Monday, November 17, 2014
A Masonic "Bill of Rights". Is it needed?
I have shared my comment to a thread on MyFreemasonry.com that asks should we have a Masonic "Bill of Rights". I have also provided a link to the original thread for those who may wish to read the other comments on this topic.
I think you raise a valid point here, though I AM still curious as to why those who have become part of this fraternal organization are unable to conform to our rules, and why other members don't privately chastise those members (or leaders) who do not follow our rules.
In 25 years I have seen a lot of what I would term foolishness being exhibited by so-called leaders of our Grand Lodges. I started out in 1988 being subjected to a doctrine of separate & un-equal by being told that I could NOT petition a mainstream lodge, and that I must petition a Prince Hall lodge because my mother was Black... still makes NO sense to me even today.
I spent 10 years as a member of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge's of North Carolina, Ohio & South Carolina, often mistreated by other Blacks because my views and life experiences didn't match up with theirs or what they felt mine should be. During that 10 years, I submitted a petition to a Lodge under the Grand Lodge of North Carolina (1995), only to be rejected at the ballot box. The explanation given was that the lodge wasn't ready for a Black member. Really? So once again, my physical appearance was being used to make a decision about my fitness for membership.
I left Prince Hall Grand Lodge of South Carolina in 2000 and petitioned mainstream Grand Lodge of Texas in 2001 (where I was living then), only to be accepted by my lodge members but unwelcome in other subordinate lodges warranted by the Grand Lodge of Texas as a visitor... something that the Masonic Code of the Grand Lodge of Texas specifically forbids. When I (WM and Past Master's of my lodge) complained about the mistreatment, it was swept under the rug and over-looked by Grand Lodge of Texas officers from 2001-2005. I eventually requested a demit and moved on with my life, still holding membership in Grand Lodge of North Carolina where I had held membership as a dual member in the same lodge that denied me membership in 1995.
I leave Texas, return home to West Virginia so that I can be degraded by persons claiming to be Freemasons when attempting to visit a lodge in West Virginia. As my visitation was denied for what I felt were un-Masonic grounds, I lodged a complaint; first with my Grand Lodge, and then with the Grand Lodge of West Virginia.
At that time (2005-06), MW Br. Frank Haas was Grand Master and he acted on my complaint. PGM Haas sought to make positive, progressive changes in his grand lodges code, which he did accomplish. Every change voted on was over-turned by his successor, and there is now an informal agreement that if one wishes to serve as a Grand Lodge of West Virginia officer, one will not permit any Blacks in lodges regardless of what jurisdiction they are from that Grand Lodge of West Virginia may be in amity with.
To this day I AM unwelcome as a visitor of subordinate lodges warranted under the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, am unable to visit lodges in eastern Ohio that border West Virginia or visit lodges in western Pennsylvania for the same reason I AM denied visitation in West Virginia. I have been back in the area I was raised in since 2005, it is now 2014... that is 9 years of being excluded & ostracized for no legitimate reason. I have NOT been suspended or expelled, but then when you want to create difficulty for an individual, you will find a way to do it.
My present lodge and Grand Lodge are uncertain what to make of all of this negativity we tend to deal with in American Freemasonry. I was outdone with it all a long time ago.
What came out of the PGM Frank Haas lawsuit against the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, (which coincided with my presence here) was that our current regulations form a contract with our membership, and that the contract must be honored by our Grand Lodges and its officers. I was denied visitation for an un-Masonic reason which violated my masonic rights and privileges, so I had legitimate reason to complain. Had I simply been told that today wasn't a good day to visit, I could have accepted that better than being told that "wasn't no niggers coming into this lodge"!
I adamantly feel that whatever needs done should be done to guarantee or protect an individual Freemasons rights under Masonic regulations because I have seen too many good men (myself included) mistreated for NO real reason.
This foolishness has to stop, and Freemasons need to stand for what is right, even when it isn't popular. Ego and vanity have taken over so that many of us are more concerned with obtaining a position or a title than in standing for what is morally correct, something we freely obligated ourselves to do at all times, not just when it is convenient.