master of West Virginia without a trial, without written charges, and without notice that my neck was in the noose. “Sentence first — verdict afterwards.” To earn it, I did not even get the pleasure of stealing any money, messing around with any women, or sounding off with a temper tantrum. While I was watching a football game on a Sunday evening, I remember Grand Master Charlie L. Montgomery calling me to ask whether I would be in lodge the following evening. I said it was on my calendar. He said he “might drop in” to talk about the Oyster Night at the previous meeting of Wellsburg Lodge #2, where we hosted fifty Ohio brothers, including a surprise visit by the Grand Master of Ohio, the stalwart Ronald L. Winnett. When I walked into the lodge building on Monday, November 19, 2007, I thought it likely that the lodge would be complimented for its hospitality to two sitting grand masters. Little did I know that the lodge would soon be on probation and that expulsion edicts in advance had been researched, prepared, drafted, typed, and were soon to be read, expelling Richard K. Bosely and me, all, heartlessly, in the presence of my father.

I have been hurt by all of this, because I love this fraternity. I must guard against having my remarks today sound like nothing but sour grapes. Some unpleasant events happened. People ask me what happened. I tell them. They do not believe it and say it is impossible.

The Red Queen and Alice discussed such a circumstance in Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.

“I can't believe that!” said Alice.

“Can't you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”

Alice laughed. “There's no use trying,” she said: “one can't believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven't had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Believe it. The reason for the expulsion: free speech. I have a sincere philosophical disagreement with Montgomery and his supporters. I believe that the grand lodge belongs to the Craft and that the brothers should decide grand lodge laws and policy with their open debates and votes, preserving always our eight Ancient Landmarks. We are not bound to look forever through a looking glass as a rearview mirror and never look at the present or toward the future. Montgomery wants no change ever, and anyone who wants any change should “go away.”

Here is how I engendered such anger. Votes matter. In West Virginia, past masters have one quarter of a vote. According to the legend, I was elected to the progressive line of grand lodge officers by a quarter of a vote. You know that you must be cautious about secret ballots: those who know should not say, and those who say may not know. I am only passing on what I was told. I had served ten years on the Committee on Work with the custody of the ritual as Deputy Grand Lecturer. I became Junior Grand Warden, but some did not want me there.

As grand master, it became my frequent practice to address the brethren at lodge meetings, and I began to conclude my speaking on the level with a time of questions of answers. There were some recurring themes in the brother’s questions, and these I decided to bring to the floor of grand lodge for consideration. Before grand lodge, I acted on three matters of business that needed no change but were compelling interpretations of existing language.

Youth. We had one active DeMolay chapter in the whole state, at the time. We had only around a hundred Rainbow Girls. I talked to the youth and their leaders, and I learned that part of their problem was our grand lodge law. Our policies were actually harming kids. Our Masonic law requires us not to allow youth organizations to meet in the lodge rooms, no matter what the lodges want. Lodges cannot give any support to the kids. Lodges cannot donate a penny. Lodges cannot even permit the parking lot to be used to raise funds by a car wash, for example. When I learned that the application of these many prohibitions, which had slowly accumulated over the years, was hurting the kids, I concluded that it was never the intention of Masonic law to be harmful to them. I thought the brothers would want fast action, so I acted with a directive to help the kids, and I set the subject for discussion at grand lodge.

Summary reprimands. We had three brothers involved in two separate incidents. News reporters initiated calls to ask for facts about Masonic buildings, which they proposed to feature in their newspaper articles. The brothers answered questions about facts and figures, numbers and dates, and these resulted in large, beautiful articles with color photographs in the newspapers of the fourth and the fifth largest cities in the state. One headline on the front page of the Sunday newspaper was worth thousands of dollars in a public relations budget: “I knew they were just and upright men.” However, the three brothers had not referred the reporters to the grand master, so he summarily issued written edicts of reprimand to be read audibly in all 140 lodges at two separate meetings. There were no trials. Sentence first. I entered an edict expunging the record because there was no constructive purpose to be achieved in having them continue.

As I prepared for the grand lodge session, I prepared a written agenda and had the various subjects of legislation distributed so that it went to the Craft with the proposals in their hands, in advance, in writing, to allow discussion to take place freely before the grand lodge session. This had not been done by a grand master for many decades, if at all.

The storm clouds began to swirl. I invited Brother Howie Damron to perform at the Grand Master’s Banquet before grand lodge opened, and he sang, “The Masonic Ring” and other favorites. Some of my predecessors objected and were turning colors in anger, and I was then implored to attend a meeting of past grand masters. The place of the meeting changed without notice to me, and I finally found them at about midnight and was told that my predecessors and all of the remaining progressive line were of the opinion that my actions and proposals were illegal and had to be withdrawn, or I would face their wrath. They said I had violated the landmarks, the Ancient Charges, the ritual, the usages and customs, and my obligation — so I was told, and this could not go forward. I said that the brothers would indeed debate and vote, and I later learned that the statements about unanimity in the room were exaggerated.

The following day, grand lodge opened, and I reported my actions and opinions to the Craft. Prominent among them was an outreach I had made to the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of West Virginia through the Prince Hall Grand Master. Perhaps I went further than he would have liked, as I wrote him and telephoned him months earlier, and then visited the hotel of their grand lodge session, suggesting a meeting. For our grand lodge, I proposed language declaring it to be unmasonic conduct to refuse to seat a visitor to lodge if race was a reason, and it passed. On other subjects, the brothers voted to allow themselves the option to say the Pledge of Allegiance at lodge meetings. The brothers voted to allow handicapped candidates to petition.

We are the only grand lodge not to recognize or support the DeMolay, Rainbow Girls, or Job’s Daughters. We are the only grand lodge not to be members of the Masonic Service Association. We are the only grand lodge not to belong to a regional conference of grand masters. We are the only grand lodge to order the Scottish Rite not to perform one of their degrees, the Washington/Arnold 20th degree. The result? I am proud to say that the brothers voted not to persist in remaining a minority of one. The brothers voted to change these things.

By their votes, the brothers repealed an assortment of legislative state-wide restrictions, piled on over the decades, for specific, temporary reasons, by Masonic legislators. Dean Roscoe Pound in Masonic Jurisprudence observed, “Having no bills of rights in Masonry and hence nothing beyond a handful of vaguely defined landmarks to restrain him, what then are our barriers against the ravages of the zealous, energetic, ambitious Masonic law-maker? Legal barriers, there are none. But some of the most sacred interests of life have only moral security and on the whole do not lose thereby.”

The brothers in West Virginia voted to assert their moral security and to repeal bans of books, bans on films, and bans on slideshows, some implemented nearly fifty years ago for important reasons, apparent then, to deal with a moment in time. Royal Arch Chapter charters had been ordered to be removed from the walls of lodge rooms, but the brothers voted to allow them. Other art in a lodge room that included Masonic symbols or emblems other than the Blue Lodge had been prohibited, such as Scottish Rite or York Rite emblems or a tapestry hung on a concrete block wall, but the brothers voted to allow it — including portraits of local Past Grand High Priests and Past Grand Commanders, of whom they are justly proud.

The West Virginia brothers were forward-looking and voted to do what they thought was right. There was jubilation at the passing of the Wheeling Reforms at grand lodge in 2006. That lasted for a matter of days. Then we returned to the rearview looking glass, the rearview mirror, as the ballot was declared illegal by my successor. The vote was scorned. In my opinion, the best word to describe what is now happening as a result is: repression.

Since the Wheeling Reforms were struck down, we have heard it said that, although race is not a legitimate factor to use to exclude a qualified visitor, wink-wink, the Worshipful Master has the duty to preserve the “peace and harmony” of the lodge. So, promote peace and harmony, but, wink-wink, do not consider the race of the visitor, wink-wink.

Did you lose a thumb while fighting for your country? Which one? The left? — sign here on this membership petition. The right? We have ancient usages and customs, and we cannot put up with your kind.

Do you want a Masonic funeral? Your grandsons are prohibited from being pall bearers unless they are all Master Masons. You must explain these Masonic laws to your widow so that we do not have to leave her sobbing in the funeral home. There is no problem if you want your remains to be cremated. However, if you want your ashes to be scattered, it is “undignified” and we must walk away from your mourners, because if anyone knows that the lodge is present as a group, we will be reprimanded, again.

If youth organizations are having problems, their problems are not our problems, so be extremely careful if you try to help the kids. If our deceased brother’s obituary mentions his request that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations should be made to a hometown hospice, which comforted and cared for him on his deathbed, then the proper action of the lodge is... send the flowers, because such charity is forbidden. We will not join the Masonic Service Association, as every other grand lodge in North America does, because it is soft on Prince Hall and they will send their publications and Short Talk Bulletins to our members without our control. We will not join the Northeast Conference of Grand Masters or any other such conference because they have ideas that conflict with our laws and mostly because those other grand lodges recognize Prince Hall Masonry.

Friends, I am proud of the Wheeling Reforms. They were distributed so that the Craft had them in their hands, in advance, in writing, most of them for the first time in their lives. We debated until the brothers voted to end debate. We voted on the merits. The Wheeling Reforms passed. They lasted — until the stroke of a pen. Dick Bosely politely but persistently sought and was denied answers about this, and because he took a little bit too much time to sit down and shut up, he was instantly stripped of his title as Deputy Grand Lecturer and two weeks later was summarily expelled, and his alleged offense was committed in the presence of the Grand Master of Ohio. I engaged in free speech saying, as quoted by Grand Master Montgomery, “the dream lives on and will not die.” Now I am left without free speech and without Freemasonry, but I still have the dream.

For my dreams, I have sustained the maximum Masonic punishment — expulsion. It hurts. It hurts a great deal. I hope that it is temporary. In another feat of Orwellian double think, my detractors have extended their hatred further by deleting my name from the website list of Past Grand Masters of West Virginia and throwing it down the memory hole. The Craft in West Virginia is a resilient bunch — Montani Semper Liberi, Mountaineers are always free. They are unsure of what to do and how. They want to do the right thing — and do that thing right, but those who would continue the repression have the upper hand for now. I do not have a call to mobilization to outline for you. I am on the outside now. Your brethren in West Virginia have voted to do what they think is right. By their votes, they made a positive statement about race relations in the fraternity. By their votes, they tried to help the kids. By their votes, they welcomed the handicapped into the Craft. By their votes, they were in favor of patriotic expression in the lodge. All for naught. We are one large fraternity divided into grand lodges. What happens to us reflects upon you. What happens to one group of your brothers affects the whole. We lecture about Masonry Universal. Search yourself, my brethren. You may find yourself with an opportunity to help, aid, and assist — not me — but your worthy brothers in West Virginia in ways, large or small. Will you go on foot and out of your way for them? You may be able to speak the truth to power. As Lincoln counseled, be on the side of the angels. Will you encourage, nourish, and cherish your brethren in the state with the second highest per capita Masonic membership with your concern and your prayers? If for nothing else but your concern and your prayers, the brethren of West Virginia will thank you, Masonry Universal will thank you, and I thank you for sticking your necks out for Freemasonry.

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  1. "In a similar fashion, the capital punishment of Masonry was meted out to me. Sentence first, verdict irrelevant, trial — well, details, details." - Haas

    The same thing happened in Georgia. While you were Grand Master of WV, what did you do to help your brothers in Georgia?

    "We are one large fraternity divided into grand lodges. What happens to us reflects upon you. What happens to one group of your brothers affects the whole." Haas

    Yep, but don't expect anyone from outside of WV to help you. They will find every excuse in the book to do nothing.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of the cold hard reality of mainstream Masonry Bro. Haas.

  2. Very simple, Jeff. Frank Haas has 100 times the class that you do. Frank did the heavy lifting to make serious, substantive changes in WV, within the system. He is a kind gentleman who doesn't stamp his feet and rant and rave when he doesn't get his way.

    What did he do to help his brothers in GEORGIA, for cryin' out loud? That's the gag line of the day. I think he was a little busy to worry about you. Astonishing, I know.

    I don't know what the answer is in WV. But I do know the kind of changes Haas wanted to make won't happen there or in Georgia or Alabama or Mississippi until the Masters of lodges who vote in Grand Lodge grow some balls and turn these good ol' boys out into the street who are keeping them in the 19th century.

  3. Just curious, Mr Roark, did you specifically ask for the assistance of the current Grand Master of WV when you were going through your tribulations? Did you email him? Phone him? What exactly did he know of your situation -- outside of online discussion, which is a complete non-starter even if he was exposed to it -- and when did he know it?

    Maybe I am just reading too much into this, but it seems as if you are inferring that he turned his back on you when you and your brothers reached out to him.

    Is that indeed the case?

    If not, then all you are doing is proving to me that perhaps you were never meant for masonry, regardless of its nationality or your generational ties.

    Brother Haas, I wish you all the best. Thank you for your courage in trying bring about change in a Grand Lodge that needs serious change. I applaud your courage and I look forward to the day that you walk back into the Grand Lodge of WV fully vindicated. Regardless of your status, I will always consider you a brother.

  4. Let me repeat Haas' words once again.

    "We are one large fraternity divided into grand lodges. What happens to us reflects upon you. What happens to one group of your brothers affects the whole." Haas

    Gee, didn't I say almost the exact same words back in 2005? Yep.

    Wasn't the RRCG being condemned for being too progressive and promoting racial equality? Yep.

    And, guess what? We were all expelled without trial too.

    So... what makes Hass so much better than the brothers here in Georgia? Is it that he was a Past Grand Master? Does this in some way make him better or more worthy than all of the young Master Masons who were expelled in Georgia? I don't think so.

    Haas is no better nor worse than anyone else. He is 100% correct in what he says above. The problem is that he didn't become concerned about such things until he was expelled too.

    Sure, feel free to take pot shots at me, but what about the other Master Masons in Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky and Virginia who have been treat ed just like Haas? What about them? Are they less worthy than Haas? Why?

    Until all of you wake up to the sad reality that all of you are potential victims of the same tyranny then nothing will ever improve in mainstream Masonry.

    You can bitch and whine about Haas all you want and it won't change a thing. The problem goes much deeper than Haas and West Virginia.

  5. Is there another song on this album?

    If mainstream Masons are so contemptible, so vile, so filled with evildoers, why do you keep trying to hang out with them, Jeffy?

  6. Look, lets not jump on Jeff too much, he is making a rhetorical and valid point... I will pause while you all put your jaws back in place.

    Of COURSE MW Haas did not do anything... lets look at the timeline... MW Haas was the Junior Grand Warden in WV at the time Jeff was expelled, not the GM, and you can be sure that Jeff knows this.

    His POINT, I think, is that he, like MW Haas, was expelled without the benefit of a trial, by fiat, with no recourse. I think this is too much power to invest in one man, ESPECIALLY without a review and appeal process.

    The good news is that this situation, of unrestrained revenge against political opponents, unmasonic as that whole concept IS, as a result is now known by more brethren than ever before, and is seen, increasingly, as untenable.

    Jeff, you should have faced a trial, been able to face your accusers and presented evidence and heard evidence before having a verdict brought in. NO ONE should be summarily ejected from the fraternity without this much, at the very least.

    Its kind of part of the obligation, as I see it.

    As to WHY no Grand Master leaped to your, or frankly, MW Hass' defense is because we all obey jurisdictional sovereignty... and frankly, no grand master wants to open the door to other GM's interfering in his Grand Lodge.

    I mean, my grand lodge is pretty progressive, and I don't imagine MY grand master would take it very well if several of the GMs got together and elbowed him over "allowing" French Lodges, Spanish Lodges, Armenian Lodges, Traditional Observance Lodges and so on because THEY felt those types of lodges were contrary to... whatever. (By the way, the French Lodge works the RED ritual first degree)

    And lets really be frank here... the situation in West Virginia will ONLY last as long as MW Montgomery.

    And NO ONE, Jeff, is making excuses about not acting, as you and I have discussed, WHAT action we should take has never been adequately defined. Its one thing to run around at 90 miles an hour with your hair on fire demanding action, but if you do not give people a direction, what can they do?

    I think you and MW Haas got ripped off. In both your cases, I do not think the grand lodges could have prevailed at a trial, so the GM's did the next "best" thing, acting within the law of the grand lodge, they simply expelled the trouble makers..

    At least neither of them whispered: will none of you rid me of this troublesome priest. Remember where that lead.

  7. Right on Bro. Theron, you get my point. :-)

    The present situation with Haas is a part of a larger and more complex problem. I'm not condemning the mainstream by saying this but pointing at the root of many of the problems: ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY.

    "The Burning Temper" wants a scapegoat (me) instead of a resolution to the problems.

    The most progressive and vocal brothers are being systematically removed from the fraternity without charges or trial.

    All this talk about the RRCG, UGLA and GOUSA being some kind of massive ego trip is nonsense. The RRCG was created to help retain young Masons who were stuck in non-progressive lodges. It provided a place for them to meet where no one would tell them "we've always done it this way."

    The UGLA was more a product of the Grand Lodge of Georgia than any one person. They expelled almost every Master Mason under 40 at Sandy Springs Lodge without charges or trial. This created an instant need for something new.

    If the Grand Lodge of Georgia had acted with honor and justice none of this would have happened. At the end of the day it is the mainstream Grand Lodges that are creating all of the new organizations through their own unethical actions. It's akin to Martin Luther telling the Pope "we've had enough, and we're not going to take it anymore!"

    Most Masons (including myself) would prefer to work together for the overall benefit of the Craft, but we have been forced into a position of rooting out the corruption and unethical conduct of some of the present leaders of the fraternity. It's not a job we wanted. It was forced upon us by the bad apples.

    The good mainstream Masons far outnumber the bad ones, but the good brothers have done too little to oppose the bad.

    Over the past several months more and more evidence of internal corruption has surfaced. More is to come. At what point do good men quit fighting among themselves and start working together for the overall benefit of the Craft?

  8. I think that the Grand Lodge should only be able to strongly recommend that a brother be expulled but the brother's lodge should have to vote on it and do the work.

    In our lodge, if a brother hasn't paid his dues in three or four years, he's contacted and asked how we might help, etc. and then if he says he's no longer interested or something similarly dismissive of his participation, he's suspended.

    Even then, it goes through vote in lodge and discussion and often we find reasons to cover his dues or wait another year.

    Why isn't it the same for the Grand Lodge? They're behavior should be exemplary not raise eyebrows.

    As I learn more and more about the politics of Grand Lodges I want less and less to do with them.

  9. HEADS UP!

    I just got an email that the Grand Lodge of Georgia is conducting another "witch hunt" for young Master Masons at the Atlanta Masonic Temple.

    This time they are filing charges and there will be a trial.

    BUT... the judges are all being appointed by their accuser!!!!!!

    Wow! How fair and just is that trial going to be? lol

    No one is immune to this type of corruption.

  10. Jeff isn't wrong in what he's saying. Sometimes he's brash, perhaps even abrasive, and the passion he expresses often makes him a convenient target, but his argument does have some merit.

    The sort of things that have happened to him and brother Haas, as well as countless others whose names we don't know, are clearly wrong. No one can defend such actions, yet pitifully few stand up to oppose them.

    That's a weakness in the fabric of Freemasonry; in a society based on the ideals of liberty and rule by majority vote, circumstances shouldn't exist that intimidate people from standing up for what they believe.

    How many generations of American veterans have given the ultimate sacrifice so that WE can maintain our right to freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly? Yet, if Masonry demands that we give up part of that freedom, doesn't it dishonor the memory of those who gave their lives to protect it?

    Brother Haas did indicate that he'd witnessed some Masonic injustice (unfair reprimands), and taken steps to reverse it. Such being the case, perhaps the implication that he didn't care about Masonic wrongdoing until it affected him personally, is a bit too harsh.

    That said, it isn't too harsh for the vast majority of Masons, who've never lifted a voice or a finger to oppose a Masonic wrong of any sort. No man is an island, and as the rights of one man are violated, the rights of ALL men are diminished.

    Although brother Haas did show concern for Masonic wrongdoing before he suffered it, I think it's safe to say he feels more passionately about it now. And who among us would be much different? Can those who've never been without food, truly understand what it's like to be hungry? Probably not. We see images and videos of starving people, but unless we've been there, we don't really know what it's like.

    So it is with injustice. Anyone can say they're opposed to it, or they feel sorry for those who've suffered it, but no one can truly understand it without being on the receiving end.

    Perhaps an interesting question for brother Haas, would be: "If you're allowed to rejoin the Masonic fraternity, will you sit down and shut up, forgetting about all the other brethren who've suffered similar fates, or will you dedicate yourself to promoting real truth and justice?"

    A few days ago, someone took me to task for my use of the word "corruption" when writing about Masonic wrongdoing. The definition of "corruption," is:

    "cor·rup·tion -- [noun]: (1) impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle; (2) inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means; (3) a departure from the original, or from what is pure or correct."

    Let us not deceive ourselves; subversion of justice, denial of due process, juries hand-picked by accusers, deprivation of rights and violations of federal law, are by definition examples of "corruption."

    There's no "middle ground" on that issue; there's no turning a blind eye, or saying "that isn't my job," or "it isn't any of my business what they do somewhere else."

    People are either sufficiently outraged by corruption to oppose it, or they approve of it sufficiently to participate in it, either through action or inaction.

    Which type of people are we?

    All these generations later, have we learned anything from the story of 12 Fellowcrafts who knew of a plot against a certain great and good man, yet chose to do nothing?

    -- Diogenes

  11. Theron Dunn writes:

    "Jeff ... should have faced a trial, been able to face [his] accusers .... NO ONE should be summarily ejected from the fraternity without this much, at the very least. Its kind of part of the obligation, as I see it."

    Maybe that's the way Masonic jurisprudence works in your state, but not in mine.

    Here in my (central US) jurisdiction, no Mason has a right to face his accuser(s). In fact, our Masonic code specifically says that the name of an accuser is NEVER to be divulged at any time, either before, during, or after a trial.

    It also says that a Grand Master can bring charges against any Mason in the jurisdiction when a lodge fails to do so, which basically means that if charges aren't already pending, a Grand Master can initiate them anytime he wants to.

    Then, where a Grand Master has preferred charges, he has the right to order a "change of venue" removing the trial from the lodge of the accused, and having it conducted at any place of his choice (and not necessarily at a lodge, or under ANY degree of Masonry, as trials are not considered "lodge functions").

    Along with the Grand Master's right to order a change of venue, he appoints a prosecutor and a 5-member Trial Committee to conduct the trial. He also appoints the members of the Board of Appeals and Grievances, so it isn't too surprising that the number of Masons who've ever been acquitted under such circumstances, or launched successful appeals, is a nice ROUND number.

    Theron writes:

    "I think [Jeff Peace] and MW Haas got ripped off. In both ... cases, I do not think the grand lodges could have prevailed at a trial, so the GM's did the next "best" thing, acting within the law of the grand lodge, they simply expelled the trouble makers."

    Obviously, Jeff Peace and PGM Haas got ripped off, but no worse than Masons here (and elsewhere, I believe) have been getting ripped off for years!

    Here, the Grand Master just does whatever he wants to, and if anybody says anything about it, he declares them "suspended pending trial," then has them kicked out according to the process described above.

    No one has ever been acquitted because the whole process is RIGGED from beginning to end, and after that same thing has gone on for decades, it goes without saying that the fraternity has been depleted of men who are willing to stand up for what they believe.

    Furthermore, our Masonic code says that Worshipful Masters can't be charged with un-Masonic conduct after leaving office, for anything they did while in office that had anything to do with their official duties. The same "exemption" has been claimed by Grand Masters, so that no charges can EVER be brought against any of them after their terms of office expire.

    Here, a Grand Master can literally bankrupt the treasury on his last day in office, and there isn't a thing anyone can [Masonically] do about it. I know that sounds absurd (and it clearly is), but that's the way Masonry is in my jurisdiction.

    What you apparently fail to realize, is that YOUR jurisdiction effectively "endorses" the corruption in my jurisdiction through their Masonic "recognition."

    Without that, Masons here could form a new grand lodge and wouldn't have to continue watching helplessly as Masonry is raped and pillaged. As long as other "mainstream" jurisdictions continue recognizing corrupt grand lodges, however, people like brothers Peace and Haas (and legions more) are going to continue getting nailed to Masonic crosses.

    -- Diogenes

  12. Diogenes;

    i do not know where you hale from, so I cannot address the substance of your claims with researched facts.

    I have agreed that Jeff and MW Haas got the short end of the stick, however, to claim it is de riguer in all of most grand lodges does not stand up to rational exam.

    It may happen in SOME GL's, and we seem to be on the same page regarding it not being right. HOWEVER, its hard to complain about right when its LEGAL according to the Masonic Code of the jurisdiction. Its also kind of hard to argue about right when the brethren of the jurisdiction do nothing to change it.

    You simply cannot tell me that a majority of brethren anywhere cannot force a GL to change practice! And to accuse the rest of us of doing nothing is really kind of... well, unfair.

    If YOU, a member of the GL do nothing, or claim you can do nothing, how on earth can you expect another brother to "do something" for you or in assistance of you?

    More, you are not defining even what that "something" is we are somehow supposed to do that you cannot do yourself! If you do not act because you are afraid, then you hardly have a claim on me to act as your surrogate.

    What, exactly, would you like to see the brethren not in your grand lodge do to "fix" this problem you have identified, because, as you noted, fairly, we do not have that problem here.

    Our trials are open to all master masons, and are reviewed by the Jurisprudence Committee before the trial starts and after the trial is completed. This review includes the correctness of the charges (they will reject them if they are frivolous and help rewrite them if just but badly written). At completion, they review the trail matters, evidence, and actions, and can, and have, sent it back for retrial if it was conducted badly or if the verdict is not supported by the facts, or even if the sentence is too severe for the matter before the trial.

    THEN, after all that is done, the accused has a right to appear before the grand lodge at the next grand communication and appeal the verdict to the grand lodge, and if a simple majority reject his conviction, its over. If a majority support it, whether he shows up to appeal or not, the sentence stands.

    Our Jurisprudence Committee designates the Trial master, and the trial can be held in the lodge that brings the charges, or the venue can be changed if there is some reason to believe he cannot get a fair trial in his lodge.

    Moreover, in three years, the brother can re-appeal the conviction and get a hearing, and again thereafter. Even an expulsion verdict can be set aside, and has been in the past. AND, my grand master cannot summarily expel someone.

    What you are describing is NOT corruption since the grand masters are acting within the scope of the rules of the grand lodge they oversee. Jeff was expelled according to the rules of his grand lodge, as was MW Haas.

    Was it an ABUSE of available power? Certainly. It was NOT corruption.

    Lastly, if the JW of a lodge is presented a complaint, upon which he is to perform an investigation and prefer charges IF HE DEEMS THEM APPROPRIATE. If he does not, it can be raised to the SW, who performs the VERY SAME INVESTIGATION AND EVALUATION. If HE does not prefer charges, it can be raised to the Master of the lodge.

    If the master does not prefer charges, it is presented to the Junior Grand Warden, who does exactly what the three previous brothers have done and so on through the Senior Grand Warden, Deputy Grand Master and to the Grand Master himself.

    It is my understanding that even the Grand Master must go through this process, and that he cannot, in and of himself, prefer charges without seeing the appropriate Junior Warden FIRST.

    I know it is not the same in all jurisdictions, but let me ask a really blunt question, since you implicitly accused many of us by writing YOUR jurisdiction effectively "endorses" the corruption in my jurisdiction

    What the heck do you want us to do, when YOUR BROTHERS do nothing yourselves? If the actions are so untenable, there is a swifter, easier solution than asking ALL OF US to variously ask our grand lodges to withdraw recognition (a process that could very well have WORSE consequences than not taking this action)...

    quit. Join a different grand lodge. Start an internet and written campaign to get your brothers in your jurisdiction to stand up to the Grand Lodge and force changes on them instead of looking to someone else to fix what is wrong in your own house...

    I am convinced more and more that withdrawing recognition, while swift, would not have the desired result, and would truly split freemasonry asunder.

    If its that bad, and you are afraid to raise your head lest it be chopped off, a la Jeff and MW Haas, then join another GL and dimit from yours. If enough brothers in your jurisdiction agree with you, and follow your lead, then in short order the GL will have no members, or will change their course.

    its really simple, and has the additional benefit of being something you can do.

  13. "You simply cannot tell me that a majority of brethren anywhere cannot force a GL to change practice!" - Theron

    Bro. Theron,

    Tim Bryce wrote an excellent paper on this subject.

    In Georgia it is virtually impossible to change the Code without the consent of the Past Grand Masters who sit on the Judicial Committee. They have the right (according to the Code) to reject any legislation before it is even submitted before the Grand Lodge.

    Needless to say, any legislation they don't like never makes it before the Grand Lodge.

    Apparently, a similar situation exists in Florida with Bro. Bryce.

    Since its the same group of guys and their buddies who hold all the power, it's more or less impossible to change anything.

    This is a BIG part of the problem faced by many brothers. There simply isn't any reasonable way to fight the system short of leaving it.

    These problems do not exist everywhere, but in the places where they do the brethren are screwed.

  14. Br. Jeff;

    Perhaps the system is rigged to prevent the brethren from presenting legislation, but you cannot tell me that if the grand lodge started getting inundated (not just 20 or a hundred, but INUNDATED) with letters demanding xyz be fixed, that the grand lodge would not react. They cannot, given the lowering numbers in some jurisdictions, simply whack the heads off of every brother that raises an objection. Heck, the letters don't even have to be signed, if you are so afraid of your own grand lodge!

    Or, given the proximity of the states here in the south, the brethren who are outraged by these problems could simply join the GL in a nearby jurisdiction, then dimit from their grand lodge. That type of loss would get the GLs attention, especially if it were a majority.

    The problem is, and lets be frank here, the real problem, the reason there is this demand for out brothers to step in a "force a change" is because the majority of the brethren in those grand lodges are happy with the state as it currently stands.

    Now, that may not be true in West Virginia, but its hard to tell on the internet, where two voices can have the same volume as a thousand in this echo chamber.

    I also want to ask about the apparent dichotomy of complaining about the interference in lodge sovereignty by the chartering grand lodge, and the apparent willingness, even demand, for other grand lodges to withdraw recognition to force YOUR grand lodge to comply with some practice that the majority of the brethren IN that grand lodge do not wish.

    I understand what you mean by rigged system, but what to one brother may appear rigged (5/6ths supermajority to get things changed?) may appear to another to be a tradition put in place to prevent willy nilly change to freemasonry by a tyrannical majority.

    MY grand lodge reviews all legislation submitted by the brethren prior to placing it on the ballot. They can set legislation aside if it is contrary to the traditions and ancient usages, or contrary to grand lodge's practices.

    So, for instance, legislation that would require the grand lodge to withdraw recognition of the 13 grand lodges that do not allow men of color to join would be set aside, because it violates the principle of grand lodge sovereignty. I compared it to the lack of a bible in France as a reason to withdraw recognition, and was told that one is a landmark, having a VSL, while the other, allowing men of color to join, is not.

    The same applies to the application of legal actions. The GMs in West Virginia and Georgia are allowed by the masonic code in their jurisdiction, to expel brothers without a trial or appeal. I think that is too much power in one man's hands, and that IF the GM is to have that power, the constitution should require that power to be balanced by an appeals process AND a vote of the majority of the brethren at the following communication.

    But that's just my opinion.

    Basically, you can't have it both ways. Either the lodge/grand lodge is sovereign, or its not. If your philosophy is control at the lowest level, then you cannot ask another grand lodge to force a grand lodge to take some action, no matter how laudable the action.

    What's wrong locally is wrong globally.

  15. The problem is, and lets be frank here, the real problem, the reason there is this demand for out brothers to step in a "force a change" is because the majority of the brethren in those grand lodges are happy with the state as it currently stands.

    Well, I don't know about happy. But I do have to ask why a majority of the brethren in a jurisdiction will tolerate this. Is it because
    a) They really are satisfied with the system?
    b) They're afraid of being expelled?
    c) Don't care enough to make waves?

    I've heard a number of times about how nobody wants to stand up for fear of losing their membership. This makes me question further: What is it about being tossed out of an organization with which you are already at odds that prevents some people from acting?

    Find that answer, and you'll discover why the GL is not inundated with letters from members who really want change.

  16. This makes me question further: What is it about being tossed out of an organization with which you are already at odds that prevents some people from acting?

    Excellent question Brother.

    To me, the problem is that too many masons wear their masonic credentials like a badge of honor. It defines them when in reality it should humble them. These Brothers have bought into the concept that no matter how bad a situation is, it is far better to belong to an fraternity that has lineage to greatness as opposed to being a part of an organization that dismantles that legacy on a daily basis.

    Personally, if what happened to PGM Haas occurred in my neck of the woods, I would feel compelled to hit every stated meeting in the state that I possibly could and tell my brothers that we need to vote with our feet - either redress the wrong or demit. If that gets me expelled, then so be it, as the organization that I joined is obviously a fraud and has very little to do with bringing out the best in the heart, mind and soul of men.

    As for me, my status as a Freemason does not define me. If it did, then I lost its message.

  17. Theron Dunn writes:

    "I have agreed that Jeff and MW Haas got the short end of the stick, however, to claim it is de riguer in ... most grand lodges does not stand up to rational exam."

    I've never claimed that corruption reigns in "most" grand lodges. In fact, I certainly hope that isn't the case, but if it isn't, it seems prudent to me that "upright" grand lodges should want to distance themselves from corrupt ones, in order to prevent the spread of that corruption.

    Theron writes:

    "It may happen in SOME GL's, and we seem to be on the same page regarding it not being right. HOWEVER, its hard to complain about right when its LEGAL according to the Masonic Code of the jurisdiction. Its also kind of hard to argue about right when the brethren of the jurisdiction do nothing to change it."

    In my case (and many others), the brethren within the jurisdiction CAN'T do anything about it. When they attempt to introduce reforms at grand lodge sessions, their resolutions are simply declared "out of order," or "not for the good of Masonry," and no one is allowed to vote on them. Furthermore, Masons who introduce progressive legislation, are often targeted and expelled from the fraternity before they get a chance to do it again.

    Theron writes:

    "You simply cannot tell me that a majority of brethren anywhere cannot force a GL to change practice!"

    I can see that you have a great deal of trouble believing that, but it's obviously true in many places. It's true in West Virginia, for example, where the majority vote for progressive change by brother Haas, was simply declared null and void. It's also true in my jurisdiction, where (among countless other wrongs) our Grand Master ordered that a resolution to investigate the possibility of recognizing Prince Hall Masonry, be stricken from the grand lodge record and never spoken of again.

    Theron writes:

    "If YOU, a member of the GL do nothing, or claim you can do nothing, how on earth can you expect another brother to "do something" for you or in assistance of you?"

    Other brethren (hopefully) aren't working under the same sort of restrictions we are. The logic of your statement above is like saying: "If you're drowning and can't help yourself, how can you expect someone in a boat to help?"

    Here, we have no real power in our Masonic government, and are in essentially the same shape as oppressed people all over the world (in pre-war Iraq, Tibet, Cuba, etc.), who lack sufficient power to take control of their own destiny.

    Theron writes:

    "More, you are not defining even what that 'something' is we are somehow supposed to do that you cannot do yourself! ... What, exactly, would you like to see ... to "fix" this problem you have identified?"

    As I've said before, first spread the truth so that it becomes "common knowledge." If you go alone to your Grand Master with concerns of wrongdoing, he may think it's not a significant problem, but if a whole bunch of Masons from all over the country start discussing the same issues with their Grand Masters, perhaps the magnitude of the problem might become more apparent.

    Once the issue has been recognized, introduce legislation to establish "MINIMUM STANDARDS" for your grand lodge to maintain official recognition of other grand lodges.

    For example, if you believe that Masonry should be open to men of all races, should your grand lodge maintain fraternal relations with grand lodges that don't espouse (or exhibit) that belief? If not, then why not introduce legislation to retract that "endorsement?"

    Theron writes:

    "If its that bad, and you are afraid to raise your head lest it be chopped off, a la Jeff and MW Haas, then join another GL and dimit from yours. If enough brothers in your jurisdiction agree with you, and follow your lead, then in short order the GL will have no members, or will change their course. It's really simple, and has the additional benefit of being something you can do."

    No, it isn't something I can do, and I don't believe it's an option available to most American Masons.

    I'm not sure about Masonic law in other jurisdictions, but in mine, one must be a legal resident of the state in order to join a lodge in our jurisdiction. I believe that's universal (or almost universal) across the US, which means that people living in one jurisdiction, can't simply dimit from their own grand lodges join ones in other states.

    A few years ago, several men from a US jurisdiction that didn't offer one-day Masonic classes, flew to a US jurisdiction that did, and returned to their own jurisdictions the following day as newly made Master Masons. The grand lodge within whose jurisdiction they resided, immediately complained to the grand lodge where the men had traveled, and forced the nullification of the men's Masonic degrees.

    If what you say about Masonic rights and procedures in your grand lodge is true, it sounds to me like California is a Masonic paradise. I'd do cartwheels to join a jurisdiction like that, but even if your grand lodge allowed it, MY grand lodge wouldn't, and I'd afterwards be prohibited from attending lodges in my own local area.

    It simply isn't practical for me to quit my job, sell my home, and uproot my family in order to move to a place where Masonry is better. The more pragmatic alternative would be to improve Masonry here, but just like brother Haas, we can no more do that, than a man standing in a bucket can pull himself up by the bail!

    We need some help, and I personally know a LOT of brothers in various Masonic jurisdictions across the US, who are in basically the same predicament.

    -- Diogenes

  18. "I'm not sure about Masonic law in other jurisdictions, but in mine, one must be a legal resident of the state in order to join a lodge in our jurisdiction." - Diogenes

    I know some brothers in Georgia that wanted to move their membership to Ohio. (They were not expelled and still had dues cards.) The GLO wouldn't let them join because they were not residents of Ohio.

  19. Tom Accousti writes:

    "I do have to ask why a majority of the brethren in a jurisdiction will tolerate [Masonic corruption, injustice, racism, etc.]. Is it because:

    a) They really are satisfied with the system?
    b) They're afraid of being expelled?
    c) Don't care enough to make waves?"

    It's actually: (d) They simply don't know.

    A wise man once said words to the effect of: "Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by ignorance," and such is surely the case at hand.

    The majority of "mainstream" Masons haven't been active in lodge for years (if ever), and they have no idea what's really going on in their grand lodges. It's not a matter of approval, it's a matter of apathy and the resulting ignorance.

    Out of 100 randomly selected "mainstream" Masons, not more than 10 would be able to name the current Worshipful Master of their own blue lodge, and not more than 5 would be able to name their current Grand Master. Fewer than 1 percent have ever owned a copy of their "Digest of Laws," and not more than 1 out of 5 of those have read it enough to become knowledgeable about it.

    When you crunch those numbers, it means that for every 25,000 Masons, there are about 50 who actually know their own Masonic laws well enough to form an educated opinion about them. As a result, ignorance is a huge factor in "mainstream" American Masonry, and I don't think that's an accident; I think it's actually promoted in many grand jurisdictions.

    Here in my jurisdiction, for example, initiates are required to learn archaic "lectures," but no one is ever required (or even encouraged) to learn Masonic law. The grand lodge doesn't want anybody to know much about it, because knowledge is power, and lack of it keeps average Masons powerless.

    Unfortunately, that's the real reason brother Tim Bryce has been silenced, and brother Jeff Peace and his associates have been kicked out. They were educating the membership in ways their grand lodges didn't want them to be, so their grand lodges simply removed the means of education.

    -- Diogenes

  20. My experiences taught me that most males in the frat are actual cowards.

    The resistance and fear I met with when asking for "help" in my situation was nothing I had experienced before. The way these males used "masonic career" as a reason as not to do anything and try to influence my involvement really disappointed me about a fraternity that spawned Revolutionaries. It was at that point I realized I had joined the wrong group of Masonry

    the masonry and males I experienced were nothing like our forefathers, and that was one of the reasons why I joined in the first place.

    False advertisement at its finest.

  21. LVX:
    If that gets me expelled, then so be it,

    I agree with you - mostly. But I do frequently ask myself how I would react if such a situation occurred in Conn, and I find that in general I think that I would try to continue to work from within the system to effect change.

    Well... I guess I would if I believed strongly enough in the rest of the institution. And herein lies the rub. Are members so proud of being Masons that they would be unwilling to give up their membership in the face of such abuse of power? Maybe.

    I think that if I were as disenchanted and embittered as some of the writers 'round these parts, I'd probably just quit and find a better use for my time and talents.

  22. Diogenes, I do agree that most Masons have no idea about the laws and regulations of the GL and how it applies to them. Few people really want to pick up a rules & regulations book and read through the nonsense. Happens all the time here in Conn, which is why we require new WMs to attend a seminar and to take a test which draws on some of the regs.

    And I have long contended that it's 10% of the members doing 90% of the work, but that's true of most volunteer organizations.

    I don't know what some states can do if the GL requires a committee of PGMs to review all potential legislation; it seems like it would be difficult to change the books in such a way as to give the GL less power, doesn't it?

  23. "Christ himself when upon earth, said: "I came not to bring peace, but a
    sword," for it was evident to Him that as long as humanity(Freemasonry) was divided into
    races and nations(Regular,Irregular and clandestine) there could be no "peace on earth and good will among
    men(Freemasons)." Only when the nations(Grand Lodges) have become united in a universal brotherhood
    is peace possible. The barriers of nationalism(jurisdiction and regularity) must be done away with, and
    to this end the United States of America(The Grand Orient of the United States of America) has been made a melting pot where
    all that is best in the old nations(Freemasonry) is being brought together and amalgamated, so that A NEW RACE WITH HIGHER IDEALS AND FEELINGS OF UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD MAY BE BORN FOR THE AQUARIAN AGE. In the meantime the barriers of
    nationalism(segregation and division) have been partially broken down in Europe by the terrible conflict just past(WW I). This brings nearer the day of universal amity and the realization of the Brotherhood of Man."

    Max Heindel

  24. 1783 The Revolutionary War was fought and concluded when Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown. As Americans we have been taught that we defeated the king and won our freedom. The Treaty of 1783, which totally contradicts our having won the Revolutionary War. This Treaty was signed in 1783, the war was over in 1781. If the United States defeated England, how is the king granting rights to America, when we were now his equal in status? We supposedly defeated him in the Revolutionary War! So why would these supposed patriot Americans sign such a Treaty, when they knew that this would void any sovereignty gained by the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War? The United States is still a British Colony

    1785 President George Washington, in a letter written to the Reverend G. W. Snyder: "Reverend, Sir, it was not my intention to doubt that the doctrine of the Illuminati -- the principles of Jacobinism -- had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more satisfied of this fact than I am." Shortly before he died, President Washington was well aware that the Adam Weishaupt radical brand of Freemasonry, the Illuminati, had spread its poison to America.

    "It doesn't matter who the people voted for; they always vote for us".

    - Illuminati Statement -

  25. ""Christ himself when upon earth, said: "I came not to bring peace, but a sword,"

    Just a poor translation; he said he came to bring a 'division'. Yes, as Freemasons we are here to divide ourselves from those who do not wish to improve themselves and those who improve themselves by following error because they cannot figure out how to measure by the plumb. Not everything that looks useful is. A brick made of sugar (looks all nice and sweet) has no substance for the long haul.

  26. "I respect that fidelity."

    This was a great speech. I join Brother Haas in his hopes for Freemasonry. We have seen things change greatly in a short amount of time, and for the better. This will continue to happen in the future.

  27. Grand Lodge Systems
    Grand Lodge Systems, or the centralization of capital and political power in a Democratic, Sovereign Fraternal System, is the means by which they promulgate their antithetical Hegelian or fascist ideologies. The “recognition and territorial rules” are a vehicle of the policy
    of Grand Lodge Systems centralization. The Grand Lodge Systems recognize that a member will work harder if he
    believes he is free and working for himself or his Lodge and Brothers. So, even though the liberty of
    free speech grants masons the ability to criticize the Grand Lodge Systems movement, it only
    serves to create a powerful illusion of self-determination for which members will and do
    mindlessly throw their memberships away in the service of a few men(GL’s).
    It is no wonder, for the Bible indicates that the love of money (Titles, Hats and Chains) is the root of all
    kinds of evil. As long as the ideologies manipulating freedoms are manufactured and
    tightly controlled by the Grand Lodge Systems, even real liberties are not threatening because most
    masons simply do not recognize the illusion or they ignore it. Thus, even real liberties are
    not exercised, but are viewed as privileges granted by the grace of Grand Lodge Systems, rather than as
    God-given, innate rights. The Grand Lodge Systems don’t care if their subjects are Master Masons, York Rite, Scottish Rite, Shriners, etc.; so long as they subscribe to the Hobson’s Choice, they are slaves in both mind and body.
    “From the conclusion of this war we shall be going downhill. It will not then be necessary
    to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and
    their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making
    money(Titles, Hats and Chains), and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The
    shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will
    remain on us long, will be made heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a
    convulsion.” Thomas Jefferson
    Recalling that the aims of the British Empire are the best example of what the
    Grand Lodge Systems hope to achieve, reviewing the circumstances surrounding the
    De-recognition of France is paramount to understanding the nature and purpose of
    Grand Lodge Systems, which is now established in every ostensibly democratic nation on the planet.
    The UGLE of 1813 was not just the first major masonic and political success of the
    The Grand Lodge Systems; it was also the attempt to begin the usurpation of total control of the world’s
    Masonic power from the French and rest of the Independent Freemasonic Globe. This process will finally culminate in the destruction
    of the existing Freemasonic Non-UGLE world led by the United Grand Lodge Systems which is most responsible for
    stealing it from the Free and Modern Craft.
    A holy war will now begin on America, and when it is ended America will be supposedly
    the citadel of freedom, but her millions will unknowingly be loyal subjects to the Crown
    [. . .] in less than two hundred years the whole nation will be working for divine world
    government. That government that they believe to be divine will be the British Empire.
    All religions will be permeated with Judaism without even being noticed by the masses (the craft),
    and they will all be under the invisible all-seeing eye of the Grand Architect of
    Freemasonry (Grand Lodge Systems). Charles Cornwallis

  28. “O, ‘tis excellent To have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous To use it like a giant!”

    Hello Monty

  29. A law suit has been filed against Charlie Montgomery GM and Chuck Colman PGM, The Grand Lodge of West Virginia and Joe Doe, for unspecified damages by Frank Haas.



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