[Square & Compasses]

Shrine De-recognized in Arkansas!

Rumors and stories are sweeping the Masonic world about the de-recognition of the AAONMS ("The Shrine") by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas.

M.W. James Weatherall PGM, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, was kind enough to send me the following letter from The Grand Master of Arkansas, a copy of which was sent to every Mason in that state, as well as to other grand lodges around the country. My sincere thanks to M.W. Bro. Weatherall for his information and assistance in obtaining the facts in this troubling case.

I will try to present more information as I receive and verify it.

The website of Shrine's Imperial Potentate has some response to this matter.


July 5, 2000

To All Master Masons of Arkansas,
To All Grand Jurisdictions,
To All Appendant Bodies in Arkansas

Greetings:

This letter is to inform you of the actions of the Shrine of North America pertaining to the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. As many of you are aware, Past Imperial Potentate Ralph Semb indicate in several of his writings that he believes the laws of the Shrine supercede Grand Lodge Law and the authority of a Grand Lodge to govern the Master Masons within their Grand Jurisdiction.

The first instance of this was during M:.W:. Kevin Hatfield's term as Grand Master. You will recall that Grand Master Hatfield was faced with a situation where members of the Scimitar Shrine Temple were engaged in the sale of alcoholic beverages at the Alltel Arena. Grand Master Hatfield wrote a letter to the Potentate of Scimitar Temple advising him that Masons in this Grand Jurisdiction are prohibited from participating in such activities. Grand Master Hatfield acted in a very Masonic and Fraternal manner in approaching the situation in the way he did. Alternatively, he could have elected to establish a Grand Master's Trial Commission and brought charges against the Brethren involved in the activity.

In response to Grand Master Hatfield's letter, Scimitar Potentate Ray Pearce correctly issued a statement that the illegal activity must stop immediately. In response to his statement, the Imperial Potentate wrote a letter to Brother Pearce reprimanding him for his statement and informing him that his understanding of the law was incorrect. Further, the Imperial Potentate ordered Brother Pearce to issue a statement that he was in error in his earlier advice and that a Shriner can legally engage in the sale of alcoholic beverages, despite Grand Lodge Law.

Shortly after Grand Lodge, I was provided significant evidence that Brother Sam Archer, a Master Mason and member of England Lodge #507, was engaged in the operation of a liquor store located in North Little Rock. Subsequently, I appointed a Committee of Investigation that returned a report of the evidence they discovered and recommended the filing of charges against Brother Archer. Accordingly, charges were filed and a trial was scheduled for Brother Archer.

On Saturday, May 6, 2000, in England Lodge #507, England, Arkansas, a Grand Master's Trial Commission heard the evidence against Brother Archer in the related charges. Brother Archer admitted his involvement in the operation of the liquor store, but claimed exemption because the license was not in his name. Further, Brother Archer inferred to the Commission that he felt confident that he would remain a member of the Shrine despite the outcome of the trial. The Trial Commission notified me that they had found Brother Archer guilty of the charges and assessed a penalty of Expulsion.

After reviewing the information, on May 8, 2000, I sent a letter to Mr. Archer informing him that he was expelled from the Fraternity. In accordance with our historical practice, a copy of this letter was issued to the Appendant Bodies, including the Shrine. According to my information, and in accordance with our historical practice, the Scottish Rite followed suit and informed the Shrine of its action.

On Tuesday, May 23, 2000, I was made aware of a letter issued by the Imperial Council of the Shrine of North America informing Mr. Archer that he was being reinstated to membership in the Shrine. This is a direct contradiction of historical Masonic practice and customs, and places the relationship of this Grand Lodge with the Shrine in jeopardy. According to the letter, the reinstatement was subject to review by the representatives attending the Imperial Session held during this past week in Boston, Massachusetts.

In an attempt to be fair, I allowed these representatives an opportunity to set the Shrine back on the appropriate course of interaction with this Grand Lodge. Instead, during this meeting, these representatives voted to allow Mr. Archer to remain a member of the Shrine. This, in effect, creates a situation whereby the Shrine now has a non-Mason participating as a member of the Shrine in this Grand Jurisdiction. This is clearly inconsistent with past Masonic customs and changes the relationship between the Grand Lodge and the Shrine, which can no longer be considered an appendant body of this Fraternity.

Therefore, it is my order that Master Masons within this Grand Jurisdiction shall not participate in any Shrine activity that in any way presents itself as being a part of the Masonic Fraternity. Further, Master Masons within this Grand Jurisdiction are not permitted to display any Masonic emblem on a Shrine Fez or as a part of a Shrine uniform. The Worshipful Masters are ordered to remove from their lodges any and all references, pictures, articles, or other paraphernalia, that display the Shrine emblem, or indicate any connection between the Shrine and Freemasonry. This does not include photographs of Past Masters or publications solely referencing our historical relationship to the Shrine. Shrine Clubs, and other related organizations and units, are not permitted to utilize Masonic properties for any purpose. No Master Mason is to promote or indicate the existence of any form of relationship between this Fraternity and the Shrine. No Master Mason shall engage in the solicitation of, or permit a Shriner to solicit, any member of this Fraternity for membership in the Shrine while in attendance at a Masonic function. The provisions of this order apply to all Master Masons residing within this Grand Jurisdiction and to Master Masons who are members of subordinate lodges within this Grand Jurisdiction, while visiting or in residence of another Grand Jurisdiction.

From this point forward, the Shrine is to be treated as any other non-Masonic organization functioning as a civic club, such as the Rotary or Lions clubs. Nothing in this order is intended to require Master Masons to discontinue their membership in the Shrine.

Violations of any part of this order will be deemed punishable by a penalty of expulsion from the Fraternity. Such penalty will be administered without the benefit of a trial.

Worshipful Masters will direct the Secretary to read this at the next three consecutive stated lodge meetings, and are expected to fully cooperate in the enforcement of these provisions.

Fraternally,

Dickey J. Fortner, Grand Master


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