The Shrine has now been "de-recognized" in Arkansas

Discussion in 'Shrine' started by cemab4y, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    This is the "real deal". The Grand Lodge of Arkansas has now de-recognized the Shrine in Arkansas. If an Arkansas Mason attends a Shrine function in Arkansas, he will be expelled from Freemasonry. See:



    http://www.ezdvd.com/ARGMSHRINE.pdf
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
  2. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for sharing this brother...

    Unless I'm missing something however, this happened almost 12 years ago? All the dates mentioned are in 2000.

    If this is old news, is this still the case in Arkansas?
     
  3. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    There was an incident some years ago. But, the current situation is new. The Shrine has also been declared "un-Masonic" in Michigan.
     
  4. Ashton Lawson

    Ashton Lawson Premium Member

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    As I am understanding it, the problem here is that the Imperial Shrine has now informed (in writing) both the Grand Lodge of MI and the Grand Lodge of AR that they will retain Shriners who are expelled from Masonry as full members in the Shrine, in defiance of the laws of those Grand Jurisdictions. It appears, sadly, that the Imperial Shrine has essentially drawn a line in the sand between themselves and Freemasonry. I don't see what choice these Grand Jurisdictions have, except to withdraw recognition. Unless Shriners protest these actions to Imperial, the ball is rolling.
     
  5. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    Hm, from what I read it looks like the Shrine's gotten a bit of an ego then.

    Glad I'm not a member :p
     
  6. Benton

    Benton Premium Member

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    Interesting, saw this this afternoon. It seems the MI situation is snowballing. I wonder if it will stop, or rather gain momentum.
     
  7. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    The Arkansas ban is total. No Arkansas Mason can wear any Shrine lapel pins or shrine rings. All references to the Shrine must be removed from Masonic buildings. Photos with Masons wearing Shrine identification must be taken down. No Masonic building can be used for any Shrine function, etc. etc. This is a bad situation for all concerned.
     
  8. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

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    This is just the beginning.
     
  9. Ashton Lawson

    Ashton Lawson Premium Member

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    This is definitely just the beginning. I talked to a Potentate in Texas about this earlier this evening, and he stated that he had spoken to the Imperial Shrine about this, and according to them the Mason/Potentate that the GL of AR expelled also has membership in the Grand Lodge of Iowa. The GL of Iowa has not taken any action to expel this man so far, and so the Imperial Shrine decided he could stay since he still has standing as a Mason in Iowa. I'm not familiar with GL of Iowa law, but GL of TX law states that if you are expelled in another jurisdiction we have recognition with, we will expel you here also. Iowa may be different, so the waters on this decision in AR are muddier than they seem. The Potentate I spoke to also stated that the Imperial Shrine feels that they have their hands tied on this issue, because in both the AR & MI situations, Imperial Shrine law allows for a man to exhaust all of his options before the Shrine will expel him. In both situations, Imperial Shrine does not feel that the men have exhausted all of their appeal options, and thus they believe expelling either of these men is premature. I disagree with that assessment, as it seems crystal clear to me that an expelled Mason can't be a Shriner. The Shrine is obviously willing to stick to its guns on this issue, to the point of losing two jurisdictions worth of members over two men who have been expelled in their respective jurisdictions. I think the Imperial Shrine is playing a game here that has no winners, and regardless of how it shakes out, these events have created a firestorm of controversy between these Grand Jurisdictions & the Shrine, and there are a lot of innocent Shriners caught in the midst of something that has nothing to do with them.

    Not a good day for Masonry...
     
  10. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    These situations make me very sad. This is a lose-lose-lose for all concerned. The fact that the two individuals who are at the center of this, are both potentates! The public relations aspect is a disaster. I hope that there are men of good will, who can work towards a solution, and be able to keep the Shrine operating in Arkansas and Michigan.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2011
  11. Ashton Lawson

    Ashton Lawson Premium Member

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    Per Rob Herd, a member of Enlightenment #198 in CO, Imperial Potentate Mike Severe posted on Facebook that he as well as Iowa GL had reviewed "The Trumped Up Charges" (absolute quote) and are not going to act on them. Therefore, this guy has a valid Iowa dues card and the Shrine is letting him stay. Interesting that Masonic charges that resulted in a trial, conviction, and expulsion are being referred to as "trumped up." I wonder what he was charged with now.

    I think Shriners need to call Imperial and let them know how they feel about this.
     
  12. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    Here is the "draft" response from the Imperial Potentate. For background: The individual held memberships in two (2) lodge, one in Arkansas, and one in Iowa. The Grand Master of Arkansas had the man expelled from Arkansas Masonry. The Grand Lodge of Iowa refused to accept the expulsion, and kept him on as a Master Mason in good standing in his Iowa lodge.


    Read it for yourself:






    A RESPONSE



    By now, you will have received a letter dated December 8, 2011 (this was not sent until December 23, 2011) from the Grand Master of Arkansas regarding action he has taken against Floyd R. Buffington, Potentate of Scimitar Shriners, as well as Shriners International. I ask your indulgence while I present you with the facts as I understand them.



    The prerequisite for membership in Shriners International is that the petitioner must be in good standing as a Master Mason of a lodge recognized by or in amity with the Conference of Grand Masters of North America.



    Bro. and Potentate Floyd R. Buffington is a Master Mason in good standing in the Grand Lodge of Iowa and was a Master Mason in good standing in the Grand Lodge of Arkansas until his membership therein was revoked by this Grand Lodge.



    It appears that, at a private social activity, a certain lady and Potentate Buffington engaged in inappropriate language. Who said what and who commenced the incident is subject to which witness receives your credibility. Suffice it to say, that the allegations of each party are disputed by the other party.



    Brother and Noble Floyd R. Buffington was elected potentate of Scimitar Shriners for 2010. Under §325.2(b) of the bylaws of Shriners International, a Noble may not serve as potentate of any temple for more than 2 years. Potentate Buffington decided that he would like to serve a second term. This did not meet with unanimous approval. Efforts by some Nobles to persuade him not to seek a second term were not heeded. The Nobles of the temple elected him as their 2011 potentate and he is completing his second term at this time.



    Soon thereafter, Noble Carroll Elder filed a complaint in Springdale Lodge 316 (the home lodge of Bro, Buffington and Bro. Elder) alleging unmasonic conduct during the above mentioned Shrine activity.



    An investigation was conducted in the Masonic lodge and the investigation committee found no cause, but did note the internal conflict at Scimitar Shriners by the second term election; no Masonic complaint was instituted in the Masonic lodge in Iowa of which Potentate Buffington is a member; and no Shrine complaint was instituted by Scimitar Shriners, the Shrine temple in which Potentate is a member. Instead, the Grand Master in Arkansas appointed a Grand Lodge investigation committee, consisting of individuals of his choosing, to "look into" the allegations. After receiving the report from this committee, which report has not been seen by Potentate Buffington, the Grand Master charged Potentate Buffington with unmasonic conduct. Potentate Buffington was informed of the charge and the Grand Master then suspended Potentate Buffington "from all rights of a Master Mason" in Arkansas pending the outcome of a Grand Lodge Trial Commission, that would take place at a later time. That is, the Grand Master suspended Potentate Buffington prior to any trial. Then, after the trial of the Grand Lodge Trial Commission a report of the trial committee was sent to the Grand Master but none was sent to Potentate Buffington. The Grand Master then sent a letter dated August 31, 2011 to Potentate Buffington informing him of his immediate expulsion from Freemasonry in Arkansas.



    The Masonic Lodge in Arkansas of which Potentate Buffington is a member appointed an investigating committee as hereinbefore mentioned, and that committee, namely Bro. Larry Holt, P.M., Bro. Gary Gambill, P.M. and Bro. Shane Howeth, P.M., officially filed an appeal to the Board of Appeals and



    Grievances of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas of Potentate Buffington’s expulsion from Freemasonry by the Grand Master or the Trial Committee. The appeal states,


    inter alia:



    No one knows if it was the Commission’s recommendation or not because the Grand Master was the only one they would report to. This is improper and just plain wrong. The defense, or the home lodge, should be notified by the Commission and signed by all of the members on the Commission of their decision and recommendation to the Grand Master. Any decision kept secret from the people involved in any trial is a hint of improper activity and intent to control the trial’s final outcome. If there is no wrong doing or hidden agenda in the holding of a trial, there should be no reason to close the trial to any interested Master Mason.



    It is only proper that Master Masons from any lodge in Arkansas be allowed to attend in order to communicate to their home lodges the activities of the trial in order to make an intelligent decision at the next Grand Lodge meeting when this subject is brought up. To us, this is an attempt to keep the lodges around the state in the dark as to the actual proceeding of the trial so they will rubber stamp the decisions of the Grand Master or the reporting Committee.



    First of all, a Mason was suspended without trial.



    Second, this was a closed trial.



    We were told that "no character witnesses will be allowed." . . . The prosecution was allowed to enter evidence against his character from a source completely foreign to the specifics of this trial and a document concerning the above board character of Floyd was not allowed to be read and the Commission would not even read it themselves. This was completely unfair.



    The prosecution entered unlawful, condemning, testimony taken over the telephone and unsigned. The accused was never contacted about any testimony that was taken at any time. This was allowed over objections and is so wrong that it is just unbelievable.



    No one was allowed to give testimony at this trial that was not at the event where the use of bad language was allegedly used by Floyd except the man who brought the charges in the first place. He was allowed to testify and he was not even at the event and did not hear any such bad language. How can somebody prefer charges against anyone for something that happened in a place where they were not there? Anything this man said should have been disallowed. It was not.



    Every witness the prosecution called that was at the event testified that they did not here Floyd uses any bad language. The only person that was heard using bad language was the woman who caused all of this. Her unsigned testimony taken over the phone was proven untrue.



    It is very apparent that this trial was not about using bad language but about removing a sitting Potentate, the only one elected two years in a row, from his office.



    It is also very apparent that the disgruntled Shriners over the re-election of the Potentate have some connection with someone in the Grand Lodge. One of these Shriners called Floyd and told him that if he did not resign as Potentate that charges would be brought against him. There is a witness to confirm this. This Shriner also beat his wife. There is a witness to confirm this also. This same guy was assigned to the Committee of Investigation by the Grand Lodge, whatever that is, to investigate whether there was sufficient evidence to have a Trial Commission Trial. With this man on the committee it was assured that the charge would stand up and a trial would be had. This guy is the one that should be on trial.



    These Shriners tried to get Floyd removed in the Shrine and could not. The Supreme Council of the Shrine found no cause to remove this man as potentate. With that failing they filed these frivolous charges to try to get him expelled in his home lodge thus getting him removed as Potentate. His home lodge found this



    to be a political ploy by unsavory Shriners to get this man removed as Potentate by a man who was not even at the event where the alleged unmasonic conduct supposedly occurred. This alone was evidence enough not to have a trial but the fact that this was not about Masonic misconduct but about politics in the Shrine, it was the decision of the home lodge investigation committee that the charges were not warranted and they are still not warranted. The Grand Lodge ignored all of this and suspended him immediately without a trial.



    I don’t know what is going on in the Grand Lodge but I do know that this trial was completely unfair and totally biased against Floyd. Floyd was proven innocent against all charges if you listen to the recording and if the recording does not prove this then it has been tampered with. There is no way that this man is guilty and if he is then almost every Master Mason in the state of Arkansas should be expelled also.



    /s/ Larry Holt, P.M.



    /s/ Gary Gambill, P.M.



    /s/Shane Howeth, P.M.







    Potentate Buffington, pursuant to Shrine fraternal law, asked that his Shrine membership not be terminated until he had an opportunity to be heard. A stay of termination of his Shrine membership was issued by the Grievances and Appeals committee of Shriners International until a hearing regarding his Shrine membership can be held – which will occur no later than the 2012 annual session of Shriners International in July.



    I, as Imperial Potentate, held a telephone conference with the Grand Master of Masons of Arkansas on December 14, 2011. In attendance with me were the General Counsel and General Counsel Emeritus of Shriners International. In attendance with the Grand Master were the Deputy Grand Master, Grand Secretary (PGM), Grand Secretary Emeritus (PGM), Grand Treasurer and Grand Treasurer Emeritus (PGM).



    During this telephone conference the Grand Master wanted to know what Shriners International intended to do. In response, the representatives of Shriners International outlined the different governing laws between the Grand Lodge and Shriners International; and that the Imperial Potentate had taken an oath to govern his organization in accordance with its laws and that the Grand Master took an oath to govern his organization in accordance with its laws. It was explained that disciplinary procedures are governed by §330.2 of its international bylaws which provide the guidelines for the determination of whether an accused Noble should be disciplined, the extent of such discipline if appropriate and to assure fair play and substantial justice as these concepts are understood and practiced in North America. As a result, it often takes a little longer to resolve disciplinary issues.



    After further discussions, a Grand Lodge representative stated that Shriners International must follow the Grand Lodge laws in its Shrine governance within the state of Arkansas and referred to a letter written to the Grand Lodge on January 3, 2001 by the newly elected potentates of the two shrine temples in Arkansas, although they had not yet been installed. This letter stated:






    That they "request formal recognition of the Shrine as an organization having Masonic membership as a prerequisite to its own," and that they request "to be in amity with the Grand Jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Arkansas."



    The two potentates-elect go on to say that the letter is written "on behalf of the Master Masons of Arkansas who hold membership in the Shrine and is signed as such by the potentates of Scimitar and Sahara Temples" and "that in making this request, and on behalf of our membership, the officers of the



    Shrine acknowledge the Grand Lodge of Arkansas as the fundamental unit and foundation of the whole of Freemasonry within this Grand Jurisdiction." The letter further stated that the two potentates "affirm that the officers of the Shrine will hold the obligations of a Master Mason to be inviolate at all times and under all circumstances." And they affirm that "the officers of the Shrine will allow no person to visit a tiled meeting, or be admitted into or retain membership in either of the Shrine temples of Arkansas, who is not a Master Mason in good standing of a subordinate lodge of this or another Grand Jurisdiction recognized by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Arkansas."



    The contents of the letter by the two potentates-elect were "approved by Imperial Potentate Robert N. Turnipseed."







    The foregoing letter never asked – nor could it – that the two Shrine temples in Arkansas would be "appendant" bodies of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas and would be governed by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. It was, instead, recognition that the Grand Lodge of Arkansas was the governing Masonic body in the state.



    Then, later on during the year, the Grand Lodge, by its unilateral action, perhaps at a Grand Lodge annual communication, recognized the Shrine as an "appendant body," of the Grand Lodge. It is apparent that the Grand Lodge chose the word "appendant" very carefully and, thereafter, gave it a construction that connotes that the appendant body (Shriners International) is the subservient body to the supreme body (Grand Lodge of Arkansas).



    Realizing the foregoing connotation, Scimitar Shriners, requested the Grand Lodge to withdraw its action of "appendant" recognition. The Grand Lodge has not done so.



    During the telephone conference with the Grand Lodge on December 14, 2011, when the representatives of the Grand Lodge specified that Shriners International was an "appendant body" of the Grand Lodge and must abide by the decisions of the Grand Lodge, whether or not they are in conflict with the governing laws of Shriners International, the conference call was summarily concluded by the Grand Lodge with the statement that you will hear from us very shortly.



    During the telephone conference, Shriners International requested the Grand Lodge to withdraw its action of "appendant" recognition. The Grand Lodge said it would not.



    So, upon receipt of the December 8, 2011 dated letter from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas on or about December 23, 2011, it was apparent that the Grand Lodge had made its irrevocable decision six days before the conference call on December 14, 2011, and all reasonable efforts by Shriners International to resolve this controversy in an amicable and brotherly manner was not to be.



    Prior to 1989, there had been occasional instances of fraternal controversy between Shriners International and a Grand Lodge. I am pleased to inform you that all of them had been resolved in the highest traditions of our two great fraternal organizations – Freemasonry and Shriners International.



    On July 7, 1989, at the annual session of Shriners International, the attached resolution was unanimously adopted by the representatives. It provided mutual clarity and respect for our two fraternal organizations. Any differences after that date between a Grand Lodge and Shriners International were resolved in accordance with the principles of that document. It is with sorrow that I have found it necessary to report to you in this communication about the unresolved differences between the Grand Lodge of Arkansas and Shriners International.



    The December 8, 2011 letter from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas is self-evident. You have read it. I, as Imperial potentate, must now, with utmost reluctance, respond to the actions recited in the Grand Master’s letter. I must take appropriate action to protect and defend Shriners International and abide by my oath of office to "faithfully and to the best of my ability, discharge the duties of the office to which I have been elected."



    My response will be issued forthwith.

    -------------end--------------------------




    There will be more to this, I am sure. All I can say is, stay tuned.
     
  13. Ashton Lawson

    Ashton Lawson Premium Member

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  14. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like lodge politics on steroids...

    How does that quote go? It's not the woodpeckers that destroy the temple but the termites within?
     
  15. LRG

    LRG Premium Member

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    JJ Jones, we as Master Masons should know better than to resort to such behavior. We should also encourage all of our appendant bodies the absolute best. I am a Shriner and proud of such. Brother Martin has given facts as they have been given to all Temples/Centers. As such we should only encourage a peaceful resolution, for Harmony holds at balance. We are not just Shriners,Knights,Companions , but 100% Brothers.
     
  16. masonicknight

    masonicknight Registered User

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  17. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    I have received several documents from the Imperial Potentate, and the Grand Masters of Arkansas and Michigan. If you send me a PM, with your email address, I can send you the documents. This is an interesting situation.

    "May you live in interesting times" - Old Chinese Curse
     
  18. MikeMay

    MikeMay Premium Member

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    There is nothing good that will come out of this...from the outside looking in, the appearance of ego's getting in the way seems to be the biggest problem. They need to get this resolved.

    My question is how will the Shrine's Children's Hospitals suffer because of this?
     
  19. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    I can't predict the future. In spite of the twin disasters, there may be some good come out of this. The fact that we are discussing our problems, openly, is good. Before the internet, this kind of crap would all be handled behind closed doors. There may some new insights provided, and Grand Lodges will be held to a higher standard of accountability.

    Maybe I am an optimist. But I still believe that there are Masons of good will, who will work together to find solutions.

    Will the Shriner's hospital program take a "hit". Maybe. But the long term developments might help Freemasonry and the Shrine. The relationship between the organizations might be improved, or at least be "defined" more clearly.

    The Michigan court will convene in February 2012. If the charges against the current potentate are dismissed, or a civil penalty against his employer is assessed, the man will be reinstated into Freemasonry, and the problem will be solved.

    Stay tuned.
     
  20. sands67

    sands67 Premium Member

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    wow

    I am a Master Mason and a Shriner and i find this all very disturbing. I joined the Shriners because of the cause and that was to help children in dire need.Whenever I got tired of the politics it was one of the things that helps keep me grounded. At least from what I have read in the response there does seem to be some concerns. That being said is there a body that he can appeal the decision of the GL of AR so that all looks of impropriety or politics be removed?
     

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