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

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

  1. crono782

    crono782 Premium Member

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

    I've heard "at sight" before and took the meaning to be the same as the aforementioned "on sight", just worded different. They are different?
     
  2. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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

    Thank you for noticing my word substitution typo. I have read the landmark phrased "on sight" and "at sight" so that part is not a typo. My use of the location word "site" was in error.
     
  3. Zack

    Zack Registered User

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

    I didn't mean it as criticism. I have read it many times on different forums.
    Regardless, your post was on point.
     
  4. crono782

    crono782 Premium Member

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

    Oh, doh. I misinterpreted the meaning of your post. I gotcha now, hah.
     
  5. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    BUMP. I would like to discuss this topic some more.
     
  6. Raymond Walters

    Raymond Walters Premium Member

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    I think you raise a valid point here, though I AM still curious as to why those who have become part of this fraternal organization are unable to conform to our rules, and why other members don't privately chastise those members (or leaders) who do not follow our rules.

    In 25 years I have seen a lot of what I would term foolishness being exhibited by so-called leaders of our Grand Lodges. I started out in 1988 being subjected to a doctrine of separate & un-equal by being told that I could NOT petition a mainstream lodge, and that I must petition a Prince Hall lodge because my mother was Black... still makes NO sense to me even today.

    I spent 10 years as a member of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge's of North Carolina, Ohio & South Carolina, often mistreated by other Blacks because my views and life experiences didn't match up with theirs or what they felt mine should be. During that 10 years, I submitted a petition to a Lodge under the Grand Lodge of North Carolina (1995), only to be rejected at the ballot box. The explanation given was that the lodge wasn't ready for a Black member. Really? So once again, my physical appearance was being used to make a decision about my fitness for membership.

    I left Prince Hall Grand Lodge of South Carolina in 2000 and petitioned mainstream Grand Lodge of Texas in 2001 (where I was living then), only to be accepted by my lodge members but unwelcome in other subordinate lodges warranted by the Grand Lodge of Texas as a visitor... something that the Masonic Code of the Grand Lodge of Texas specifically forbids. When I (WM and Past Master's of my lodge) complained about the mistreatment, it was swept under the rug and over-looked by Grand Lodge of Texas officers from 2001-2005. I eventually requested a demit and moved on with my life, still holding membership in Grand Lodge of North Carolina where I had held membership as a dual member in the same lodge that denied me membership in 1995.

    I leave Texas, return home to West Virginia so that I can be degraded by persons claiming to be Freemasons when attempting to visit a lodge in West Virginia. As my visitation was denied for what I felt were un-Masonic grounds, I lodged a complaint; first with my Grand Lodge, and then with the Grand Lodge of West Virginia.

    At that time (2005-06), MW Br. Frank Haas was Grand Master and he acted on my complaint. PGM Haas sought to make positive, progressive changes in his grand lodges code, which he did accomplish. Every change voted on was over-turned by his successor, and there is now an informal agreement that if one wishes to serve as a Grand Lodge of West Virginia officer, one will not permit any Blacks in lodges regardless of what jurisdiction they are from that Grand Lodge of West Virginia may be in amity with.

    To this day I AM unwelcome as a visitor of subordinate lodges warranted under the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, am unable to visit lodges in eastern Ohio that border West Virginia or visit lodges in western Pennsylvania for the same reason I AM denied visitation in West Virginia. I have been back in the area I was raised in since 2005, it is now 2014... that is 9 years of being excluded & ostracized for no legitimate reason. I have NOT been suspended or expelled, but then when you want to create difficulty for an individual, you will find a way to do it.

    My present lodge and Grand Lodge are uncertain what to make of all of this negativity we tend to deal with in American Freemasonry. I was outdone with it all a long time ago.

    What came out of the PGM Frank Haas lawsuit against the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, (which coincided with my presence here) was that our current regulations form a contract with our membership, and that the contract must be honored by our Grand Lodges and its officers. I was denied visitation for an un-Masonic reason which violated my masonic rights and privileges, so I had legitimate reason to complain. Had I simply been told that today wasn't a good day to visit, I could have accepted that better than being told that "wasn't no niggers coming into this lodge"!

    I adamantly feel that whatever needs done should be done to guarantee or protect an individual Freemasons rights under Masonic regulations because I have seen too many good men (myself included) mistreated for NO real reason.

    This foolishness has to stop, and Freemasons need to stand for what is right, even when it isn't popular. Ego and vanity have taken over so that many of us are more concerned with obtaining a position or a title than in standing for what is morally correct, something we freely obligated ourselves to do at all times, not just when it is convenient.

    Fraternally,
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
  7. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    I am convinced that most of the men who are in Grand Offices, are men of integrity. Many of these fine men, have devoted years to the fraternity, and I am grateful for their service. Unhappily, not all of our Grand Officers meet the expectations that we have for them. There have been incidents in New Jersey, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Texas, and other Grand Lodges, which have been an embarrassment to Freemasonry. (Please do not think that I am picking on any one individual, or any one Grand Lodge).

    Although we are all obligated to meet our Masonic oaths, there are cases where this does not happen. Unhappily, Grand Officers sometimes act improperly, and in defiance of their own Grand Lodge regulations. The situation in Arkansas, with respect to the Shrine, makes me particularly sad. ( I am an inactive Shriner). The situation in West Virginia, where PGM Frank Haas was able to institute several excellent reforms (Often called the "Wheeling reforms"), is also a stain on the fraternity.

    I believe that part of the solution, is for Grand Lodges to institute a "Bill of Rights", where individual Masons will be treated with respect and decorum. Call it a "leash" on the Grand Lodges. Grand Officers should be held strictly accountable to the constitution and by-laws of their respective Grand Lodges, and not be permitted to rule at whim.

    "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" -Lord Acton
     
  8. NY.Light

    NY.Light Registered User

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    To draw a quick historical parallel, when the Bill of Rights were ratified in the United States (the first 10 constitutional amendments), until a case under the Marshall court (can't recall atm which case it was; perhaps Dartmouth College?), the Bill of Rights were understood to ensure the rights of the individual. After whichever case it was, the Bill of Rights was expanded in constitutional understanding and practice to protect corporations (the roots of the Citizens United decision). So how is all this relevant?

    First, should a Masonic bill of rights be a separate proposed legislative motion, or an amendment to the grand constitution? Second, if one GL passes is these proposals, would it affect regularity with other GL's? Third, are they protections for individuals masons or lodges of masons?

    Some questions to ruminate on...
     
  9. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    Interesting ideas, and good questions. There were originally 12 amendments proposed. The first ten were ratified in 1791, and the twelfth proposed amendment did not get ratified until the 1970's (The 27th, dealing with congressional salary increases). Nevertheless, the purpose of the bill of rights, was to put "check" on the power of government. (example: Congress shall make no law...) . The various amendments apply to individuals ( right of silence in the 5th) and sometimes to states (The 10th).

    There are several ways to initiate a masonic bill of rights. One way is for a commission or committee composed of individuals from across the USA, to draft a "model" bill of rights. This draft would then serve as a guide to the individual Grand Lodges. Grand Lodges would then implement which provisions they chose, and even add additional provisions as they saw fit.

    The bill of rights could be added to the state Grand Lodge's constitution and by-laws in the form of amendments. Maybe in some states, the individual rights could be added by the legislative process.

    I do not see an issue with "regularity". Not all states will adopt the model bill of rights, verbatim. It is analogous to the issue of granting Masonic membership to men who are 18 or 21. In some states, the minimum age is 18, some it is 21. The different states still recognize each other as regular.

    And the specific rights would apply to either individual masons, or to lodges, or sometimes both.

    Example: The right of Masons to consult with Masons and Grand Lodges outside their jurisdiction to obtain advice and counsel. (This right would apply to individual Masons, some states currently do NOT permit masons to obtain advice from masons in other jurisdictions)
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
    NY.Light likes this.

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