Shrine in Arkansas drops MM requirement

Discussion in 'Shrine' started by Brennan, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. Michael Hatley

    Michael Hatley Premium Member

    Folks may not like this - but I'll tell you how Masons across the country could work to nip this in the bud.

    Withdraw recognition for the Grand Lodge of Arkansas.


    You want to talk about forcing them to come to the table and fix this mess? That is how.
  2. 4thGenMason

    4thGenMason Registered User

    So you're saying because of something I don't agree with, or have any control over, I should lose Masonic recognition? There are thousands of masons whom you will be hurting just to get back at the grand lodge. Have you thought about that? I didn't think the idea of punishing many for the acts of so very few was a Masonic ideation.
  3. Brennan

    Brennan Registered User

    I've heard of times in the past where the entire grand line was thrown out because the craft lost faith in them. I'm not saying that's what should happen now, but it is better than punishing all those other brothers who want this situation to be rectified.

    My Freemasonry HD
  4. Zack

    Zack Registered User

    When and where was an entire Grand line thrown out?
  5. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

    What about a Grand Lodge's sovereignty? Removing AR recognition really shows a lack of respect for that IMO.
    Is not recognizing the Shrine a horrible masonic offense of some sort? Masonry has been around long before the Shrine and will probably exist for quite some time after as well IMO.
    I'm not picking sides here as I'm not affiliated with either, just sharing my perspective.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I727 using Freemason Connect HD mobile app
  6. Brennan

    Brennan Registered User

    You are entirely right my brother. While this development is troubling it is an internal issue ( or at least an issue between the GL of Arkansas and the shrine) and should be treated as such.

    My Freemasonry HD
  7. Michael Hatley

    Michael Hatley Premium Member

    Yes, I am.

    Because then, and perhaps only then, you and your Brethren will make a real stand against this.

    And once you have done I'm all for returning said recognition.

    Look, I'm for you guys sorting it out - but so far that hasn't been done.

    Truth is there is no way my suggestion would pass through any Grand Lodge, so it is a moot point. But something serious has to be done or else this trend is going to follow.

    This is not an "internal matter". It is about preserving the Masonic ties to Shriner's International. Now, it is true that many of the members of this forum are younger, and often have little use for the Shrine. The TO movement is far more on their radar as a whole than the Shrine ever has been, and many people would be willing to allow the Shrine to simply drift away from its Masonic roots no problem.

    But it is a disaster for the craft, all the way around. And should be treated as such. The nuclear options have to be put on the table, and soon, or else it is only a matter of a very short time until the Shrine parts ways. You can bet there are many a Divan watching and waiting to see how things go in Arkansas.

    As it stands, what exactly to the GL officers of Arkansas stand to lose? It seems that it isn't their positions. What better way to apply pressure to them from their constituents than to put their recognition in other jurisdictions in jeopardy?

    Seriously, what better way? As I see it all there are are extreme options and doing nothing, which will see the Shrine break away entirely within a generation. I am so strongly against that that I am absolutely in favor of extreme options. It might already be too late. I don't know how in the world to put the genie back in the bottle of members who are made Shriners who are not Masons. The sort of thing I'm discussing should have been put on the table at the very start of this.

    If Masons do not fight for the Shrine, if we stand back and watch, then it is clear what is going to happen. Eventually there will be another GL who pulls this kind of stunt, and then Shriners International will pull the MM requirement across the board. Only serious action (of perhaps a better kind than I propose, and of which I'm all ears to) has a chance of changing this trajectory.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
  8. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

    Pulling recognition, threatening to pull recognition and voting on the floor whether to pull recognition is almost the only mechanism one GL has to influence another GL. It is seriously how sovereignty works. Some outside GLs do a no confidence vote on the current grand line. The membership of the target GL either cares or does not.

    That is the question. Should other GLs tolerate one errant GL getting into battles with the Shrine over inflated egos?

    The question works in both directions of course - Should other GLs tolerate the Shrine handling this situation as they have? They have been working issues related to separation from Masonry for many years.

    Which adds a corollary question - Should we care if the Shrine separates from the craft? Maybe we should have never ceded the festive board to the Shrine in the first place and are now ready to take it back.
  9. Michael Hatley

    Michael Hatley Premium Member

    Shoot, we've got a battle to fight here in Texas in December about table lodges - hope everyone knows that there is a resolution on the table to ban them outright. But that is another story.

    I think we most certainly should care about the Shrine going its own way. But this is becoming a real uphill battle with guys my own age, in my experience. A lot of the reasons have been touched on earlier in this thread, in my view. The relaxing of the initiatic experience in the Shrine to the point that it is perfunctory, the age drift of the members and a whole host of things put it at real odds with where the momentum currently is among Masons that have a fire in their belly. The TO experience, or elements of it, run completely contrary to what they see in the Shrine - and so they feel a closer connection to Scottish Rite most of the time. That is something that absolutely can be addressed, and I'm hoping to do so in Tampa over the next couple of days. It is certainly what I'm agitating to shift in my own Shrine Center.

    But to revitalize the Shrine we must participate. Beyond showing up to a Shrine stated meeting every once in a while. Stand up and take hold of the organization. Lurch it back to its connection with blue lodge, or at the very least, to formality and so forth in a way that dovetails with Blue Lodge far better than it is currently. In short, the Shrine itself needs its own "Traditional Observance" movement. Call it "Classical", call it whatever, but a movement must be created and young men must take hold and participate in driving the ship.

    Why? Why is it worth it? Because the infrastructure is there for everything that the more Scottish Rite inclined TO movement looks to do. Festive boards, table lodges, formality and so forth. There is a ready audience for that sort of thing among the men of the Shrine. They are a partner in these sort of efforts that we are not just neglecting, but through our apathy allowing to wander into the wilderness.

    The hospitals, the real estate, the history - all of it is right there to step up and make a real difference in. To practice some of the best tenets of Masonry. To make real magic, practical alchemy. It is a Renaissance that is required. People have to let go of their conceptions about the bad behavior a few Jesters displayed and about the disconnect they see. Step up and change things.

    Such a colossal waste to not seize the moment. To recognize that the Shrine is in a moment of transition and to step forward en masse and turn the ship. It can most certainly be done. Is it worth it? Visit a hospital, take a tour.

    alchemy, Brethren, very practical alchemy. 100% worth fighting for. The Shrine itself is a major potential vehicle for so many of the things we seek to do as Masons. It is such a logical complimentary partner to the TO movement when you without preconceptions write down the strengths of each on a piece of paper that it becomes obvious. But among younger folks convincing them of that is tough stuff, because they figure the Shrine is the antithesis of what they want to do Masonically. The thing they overlook is that the ship can be steered. That Shrinedom is starved for young leaders and open to ideas.Of course I don't really want to remove recognition from my worthy Arkansas brethren. But what I do want to see is serious pressure applied to Arkansas GL. And because this affects Shriners everywhere, and so all North American Masons, I think we have to get off the sidelines and weigh in or watch the Shrine become not a partner, but a competitor to Masonry. I think should that happen that both organizations will suffer - but Masonry by far and above the most because Grand Lodges will be emboldened to become even more conservative and squeeze out things like the TO movement.
  10. masonicknight

    masonicknight Registered User

    Just prior to the Shrine making the requirement of either York or Scottish Rite membership unnecessary, they had proposed the idea that membership be open to non-Masons.

    The basic idea being that they would become members of the Shrine and within a defined and specific time become Blue Lodge Masons. Should this new style Shrine member not fulfill this requirement they were to be dropped from membership. Since it was voted down at their annual Imperial Session they went for plan B, whereby they dropped the two Rites. The whole idea being to increase their membership. No real increase happened afterwards and both Rites lost membership which, ironically, made them stronger and more relevant to those that stayed or joined.

    Sadly we are watching what happens when the ego's of a few people overrule the common sense that is necessary to solve problems. Outside influence is only good if those that should listen to the timely advise actually listen and hear the message. So we sit and watch and hope cooler heads prevail, egos get replaced with common sense and logic and great organizations heal themselves.
  11. FlBrother324

    FlBrother324 Registered User

    My Bothers,

    There is so much at risk here...

    Besides the danger of loosing so many Brothers that will be forced to choose between their Blue Lodge Masonic Roots, and the more relaxed fair of the Shrine, is the overwhelming risk and potential loss of so much more. To continue entertaining this Rift is inconceivable. I liken it to an earthquake in the ocean: The shock waves race outward unnoticed culminating into a devastating tsunami as it approaches other areas (some traveling great distances from it) surrounding the epicenter! Utter devastation ensues! The fallout from this involves much more than membership, and EGOS, it threatens the work done by Dedicated Brethren, who have spent countless years of effort to build and operate one of the PREMIER HOSPITAL SYSTEMS in the world! Dedicated to the needy children that could suffer from this event if it is allowed to continue on its' present course.

    The individuals involved on both sides, seem to have forgotten their Solemn Masonic tenets they are obligated to uphold. It is what makes us DIFFERENT from NON-MASONIC organizations. Where is the Honor and Reverence we are obligated to show our fellow Brethren. It would behoove our Arkansas Brethren to take ten steps back, and bury the "hatchet" (and not in each other's backs), let the dust settle and move forward together. Having other GL's remove recognition will just enhance the damage caused by this quake, we can't afford to let this spread like a Cancer.

    Or ...

    Maybe the hierarchy of Both bodies should be removed and replaced, repealing or overturning the events that brought them to where they are today.

    Like any real world family, when they have a disagreement and a fight ensues, they can choose to work it out or risk the Family being separated from one another for years to to come, or possibly forever!

    These Brothers are acting like they are from different families in this fight; they have forgotten we are ALL Brother Masons.

    I pray that cooler heads prevail, and our Arkansas Brethren get control of this situation before it wipes out more than their egos.

    Lowering or reducing a structures standards or infrastructure will only make it a weaker, cheaper building. Over time it will continue to erode eventually collapsing on itself unable to support the overwhelming weight placed upon it as it ages.


    Let us ALL pray this is resolved quickly in a Brotherly manner.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2013
  12. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

    I do think both sets of leadership have gone off the rails. On the Arkansas side I doubt the situation will resolve until all brothers expelled without trial are restored by edict, but those expulsions have already been ratified by GL vote so that has very little chance of happening. On the Shrine side there have been proposals every few years to drop the Masonic requirement and I doubt the situation is going to change any time soon.

    Is there anything we not in Arkansas can do? We can be active enough in the Shrine to vote against this stuff any time it comes up at Imperial - I stay active at blue lodge and rarely attend Shrine events so I can't point at myself for this. We can vote to pull recognition from Arkansas for being off the rails - If anyone wants to write Proposals for the jurisdictions I'm PM in I'll sign but I'm not convinced I'd vote for. Just voting on it might send enough of a messages and it is all we in other jurisdictions can do.
  13. Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776 Registered User

    For several years now the Grand Master has deemed Shrine "clandestine". Even though no Masonic law gives them that right. A Mason who is a Shriner can be expelled at the will of the GM. I was sitting next to a visiting Mason/Shriner at my club circus when he got a text message from the GM expelling him just two weeks before he was to receive his 50 pin from his Lodge. The fault is not the Shrine, it is the actions of a GM and his successors. For the Shrine to continue existing in Arkansas it had to make the change. A lot of Arkansas Masons have transferred membership to adjoining states. I am not a happy member of a Missouri Lodge and an Arkansas Shrine Temple.
  14. Pscyclepath

    Pscyclepath Premium Member

    I do not see the Shrine coming back as a recognized body in Arkansas at any time hereafter. While it was first probably a clash of personalities, things have proceeded over the past three years to make an extremely difficult task of bringing the two bodies back together.

    There are several letters of clarification issued by the various Grand Masters that no Mason within the GL of Arkansas can simultaneously be a Mason and a Shriner. The most recent letter puts it pretty plainly that you must choose -- you can be one or the other, but not both, and establishing lodge membership in another grand jurisdiction doesn't make any difference -- our obligation requires us to follow the rules within the grand jurisdiction where we are at the time. If you are a Mason based or located in Arkansas, and participating in Shrine activities, you're stepping over that line. And yes, the Digest does provide -- in writing -- a penalty of expulsion without the benefit of trial for those violating this particular rule.

    It's not at all a matter of who the Grand Master might be; and that office has turned over 3 times since this problem came up, with the ruling being upheld each time... And the Constitution does give the Grand Lodge the authority to decide what is clandestine within its jurisdiction, and what is not. The original December 2011 edict, as well as the initial round of trials and expulsions, was ratified at the 2012 session of the Grand Lodge, and the decision that Shriners International is a clandestine organization within this jurisdiction is now embodied in the Arkansas Digest of the Constitution & Laws, at Sect. 2.1.42. Subsequent expulsions were approved at the 2013 and 2014 communications by large majorities.

    So, at a minimum, it would require an Arkansas lodge to present a resolution to a future convocation of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas to withdraw the current provision in GL law, and recommend the Shrine to be granted fraternal recognition as a Masonic Body under the qualifications set forth at Sect. 2.1.41. A GL committee (likely several committees) would subsequently have to report favorably, and the resolution approved by the Grand Lodge in its annual communication. Getting even a simple resolution through the grand lodge in any given year is a major undertaking these days.

    Scimitar and Sahara Shrines in Arkansas no longer meet the criterion for Masonic bodies, in that they admit expelled Masons and non-Masons to their tyled meetings. Since July 2013, with the permission of the Imperial hqs, they have admitted a sizable number of new nobles who are not Masons at all. This alone precludes fraternal recognition under the Digest of Laws. They would have to conform to the expectations of a Masonic body in order to be recognized, which conditions were laid out and certified to in the previous Digest, repealed in 2012.

    If, somehow, all the discord between the two organizations suddenly evaporated, they could not be rejoined, as the two temples here are no longer Masonic organizations. And for the two temples' parts, what are they going to do with all their new members? Expel them all because they aren't Masons, and weren't required to be when they joined?

    With the admission of expelled and non-Masons to the temples here, the GL of Arkansas is at this time simply upholding its obligation to "guard the West Gate." I make no attempt to argue whether anything is "right" or not, but just a simple statement of what the local rules are in this case. At at this point in time, there isn't a simple or happy solution for either side.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2014
  15. Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776 Registered User

    Respectfullly, Brother, almost none of what you said is correct. Shrine never was a Masonic body. Many here, with excellent credentials have stated the GM has no right or power to declare any non-Masonic body clandestine. Shrine has only served "in amity" with Masonry in Arkansas. It was the GM in question who claimed Shrine was an affiliated Masonic organization. No one else. It was all in his imagination. He might have well as made that claim for the Rotary or Elks or the Saturday night bowling league. The Imperial Potentate attempted to negotiate a resolution to the issue. The GM agreed all would be forgiven if only the Shrine would give the Grand Lodge all their money. So much for standing on principals. Even you could not argue that is "right". All the proclamations by GL are worthless. They carry no more authority than someone on a soap box in the park delcaring he his king of the world. Arkansas Masonry has no authority over anyone who is not an Arkansas Mason. Arkansas Masonry has shamed itself.
  16. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

    No, there was no demand for all of the Shrine's money. Even Imperial Shrine does not say this. I note that I was on the G&A Committee which heard the matter. You have been misinformed.

    Labels of "Masonic body" are unhelpful. Rather, the issue is whether a Masonic prerequisite is claimed. I am unaware of any US GL which does to claim the right to approve, if not regulate, such groups.
  17. Rick Carver

    Rick Carver Premium Member

    It is a double-edged sword. I hate to see our Lodge go through the trouble (bad choice of words) to do good Ritual Work for a guy that we know is never going to attend a meeting and is here only so he can join the Shrine. Personally, I would take one guy who will be active in the Lodge over 10 guys who pay dues so they can join the Shrine. On the other hand, our Lodge has about 350 members and I would estimate that about half of them are dues paying members who are active only in the Shrine. Without their dues, the Lodge would likely have severe financial problems.
  18. Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776 Registered User

    What Tom said is extremly disturbing. He belongs to several Masonic orders I once belonged to but left because I saw much that, in my opinion, were not following Masonic principals. I am one of those who sought Lodge membership in another state. I did so because I wanted to remain a Master Mason in good standing because I belive in those principals. I urge Brother Tom to rethink the use of the word "subtrefuge" and accusing myself, and many others, of un-Masonic behavior by hiding our actions. He may have inadvertendly stepped over the line by speaking ill of a Brother Mason. I urge him to delete or edit that post. As for Shrine needing to be "recognized" by the GL, that is a preposterous concept. Shrine no more needs any such recognization than does the Girl Scouts. It is an organization that was based on Masonic principals but was never part of Masonry. And, currently, the Shrine, in my opinion, seems to be adhering to those principals better than the Grand Line in Arkansas. I'm going out of town for about a week. Good thing, I need to cool down from these accusations and misrepresentations.
  19. jjjjjggggg

    jjjjjggggg Premium Member

    I realize this has no direct implications for other jurisdictions, but I wonder if any other GLs have looked at this topic?

    And what about the out-of-state masons who want to visit a AR lodge who are also Shiners?

    Any word on how other shrines have taken the news?
  20. Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776 Registered User

    Bro. Jamie, the situation is well known by some jurisdictions and not well understood by others. As for out of state Masons who are Shriners attending Arkansas lodges, that varies with the understanding, or misunderstanding, of the individual lodge. In my area there are several such Brothers/Nobles who regularly attend lodge. I was told by one past Master of the lodge where I was raised I could not attend, but others have said there is no restriction against it. Sad, there is so much misunderstanding and enmity among good men, Masons and Shriners.
    The situation has been discussed among Shriners around the country and at the Imperial Session. There is one other State with a similar situation. I can't recall which. This issue has gotten majoryl confused. My opinion, is the only resolution is for Shrine to completely drop the Masonic membership requirement. Many feel it will help increase Shrine membership because there will be less dues to pay and less time consuming requirement 'hoops' to jump through to become a Shriner. And it is belived many of these are prosperous businessmen who can help the Shrine in many way.

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