MWB Frank Joseph Haas PGM’s Reflections
Words of great wisdom from my friend and Grand Master....
Reflections on my trial
I won what became a bitter contest, because the Court ruled, as I said from the beginning, that there had been a breach of contract: the Grand Lodge did not follow its own law, which forms a contract with all its members. The Grand Lodge denied my right to a fair Masonic trial. The Court also separately ruled that grand masters cannot summarily expel any members, and it is unreasonable and unenforceable if they do. However, without injunctive relief, which I also requested, winning is a Pyrrhic victory: it feels empty, like this whole process. The true loser in this sad affair is our gentle Craft in West Virginia and those many honorable Masons who suffer in silence while the in-crowd crows about dodging a bullet.
Without ever allowing the Craft to vote on it, your grand officers spent perhaps $400,000 from our – your – treasury, only to lose their case. My own legal expenses approach several times my annual salary—a problem I have yet to solve.
It is true: I remain unlawfully expelled. But that doesn’t matter to me now. Doing the right thing is far more important. It is the fading of the dream of the Wheeling Reforms that I mourn. They are so sorely needed, the reforms that we voted on and which were adopted by the Craft in our Grand Communication in Wheeling in 2006. The favorable vote was proven in sworn testimony by three witnesses in my trial, yet these reforms continue to be denied. Masons in West Virginia still may not pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States when we assemble; a handicapped war veteran cannot become a Mason if he lost his thumb; and our rules about participation in funeral honors remain deplorable and an insult to widows and families. And we say we honor widows! My friends, I fear that without these reforms, and the others, we will continue to be mocked, and marginalized, and will miss the resurgence now taking place in other jurisdictions.
I won—but not enough to bring West Virginia the justice that had been denied her, and for that, I am profoundly sorry. Please know that I did my very best.
Frank Joseph Haas
133rd Grand Master of Masons in West Virginia
Senior Deacon, Steubenville Lodge #45,
Grand Lodge of Ohio, F & AM
16 December 2010