Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shriners Declared "Clandestine" by the Grand Lodge of Michigan

This from what I have always found to be the atrociously titled though well intentioned "Freemasonry for Dummies" blog and a comment (written in purple, followed by our commentary in black):
The Grand Master of Michigan, MW Frederick E. Kaiser, Jr., has withdrawn official recognition of the Shrine there, and it has been declared clandestine and illegal. Michigan Masons may not attend tyled Shrine meetings in that state.

The problem stems from a Mason who was expelled by the Grand Master in July allegedly for pleading guilty to a crime punishable by incarceration of one or more years, and per Michigan's Masonic rules. Unfortunately, the Elf Khurafeh Shrine and the Imperial Shrine (Shriners International) in Tampa didn't agree and kept the suspended Mason as a full member of the Shrine. A slight complication: he's the current Potentate. He had pled guilty to possessing and operating gambling devices, and probably won't be sentenced until February. However, since he did plead guilty, the GM expelled him. The Shrine did not...

From the GM's letter of November 23rd:

The expelled Mason, by action of Elf Khurafeh Shrine, headquartered in Saginaw, Michigan continues to be a member and Potentate of that Shrine. Elf Khurafeh’s action to retain him was subsequently upheld by the Imperial Potentate. This situation exists despite the reputed requirement that a member of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of
the Mystic Shrine (Shriner’s International) must also be a Mason in good standing.

Discussion was initiated with the Imperial Potentate, and counsel for the Imperial Shrine. The Grand Lodge of Michigan explained its position, and requested that the Imperial Potentate reconsider his decision, given information previously unavailable to him. Unfortunately for all concerned and with heavy heart, I must state that no modification of
his position, nor of Elf Khurafeh Shrine’s, has occurred.

Elf Khurafeh Shrine and the Imperial Potentate have failed to adhere to their own Shrine law, by retaining a non-Mason in their ranks. They have also failed to honor their obligations under Michigan Masonic Law. Therefore, acting under § of Michigan Masonic Law, the Grand Lodge of Michigan hereby withdraws formal recognition of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriner’s International) as a Masonic organization in the State of Michigan. The relevant sections of Michigan Masonic Law are as follows:

§3.8.2: Any and all organizations, associations, or persons within the State of Michigan, professing to have
any authority, power or privileges in Ancient Craft Masonry, not fraternally recognized by this Grand Lodge, are
declared to be clandestine and illegal, and all Masonic intercourse with any of them is prohibited.

§ All Master Masons under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Michigan who hold membership in
Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine are forbidden to attend tiled Shrine meetings when there is in
attendance a suspended or expelled Mason.

It is therefore my order that no Mason who holds membership in a Michigan Lodge, or in a Lodge chartered by a recognized Grand Lodge who resides or sojourns in Michigan, may (1) attend any nonpublic function of any Shrine in Michigan or (2) have any Masonic interaction of any kind with any Shrine organization in Michigan. Furthermore, no Shrine function or activity will be afforded a special privilege not afforded any other unrelated organization that is allowed to use a building dedicated to Masonic purposes, or on the grounds of a building so dedicated.

Violation of these provisions by a Mason under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Michigan is punishable by charges of un-Masonic conduct.
 And then we have this from a commenter: "The GM had the intestinal fortitude to make an unpopular decision to assert the sovereignty of the Grand Lodge over all things Masonic. Unfortunately, some bodies forget that."

I respectfully though intensely disagree with the course of action and the commenter.  Being a Mason does not stop your freedom of association. The the A.A.O.N.M.S (known more popularly as the Shrine and its members Shriners) is not a Masonic organization in that Lodge functions occur; it is simply an association that limits itself to Masons. (At least most of the time; Shriners have regularly admit on an "honorary" basis any number of individuals who are not nor have ever been Masons.)  

These are independent Masons not conducting Masonic affairs.  When anyone starts to dictate to Masons what they can do independent of Freemasonry and outside the lodge then we run dead against the values that Freemasonry is supposed to be championing and imparting and the rights that Masons depend on the practice the Craft (see the Constitution and the notion of freedom of association and assembly).

(As a related aside, I often find it funny that an organization that promotes its history as a model of democratic principles often brings out the lurking authoritarianism in its members. Human nature...)

I entirely agree, for instance with the Grand Lodge of Kentucky's long held decision to not recognize the Shrine.  If anything I do not think that the grand lodges who govern the "blue lodges" should be in the business of conferring the favor of recognition or not to external organizations that do not deal in  blue lodges just as we expect for the most part (in this country anyway) for the York Rite, Scottish Rite, Shrine, Cedars, etc. to not get into conferring the degrees of the blue lodge. Fortunately, this tends to be the case, i.e., grand lodges do not attempt to  restrict among its members outside degrees that are separate and different from the work of the Lodge.

"Sovereignty of the Grand Lodge over all things Masonic" is a very big statement that while grandiloquent is not true, for reasons of practice and principles of Freemasonry itself); the gentleman also seem to infer "Sovereignty of all people Masonic" as well which to any Mason should be alarming on the very face of it. 

This not only takes things as far as restricting the freedoms of Masons in ways heretofore unknown and unwarranted, but also takes the additional step of determining that the grand lodge of a state has the right to dictate the terms of operation to an independent body, and one that happens not to even be headquartered in the state (not that this is the crux of he issue.)

While not a Shriner I admire their good work and I believe that since it is being done by Masons it is a credit to Freemasonry because the members are Masons.

I also believe that this may be a product of ongoing issues, one being the dispute between the idea of whether grand lodges serve Freemasonry or whether Freemasonry serves the grand lodges. With such a declining state of membership there seems to be a lot of tension and politics inside Freemasonry and between Freemasonry and organizations of Freemasons.

Brethren are examining not just the laws/ rules and practices and their basis and history. Sometimes we see where politics and practice may not be valid. Things may be rapidly becoming a case of "reform (and splinter) or die" but I think we are much better served if everyone comes to their senses and perhaps the sides step back from creating unnecessary conflict. Perhaps it is true, that "he who rules less rules best".



T. Oldenburg said...

Where do we draw the line? Do we not have a book of masonic law in every lodge? The whole reason this fellow is in the Shrine is because he was (is) a mason.
This is a serious crime, one that Michigan masons have deemed worth expulision. We legislate every year to change or modify our laws to stay current.
Where does the Shrine come into this, you have to be a mason in order to be in the Shrine. In my interpretation, expulsion from would directly tie into the other. I am suprised from the information that has been made publicly avaliable, that the Shrine made their stance as they did. It gives no credit to their organization, which does amazing work for children and families.
As a Michigan mason I support the Grand Lodge of Michigan's decision, because they are my laws which I have the power to change.

Anonymous said...

How political. The Potentate's term of office is up at the end of this year. So I suppose the Michigan Shrine will be reinstated in January, eh?

Anonymous said...

I disagree. The Shrine is (at least for now) an appendant body of Freemasonry, i.e. one mus tbe a Mason in good standing to belong.

This Potentate committed a felony, Michigan GL law is pretty clear. Felony convictions warrant expulsion.

But you seem to be saying that the GL lodges shouldn't regulate the Shrine. I think this misses the point. The GL isn't interfering with Shrine affairs, it is disciplining its own member. That he has to be a Mason to be int he Shrine is - after all - a requirement of the Shrine, not of Blue Lodge Masonry.

If the Shrine doesn't like that requirement, they should change it (and personally, I wish they would). But until then, the Imperial Potentate should play by the rules his own organization established and remove the offender from the Shrine as he is no longer a Mason in good standing.

A Mason said...

These are interesting comments.

First to discuss Br Oldenburg 's statements of disagreement. Let me initially put aside whether or not Shrine's stance was one that we find agreeable or disagreeable.

The Shrine is an organization of Masons but they do not do the work of Freemasonry. With that understanding, do you think it would seem to be best for the Grand Lodge of Michigan and any other grand lodge to avoid engaging itself in the affairs of another organization or worse, dictate to its members its independent affairs?

Let me list reasons why it should not.

To do so is the abrogation of the most fundamental rights of the individual. Freemasonry should not get into the business of policing and restricting the activities of its members outside of the lodges. This is precisely what Freemasonry is supposed to be against. Will the grand lodges next start to prohibit perhaps what church can be attended?

The grand lodges officers should recall that their positions are to serve the Craft, and not to attempt to oversee anything that is outside of it, nor its members outside of it.

The functions of the grand lodge when rightly understood are in themselves very limited. They are circumscribed by constitutions (that finds some points disputed) and laws that are hardly made clear in the way that a fully formed system of jurisprudence exists, say, in our American court system. This is a fraternity, therefore harmony keeps us from digressing into work of that nature fortunately. For a grand lodge to imagine that it can make decisions on the rules and interpretations of rules by independent organizations is not only only outside of the purview of the lodge but also outside of what Freemasonry emphasizes.

There is another reason. The work of Freemasonry is challenging enough for grand officers to not have to involve themselves with overseeing the lives of its members let alone the methods of other organizations.

Now I will return to the instance of the crime and decision of the Shrine, though irrelevant to the business of grand lodges.

The Shrine made a decision to retain the fellow by their own order; whether as an executive decree or vote as an interpretation of its laws, or in exception to its laws, or however else it arrived it was its decision to make. I will think none the less of them for doing so.


A Mason said...

This man's fellow Shriner's are in a better position to know his character and to hear his explanation of the circumstances. I personally find his behavior as related neither so egregious as to think it would cancel the good opinion that he has garnered from his fellows. If anything I hope that the fellow, if not allowed back into a lodge in Michigan (I don't know the rules there) may find that he can continue to do good work and who knows, eventually retire in a state with different grand lodge stipulations that will allow him to once again become a member of a lodge. Even if I was familiar enough with the circumstances and did disagree with their decision I would have to recognize that this decision was outside of any grand lodge.

I believe it is also important that we use some wisdom and restraint in judging organizations and individuals. We can look over the history of any grand lodge and find where some of their acts may not be in strict accordance with masonic law and penalties available for each and every item are not applied. We will also find that there are individuals that fail to meet the same codes of law in these lodges, and again find that every prosecution or penalty available has not been applied. There are planks enough in any grand lodge's eye, and any organization's eye. Becoming legalistic and prosecutorial about such matters runs contrary to the spirit of Freemasonry.

The leadership of the grand lodge reached the limits of its power when it decided to expel the member. That decision may or may not have been influenced by politics but I think most of us would give a grand master (or other leaders) the benefit of doubt when he has masonic law of a jurisdiction to support a decision and no glaring act against the constitutions and landmarks, if not customary practices. The particulars of a grand lodges laws and choices to enforce them may be very contentious internally but I do not think that it these things weigh much externally.

Yet the unprecedented overreach (deeming an outside organization out of bounds for its members) is remarkable. It also probably opens the leadership of a respected grand lodge to accusations, even if unfounded of taking adverse actions against a member that are politically motivated. That is unfortunate.

A Mason

Anonymous said...

The Grand Master of Michigan is well within his right to ban all Masons from associating with the unruly Shrine in question. It is a well known fact, worldwide, that if you leave Blue loge you automatically forfeit your membership in any other appendant Masonic bodies. That rule obviously means that no other loge head trumps the Blue lodge Grand Master who is the highest Freemason in the land. The Shriners know full well that they are Masons first. Stay in the light Brothers.

Anonymous said...

It is known among Michigan Masons that this was a move taken by the Grand Master for political reasons and that the two men did not get along and had been in rival camps.

At any rate, the idea that one grand lodge can assert its power over "all Masons and all bodies they attend" is ridiculous. The grand lodge doesn't have power over people, it has power over proceedings in its lodge. Masonry doesn't promote slavery, quite the opposite. My monthly card game is open only to Masons, but does the Grand Lodge of Michigan now believe it can tell me who to invite and ban those it doesn't like, perhaps because they were a group of rivals for office?

I am concerned by the way that people know so little about Freemasonry who are Masons as to not understand that the Blue Lodge is one thing but that that bodies of Masons who have over the years made psuedo Masonic organizations, or social or philanthropic organizations while Masonic in that they are open to Masons are not practicing Freemasonry.

That misunderstanding also leads to some of the gross misunderstanding about superimposed "higher" degrees. They are separate and separate for a reason. The Blue Lodge is Freemasonry and independent and supreme in itself. To "recognize" higher bodies is to recognize that this is not the case, and thus to recognize that there are "higher" degrees, and other degrees that make Freemasonry, thus destroying the notion of the sublime third degree or American Freemasonry's stance that no Supreme Council or other higher council should be created to create lodges, or to rule or oversee Freemasonry. The men who do this by claiming that association of Masons are Masonic do not seem to have the mental ability to grasp the hazard that they would put the the sovereignty of all grand lodges. Next thing you know every Shriner Potentate will be claiming the right to open a blue lodge and give the three degrees because someone opened this door.

Some Masons seem to have a fetish for being controlled by someone with an outsized feeling of grandeur or to be in obedience to an imagined all powerful lodge and title in way that is unmasonic. The grand lodges are supposed to take care of the practice of Freemasonry in their lodges. Finito.

Agree or disagree with the decision or the Shrine, it has nothing to do with the Grand Lodge of Michigan or the power mongering of certain grand lodge officers.

Anonymous Michigan Mason
Ann Arbor

Anonymous said...

The Potentate should resign for the good of the craft. He is putting his personal desires ahead of the craft. He knows the rules and should abide by them. No single man should be above Freemasonry. If he wins his legal appeal then he can be reinstated. Who does he think he is?

Eastward Traveler said...

Just to be clear, Michigan Masonic Law does not automatically kick anyone out of a lodge who is commits an offense punishable by a year or more nor does it automatically preclude their membership. Instead, the "Grand Master shall be notified thereof by the Brother's lodge, whereupon the Grand Master shall, if he deems it necessary, sentence the
Brother to suspension or expulsion from Masonry."

I think this is important because historically, many of the most distinguished Masons have been subject to criminal condemnation including those in our Revolutionary and Civil wars, those who were active for Civil and Human Rights, etc. Masonry is a brotherhood. We do not look to condemn our brothers when they are in error, we try to lead them right.

Historically there has been the idea that Freemasons have the "horns of the altar" at hand. It was the position of the lodge to make such decisions on expulsion or suspension if necessary, when the voice in the ear of the brother could not help them find a way to correct their path and no other way was possible.

Anonymous said...

This contains a big quote so I am putting this comment in two halves.

First Half

I am a mason but not from Michigan. I was a made a Mason many years ago as a young officer in a military lodge. I am an active and I keep up on affairs throughout the world of Freemasonry as much as I can. When I saw this come up it immediately raised a flag for me. I knew that there was recently circumstances of a highly similar nature that did not turn out well for the grand lodge in question.

The example I am going to share will show that the Grand Lodge of Michigan is treading upon legally very dangerous ground that could be bad for all masons.

The Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Virginia issued an order barring its members to not attend or take part in the Shriners on pain of expulsion was made in 2008. It cost his grand lodge dearly in money to settle and the stood to lose much more in court. It also cost the grand master an election and brought up the fact that the grand lodges often claim powers that they legally do not and cannot have. Here is part of the article I have which I will type a quote from.

"The Grand Lodge being informed that it was not in a legally tenable position sought a lawsuit settlement that cost the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia $300,000, and reinstated the members of the Grand Lodge.

The two predominantly African American organizations, Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia was founded in 1875. The national Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North and South Jurisdictions Inc. (often informally called the Prince Hall Shrine) was founded in 1893.

News that the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia was compelled to settled a lawsuit with the Prince Hall Shrine follows reports that the Prince Hall Shrine had run afoul of Prince Hall Grand Lodges in recent years.

The specific issues in this case were that the Prince Hall Grand Master (or president) of the Grand Lodge of Virginia desired the Shriner organization to recognize him as having authority over both organizations, though the Shrine is registered as an independent organization. Another prominent issue was the contention that the Shrine, an organization chiefly of Masons, admitted expelled Masons and non-Masons.

The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia has agreed to settle three separate multimillion-dollar lawsuits by members of the Prince Hall Shrine, which is based in Memphis, Tennessee.

Under the agreement, the Virginia organization paid the Memphis group $300,000; and re-instated Masons and Order of the Eastern Star members who also were previously suspended for belonging to state affiliates of the Memphis-headquartered Shrine women’s auxiliary, the Daughters of Isis.

The litigation began in 2009 after Larry D. Christian of Williamsburg, then grand master or president of the 5,000-member Grand Lodge, issued what some consider a "loyalty order". The order barred Shrine members from participating in Masonic rituals and also banned them from entering Masonic lodges, including those to which they belonged either as expulsion or suspension.

Among other actions taken by the Shrine in response was a "protective order" that allowed those not recognized by their grand lodge in Virginia to join the Shrine. The lawsuit for $50 million followed.

In September 2010 the newly elected grand master, Herman Eggleston Jr. revoked his predecessor's edict, acknowledging the Shrine was a body independent and external of the Grand Lodges."

(Please read the second half.)

Anonymous said...

This contains a big quote so I am putting this comment in two halves.

Second Half

Courts often frown on presumed rights over individuals and external organizations and limitations placed on the freedom of association particularly by non profit fraternal organizations. Courts also have recently condemned monopolistic and anti competitive efforts by non profits, and even more so when they consists of penalties for members. The actions of these grand masters may be undercutting and jeopardizing their own grand lodges and what influence they do have by forcing these matters into the real court system where these edicts and masonic rules are put under the scrutiny of real law and real judges.

This dispute sounds personal. Let the grand master be the bigger man and for the sake of his lodge and for the Shriners and the good work that both do, put this dispute aside. That's my advice.

A concerned brother

Anonymous said...

The Shrine has violated their own rules requiring that their members be Masons in good standing. If they don't like it they should drop the requirement that their members be Masons.

R. Thompson said...

If there is nothing stopping say, honorary Shriners and the executive decision to except that person or persons to part or all of the requirements is that organization's prerogative. It is an independent organization.

I am sure that just as the Prince Hall Shriners' leadership had the right to issue a protective order permitting residents of states where there was not relation (or hostility) with the grand lodges to be excepted that the mainstream Shriners also possess that right. Obviously they do legally as an independent entity but we are speaking about whether it is the "right" thing.

I can't see why an independent organization deciding to make a decision on the exception of the membership requirements for their organization is wrong or for that matter why it would be the business of any other organization's leadership. This is even more the case when we look at all the good work that the Shriners do for children as well as assisting many others. Apparently the brother that was released from the GLM had and has a tremendous impact in that area, that is something that probably figured on the executive decision to keep the gentleman.

Is this charitable work something that the Grand Lodge of Michigan really wants to toss aside in terms of preventing its members from taking part in the good work of Shriners? Sure, you can decide to "not recognize" the organization, but why take the step of forbidding members on penalty of expulsion from taking part in another organization? Apparently in this particular case such an edict may not even be legal.

I bet that the Grand Lodge of Michigan gets a new grand master and all of this will be pushed aside. But we really have to get the politics and fighting for control out of the grand lodge. With all the membership losses and the inability to get new members why are we wasting time with this?

YITF said...

The response of Michael G. Severe, Imperial Potentate, Shriners Int'l in two pages or posts because of length:
November 30, 2011

To the Elected Officers and Nobles of Ahmed Shriners, Elf Khurafeh Shriners, Moslem Shriners and Saladin Shriners:

By now you have received or been informed of the actions of the Grand Master of Michigan expelling Illustrious Sir -blank- from Masonry. As you know, there are two sides to every story. In this letter I will inform you of the material facts that have come to my attention, cite our Shrine Law and present my conclusions based upon our Shrine Law.


Some time ago, the Elf Khurafeh Potentate, -blank-, was arrested and charged with violating the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act, a felony punishable by a year or more in jail. At his court appearance in February of 2011 Potentate -blank- and an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Michigan entered into a confidential “plea and sentence agreement” that included a plea of “guilty” by -blank-. According to -blank-’s attorney, the guilty plea was taken under advisement and an Order Delaying Sentence was entered by the Judge and the case was set for a return date in February, 2012. The final outcome of the case at that time is uncertain and among the possible results the charge against -blank- could be dismissed.

There has never been any Masonic trial of -blank-; never been any Shrine trial of -blank-; never been any criminal or civil trial of -blank-.

However, on June 14, 2011, the newly installed Grand Master of Michigan, Frederick Kaiser, issued a letter in which he ruled that the term “convicted” would henceforth be defined as either an adjudication of guilt(by either a judge or jury) or by a plea of guilty.

Then, in July, the Grand Master expelled -blank- from Masonry for the stated reason that -blank- was “convicted” of a crime punishable by incarceration of one or more years.

An appeal of this order to the Grand lodge on behalf of -blank- has been referred to the appropriate Committee for consideration and the Committee’s report at the Annual Communication on June 2, 2012.

I, as Imperial Potentate, was extremely distressed by the foregoing. Nonetheless, I asked my representatives to communicate with -blank- in an effort to present a resolution to the Grand Master that would be satisfactory to him. My representatives approached -blank- and stressed the sensitivity of the situation between the two bodies and implored him to voluntarily agree not to attend any tiled meeting or ceremonial of Masonry or the Shrine. So, even though he was in good standing with the Shrine (as the appeal of his expulsion was not final), he agreed to this recommendation for the good of peace and harmony between the Grand Lodge of Michigan and Shriners Int'l. Thereupon, on November 1, 2011 I issued a letter to -blank- confirming his non-attendance. I believed that this would satisfy the Grand Master within the parameters of Shrine Law.

On November 11, 2011, at the request of the Grand Master, I and my General Counsels joined in a conference call with Grand Master Kaiser and his representatives. Additional conferences ensued but I followed our Shrine Law and refused to expel -blank- based upon the Grand Master’s definition of “conviction.”

Thereafter, the Grand master chose to release another letter dated November 23, 2011 wherein he issued the following orders:

It is, therefore my Order that no Mason who holds membership in a Michigan lodge or in a lodge chartered by a recognized Grand Lodge who resides or sojourns in Michigan may: (1) attend a non-public function of any Shrine in Michigan or (2) have any Masonic interaction of any kind with any Shrine organization in Michigan. Furthermore, no Shrine function or activity will be afforded a special privilege not afforded any other unrelated organization that is allowed to use a building dedicated to Masonic purposes or on the grounds of a building so dedicated. -CONTINUED-

YITF said...


Violation of these provisions by a Mason under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Michigan is punishable by charges of un-Masonic conduct.
This ruling is to be read at your next regular communication and spread upon the minutes of your lodge.


Shrine law is found in our General Order and our Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.

General Order No 1. A resolution was adopted by the unanimous vote of the Representatives at the 1989 annual session of Shriners International. This resolution can be found on page 22 of General Order No. 1, Series of 2011-2012, entitled Sovereignty, Rights and Responsibilities. I urge you to read it in its entirety but call to your attention paragraph 1 thereof which states:

The Shrine is a separate and distinct legal fraternal corporation; it must abide by its articles of incorporation and bylaws; and its officers must abide by their oath of office to “strictly conform to the requirements of Shrine law.” The Shrine accepts that the various Grand Lodges all have different Masonic codes and bylaws that govern their organizations.

Bylaw. §323.8 of Shriners Int'l Bylaws state that “If a Noble loses his membership in the prerequisite body for any reason other than non-payment of dues, the loss of membership in his temple is effective when it becomes final in the prerequisite body unless he shall file an appeal with the Imperial Recorder within 30 days after the loss of his membership in the prerequisite body.” (emphasis added)

Annotation. Expulsion of a member by his Grand Lodge does not terminate Shrine membership until that loss becomes final.
Article 30. §330.2 of Article 30 of our international bylaws states:

This Article is intended to 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. (emphasis added)

As Imperial Potentate, I took the following oath of office:
I do solemnly promise and vow that I will faithfully and to the best of my ability discharge the duties of the office to which I have been elected, and that I will strictly conform to the requirements of Shrine law. (emphasis added)

All temple officers take the following oath of office:

I do solemnly promise and vow that I will faithfully and to the best of my ability, discharge the duties of the office to which I have been elected, and that I will strictly conform to the requirements of Shrine law and the bylaws of my temple. (emphasis added)


Under Shrine Law, -blank-’s expulsion from Masonry and the loss of membership in his temple is effective when it becomes “final” if and when the appeal to the Grand Lodge is denied. Under our Bylaws he remains a member in good standing until that time.

As you can see, by my actions herein recited, I am fulfilling my obligations. You can do no less.
I encourage all of you to continue to support our Shrine fraternity and our Shriners Hospitals for Children.

You are to read this communication at your next meeting and make it a part of the minutes.

Yours in the Faith,
Michael G. Severe, Imperial Potentate, Shriners Int'l

C: Imperial Divan
Grand Lodge of Michigan

Jeff Yoder said...

The GM of Michigan had the specific legal authority under Masonic Law to take this action. In the VA case cited the GM used presumed authority to take his aciton. If the GL of Michigan when we meet in next session rejects the GM actions then they are null and void. If the action is approved then no future GM may void the action. A future GM may reinstate the Shrine but that like the exblusion would need to be ratified by the GL in session.

We as masons make rules to govern our conduct. Lodges for years have failed to take action regarding inproper action of a brother. This cast all masons with the same brush of do as I say not as I do.

A Michigan Mason said...

Brother Yoder, Please bear with me.

"The Shrine is a separate and distinct legal fraternal corporation; it must abide by its articles of incorporation and bylaws; and its officers must abide by their oath of office to “strictly conform to the requirements of Shrine law.” What part of this do we not understand?

You do not seem to stay with the topic. The question was not whether the GM should or had a right to kick the member out, or even what his motivations are. It is not the quality of members and how much we stick to the exhortations of the Craft itself in the ritual in terms of being well educated, leading participants in civic and religious affairs, responsible to our families, etc. There are interesting issues worth a discussion but let us stick to the topic which is the GM telling Masons who they can associate with and how outside of the lodge. No GM has that right! THIS was the basis of the the Virginia case.

Are you implying that the GM of PHGLV didn't have the right by "Masonic Law" because it was a Prince Hall lodge??? Because not only is that lodge recognized by the GL of Michigan, it also predates the GL of Michigan. That was not the basis of the decision. Again, the grand lodge simply acknowledged that there is nothing in Freemasonry that could give him or his predecessor such a right! This is the antithesis of Freemasonry. Freemasonry does not operate under the bounds of whatever the GM or GL want to do. It operates in bounds of the Craft itself!

Misuse of the phrase "Masonic Law" is so rife in general in the Masonic world, or whatever is left of it. To the heavens if we only stopped abusing that phrase without knowing a danged thing about it.

There is no such thing as a Masonic Law that would give the right of a grand master to forbid anything outside of the three degrees that arrive at that sublime degree of a Master Mason. If Masons want to join clubs of Masons, churches of Masons, rites open only to Masons, business groups open only to Masons, etc. that is the choice of the Mason and those organizations!

Thank you for hearing me on this, I just feel strongly on this as many do, whichever way they see the issue. But really it has nothing to do with our opinions but with the actual purview of the GL's.

Jeff Yoder said...

Brother Michigan Mason

I bore with you on your comments and find that you contentions are unfounded. The GM of VA either Pince Hall or not did not have the authority to take action. The brothers of VA had not authorized him to take action. The brother of Michigan have authorized the GM to take action and the GM would not meet his obligation if he had not taken action. When the brother affected failed to comply and was allowed to continue to present himself as a mason via is shrine connection then the GM had to take the next step.

We have as a body overlook too much conducted that we should not have. I have transfered lodges when brothers did not conduct themselves as I beleive they should. Now the GM is attempting to restore both public and private faith in our fateranity.

I too dislike the misuse of term Masonic law especially when it is used to defend a convicted criminal.

Another Michigan Mason said...

A brother directed me to this conversation. Looking at this site it seems a shame that this one topic that divides perhaps along personal agendas, garners more comments than others. I am interested in other articles more than this one frankly but the comments are interesting and germane to the Freemasonry.

The last remark by brother Yoder, as a previous poster noted is a separate issue than banning membership in the Shrine but it is worthy of discussion even as a non sequitir.

I have no personal stake here so these are just general views.

Owning a gaming machine or the like. Poker games, the $10 each person pitched in for food drink and cigars, betting a friend on whose alma mater will win, (not paying taxes on either), not reporting informal income and gifts, taking a gift from a friend who you happen to have ever done business with if you work for the government, making a copy of DVD or sharing a song with a friend or relative, using hyperbole to promote our business, not getting that paper that's blown away, parking without paying the meter, jaywalking, giving someone an aspirin or sinus pill you got by prescription, drinking too much on bar premises, finders-keepers for that tenspot that was just sitting there with no one around that lucky day, in many places unmarried sex and most acts of sex, the champagne your 18 y/ had during the celebration, open container, letting your dog run off the leash, swearing, etc. In history, drinking, any gambling, any pre marital sex (and even kissing), any sex between those of differing ethnicity, were all illegal. In California one still cannot drive in their housecoat and in many places not in house shoes much less barefoot. Many of the above are or were felonies.

Also interesting is that the participants on both sides of all of our wars with internecine aspects, our Revolutionary war, our civil war the Mexican American War the so-called Whiskey Rebellion all included law breakers who were declared as such by one authority or another that they once recognized. Our founding fathers often engaged in the creation and sales of illegal alcohol. The civil protests that included property theft and destruction and / or illegal possession use of property or illegal presence including the Boston Tea Party and the acts of the civil rights era. And in the Red Scare secret summary judgments were made and often revealed against thousands of Americans in a way we now see as sinister.

The Lodge is left to make judgments on the issue knowing the man's character. Even if that man objects to his nation's government or policies, (though he is urged to) he is called an "unhappy man". This was a way to keep the legality and support of Freemasonry in the intrigue filled 18th century, along with prohibitions of religious and political discussions which though an innovation was one that most of us think has benefited the Anglo American Craft (even if our Continental Brethren do not ascribe to it.)

There are demands of the member to be of good character and still other demands for the brethren to be well educated and to participate in religious and civil life.

We do no however expect the brother to be perfect or we would not have as central to our Craft the idea of working upon that rough ashlar that is the man and his soul, and the calls for the man to attempt to make himself better. We would have not stress the importance of whispering good and correcting counsel into our brothers' ear while commanding the brother to keep the secrets of his brother in his breast. We would not construct the Solomonic altar with its horns affording security from vengeance.

(to be continued in a second part)

Anoher Michigan Mason said...

(finishing part)

I believe that we have failed to only admit into the West Gate the man of good character, well educated and who participates and contributes in religious and civil life that we now want to find a way, foreign to the construction of Freemasonry by its constitutions and traditions to, if you will, "clean up" the Craft. Grand Lodges not interested in working within the Craft too eagerly pick up upon this, ignoring their own failures and malfeasance. The plank in their eye is invisible to them.

At the same time there is obviously more than a hint of politics and personal grudges and divisions and agendas (look around you and into your heart of hearts and you can only see that it is true.) This is the worst of Masonic crimes as it violates the essential spirit of Freemasonry.

Anonymous said...

The letter from the GM was read at our regualr business meeting (blue lodge).. Unfortunately the discussion that ensued at our fellowship following the meeting was quite heated.

This dispute will and has caused serious division between the two organizations.

It's unfortunate that this couldn't be or wasn't handled in a less politically charged fashion.

I don't see any way this won't be destructive to both bodies. It seems a dispute over a matter civil legalities has become a clash of personalities and that the fraternaties best interest have become secondary.

Anonymous said...

I think the grnd master should find out what the law is. It would appear the Potentate pled guilty under a Pretrial Diversion, was placed on probation and when the probationary sentence is up, the case might be Dismissed AND the felony charge expunged. If the charge and sentence is expunged there has been no felony.

Anonymous said...

Masons are not known for leaping before they look. Then again looks can be deceiving. In the United States a person is supposed to be inocent until proven guilty in a court of law. He was declared clandestined by the Grand Master before any trial. The last time I checked Michigan was still part of the United States. . .

A Michigan Mason.

Yet Another Michigan Mason said...

To me, there are two different levels of perspective on this issue:

1) Shriners are required to be Masons in good standing. This brother was deemed to not be in good standing, and yet his Shrine not only maintained his membership in the shrine, but kept him as Potentate. As the Shrine did not follow its own rules, and refused to recognize that fact, then they are not in Harmony with the Grand Lodge of Michigan.

2) The other issue is whether the brother in question was deserving of expulsion from Masonry by the Grand Lodge. This is extremely subjective--it was a judgement call by the Grand Master, it may have been motivated by any number of factors. However, in the end, Michigan Masons delegate the Grand Master such authority, and have the power at the Annual Communication to confirm or reject that edict. The brother also had the right to appeal the edict.

No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes, but as Masons, we all take three obligations to uphold a moral standard and the laws of the craft. Regardless of the vagaries of civil law and the technical mumbo-jumbo contained therein, committing acts that warrant the investigation and felony charges by the Attorney General of Michigan simply cannot be construed as miniscule errors in judgment. Should this brother's character, prior conduct, and contributions to the craft be considered, of course. But as Masons, we are expected to cheerfully conform to the authority of the government, as well to our own Masonic Law. It is also a reasonable expectation that appendant bodies that require Masonic membership in good standing should conform to their own laws as well.

Anonymous said...

SHRINER ATTACKS A HANDICAPPED MASON On Jan 10, 2013 the number two or three man of the WY Shriners attacked a handicapped man who can not defend himself. Battery charges are being considered by the Big Horn County Proscecutors office. Will the Grand Master of Masons in WY kick out this man? Or will he let the Shrine bully him?