The Arkansas situation
In my John's Blog I have over the last months featured a section on the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, with links to various news items on the
goings on in from 2008 to 2016. There is much reading, most of it shocking to my beliefs as a Freemason. Should I clarify that by saying a
New Zealand Freemason. I find little in these items to convince me that New Zealand and Arkansas Grand Lodges are compatible.
It will help you, the reader to read all the Blog links before continuing reading this Food for Thought. I will however copy some parts of the
news items here. I will not concentrate on expulsions in a manner that would be impossible in New Zealand. The stories in the full reports
What are the principle items that I think are problematic?
In our New Zealand Book of Constitution the following come immediately to mind -
“DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES of the GRAND LODGE OF NEW ZEALAND
Freemasonry as a Society is-
its resources are devoted to the welfare and happiness of Mankind.
believing that the good of others is of primary concern.
it promotes ethical conduct and responsible attitudes amongst its members, and attitudes of
heart and mind which will help them to practice charity and goodwill to all.
its authorised ceremonials teach a system of morality and brotherhood based upon Universal
it acknowledges a Supreme Being, Creator of the Universe whom all men should revere. The
Volume of the Sacred Law is open whenever a Lodge is in session and is a constant reminder
of that fundamental duty.
it encourages the meeting together of men for the purposes of fellowship, instruction and
I feel that the reports of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas's actions go against all those principles in some degree. The most difficult to explain
is Reverent. As my Volume of the Sacred Law is the bible I think of the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example to follow.
And then to the Statement in the New Zealand Book of Constitution -
“To these several ends
It teaches -
and stands for reverence before the Supreme Being; truth and justice; brotherhood and
practical benevolence; an open minded attitude and the liberty of the individual, civil,
religious and intellectual.
It charges -
each member to be true and loyal to the government of the country to which he owes
allegiance and to obey the laws of any State in which he may be.
It believes -
that these objectives are best accomplished by recognising a broad base upon which men of
every race, country, sect and opinion may unite.
The adoption of a restrictive platform other than one based on true human worth is
unacceptable to Freemasonry.
Holding these beliefs, and in the knowledge that the true Freemason will act in civil life
according to his individual judgement and the dictates of his conscience”
It is my opinion that the first and third paragraphs have not been followed, and my belief in the abolition of discrimination is no reason for
me, without greater knowledge of their laws, to condemn them on the second.
and then there is New Zealand's first Clause concerning religion
“I - Concerning GOD and RELIGION
A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the art he
will never be a stupid atheist nor an irreligious libertine. He, of all men, should best understand
that GOD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh at the outward appearance, but GOD looketh
to the heart. A Mason is, therefore, particularly bound never to act against the dictates of his
conscience. Let a man's religion or mode of worship be what it may, he is not excluded from
the Order, provided he believe in the glorious Architect of heaven and earth, and practise the
sacred duties of morality. Masons unite with the virtuous of every persuasion in the firm and
pleasing bond of fraternal love; they are taught to view the errors of mankind with compassion,
and to strive, by the purity of their own conduct, to demonstrate the superior excellence of the
faith they profess. Thus Masonry is the centre of union between good men and true, and the
happy means of conciliating friendship amongst those who must otherwise have remained at a
The news items would seem to confirm that this clause, which stems from the original 1717 and 1723 clauses has been ignored, and
Then there is some lesser matters of Masonic etiquette that appear to have been broken. This relates to the requirement for all Arkansas
Masons, when visiting, having to make a speech in their host Lodge to inquire if there is a Prince Hall mason present.
From reading the news items on the actions taken by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas that I have linked I fail to see how they are compatible
with our New Zealand's Grand Lodge's statements. I quote parts of the Aims and Objects Authorised Statement.
“Freemasonry is a Way of Life
Freemasonry embraces many important principles which it encourages its members to adopt as a way of life. Its ethical teachings dwell
on our duties to God, to our country, to our neighbours and to ourselves. They encourage the practice and maintenance of high moral
standards and ethical conduct at all times.
This voluntary association is open to men in good standing of every race, colour and creed who wish to embrace its principles.
Once admitted men meet as equals within a Lodge.
There they can enjoy the company of like-minded men, united in their common interest of promoting human welfare and happiness and in
absorbing the lessons of the Craft in self discipline, fortitude, justice and charity.
Freemasonry is open to Men of all Religious Persuasions
Around the world men of most religious faiths have become Freemasons because by the very nature of its aims and objectives the
principles it espouses are compatible with the teachings of the recognised world religions.
Freemasonry itself is NOT a religion and makes no pretence to be one.
It recognises the importance of belief in a Supreme Being, however designated. All its members are required to hold that belief and
proper recognition is given to it within Lodge rooms and in the course of the ceremonies, which are in themselves a time-honoured form
In New Zealand this requires the Holy Bible to hold a dominant position in all ceremonies. Where appropriate it may be accompanied by
other sacred writings relevant to a Brother's particular belief.”
I can also find no paragraphs in the New Zealand Book of Constitution that relates to amity with other Grand Lodges, so have no knowledge
of what is involved here or world wide. While personally I am of a similar opinion to those expressed on the Charles Hodapp on his website
<Freemasonfordummies.blogspot.co.nz> and UMSOI.
So it appears that withdrawing Amity is something that our New Zealand Book of Constitution does not lay out a course of action on.
However that may not be necessary as the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas apparently has done it for us in an unofficial and
ad hoc manner. (Also see STOP PRESS below)
“In a question and answer session in 2010, the Grand Master of Arkansas at that time, MW Martin "Gene" Warren, went so far as to
say that Arkansas Masons were not to so much as sit in a lodge in any jurisdiction that recognizes Prince Hall Masonry, unless they
first get up and address the lodge, or check with the Worshipful Master, just to be sure there are no Prince Hall Masons actually
present in the room. So, they are not to simply be discrete and "tactfully withdraw" if they suspect a PHA member might be there.
Arkansas Masons are expected to actually go into a foreign jurisdiction's lodge where he is a guest, stand up and make a spectacle of
himself - along with humiliating other brethren - and demand to know if any might be lurking in the room (presumably because any
black Mason MUST be a Prince Hall member, along with the fact that white guys like Fred Milliken are PHA members too, and they
could just be hiding in plain sight).”
And this confirms the above report
“Unfortunately, the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, MW Robert Jackson, has refused to issue many Arkansas
Masons a "letter of good standing" for attempting to affiliate or move into some other U.S. jurisdictions - even if they completely
relocate for business, family, or military commitments. But his particular concentration has been focussed on Oklahoma.
What's the reason?
Prince Hall recognition.
While the policy is not officially written down or part of the Arkansas code, the de facto stance of the Grand Secretary's office is that
because Arkansas does not recognize PHA GLs and, say, Oklahoma does, then in the eyes of Grand Secretary Jackson at least,
Oklahoma is therefore "clandestine." As are apparently all of the 42 U.S. GL jurisdictions, UGLE, and any other regular, recognized
jurisdictions that recognize PHA GLs.
Now, in Missouri a while back, Arkansas Masons simply were asked to retake their three degrees since their GL wouldn't issue a
letter of good standing. Other states are handling it differently. But several burning questions come to mind. At what point does an
"unwritten rule" by a Grand Secretary become an official practice? And if Oklahoma and the rest of the GLs that have recognized PHA
jurisdictions stick to their guns, shouldn't the Grand Lodge of Arkansas act on its collective conscience and withdraw amity with them
It therefore seems that as New Zealand Grand Lodge recognizes the Prince Hall Grand Lodges, Arkansas masons can no longer visit our
jurisdiction without having to perform. Perhaps we should withdraw recognition of the current Grand Lodge of Arkansas, or will we wait for
them to declare us clandestine? (See STOP PRESS below)
Personally as a very tiny cog in the machine that is Freemasonry New Zealand, which is a small section of World Freemasonry, I feel that
we should withdraw recognition. This quote from freemasonryfordummies sums it up well
“But more to the point, if the GL of Arkansas is going to deny issuing proper transfer and affiliation documents to those jurisdictions
over their own sovereign amity with PHA and/or the Shrine issue, perhaps the time has finally come for the rest of the world to pull up a
chair and stick Arkansas in the Masonic corner for a while. When will Oklahoma come to the conclusion that enough is enough? Or
Missouri, or Texas? Or frankly, the rest of the 42 US jurisdictions who have recognized our Prince Hall brethren?
I'm not usually a big one for squealing about yanking recognition of sovereign jurisdictions who are certainly free to follow any ill-
considered internal policy they want as long as it doesn't affect anyone else. But I think the time has finally come to call out Arkansas
in particular for its practices that are disrupting the greater Masonic community outside of their own borders. If Arkansas wants to hold
its breath until it turns blue over PHA, that's their choice. But refusing to engage in the most basic proper protocol for membership
transfers and affiliations, along with expecting their members to disrupt meetings in other jurisdictions just to sniff out sneaky PHA
visitors, is just plain un-Masonic behavior. And they can cloak themselves in proclamations of sovereignty and Mackey's jurisprudence
book all they like. Most of the rest of the Masonic world tends to regard it the way Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart felt about
I do suggest you read that website and all the comments that follow the article at the bottom of the page. There are a huge number which
may help in any opinions you may form. I list a few here, and after that look at the 11th September blog, which has two horrific stories. It is
entitled - Arkansas: Floggings Continue, Yet Morale Doesn't Improve http://freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.co.nz/2016/09/arkansas-
"Gary Turner September 03, 2016 5:07 PM
Keying off of your sentence"...sovereign jurisdictions who are certainly free to follow any ill-considered internal policy they want as long
as it doesn't affect anyone else.", I would suggest that when a Grand Lodge begins acting in what is to all observers, an unmasonic
fashion, that it is the duty of other Grand Lodges to assess and determine if they should remain in amity with the offender. When the
french admitted atheists, a number of grand lodges pulled recognition. I would have no problem with US or other grand lodges reacting
in the same fashion to Arkansas's behavior"
"Warbard September 03, 2016 6:12 PM
Okay my Brother. I believe that my pendulum is beginning to swing in support of permanent recognition loss. Master Masons in all
jurisdictions have certain "rights and benefits" afforded to them. For a Grand Lodge to deny them any of these rights is tyrannical,
oppressive and while the members of said grand jurisdiction should themselves fix this, other grand lodges should likewise not tolerate
such machinations in the dispatch of the legitimate duties of their peer exchanges. Disrespecting your own members is one thing if the
members permit it. Disrespecting another Grand Lodge and it's honored grand officers is an affront to those thousands of uninvolved
rank and file brethren who elected them to do their business '
"Dismayed American September 03, 2016 9:02 PM
Anzan, many of us are praying you will punish us. It's the only way this will change. We need to be clandestine to do a reboot. There
are few who here in Arkansas who will speak out. You will not be punishing us. You will be helping us. I don't understand how you
cannot see that."
"Larry Merck September 03, 2016 11:57 PM
I am a mason in North West Arkansas, .it seams we are the area hit the hardest by what is going on. As far as I can tell our Grand
line is not living up to there obligations . There is no good council whispers in ones ear. There is no lifting up a brother when he is
When we ask why cant we do things different the answer is we always do it like this.
We go to local lodges to help with a degree. But do not build a stronger brotherhood. How can I stand by and not speak my mind when
the brother that raised me. Is now listed as unworthy as a Masson and I can no longer sit in lodge with him.
Most just want to make it through there time in the big chair and the next year are out the door. They say there year as master was so
much they need the break. As I have never done this it's hard to say. But we all know the things that have to Change and do little of
We deserve what we are getting we have let the old white mans club take over.
We do nothing to say yes I'm a Masson and do nothing to make others like us. What is going on in our state is a shame. But I
challenge the rest of you to take note and stand search out more light and become a beacon for others".
"Dismayed American September 08, 2016 5:02 PM
Well, I guess if I am going up there to complain about anything I need to print out my self expulsion forms. I'm sure I can get a speedy
trial right there on the spot for my suspension, so I may be able to go green and not have any paperwork what so ever."
"Arkansas mason September 09, 2016 10:51 PM
Next there was the comment that you don't hide behind a fake name. We don't have that luxury in Arkansas. Again if any member in
Arkansas gets caught posting in a blog like this, we are instantly expelled from the fraternity. Am I breaking my obligation and
constitution by doing this as other brothers have? Absolutely. But we feel enough is enough. People need to know what bad deeds
our GL is doing. So in absence MW Pearson, if you are an "honorary member" of our state, are you breaking ours laws by posting in
this blog? If you were a member of Arkansas you'd be expelled. I know first hand 3 brothers in the last week who have been expelled
for merely talking about topics like this. Not saying anything bad about the GM or the GL, just venting. And they are no longer in this
great fraternity. For doing the exact thing you are doing. Is that fair? I think not."
"Arkansas mason September 09, 2016 11:36 PM
It looks like I lost a post. Maybe it was too long. In a short version I said the next issue is about being able to travel. Only 7 states
do not recognize PH, your state is one of them MW sir. As an Arkansas mason if I travel I must stand up, as if there are any PH
Mason's present, and if so I must ask to leave. As a guest in their lodge. My question is what do we do? Go against my GL and my
obligation and not do it? Then I'm expelled. Do it and sound like a racist bigot as a guest in someone else's lodge? That shines a
light on masonry. Or just never go to another lodge. So if I were a younger member and was serving my country, I could either never
go to another lodge or break my obligation. Is this what masonry is about? Is this how you oppsrate?"
I feel certain that our Grand Lodge will look at the situation, and examine the ramifications of any decision that they take very carefully. It is
never wise to do so when the initial rush of indignation is still present. The fact that it appears that there will be a Grand Communications in
the early part of 2017, may allow our Grand Lodge to await and see if there is change. Information about this communication is again
provided by freemasonsfor dummies -
"Arkansas' annual communication takes place in February, and the usual end-of-year mailing to lodges that has traditionally included
texts of proposed resolutions, allowing voting delegates the opportunity to read them and discuss them in open lodge with the members
they represent, failed to include them this year. Instead, a packet with the resolutions will be handed to delegates as they file into the
auditorium, which will prevent any prior chance of careful consideration by delegates, or any input from non-voting lodge members.
(One wag online compared it to a famous political reference that they will have to 'vote on it to find out what's in it.')
Another notable item missing from the packet was any provision for a representative "proxy" voter."
. . . . . . . . . . . .
"It should be noted that over the summer, former Deputy Grand Master Patrick Carr was suspended for 25 years, Past Grand Master
Jarrod Adkisson for 30 years, and most recently at the beginning of December, former Grand Senior Warden Aaron South has just
received a 27 year suspension. By suspending these brethren for definite time periods, they are precluded by their Code from
appealing their sentences at the annual communication. Over the centuries, grand lodges have become very adroit at preventing
palace coups attempts of any kind. And Arkansas is especially good at it. If "good" is the proper word.
A pre-formatted document is currently being circulated among Arkansas lodges to begin the process of seceding from their Grand
Lodge if the annual communication goes as badly as most believe it will. Meanwhile, the Masonic world outside of Arkansas' own
borders continues to watch events unfold with interest similar to the viewing of a car accident. As the very brief event with the Grand
Lodge of Oklahoma amply demonstrated in November, it doesn't appear that there will be any outside assistance or pressure brought
to bear on the Grand Lodge of Arkansas by other jurisdictions anytime soon. It is ultimately up to their own membership to solve what
are seen as their internal troubles. "
SOURCE: Arkansas's Holiday Surprises http://freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.co.nz/2016/12/arkansass-holiday-surprises.html
We all love our Freemasonry, its concept and its ethics. We are well governed in New Zealand, and convey that to all we meet. The danger
in not living up to those concept and ethics are clearly illustrated by these three comments which say it all. The first is one that we all must
think about as we talk to people about our Freemasonry. We are lucky, but we must answer the question of why do we have amity with
them when their Grand Lodge has beliefs and ethics so different from our Grand Lodge?
"Istvan Horvath September 11, 2016 9:15 PM
A few days ago I was sitting for a coffee with a "seeker" of the light, a potential candidate... and I tried to explain to him the noble
ideals of the fraternity, the life-long work on that rough ashlar toward something better and closer to the perfect - and now I have to pray
that he won't accidentally find all these disturbing news about some subhumans masquerading as Masons."
"A Mason in NWA September 11, 2016 10:27 PM
Greeting from Northwest Arkansas. Masonry has really been hurt in this part of Arkansas. Prior to these suspensions, Masonry was
growing, and our appendant bodies were doing excellent things. Now we are in danger of having to shut many of them down. Many
Masons are either not going to participate, or have been told they are not allowed to come to this part of Arkansas or risk suspension.
Some have been told to move their memberships to Little Rock. Many on here continue to advocate voting a new GL. This would
certainly help, if it was allowed to happen. The real power in Arkansas sits with the Law and Usage committee. This is made up of the
past grand masters. Nothing happens without their support. They ensure the sitting GM knows they can easily remove him if he doesn't
comply. This is not to excuse our current grand masters actions, but he could not do what he is doing without their full support. It would
take about 10 years of good people becoming a PGM's, before any change can happen under the current system. A majority of this
committee must be obtained. This is almost an impossible feat, since they will remove anyone that doesn't follow their wishes. I wish
we knew how to fix this, but currently we just don't see much of a way. We are secretly wishing the grand lodge will fall, so we can
rebuild Masonry in Arkansas. Thanks to all who are supporting us outside of our state. There are many good Masons here in
Arkansas, just not at the Grand Lodge. As we sit behind the Iron Curtain, we hope for better days ahead."
"Arkansas mason September 11, 2016 11:53 PM
As the other brother has stated, I have heard the same thing. If you even "like" an expelled member Facebook post you can be
expelled. How can they justify this? If I like his post about his kids how am I breaking the law to the point of unmasonic conduct? In
the last post on this site, and what we can confirm in the digest of laws, it clearly states from the GS that you cannot communicate any
business when used as a forum to debate Masonic law. Masonic law. Not a Facebook friends kid picture. Can anyone please explain
to me how it is possible for the grand lodge to change laws and interpret things that are not law or voted upon and they can get away
with it? How can they do that? How can that be fixed? Why aren't other jurisdictions saying you can't do that Arkansas. This is 2 cases
now just in the last couple of days, this issue of liking Facebook pictures that is not what the law states and the other issued brother
Chris brought up about the what the law clearly states on demits. How can a legal body not stick to the code of laws approved by our
membership and change it on the fly as they please without a vote? Once again brethren, this is part of the injustices we deal with in
Will you, and I, and our Grand Lodge stand idly by..
STOP PRESS - February 7th
Citing concerns that visitors from outside the state might inform the membership of unusual or unacceptable Masonic practices
elsewhere, the Grand Lodge of Arkansas has announced a temporary hold on visiting Masons.
"I don't care what you've been hearing, it's not a ban on Oklahomans," explained Roger "Gabby" Johnson, Grand Lodge Media Affairs
spokesperson. "The Grand Lodge, and in particular, the Grand Master, himself, has become aware that visitors from other, foreign
jurisdictions have been telling our members about the odd customs practiced elsewhere. We have a responsibility to our membership
to maintain the purity of our ancient Craft Masonry here in Arkansas, and we do not want them to become confused by the practices of
Instead of sending out the list of banned foreign jurisdictions to their lodges, the Grand Lodge found that it would be easier to mail a
list of the acceptable jurisdictions.
"Right now we've limited acceptable visitors to those hailing from the Grand Lodge of West Virginia," said WB Johnson. "We're pretty
sure that we will be adding those from the Grand Lodge of Georgia, the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, and possibly the Grand Lodge of
Note New Zealand Grand Lodge is not on this short (very) list, neither is UGLE, or all but 3 or 4 of the Grand Lodges that we recognise.
Surely its time for our Grand Lodge to initiate action.
Editor's Note: I have included this month a Masonic Article on the problems of Grand Lodge Recognition. Take special note of the sections
headed "The English Lead", and "How Grand Lodges form:" paragraph (a). Ed.