LA puts Prince Hall recognition on the next GL agenda

Discussion in 'Prince Hall Freemasonry' started by drapetomaniac, Jan 8, 2010.

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  1. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

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    We know how this all started.
    It's easy for either side to take responsibility for their own actions.

    I'm not a member of the "other side" (or maybe I am?), I'm more concerned with my immediate membership and what those who sit next to me do.

    Right now, when I drive east to visit family, I'm not confident I can visit a typical lodge on the way and be accepted.

    Let's sweep around our own front door.
     
  2. gtahuahua

    gtahuahua Registered User

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    I think this is a great step for LA. I think something like this is needed in TX.
     
  3. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

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    We're almost there. A lot of folks don't seem to be aware of this:
    http://www.mwphglotx.org/compact.htm

    I think, in part, due to the miseducation in the ALL program on the subject. I wince every time I see the yellow book show up.
     
  4. owls84

    owls84 Moderator Premium Member

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    I so agree Drape. We have rewrote it to reflect the current times.
     
  5. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    so in that last paragraph of the compact... have they achieved that?
     
  6. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

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    There was a recent post in another thread where it seemed like it happened very quickly and they've received multiple other international recognitions.

    Funny, if I moved to England or Mexico and visited Texas, I could could sit in their lodge.
     
  7. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Hi Jack.

    Oh, that's interesting. That's not what we'd understand by the word "recognition" here in UGLE.

    Over here, recognition means that we can visit one another, join one another's Lodges, etc. If we can't visit with another jurisdiction, then we wouldn't normally say that we "recognise" them at all. We have occasionally had situations where UGLE has temporarily asked us not to visit with another GL (even though it is officially recognised) because of some current argument or difficulty (which would either be resolved and visiting resumed, or would be followed by withdrawal of recognition if not resolved). If there's a standing ban on visiting, as opposed to a temporary situation, then for us that means recognition has been withdrawn.

    I'm not clear what "recognition" means in the sense which you appear to be using. If you can't sit together as Brothers, then how does recognition differ from non-recognition?

    T & F,

    Huw

    P.S. In case someone gets the wrong idea: no, I'm not trying to stir up an argument here. I genuinely don't understand what you mean by recognition, and I'd like to understand better.
     
  8. owls84

    owls84 Moderator Premium Member

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    Huw, basically we are saying (this is from GL when asked) is we recognize you as practicing "regular" Freemasonry and we recognize you as Brethren but since we share the same jurisdiction we do not want visitation at this time.

    Don't worry some of us don't understand it either. One way you are saying we are on the level then we turn around and say no we aren't. This was voted on by both PHAoTX and the GLoTX so it is what it is.
     
  9. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Yes, I see. Thanks Josh.

    In UGLE, our rulebook ties visiting rights to recognition (and also conferring Degrees for one another, joining between jurisdictions, and so on), so to us it's all pretty much the same thing: either we recognise a GL and all the rest follows fairly automatically, or we don't recognise them. Also, UGLE has always been more flexible than a lot of the US GLs about territorial exclusivity: we're accustomed to the idea of sharing territory because we have numerous overseas Districts where we share with other recognised GLs, and we even have a few Lodges of recognised overseas jurisdictions meeting on our home territory in England (although I don't think our HQ would permit any new ones), and visiting is freely allowed in all these cases.

    Obviously the relationship between GLoTX and PHAoTX is whatever they have voted it to be, and in that sense it is nobody else's business. However, it doesn't sound like what I'd call "recognition" in the sense that I understand that word: it appears from your description that the relationship doesn't have very much practical meaning.

    T & F,

    Huw
     
  10. Bryan

    Bryan Registered User

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    As far as I know the PH GL of Louisiana has expressed no interest to the GL of Louisiana about having any form of recognition. To my knowledge This is the first time this resolution has been introduced for consideration by the GL of Louisiana. This resolution was not received and was not debated.

    The GL of Louisiana did however pass a "when in rome do as the romans do" type resolution that allows a member of the GL of Louisiana when visiting a grand jurisdiction that we have relations with to observe their regularity laws. However this does not in any way allow a Louisiana mason to sit in or have masonic communication in a clandestine lodge of masons.

    In short If I were to visit the GL of Oklahoma which the GL of Louisiana has full fraternal relations and it just so happens that PH masons are present then I am no longer required to leave the lodge I'm visiting. Before this resolution if there were masons present that are not recognized by the GL of Louisiana I would not be able to attend that lodge.

    I believe that it is inevitable that at some point in the future some type of relationship will develop between the PH GL of Louisiana and the Grand Lodge of Louisiana. How far down the road that is I don't know.

    In all fairness the GL of Louisiana was (to the best of my knowledge) the first Masonic GL formed within the State of Louisiana and for 200 years has been recognized as such. The Grand Lodge of Louisiana has been since its formation in 1812 recognized as being "supreme within its jurisdiction". Our current law defines any lodge operating within the State confines of Louisiana that is not a subordinate lodge of The Grand Lodge of Louisiana as being clandestine. It does not matter if it is PH or GL of Texas, GL of Bulgaria or some other grand jurisdiction it would be the same.

    It is my opinion that if anyone in the state of Louisiana wishes to have relations with the GL of Louisiana then.. they should petition a subordinate Lodge of the GL of Louisiana and be initiated, passed and raised in said lodge or be a member of a grand jurisdiction outside the confines of the sate of Louisiana that the GL of Louisiana has full fraternal relations with.

    I would point out that there are white PH masons and there are also black mainstream masons so.. I really don't see that race as much to do (as it did and has in years past) with recognition.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2010
  11. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Hi Bryan.

    Fair enough. It is a worldwide masonic protocol that to establish recognition the younger GL must ask the older. If PHAoLA haven't asked for recognition, then GLoLA can't give it.

    However, has anyone established whether PHAoLA would like to request recognition? Perhaps they've never bothered to ask because they're assuming that there's no chance of getting it. And given the way things have gone in some other Southern States, they might even be right to think that. What do you reckon would happen if PHAoLA put in a recognition request?

    It seems to me that this approach necessarily creates a very difficult moral position. You communicate masonic secrets with someone you meet under such circumstances, yet you don't recognise him as a mason ... so how does that sit with your Obligation? I wouldn't be at all comfortable with this, and I'd vote no if it were proposed in my own GL.

    Of course, being from UGLE, I don't have a problem sitting with Brethren from most of the PHGLs, because we recognise them ... but in the particular example you mentioned, Oklahoma, that's actually one of the PHA which we don't yet recognise, so I'd have to walk out.

    Well of course, that's simply a statement of the doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction, which used to be common in the US. Obviously in order to have any sort of accommodation with PHA, then this law would need to be changed, as most other State GLs have now done.

    My own GL has always taken a softer line on sharing territory. We've shared overseas territory with other GLs for centuries, and even in our home territory we've allowed a few Lodges of other recognised jurisdictions. We wouldn't sit still for someone else opening a Lodge in England without our permission, but our rules have always allowed us to agree to it when we think there's a good enough reason.

    (Incidentally, UGLE still has one Lodge on US territory. Quiz question for the assembled Brethren: where is it?)

    But earlier you said that you expected that some relationship with PHAoLA was eventually inevitable. So are you saying that you don't want that but believe it will happen anyway?

    Of course, if you were starting from a blank slate, then everyone would agree: obviously it'd be sensible to set up just one GL. But starting from an existing situation of two GLs which both have a substantial history and tradition, it's not reasonable to expect that either of them would want to turn away from their heritage and fold up.

    True, clearly the segregation isn't as absolute as it used to be. Nevertheless, it looks to me that such members are still very rare on both sides of the fence. Therefore, even if race isn't quite such an overwhelming factor as before, I can't help thinking that it's still a big factor for some members.

    T & F,

    Huw
     
  12. Traveling Man

    Traveling Man Premium Member

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    May I correct you?

    There are two:

    Harmonic Lodge # 356
    St. Thomas Lodge # 9679

    But they meet in the same building…

    Cheers Mate!
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2010
  13. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

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    In that regard. Our Grand Lodge rescinded recognition to another district (about 10) decades ago because it recognized Prince Hall, which caused recognition to be reversed and set recognition and US masonry back about a century. Then it declared any one recognizing "Negro Lodges" risked de-recognition.

    At no time have I ever seen a racist GL action or tradition put it at risk for de-recognition - only recognizing all men as equal and meeting on the level has put a GL at risk.

    We can talk in bureaucratic circles, but every sane man knows Prince Hall exists because men abandoned regular masonry and it's principles.

    What is the worldwide masonic protocol on racism? On judging a man on his external? I think it's pretty clear and ignored for generations.

    What will be done with the GLs who in the past excluded men based on the external, still appear to and have never rectified their explicite, extreme and blatant violation of one of our first lessons?

    Beat a good man down, slap him and while he's trying to stand level to you, say to him - "You gotta ask nicely, it's only nice manners."
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2010
  14. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Hi drape.

    Yes, I know - GLoWA in 1897. Great shame, but of course not so surprising in those days.

    That's a pretty blunt statement. So I'm trying to think of a really good counter-example ... but indeed I haven't thought of one yet, so I guess you've got a good point there.
    That's not exactly an issue of protocol as such. But obviously racism is contrary to fundamental masonic principles.
    Perhaps this is why there's a lack of good examples of GLs elsewhere being ostracised for racism - outside of the US situation, most GLs have a consistently good record on this issue. Even in South Africa in the days of apartheid, freemasonry managed to obtain an exemption from their segregation laws and operated on an integrated basis.

    Those GLs are already under a lot of diplomatic pressure from other GLs to put their houses in orer. And obviously there are many good Brethren within those GLs seeking to achieve reconciliation by internal reform. It's right to have given these methods some time to succeed.

    However, there comes a point when other GLs would have to say that diplomatic pressure and internal reform have had enough time and still haven't cut the mustard. Maybe we're getting close to that point.
    'Fraid so, them's the rules. However, as I think has already been done in a couple of other places, the older GL could openly solicit the newer GL to send the letter, effectively pre-committing themselves to a positive answer.

    T & F,

    Huw
     
  15. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

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    Of course there are examples in the 40s and even in the 90s of GLs reacting poorly to "Negro lodges" and Prince Hall as well.

    Prince Hall exists due to a violation of, as you say, "fundamental masonic principles" which prospered unhindered for a century and still lingers. You say it's good and right that time be granted to resolved this (which has always been an argument about human rights in this country and others) - but is a century enough or do we need another?

    Any discussion of this in masonry heavily favors bureaucracy over morality and even masonry.
     
  16. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Hi Rich.

    I'm not aware of there having been a serious effort to do much about it until the '90s. Prior to that, most people were just letting it ride - which wasn't right, but doesn't really count as time spent waiting for reconciliation efforts to work. So I'd say it's been 20 years rather than a century since the serious attempt at reconcilation began. But yes, I might agree that 20 years ought to have been enough.

    T & F,

    Huw
     
  17. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

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    It's arbitrary it ignore the first efforts (which actually would have gone back to Prince Hall's personal efforts) skip ahead decades and declare those the first serious efforts. It's been going on for 200+ years, tolerated by all of masonry except those very, very few jurisdictions that stood up for brotherhood.

    Regardless, don't forget Massachusetts in 1947 recognizing PHA which lies in the middle of that timeline. After which the same thing occurred, GLs pulled recognition and had it reversed.

    There is a host of interactions and declarations, including alterations to GL constitutions excluding based on race and pulling recognition for not excluding based on race. Again - FULLY tolerated.

    Here is a healthy dose of quotes and links to other resources throughout the centuries:
    http://tsmr.org/ph.html (follow all the links for history)

    GLs around the world saw constitutions change, and more GLs following masonic principles pushing brotherhood chastised and excluded and "let it ride" for two hundred years.

    I posed this question when I first became a master mason, and most ignored it.

    Reflecting on "our peculiar system of morality", how long do you think the following would be tolerated in masonry?
    * Removing the VSL from the lodge
    * Admitting women
    * admitting atheists
    * Fornication in lodge or at lodge events
    * Excluding Black men from masonry

    Based on the morality or rules of our system - how long should each of these ride? You've stated what the rules are, what are the morals in the dogma?
     
  18. Huw

    Huw Guest

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    Hi Rich.

    Perhaps it was a poor choice of words for me to imply that the earlier efforts at reconciliation weren't "serious", of course they were intended seriously by those who were involved.

    What I mean, however, is that those were fairly isolated efforts, there wasn't a general perception among State GL members that something needed to be done, unlike the last 20 years when there has (at long last!) been a widespread acknowledgement that the previous situation was unacceptable.

    That's a rather US-centric viewpoint. Everywhere outside the US, GLs have always been consistent that racism is unacceptable. Here in England, for example, we've been racially integrated from the beginning, and of course we were the ones who gave Prince Hall his warrant and never saw any reason not to do so.

    Non-US GLs have always disapproved of segregationism in US masonry and have always said so, but of course it's not our jurisdiction, and not surprisingly the US jurisdictions objected to outsiders telling them how to run their affairs. There wasn't much that could be done about it until some of the US GLs were willing to take a lead, and (as history showed) one GL at a time wasn't enough, it required several US GLs simultaneously standing up and insisting that something had to be done.

    Only in the US. Non-US GLs never approved of it, but reluctantly tolerated it because there was nothing we could do about it from the outside.

    Good resource, thanks for that.

    GLs around the world had never had segregationist rules. But what did you expect us in the non-US GLs to do about US segregationism? Our disapproval was always clear, but obviously your GLs are each sovereign over their own Lodges. For so long as US GLs stood united (or very nearly united) in favour of segregationism, the opinion of outsiders carried little weight. This was and is a specifically American issue, not an issue around the world.

    Each GL would make its own decisions, but I'll try to guess what I think UGLE would do in each case. Obviously these are my guesses, not a statement of policy by my GL!

    "* Removing the VSL from the lodge"

    Instant withdrawal of recognition, but could be re-instated if they later agreed to put the VSL back. (And there have been cases of this.)

    "* Admitting women"

    Instant withdrawal of recognition. No possibility of reinstatement whilst any women remained members. (But I don't think there has been any case of this within a body which had not already been de-recognised for other irregularities.)

    "* admitting atheists"

    Instant withdrawal of recognition. No possibility of reinstatement whilst any atheists remained members. (And there have been cases of this.)

    "* Fornication in lodge or at lodge events"

    It rather depends what you mean by fornication and under what circumstances.

    At one end of the scale, what an unmarried Brother and his girlfriend might choose to do in the privacy of their hotel-room at a Lodge social event is none of our business.

    At the other end of the scale, outraging public decency would bring masonry into disrepute, and we'd assume that the local jurisdiction would take appropriate disciplinary action. Even so, the mis-conduct of individual members is not likely to affect recognition because it's (presumably!) not an issue of GL policy. (The only example I know is the recent criminal conviction of some US members of the "Royal Order of Jesters" for trafficking in prostitutes - I assume that they've been expelled, or are in the process of being expelled.)

    "* Excluding Black men from masonry"

    Withdrawal of recognition if it were anywhere except the US, but could be re-instated if they later reversed the policy. Even in the case of the US, it would nowadays attract withdrawal of recognition if the exclusion were explicitly on racial grounds. But none of the US GLs still officially maintain an explicit racial bar, although obviously some still adhere to various technicalities which have the same effect.

    Note, however, that this is a different question from the more particular issue of PHA recognition. A GL which has no racial barriers might have other reasons for not recognising PHA. For example, consider Ontario - in no way a racist GL (and with plenty of black members in its own ranks, probably more than in the whole of its local PHGL), but hesitant about recognising PHA on the basis that the existence of PHA perpetuated segregationism. Now you might disagree with them about that, but it's a legitimate masonic opinion to oppose PHA on this basis.

    Unfortunately, of course, it's very difficult to prove racism when GLs rely on other technicalities to maintain racial exclusion without actually admitting that their purpose is racist. Maybe some of them secretly wear pointy hoods and sheets on other occasions, but they don't turn up in Lodge dressed as Klansmen. What do you expect other GLs to do about it?

    T & F,

    Huw
     
  19. Traveling Man

    Traveling Man Premium Member

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  20. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

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    When did you pull recognition from jurisdiction that put racism into their constitutions?

    You disapprove of removing VSL. You disapprove of admitting women or atheists. You disapprove of "public indecency" that will bring ill repute on the fraternity. Segregation and racism is not something that was consider publicly indecent or putting bad reputation on the fraternity.

    GLs haven't disapproved of segregation. Those who did disapprove took action. Those who supported segregation took action. Those who thought segregation was just another local bylaw, took no action or stood behind those supporting segregation.

    As you can see form your own responses, when something is *actually* viewed as immoral or injurious to the fraternity (or is bureaucratic) action is easy and swift.

    Sure, they could make a host of legalistic arguments. More than likely they would have to ignore the actions, records and statements of the white GLs which actively supported or demanded segregation- or accept that it was just a bylaw and not an issue of morality, violation of masonic principles. It wouldn't be an unusual approach. Even slaves were considered to have "special privileges" because they were sometimes allowed to take someone's property (themselves).

    Racism has been codified in several GL constitutions and in many statements in the past two hundred years. Some GLs stood up only to have the others fail to support them when soem GLs pulled recognition.

    I certainly agree it's not easy to "prove racism" even while many masons have direct experience in several areas with it and common sense is never enough. But staying in denial about the long history of tolerating it and constantly pushing rules of order over morality, and clouding morality in rules of order - it's just continuing to provide shelter.

    I received the a quote in my email today about those who are "more devoted to order than to justice". Justice or morality isn't even a blip

    "who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection." MLK from a Birmingham Jail

    I probably haven't seen this since high school, but it reminds me of every conversation I've ever seen on racism in the fraternity.

    I certainly agree other jurisdictions were not segregated. I've done quite a bit of study on Black Latinos and many of the biggest names and influencers have been masons.

    Don't get me wrong on any of this, I know there are GLs and individual masons who stood on the right side of brotherhood and human rights and I love to hear their stories and I hope more come out. It' more likely to come out if we see racism and segregation as something other than a bad bylaw.
     
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