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
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
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
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
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.
Dickey J. Fortner, Grand Master
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