A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed? Is it possible?

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by cemab4y, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. Beathard

    Beathard Premium Member

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    There is a Masonic law book in Texas. There are procedures that can be used to fix problems. If a GM goes crazy, vote some leadership into office to fix the issue. We don't need more rules. There are plenty already...
     
  2. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    Please do not think, that anyone here is "picking on" Texas, or any other jurisdiction. If everything is fine ,in the Lone Star State, then you do not need a bill of rights. Sadly, there have been some events in other states, where the Grand Master, has not been acting, properly, according to the existing constitution and by-laws of his state. Some people feel, that an additional "leash" may be required, in some cases. Stay tuned.
     
  3. jwhoff

    jwhoff Premium Member

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    I'd like to see the Grand Lodge of England consider pulling recognition from a few of the jurisdictions in question. That would, or should, tone down some of the abuses.
     
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  4. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    I would love to see a "Task Force" be assembled, sponsored by some organization, outside of Craft Masonry. Representatives from all Grand Lodges, nationwide, could be assembled. Various topics could be investigated, such as what would go into a "Bill of Rights". Then a report could be issued, and the various Grand Lodges could consider the proposals, and if possible, implement them.
     
  5. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    I just want to say, that I am not some kind of "judge" or "law-giver". I have no special ability to decide what is right for every Grand Lodge in the USA. I believe that we are all "on the level", and our obligations should guide us accordingly. If masons are satisfied with how the Grand Lodge is run in their state of residence, then that is terrific! I wish all Masons were thrilled with how their Grand Lodges operate. I wish that all Grand Lodge officers were men of integrity, and were selfless and above reproach. I pray for this every day.

    But sadly, there are cases, of Masons being treated unfairly and unMasonically, by persons in positions of authority. It may be time, for Masons (in some states), to demand more accountability, and to have a greater transparency, and to hold their Grand Lodge officers to a higher standard.

    Will a "Bill of Rights" accomplish this? I don't know. If I could predict the future, I would quit being an engineer, and open up a 1-900 psychic hot line.
     
  6. bgs942

    bgs942 Premium Member

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    To plagiarize; "Holding a position of Leadership does not a Leader make". The Leadership of any governing body sometimes forgets, or is not willing, or lacks the competence to understand that no organization can rise above the constraints of its Leader/Leadership.
     
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  7. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    Bro BGS, I wish that every Masonic officer, at the lodge and Grand Lodge officer, would take that to heart! Anyone in a position of Masonic leadership, needs to realize, that the power temporarily held by the man, is given only at the consent of the governed. And Masonic leaders, are really SERVANTS of the membership.

    "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely"- Lord Acton
     
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  8. bgs942

    bgs942 Premium Member

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    Yes, Leadership is not about the Leader..........Its about who the leader serves.
     
  9. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    Re: A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed? Is i

    bump.

    I am fascinated with your opinions. Do you think Grand Lodges should adopt a bill of rights?
     
  10. Plustax

    Plustax Registered User

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    Re: A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed? Is i

    Wow... Arkansas continues to have Grand Lodge leadership problems. When will that infrastfucture be taken down and rebuilt again? How much longer will this embaressment continue? Sad times for Arkansas masons....
     
  11. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    Re: A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed? Is i

    The situation in Arkansas is indeed an embarrassment. If some USA Grand Lodges would withdraw fraternal relations, and the Mother Grand Lodge in England would withdraw, maybe some changes would occur.
     
  12. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    Re: A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed? Is i

    Last year the GM of Florida went nuts issuing an edict of religious bigotry. Indiana at least voted to pull recognition if it was ratified. I had legislation documents circulating in both California and Illinois to put that on the agenda at GL to do the same. Florida at their annual communication voted down the edict. Threatening to pull recognition works when it's about our basic principles.

    On the other hand France had a feud among the grand line officers that was worse than the events in Arkansas (and West Virginia a few years before). The Conference of Grand Masters recommended pulling recognition. I was at Illinois GL when our GM recommended giving them another year before pulling recognition and we voted per his recommendation. The delegates at GL tend to be generous when faced with a vote to pull recognition over what can be viewed as personal pique.

    Should pulling recognition come up for a vote in either of the jurisdictions I could potentially vote, I think I would vote to pull. Having seen such a vote in the past I understand that my vote may well be in the minority.

    Another recognition issue - I wonder if it's time for various GLs to start offering recognition to PHA GLs in some of the states that still don't recognize? I have no idea if external pressure would help. I remember at least one state pulling recognition in retaliation when recognition first happened but that didn't last and they have long since relented.
     
  13. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    Re: A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed? Is i

    What shenanigans are going on in Arkansas now?

    Anyhow, to address the topic...are we speaking about a BoR for each GL or a 'blanket BoR' that applies to many GLs? I don't see many GLs all agreeing on the content for a 'blanket BoR' while BoRs unique to each GL will likely end up being shaped by the mentality of the Grand Officers...which might defeat the purpose as well.

    What's really going through my mind right now is what those in favor of a BoR would include in it? I'll admit that I'm on the fence about the matter but maybe if myself and others could have a peek at it's contents it'd help us reach better conclusions.
     
  14. Bro Darren

    Bro Darren Premium Member

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    Re: A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed? Is i

    I guess the biggest concern for the "troubled" states is that the GL would be the one writing up these BoR's and it could work against the general masonic community and the Fraternity in general. Its a sad display when those in power go against the core values of masonry and act against their own obligations that they took through their degrees. If the GL openly displays a total disregard for the core principles of the craft, maybe the unrecognition of that GL is a possible corse of action from the UGLE.

    As a new Mason, i hold the fundamental EA obligations to heart and it saddens me to hear that there are GL's that go against these core fundamentals that set Freemasons apart. We are suppose to be Men of good standing, on the level and of strong moral values were all Brothers are equal regardless of Race, Creed or Faith and should be treated as such.

    But back to the BoR's - Maybe something drafted by the UGLE is the best place to start as this should be totally unbiased and GL offices in "troubled states" can not influence them. We maybe Freemasons, but we are human and as much as we would love to have honest men on the level, this will not always be the case.
     
  15. JohnnyFlotsam

    JohnnyFlotsam Premium Member

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    Re: A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed? Is i

    I would very much like to believe that we could come up with such a document, but it is the human failings that would torpedo any such effort right from the start. Fear, ignorance, and personal biases would throw a giant wrench into things early on. Hell, we can't even agree on "The Landmarks", much less on what they actually mean, so to think that we could all agree on something that would effectively supplant at least some of those "carved in stone" rules (not to mention adding new ones) seems like a pipe dream.
     
  16. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    Re: A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed? Is i

    Drafting a "model" bill of rights, would not be a difficult task. Just go back about 5-10 years, and examine all of the abuses and usurpations which grand Lodges and Grand Masters have perpetrated.

    Getting such a bill of rights adopted, would be another matter. Only if masons who are convinced that a problem exist would ever want to work towards a solution. (If it ain't broke, don't fix it mentality).

    The only way a Bill of Rights would ever get adopted, is to draft a "model" bill of rights, and then submit it to every Grand Lodge. Then the membership of the various grand lodges, could "tweak" the model to their own needs.

    In 1215, King John of England was abusing the power his office. The "magna carta", was drafted, and various rights of Englishmen were set down. King John did not want to sign the document, but after persuasion he did. The story is, that after signing, he fell down on the floor, and chewed straw, because he was so angry. But the magna carta, established and codified rights, that we now take for granted, such as the right to post bail to guarantee a court appearance, and the right of "habeas corpus", which ended the King's power to imprison political opponents.

    It will take a great deal of courage, and convincing to get any Grand Lodge to recognize and codify the basic rights of Masons. I believe sincerely, that most Grand Masters and Grand officers, are men of integrity, who donate many thousands of man-hours to our craft, and are serving Masonry well and faithfully. Sadly, there are grand officers who are "control freaks", and are blatantly violating their own by-laws and constitutions, by performing such actions as expelling Masons on a whim, shutting down clubs without authority, performing "kangaroo courts", declaring organizations "non-Masonic" without justification, and on and on.

    The time has come for Masons, to demand that their leadership exercise power on behalf of the membership, and to be held to a high standard.

    "It does not take a majority to effect change, but an irate and tireless minority, keen to light brushfires in people's minds" - Samuel Adams, patriot and revolutionary (not a mason).
     
  17. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    Re: A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed? Is i

    In every jurisdiction I know the members of the GL are the ones who write most legislation- JW, SW, MW, PM in the lodge.

    In every jurisdiction I know brothers who report to the GM can write legislation and often do, but that's a minority of the proposals in most years. In ever jurisdiction I know the GM submits recommendations that are treated as proposals as well. Do not confuse the fact that those in the GM's chain of command write legislation with the fact that legislation standardly comes from the representatives.
     
  18. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    Re: A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed? Is i

    There are only a couple of changes that would make grand lines work within the rules I suspect.

    Most of the recent abuses have been based on the notion that if a GM has the authority to "make a Mason on site" as a landmark he can have the power (power and authority are not the same things) to "unmake" a Mason. If a GM could not expel a brother without a trial at the lodge level (NOT the GL level) many abuses of the last two decades might not have happened. I wonder what would happen if some brothers had stood up and said "This is not within your authority. We will not expel our brother without a trail at the lodge level first". A GM can pull a charter but such an act is very unlikely to survive a vote at GL except for a lodge that dies naturally.

    Most of the rest of the problems have been over a GM expelling elected members of his grand line. Again this is a matter of power and authority not being the same thing. I wonder what would have happened if an expelled member of a grand line had said "I was elected at GL. Take your issue up at the next annual communication. You do not have the authority to remove me from an elected position".

    In both cases entire Masonic careers would be on the line but they were anyways.

    At least one case recently was an out of control GM using an edict in conflict with our principles of religious freedom. His edict was voted down in flames. That situation worked out as it should have so I don't think further legislation is needed.

    So I think a GM should not be able to unmake a Mason without a lodge level trail or due process code (a number of GLs eject on felony conviction) and a GM should not be able to remove an elected GL officer. Submit legislation to that effect and a GM would recommend against it, the committee on legislation would recommend against it, but would it pass? The vote itself is not up to either.
     
  19. JohnnyFlotsam

    JohnnyFlotsam Premium Member

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    Re: A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed? Is i


    Nailed it.
     
  20. Zack

    Zack Registered User

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    Re: A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed? Is i

    Most of the recent abuses have been based on the notion that if a GM has the authority to "make a Mason on site" as a landmark he can have the power (power and authority are not the same things) to "unmake" a Mason.

    For whatever it's worth. I have read this on several different occasions. I can't speak for any other jurisdiction, but in mine, it is "at sight" not "on site".
    Two entirely different words with two different meanings.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2014

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