What obligation does masonry have to Masons in Arkansas?

Discussion in 'Shrine' started by sands67, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. sands67

    sands67 Premium Member

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    I am goong to throw this out there for discussion. Although the issue is divided I have to ask people if the Grand Lodge of Arkansas appears to be acting in an unmasonic manner doesn't the rest of masonry have an obligation to cut off relations with the Grand Lodge there and entertain the possibility of a new Grand Lodge in Arkansas being formed. What does it say for Masonry as a whole if other Grand Lodges do nothing?

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  2. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    Arkansas's mess was caused by an illegal actions of more than one Grand Master. Mostly expulsions by edict without trial. I do not know if these actions have been voted on at annual communication but if they have that set a precedent that in Arkansas the GM has de facto authority to expel men by edict. (Power versus authority - In many jurisdictions the power of the GM is near the level of dictator while his authority is checked by vote of the GL. We recently saw this in action in Florida when the brethren overturned Decision #3. He had the power to issue his Decision but the vote of GL told his successors they have no authority to do similar in the future).

    Abuse of this power has happened over the years by various GMs in various jurisdictions. Members of any current grand line may be tempted by such a power. More than one GM in history has tried to make a problem go away by expelling a brother without a trial. Sometimes it has worked as the brother has left Masonry in disgust. Other times it has been a PR disaster as in this case where an illegal expulsion without trial put the Shrine and GL at loggerheads.

    One thing that has happened is brothers expelled not just in Arkansas but also in other jurisdictions were edict expulsions have happened have affiliated in other jurisdictions. As Masons they have been able to continue in the Shrine and other activities. That approach doesn't need any GL action and is rather like jury nullification where a jury judges the law not the facts. In this case the brothers of a lodge overrided an errant GM in another jurisdiction. If I read the various posts on the events correctly the expelled Potentate was a dual member in another jurisdiction who did not expel him so he remains a Mason in good standing. The Shrine's reaction is thus the type of pressure on the Arkansas GL that fits discussion here.

    Should we threaten to pull recognition from Arkansas for the illegal actions by their out of control GMs? It's happened in recent years with more than one of them so it's a trend now. At least one GL threatened to pull recognition from Florida for one of their edicts last year so it's definitively an option.

    My question is one of approach. Most states have committees on recognition. Recognition matters can go through them. Recognition matters can go through legislation to by pass them in the chain of command. The Conference on Grand Masters has a Committee on Information for Recognition - They would seem to be the higher not-quite-authority in the field. What they recommend is generally approved by vote at annual GL.

    Out of control grand lines in other countries are being dealt with at the Committee on Information level, but what about member grand lines in the US? It would be much harder to reign in Arkansas, West Virginia and other members.

    The way I see it the Shrine's action here is very much the same as pulling recognition for an out of control GL. The trouble is clouded by the fact that for decades the Shrine has rumbled about pulling Masonic membership as a requirement and this looks like yet another step testing the waters of that trend. I figure it's actually both as far as the Imperial level of the Shrine is concerned. An out of control GM expelled a Potentate with no trial and a good test case landed in the Shrine's lap. They almost don't have a down side here if we only look at the events at GL level and ignore the long standing movement within the Shrine.
     
  3. sands67

    sands67 Premium Member

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    I think you have many excellent points. I think we have to have a very close look at our masonic beliefs. If it appears a line at any grand lodge is going to act in ways that appear to contradict Masonic Principles than it is the responsibility of other Grand Lodges to look at the actions for the good of Masonry. So far it appears that they may have abdicated that and done the exact opposite.

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  4. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    If there's a problem then forming a new GL in Arkansas won't necessarily insure it doesn't happen again. IMO it sounds more like changes to the grand progressive line are needed than anything.
     
  5. BryanMaloney

    BryanMaloney Premium Member

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    Pulling recognition would probably have no effect--it would feed into the siege mentality. On the other hand, at times it is necessary to quarantine an infection.
     
  6. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm curious, is the main concern the events that led to AR pulling shrine recognition or is it just the fact they pulled recognition?
     
  7. sands67

    sands67 Premium Member

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    @jjones....not sure if I understand what you mean?

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  8. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    My apologies, I'll rephrase my question:

    What is the unmasonic manner in question you are referring to in your original post?
     
  9. sands67

    sands67 Premium Member

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    From what I have been told the Grand Line in the State of Arkansas are all of the same mindset as the last two Grandmasters and this will remain for the next 10 years at least. That being the case is it right for any Grand Lodge to not take action if another is acting in what appears to be an unmasonic manner? Where does masonary draw the line not even taking into account the Arkansas, Florida, Michigan or South Carolina situations? Should there not be an accountablility not only of each Grand Lodge to masonry but to each other to make sure the ideals are being held up? In Arkansas what happened with the Shrine should never have happened. The Shrine should have shuttered those temples imho. To allow non-masons into the Shrine was a cop out. However, I also feel that the Grand Lodges in North America let those masons in Arkansas down by not acting to review the situation and in the absence of that each grand lodge can do what it wants to its members. Masonary is supposed to be about making good men better men is it not? We have all seen examples of how this is not always the case. Maybe if grand lodges were accountable to each other for actions this type of thing may not start at all.
     
  10. sands67

    sands67 Premium Member

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    No apology necessary Brother. I was looking at the type of behaviour the Grand Master there has been taking with the expulsion of members for things many of us would not even think twice about such as faxing a paper. The complaint made by a mason who was not even party to the alledged offence. The list could go on, but I am seeing more of a which hunt than brotherly love at least in Arkansas.
     
  11. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    I consider both serious concerns. Which one is the larger problem is secondary to me. Being informed about both sides of the problem is primary to me. Two long standing trends collided here and it's not the first time. One is abuse of power by grand line officers in the form of expelling Masons without trials. One is a long standing trend by the Shrine to increase its distance from blue lodge Masonry. Those two problems collided resulting in this situation.
     
  12. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    That's the conundrum to me at well. I remember when PHA recognition happened. At least one state pulled recognition from the recognizing state. Siege mentality. The pulled recognition didn't last but to this day the state that pulled recognition over PHA still does not recognize PHA.

    Should recognition be pulled over a GM out of control? That's up to the members of GL (Wardens, Masters, PMs) to see if any are motivated enough to submit legislation at GL to force the issue - bottom up approach. That's up to the members of the Conference of Grand Masters committee on recognition - top down approach (Given that Arkansas is a member of the conference I will be astonished if this option happens). Then once it's up for vote it depends on the advice of the grand line and on the voters. In France the GM went nuts. Some GLs have pulled recognition some have given France more time.

    So in recent Masonic history I have two examples that parallel this situation. Neither lead to me having a clear idea whether pulling recognition is the way to go, and I'm often decisive enough to be considered opinionated on matters of GL to GL relations.
     
  13. sands67

    sands67 Premium Member

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    I would be astonished as well. From my understanding the conference left the Grand Master in each jurisdiction up to their own devices. it is an abdication of responsibilty at least in my mind.

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  14. Beeman

    Beeman Registered User

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    I live on the state line in Missouri. I have read all I can find on this. It looks to me like it is all about a state gm trying to control an international organization. Have I missed the point?
     
  15. sands67

    sands67 Premium Member

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    That is how I see it as well, but there could always be different viewpoints.

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  16. Boone

    Boone Registered User

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    The bad thing is that its been the last several who have overstepped their bounds and have acted in an unmasonic manner. It has led to a lot of inner turmoil and despair. Some Arkansas lodges simply say to ignore GL and keep on going. However that allows this behavior to continue.


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  17. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    I'm not convinced the GM in Arkansas had any intention to do battle with the Imperial level.

    On the one hand more than one recent GM in Arkansas has expelled brothers by edict without trial. That to me looks like trying to control their own members. The problem is Arkansas GMs in recent years have expelled without trial other brothers for other reasons as well. Battle with the Shrine could as easily been an unintended consequence as the ulterior motive. But if it was the ulterior motive why then expire an assortment of other brothers for other reasons?

    On the other hand the Imperial level of the Shrine has long battled with GMs in more than one state. That to me looks like trying to use a bad situation to their own advantage.
     
  18. Bro Darren

    Bro Darren Premium Member

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    As the outsider looking in, I can't see how this topic and discussing it in an open forum can benefit the craft in anyway. I see some great points, but the whole thing adds to the misunderstanding of the craft as one hand we (outsiders) are told that there is no back door politics in the craft and that this type of stuff does not happen. Then these threads come along and contradict that teaching.

    I'm not being pushed away from joining, but I can see the damage it can do in peoples perception of the fraternity.
    IMO
     
  19. Boone

    Boone Registered User

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    I hear you and understand. The primary thing to remember is that Freemasons are people. Many who strive to do their best and become better men. Unfortunately some fall short of the lofty goals they admired so much when they joined the fraternity. Others may have joined for the wrong reasons altogether. But I believe that as long as we try to make ourselves better men; we can be knocked down but not out.


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  20. Bro_Vick

    Bro_Vick Moderator Premium Member

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    Unmasonic and Irregularity are two separate things, the GLofAK not recognizing the shrine isn't an irregular activity or any landmark in Freemasonry. GLofAK wasn't invading another jurisdiction, nor recognizing Masons who have been expelled. Grand Lodges are expected to police their Grand Officers, it isn't the job of another jurisdiction to make them do it.

    S&F,
    -Bro Vick
     

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