Posts Tagged ‘Grand Lodge Arkansas’
This is a sad day for Freemasonry in the United States. We hoped that providing light on Arizona’s problems would encourage proper judgment and actions on the part of its Grand Master, D. Brook Cunningham. This did not occur. Instead, the Grand Lodge of Arizona is trying to outdo what was once an impossible feat set by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas.
The following snippets were obtained from a private Freemasonry forum.
Phillip J. Buta 7:05 PM April 30 2012
ARIZONA GRAND MASTER SUSPENDS DEPUTY GRAND MASTER 30 DAYS BEFORE GRAND LODGE
Well, our Grand Master has once again demonstrated he is above the Arizona Masonic Code.
I just talked to Michael Meier and he relayed the following details of Today’s events.
This afternoon the Grand Master summoned the elected Deputy Grand Master into his office and in the presence of R:. W:. Junior Grand Warden William A. Garrard Jr, and Senior Grand Deacon Mike Manning, informed the Deputy Grand Master he was suspended from Masonry. The reason the Grand Master gave for this action, which, in my reading of the AMC, is in conflict with the powers given to him by the Arizona Grand Lodge, was that the Deputy Grand Master did not promptly return his apron and jewel of his office, when he relieved the Deputy Grand Master of his Grand Lodge duties, while he still served as the elected Deputy Grand Master. The meeting was brief but it was recorded to avoid any misunderstanding.
Richard Skoglund 8:21 PM 30 April 2012
I simply can not believe, after all the hubbub and disharmony caused by the Grand Master MW Brook Cunningham’s actions regarding Hiram Daylight 73 and the relieving of Bro. Mike Meier of his duties and responsibilities, that he would cause even more disharmony by suspending Bro. Meier using the pathetic excuse of not turning in the Apron and Jewel of his elected office.
This is an outrage! This is indicative of a total disregard of the AMC. An attitude of “I am the Grand Master therefore my judgment and interpretation of the AMC is error proof “. He has this attitude which indicates that who disagree with him, including those on the Jurisprudence committee, two of which he fired for being “biased” against his decisions his past year will forever be banned from holding ANY office in the Grand Lodge, elected or appointed.
A shining example of this being the recent relieving of Bro. Chadwick Burks from the appointed office of Grand Pursuivant. Bro. Chad dared to question his decisions and judgment in this forum i.e. let this be a warning to everyone! The Grand Lodge will NOT tolerate dissent or criticism. Especially this Grand Master.
Why does this remind me of the current politics and tactics that have been used for many years by both Republican and Democratic parties? Sleaze – Big Time! I dislike it intensely. To see this same type of character assassination based upon his questionable interpretation of the AMC and in violation of the 3rd degree obligation brings our sacred fraternity down to the same despicable level.
Masonry and the ideals it stands for is supposed to be above this kind of action and behavior. MW Bro. Brook Cunningham obviously does not understand this.
Therefore, before we elect anyone to the office of Grand Master in June I propose that at the Grand Lodge Communication next month in Sedona, each candidate for each elected office be asked whether they approve or disapprove of the Grand Masters actions this year. This to be done before the written ballot is taken.
Richard G.J. Skoglund
PM 63(14) & 70
Grand Master Cunningham: we humbly request that you abide by your oath and obligation. Lead the Grand Lodge of Arizona in a respectful direction for the rest of your tenure as Grand Master.
The following “leak” is indicative of a few of the many wrongs perpetrated against the “regular” Masons of Arkansas by their Grand Lodge.
The letter (at the end of this release) is from Past Master Otis D. Burtcher, a retired US Marine veteran, who was ordered by his state’s “Deputy Grand Master, Presiding,” George R. Franks, Jr., to appear at his own blue lodge and re-take his Master Mason’s obligation as means of punishment for asking why Franks refused to be installed in his deceased predecessor’s office as Grand Master.
Like most Masonic constitutions, the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas requires a Grand Master, and says that if a Grand Master dies in office, the Deputy Grand Master is to succeed him. When Deputy Grand Master Franks steadfastly refused to do that, brother Burtcher and several others gained permission from the majority (11 of 20) of the state’s living Past Grand Masters, to charge him with un-Masonic conduct.
As soon as Franks became aware of the action, he summonsed a meeting of the living Past Grand Masters at a time so inconvenient as to prevent the most aged ones from attending. He then named one of his supporters as temporary “chairman” of the group, and in that capacity, the new chairman declared that no votes would count, except from members physically present.
As the complete vote was shrewdly circumvented and the majority fell short at the called meeting, Deputy Grand Master Franks declared all of the Masons who attempted to charge him with un-Masonic conduct “suspended pending trial.” He then appointed 5-member trial committees to try those brothers, and he ordered that the trials be held in a back room of the Grand Lodge offices in Little Rock, not in the brothers’ own lodges, not with their own brothers to judge them, and not with any audience or witnesses except those specifically called to testify.
Brother Burtcher showed up to defend himself at his scheduled trial, but before the proceeding began, he suffered a heart attack and nearly died. While local emergency services were in route, a brother from a different jurisdiction offered him some nitroglycerin tablets to alleviate his pain, but withdrew them when the ailing brother reached for one, saying: “we’d better not do that, we might get in trouble.”
Paramedics subsequently administered two maximum-dosage units of nitroglycerin while transporting the stricken brother to the nearest hospital. His cardiac surgeon reported that he suffered cardiac arrest, and immediate surgery was required to save him. The surgery was successful, but the 35% permanent loss of heart function he suffered, might have been lessened or prevented if the visiting brother hadn’t denied him the medication.
Finally, to add insult to injury, “Mr.” Burtcher was informed by a member of his Grand Lodge Trial Committee, that the trial had been a mere formality, and no defense would have made any difference in its outcome. Apparently, the Grand Lodge of Arkansas sees no need to allow an accused brother to rebut evidence against him, or to introduce exculpatory evidence, as is typically offered in any other court of law and equity.
A few weeks later, at the Grand Lodge’s next annual communication, the majority of voting members voted to uphold the unjust expulsion. They were misled into doing so, however, because they were told that brother Burtcher “failed to appear” in answer to his summons to trial, and was declared expelled as a result.
One member of the trial committee who expelled brother Burtcher (and many others while serving on similar Grand Lodge Trial Committees), Maxwell D. “Doug” Simmons, was later awarded the Grand Lodge of Arkansas’ highest award for “service to the Masonic fraternity.” Another member, Robert L. Jackson, subsequently entered the state’s “grand line,” and is on track to be the state’s Grand Master next year.
The following is a letter written by PGM Arthur J. “Buddy” Mhoon (Grand Master in 1985) discussing the mockery being made of Freemasonry in Arkansas after this and other expulsions. It was written to PGM Garry C. Jones for his actions under the guise of his title:
January 3rd, 2005
M.W. Gary C. Jones, PGM, Gr. Treasurer
17810 Middle Ridge Road
Ozark, AR. 72949
Dear Brother Gary,
I have always had a high reguard for you dedication and devotion to Masonry in Arkansas, as you have served in several capacities in your Masonic Career. However, I think you should step down as Chairman of the Masonic Law and Usage Committee for the following reasons:
1. There is no provision in the Digest(Sec. 2170) for selecting a Chairman for the Committee on Law and Usage, so your election was neither ill-legal nor legal. It has been my experience that when no law exists, Ancient Usage is applied. Ancient Usage tells me that Brother Quinn Lafarge should be the Chairman if he is able. If not, he should appoint someone to fill that station.
2. You have demonstrated that you are not impartial on matters coming before the committee. When Brother Quinn Lafarge handed you a packet of papers to be presented to the Committee, you simply glanced at them and placed your judgment over and above the collective judgment of the Committee. None of the committee has been given any of this information. You did not even read aloud the contents of this packet, much less appoint a committee of investigation. You made the decision to do the thinking for the committee and not to share it with the Committee.
3. You will have a conflict of interests, when you preside over the deliberations of the committee on any recommendations that you make as Treasurer. How could you not be impartial over your own recommendations.
4. There have been presented several Resolutions from your own Lodge which you as Secretary signed. A couple of which, if passed, would fly against the face of tradition in this Grand Lodge (14 Year olds may be made Mason’s) (Grand Lodge Officer’s only to be allowed to vote in Grand Lodge) If you remain as Chairman of the Law and Usage Committee, you would preside over the deliberations of these resolutions. Will you make the decision for the Committee or will you allow input from the rest of the committee? I do not believe any Past Grand Master who holds an elected Office in the Grand Lodge should be allowed to preside over the deliberations of the Committee on Law and Usage.
5. Brother Gary, I hope and pray that you will do the Honorable thing, relinquish the Chairmanship of the Law and Usage Committee, to the rightful Chairman. If not, I will be very disappointed in You.
Fraternally and Sincerely
A. J.”Buddy” Mhoon, PGM
Copy To PGM’s, Brothers:
Bill A. Jones
Quinn D. Lafargue, Jr.
Marty D. Byers
Frank A. Smith
Kevin L. Hatfield
Jack B. Stockburger
Dickey J. Fortner
Paul C. Bush
Dick E. Browning
John H. Kidwell
Joe C. Smith
Bobby D Pope
Hayden P. Davis
James L. Weatherall
Danny R. King
Here’s a personal letter from this expelled brother to other befallen brethren:
I spoke with Mac [Past Master Malcolm R. McHughes] on the phone this afternoon. He and Charles [Past Master Charles Baker] had just left a conference with an attorney. Mac told me there were two attorneys present, and you can contact him if their names are important. It seems the attorney Mac first consulted, asked another attorney to meet with them, as the other is more experienced in slander suits.
At the meeting, the attorneys told Mac and Charles they had a “slam-dunk” case against Franks [Grand Master George R. Franks, Jr.] for slander, specifically referring to the letters Franks sent in which he made accusations of them telling lies and such. Those letters were copied to third parties, and according to Mac, the lawyers said that a suit with that evidence would be successful. Other comments made by Franks while addressing the craft could, should — and would also be perused, but the letters alone were enough for a case.
The lawyers went on to point out that if the case was successful and a judgment obtained, it would probably be of no financial avail. The court can’t take Frank’s house, car, and certain other properties. They also pointed out (as did I) that if a judgment was forth coming, Franks could — and would in all probability — file bankruptcy, thereby avoiding any financial loss.
Based on that probability, they were unwilling to take the case on a contingency basis, as a judgment that’s un-collectable, doesn’t put beans on the table. We can all see their point there. Thus, they would require an upfront retainer. Mac was of the opinion a sum in the range of $5,000 to $8,000 is needed.
All should be aware that a “slam-dunk” is their opinion, and may be the case, but there’s no guarantee, and the money spent — whatever the amount, will be non-refundable.
Mac also said there were many throughout the fraternity who said they’d be willing to help with finances, but I seriously doubt that even a fraction of the necessary amount can be raised. Men who were unwilling to stand up to what they all privately professed to be wrong, were the same men who failed to come forward and let their strength of numbers be known. I doubt they are any more willing to thrust their hand into their pocket in an effort to see justice done now.
As I strolled down to my garden to harvest tomatoes this evening, I contemplated some of the above. I asked myself what is to be gained. Face? I haven’t lost face. I still think as highly of myself as before, actually a little more. I was along with you doing the right thing. We, to the man, counseled each other in an effort to do things by the book. We did them by the book, the same book that the Grand Lodge flat ignored, so in my view, I have no loss of face to be regained.
Rid a Fraternity of people like Franks? I ask you and myself, to what avail? What benefit is to be gained if Franks is kicked out of Masonry? What benefit if a judgment goes against him and he files bankruptcy? I’m out money up front on lawyers who say the case is a “slam-dunk,” but if it was so open and closed, I would think the lawyers would expect to be able to obtain some kind of remuneration from the successful prosecution of the case.
As I strolled back from my garden, I recalled that we’ve already made an effort to inform the craft of the wrongs being committed. I personally devoted more than two days and one all-night session in that endeavor, and we collectively spent over $500.00 mailing evidence to every lodge in the state, but to what end?
We thought the men we called “brothers,” the men we’d gone to such great lengths to warn about the wrongs being committed, the men we were putting our Masonic careers on the line for, would prove themselves to be men who’d display their strength of character. Ha! What a joke that turned out to be! The same people we tried to uphold the principles of a fraternity for — and with, proved to be as disinterested in those principles as I am disinterested in those men today.
I’ve come to the conclusion they deserve to have the likes of Franks within their ranks. They were unwilling to assist us in our effort to see right done within the fraternity, and then were unwilling to come to our aid. Now, I’m unwilling to go further to rid them of the cancer that’s eating away at their Fraternity.
Masonry is an idea conceived of, perpetuated by, and sustained by men. The majority of those men have proven to be less than men in my eyes, and my tomatoes are more important to me now.
As for me, I’d rather not pursue the matter additionally, but I joined in this venture with all of you, and as you’ve stood by me, I’ll continue to stand by you. I think highly of each and every one of you. None of you, nor I, have done anything less than we should have, and were obligated to do. In keeping with those principles, I’ll match any of the brother’s individual financial contributions.
Otis Dean “O.D.” Burtcher
Please remember that there are MANY more documents and evidence provided as attachments of this article.
(Contains 21 attachments.)
Expelled: Tried To Require Deputy Grand Master To Take Grand Master’s Oath According To Arkansas By-Laws
A group of brethren charged the acting-Grand Master of Arkansas, George Franks, Jr., with breaking numerous by-laws for refusing to be installed as Grand Master after the death of his predecessor. He thought he could effectively serve two years as Grand Master instead of the limit of one. The acting-Grand Master also was, by his own admission, fired for sexual harassment from his job as a top police commander in the state. His actions, both in the fraternity and in public, were in stark contrast with Masonic ideals and philosophy; those actions also broke Masonic by-laws in the state. The majority of the state’s living Past Grand Masters agreed that corrective action was necessary, and an executive council was scheduled to discuss the matter. But, the acting-Grand Master thwarted the effort by expelling and suspending numerous brothers and threatening others, thereby solidifying his reign of terror over “regular” Arkansas Masonry.
It’s noteworthy that every one of the living Past Grand Masters who served between the years of 1962 and 1989, and all but one of those who served between the years of 1962 and 1996, with the exception of the two who were serving as Grand Secretary (James Weatherall) and Grand Treasurer , signed the document to investigate and decide how to handle the abuses of the Grand Master Franks. This document is provided with the attached documents below.
Below are notes of a Brother who ultimately was expelled for doing the RIGHT thing. Following these notes, attachments are included.
Series of events Grand Lodge Arkansas:
At the February Grand Lodge’s Grand Session: questionable voting by hand count, no coffee at Scottish Rite, and no lunch available.
Less than ONE week after Grand Session, elected Grand Master dies
Deputy Grand Master will not take Grand Masters obligation:
- See sect 2100 H pg 25 ( cannot delegate to another dispensing)
- Art II set sect 4 pg 10 (shall Succeed)
March 29,2004 DGM issues letter to Lodges , that the vote on per capita will be dismissed and a new vote will take place at the next grand Lodge session.( No by-law authorizing this action)
Paul Bush PGM receives call from DGM with the threat of un-masonic conduct if he “doesn’t keep his mouth shut”. This was due to Bro Bush expressing his view that the DGM must take the obligation of GM to be within the by-laws of Arkansas.
May 27 ,20040.D. Burtcher sends e-mail to other Masons, stating the above, and talk of: resolutions on voting, masonic law, why many masons questioned the DGM not taking the obligation and possible other nominations at the next session. He included his views on the subjects.
June 1, 2004Bro. Burtcher receives phone call from DGM with threat of a masonic trial for un-masonic conduct because of the e-mail, plus the requirement that Bro. Burtcher must retake the Master Masons obligation the next meeting of his lodge.
June 3,2004 DDGM asked a Past-Master of Adoniram Lodge to re-obligate Bro. Burtcher, but the Brother refused, and then GSW Lloyd was asked to do the re-obligation.
June 3, 2004 at Adoniram Lodge # 288 Dan Lloyd, GSW, proceeds to administer the punishment and humiliation to Bro Burtcher by re-obligating him in the MM degree. At which time” ALL” members of his lodge came to the aid ofthe Brother, at the alter, and repeated with the brother the MM obligation.
June 1,2004 Bro. James Paul Vincent was summoned to Grand Lodge.
June 9,2004, when Bro Vincent arrived at The Grand Lodge he was accused of un-masonic conduct, at which time Bro. Vincent, a 33 degree Mason .said” he had all of this he wanted “and took self-expulsion.
June 19,2004 Monticello Dist. Meeting-DGM is asked by Bill Jones, why he did not take the GM oath, and was accused of “baiting the DGM”. DGM states “he does not have to follow the by-laws.” Also, states he was discharged from the state police for “sexual harassment” but someone was out to get him. At the same meeting Bill Jones was handed a Masonic Summons to appear for “Bad Mouthing the DGM” Time set, but Jones health prevented that meeting, was told he would report to next meeting to be held June 30 at Pine Bluff “or be expelled” Jones told by DGM that when he took the MM obligation he no longer had “free speech” and need to keep his mouth shut.
(Contains 16 attachments.)