Lodge rules and regulations

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by chrmc, Jan 10, 2016.

  1. chrmc

    chrmc Registered User

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    Do any of you know how a lodge's rules and regulations work with regards to masonic law? Both in general, but also specially in Texas?

    They are clearly outlined in the ritual, and I know how they are usually used in a lodge. But if you for instance look in the GLoTX law they are not mentioned one single time which gives me some worries about how legally binding they are?
    What prevents a lodge from ignoring them if they are not mentioned in GL law, and what would the consequence of breaking them be?

    As I understand they are supposed to be a collection of all the decision that the lodge has made on how it should operation, function, what should be allowed etc. Guess that technially and long term motion made and accepted by the lodge should be updated in the rules and regulations or?


    Any technical ligth someone can shed would be appreciate.
     
  2. Companion Joe

    Companion Joe Premium Member

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    If I understand what you are asking, there is no civil, legal penalty for violating Grand Lodge code (unless you do something that is against the law for anyone else).

    If a subordinate lodge does not follow the rules and regulations of its Grand Lodge, the Grand Master can show up, pull your charter off the wall, tuck it under his arm, and take it with him. When that happens, the lodge can not legally (in a Masonic sense) meet. It's members must petition other lodges to find a home. If no one accepts them, then the membership is in essence excommunicated from the fraternity. That's the penalty.

    I saw this happen a few years back. I don't know what the particular lodge was doing or not doing, but the GM went there to get it straightened out. He was told they didn't need him, to go on back to Nashville. He did ... with their charter in the back seat of his car. At the following year's GL session, the membership of the lodge was there as group, hats in hand, promising to play by the rules if they could have their charter back.
     
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  3. Brother JC

    Brother JC Vigilant Staff Member

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    Not following you in this one. Anything voted in lodge needs to be within GL guidelines.
     
  4. chrmc

    chrmc Registered User

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    That wasn't what I was getting at, so let me try and explain it clearer if I can. In the ritual we know that lodges have by-laws, rules and regulations. Bylaws is the very official document, with a lot of GL laws attached to it, and the Rules and Regulations are usually something where the lodge sticks things about decorum, investment policies, job descriptions etc (at least in Texas).

    However when looking through GLoTX law, I can't find a single thing about Rules and Regulations. So my question is are they binding in any way? They are essentially motions made in lodge, but how is that upheld?
    (Or is this just a Texas thing?)
     
  5. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    Are you referring to the written bylaws of each lodge? I've never seen anything in a written set of lodge bylaws having any content in conflict with any land mark or GL regulation. We all promised to obey the bylaws of our lodges but I don't think there is any mechanism in place for violating them. They mostly contains stuff like when the meetings are so violations tend to boil down to not being at meeting.

    In some jurisdictions they are standardized and dictated by GL - California. In other jurisdictions there's a form from GL that lodges may use but most only use as a starting point - Illinois. In theory we are handed a copy of the bylaws when we are raised - I have seen this happen every 3rd degree I have been to in Texas but in my other two jurisdictions the copy is only handed to officers with it available to any member on request. And since California dictates the content there it is also available ordering from the Gr Sec office to any California member.

    If a lodge violates its own bylaws I don't think anyone has ever taken an entire lodge to a Masonic trial over it.

    Say the bylaws of a lodge says there must be trustees elected/appointed to handle the investment accounts but the lodge has not bothered in recent memory because the GL rules on investment accounts are strict enough it doesn't matter. Or a lodge owns a temple corporation because they used to own a building but they don't own a building any more so they don't bother electing a board for the corporation but also don't bother to dissolve the corporation.

    Some items in bylaws are dictated by GL regulations. When and where the meetings are have sections in the laws of all of my jurisdictions on what notice is needed when there are changes. None of my lodges have dark months scheduled in advance, but it has happened that not enough brothers showed up to form a quorum so the lodge went dark for a month without notice. Allowed? I'm not exactly sure. There are regulations about how many times a lodge can go dark until they are in danger of losing their charter.

    Is that the sort of issue your question was about Brother Chris?
     
  6. Companion Joe

    Companion Joe Premium Member

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    If an individual blatantly violates the by-laws of his lodge, I guess he could be brought up on charges of un-Masonic conduct because he is knowingly violating his obligation. He would certainly find himself on the fringes and persona non grata in his own lodge.
     
  7. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    Are you looking for sections of the law entitled "Rules" and entitled "Regulations"?
     
  8. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    I cannot speak to Texas specifically, however.....

    It is normal to include a statement in lodge bylaws that the lodge is subject to the laws of GL and to name that GL. Regardless of the inclusion or omission of such a statement, that is the reality. The supremacy of your GL will be in the Constituion and warrents issued subject to this observance. If the Lodge's bylaws and the Constitution conflict, bylaws must be read down to ensure they conform to the Constitution.

    Essentially, unless given special status by GL, bylaws have the standing of accepted lodge motions and unless the lodge specifically nominates penalties for violating bylaws, you use the Constitution to enforce them. As such, alterations of bylaws can only occur by motion. Constituions will normally allow lodges a degree of self regulation and may even mention the status of motions passed by the lodge, if even only to say a motion of the lodge which conflicts with the Constitution is void. This infers a motion which does not conflict *is* not void and by extension, binding. Constitutions will also generally nominate which motions require more than a simple majority and notice of motion. For instance, to change meeting nights or place might require a 75% yes vote by members present and require notice of motion to be given the meeting prior to the vote being taken. Further, our Constitution allows lodges to vary the number of black balls to exclude.

    It would be unusual for a Constitution to be silent on bylaws, but if it is, then look to the rules around motions and operation of subordinate lodges.

    All that said, there are three other issues
    1 Ritual. Ritual will often make statements about conduct and rules. In my limited experience here, ritual versus a Constituion, the Constitution will prevail.
    2 Precedent. Long standing practices on which the Constitution is silent will continue.
    3 Edicts. Even if not mentioned, a GL will reserve the right to regulate the Craft. Lists of GLs your GL is and is not in amity with are a good example. Another example is photography inside a lodge. Constitutions are often silent on this but its restricted by Edict.

    I suggest you look through your Constitution, there's bound to be something in it on bylaws, even if only a statement that lodges can self-regulate for matters not covered landmarks and and your Constitution.

    Your question suggests you are having an issue with a bylaw hence my reply....
     
  9. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    PS... all our subordinate bylaws were abolished by GL and are now called 'operating rules"
     
  10. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    Remember your MM obligation? Now look at Art. 504 in the GL Law.
     
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  11. Brother JC

    Brother JC Vigilant Staff Member

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    Okay, MM Ob, gotcha...
    so my lodge has a "rule" that black suit is the "uniform if the day," GL doesn't get involved because we aren't violating the Code, and no Brother will be turned away because they're wearing something else. But myself, as a member and Officer, had better obey the "rule" or face (at the very least) the stern face of the Worshipful Master.
     
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  12. chrmc

    chrmc Registered User

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    Thanks for that. Interesting that it's not spelled out clearer in any other note when considering how much text the bylaws for instance get.
    But thanks for pointing me to that.
     
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  13. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, I don't know about other jurisdictions, but here in Texas our obligation covers it, a brother might just need to be reminded if he strays.

    Doh, Bill beat me to it.
     
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  14. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    I don't have a current copy of GL Texas Const.. but just did find and interesting doc from GL Texas (1983), two quotes below

    "Masonic Lodges are not bound by the usual and customary parliamentary rules of order because the entire structure, purpose, and function of Freemasonry is unlike that of any organization. The background, history, customs, and usages of Freemasonry are so different from other voluntary associations as to require special rules of order. Although some of these rules are in the Constitution and Laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas, many others are in the edicts and decisions of Grand Masters and reports of Committees, approved bythe Grand Lodge of Texas and reported in its Proceedings as far back as 1837. Even the codified rules reflect Masonic landmarks, ancient customs and traditions, and Grand Lodge Actions for 138 years.......

    Grand Lodge Laws Article 333 provides that *each Lodge shall conduct its business as nearly as possible according to the rules of order
    established in Articles 168 to 176, inclusive, ______
    *"

    That came from this 1983 doc here http://www.aldinelodge1412.org/Parliamentary Law.pdf

    Sorry, not trying to be difficult, but "its in the obligation" rarely cuts it for me - they generally talk about observing the rules of GL without defining them exactly (and EA here is given a copy on his initiation here, enshrined in the words of our ritual.. "This is our Constitution which also contain the bylaws....." *hand to candidate*.... ).

    As a Master, knowing the Const is important because when the you know what hits the fan, skillfully using the rules can avert disaster...

    In the above mentioned doc, it also seems GL Texas provides model bylaws (From 23) In Article XII .... or it did in 1983... so the recommendation stands - have a very close look at the Constitution..
     
  15. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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  16. chrmc

    chrmc Registered User

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    Thanks. I hadn't seen that document so that'll be interesting to read.
    As mentioned earlier I think that Bylaws are well covered in the masonic law on how they work and are governed, but actual rules and regulations of the lodge is not to a very large extent.
     
  17. rpbrown

    rpbrown Premium Member

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    Bylaws are rules that are to be approved by GLoT. There are guidelines to follow on setting up your Lodge Bylaws and there is not much deviation that is accepted by GLoT but must first be approved by the Lodge.

    However, the Lodge Rules and Regulations are set up for day to day operations such as dues amount, degree amounts, discretionary funds and limits (we have a $100.00 discretionary fund for flowers for a funeral) and who has to approve the spending of this fund (we have WM, SW, JW, Chap., and IPM). Ours also sets limits for the Lamar Awards, sets the amount for Endowment, as well as anyone that is exempt from dues for the year, IE;secretary. There are other things that it covers as well.

    We just updated our rules and regulations a couple of years ago.
     
  18. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    Perhaps the following will "cut" it for you- the language is pretty clear...
    Art. 504. Violations Of Obligations And Laws.
    Every violation of a Masonic obligation, every violation of the Constitution, Laws, Resolutions or Edicts of this Grand Lodge, or usages and customs of Masonry, and every violation of the laws of the United States, a State, or of a municipality, involving moral turpitude is a Masonic disciplinary violation.
    It still does.
     
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  19. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    Thanks Bill. So violation of the model rules provided by GL is certainly a masonic offense.

    Violation of varied bylaws consistent with the Constitution or a lodge motion would be a violation of the 'usages and customs of masonry' and hence also an offense.

    Yep.... that makes it clear :D
     
  20. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    In the matter at hand, the original poster asked how a violation of a Lodge's rules & regulations would be treated under the Laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas. If one is familiar with the Texas form of the MM obligation, particularly the 1st "furthermore", then Art. 504's first statement answers his question entirely.
     

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