This was an educational talk on Grand Lodge law for the August 2019 stated meeting of Fort Worth Lodge № 148.
There are three times that alcohol is mentioned in the 2018 edition of Laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas.1 Alcohol is mentioned once in the 2009 edition of Grand Master Decisions and Annotations to the Laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas,2, 3 but it’s in reference to a candidate’s ability to consent to the obligation while under the influence, which is outside of the scope of this discussion.
Title II, Chapter 6, Article 224
Art. 224. (264). Use of Lodge and Anterooms. Masonic Lodgerooms and anterooms opening directly into Lodgerooms (other than club rooms designated to be used for social purposes) shall not be used for other than Masonic purposes, except as hereinafter provided in this Article nor shall they be used by any group or organization, secular or religious, except as otherwise provided in the Laws and Edicts of Grand Lodge. Other than the Lodgerooms and immediate anterooms mentioned in the foregoing sentence the Lodge building and premises may be used by the other organizations enumerated in Article 2253 of the Laws of Grand Lodge and by the families of the members of the Lodge. The use of said building and premises other than the Lodgerooms and immediate anterooms by such organizations and family members shall be encouraged to the end that Masonic Lodge buildings and premises will become the nucleus for family social activities. The organizations enumerated in Article 225 of the Laws may also, subject to the consent of the Masonic Lodge and subject to such rules and regulations as are from time to time announced by the Grand Master, use portions of the Lodge building, other than the Lodgerooms and immediate anterooms, to promote, encourage and accomplish such objectives, including, but not limited to, such specified fund-raising activities as are authorized by the Grand Master which funds are to be used exclusively for any purpose consistent with the principles and purposes of Masonry, or the Laws of the Grand Lodge, which said principles and purposes of Masonry are noncontroversial, nonsectarian, nonpartisan, patriotic and/or community character. The portions of the Lodge building hereinabove authorized to be used in the preceding manner, may be open on Sundays for use by those authorized organizations, subject to the conditions set forth in Article 225 but shall not be used when the Lodge is open for business or for degree work or while funerals are being conducted by the Lodge or in any manner which would interfere with or detract from the security of, or the work being conducted by the Lodge. (Revised 1996)
The Lodgeroom and anteroom may be on the ground floor, in a rented building, or one owned jointly with another, or one in which portions, other than the Lodgeroom and anteroom, are occupied or used by others; provided that, in each such case, the requirements as to security and all other matters required herein are complied with. Food may be consumed or served in the Lodgeroom when the Lodge is not at labor. (Revised 1996)
Constituent Lodges may meet in buildings where alcoholic beverages may from time to time be served. Constituent Lodges of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas may meet in buildings where other appendant Masonic organizations may, from time to time, serve alcoholic beverages, so long as such service is not in progress while the Lodge is open there; and further, be it enacted, that Constituent Lodges may let, lease, or rent portions of their buildings to other appendant Masonic organizations who may, from time to time, serve alcoholic beverages, so long as such service does not occur in the Lodgeroom of the building. (Adopted 2000)
Title II, Chapter 19, Article 335, Paragraph B, Part 5:
Art. 335. Lodge Funds Under Its Control.
[ . . . ] B. Subject to the provisions of Article 224, Lodges may conduct projects to raise funds for a Lodge’s
general fund, charity fund, endowment fund, needy individuals, any recognized Masonic charity or foun-
dation, disaster relief, public schools, educational scholarships or other similar funds. All such funds must be of a noncontroversial, nonsectarian, nonpartisan, patriotic and/or community character. All fund raising activities are subject to the following restrictions: [ . . . ]
[ . . . ] 5. No alcoholic beverages shall be distributed, sold, purchased, possessed or consumed during
a fund raising project on Lodge property. [ . . . ]
Title V, Chapter 2, Article 508, “Certain Other Masonic Disciplinary Violations”, Paragraph 3:
Art. 508. Certain Other Masonic Disciplinary Violations. It shall also be a Masonic disciplinary violation for a Lodge, a committee or any combination of Masons, or an individual Mason: [ . . . ]
[ . . . ] 3. To consume, possess, have in possession, or sell intoxicating liquor5 in any portion of the Grand Lodge Memorial Building, or of any building or portion of any building occupied or used by any Lodge, provided, however, that this prohibition does not apply to small quantities of any such beverages or liquors required by existing rituals of such organization in the conferring of its degrees or orders, or in the ceremonies in observance of special occasions required by existing regulations of such organizations; and further, this prohibition shall not apply to space properly leased for commercial purposes. Constituent Lodges may meet in buildings where alcoholic beverages may from time to time be served. Constituent Lodges of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas may meet in buildings where other appendant Masonic organizations may, from time to time, serve alcoholic beverages, so long as such service is not in progress while the Lodge is open there; and further, be it enacted, that Constituent Lodges may let, lease, or rent portions of their buildings to other appendant Masonic organizations who may, from time to time, serve alcoholic beverages, so long as such service does not occur in the Lodgeroom of the building. (Revised 2000) [ . . . ]
Summary of Source Text:
- Article 224 says:
- we want the lodge building to be a “nucleus” of family activities.
- we “may meet in buildings where alcoholic beverages may from time to time be served.”
- we may meet in buildings where appendant bodies serve alcohol, or rent our building to those bodies, as long as we don’t meet when they’re serving alcohol.
- Article 335 says we can’t have booze anywhere near a fundraiser on lodge property.
- Article 508 restates Article 224’s points and says it’s a Masonic disciplinary violation to have or drink alcohol anywhere in a building used by a lodge unless:
- it’s a small amount used in part of existing ritual.
- it’s required for observances required by existing organization regulations.
- or it’s happening in a commercial space.
Article 224 and 508 both clearly state that it is acceptable for a lodge to meet in a building where alcoholic beverages may be served from time to time. Legally, what is the definition of “from time to time?” There’s obviously real definitions for this term, but there’s multiple interpretations of what that means. The lawbook doesn’t define what “from time to time” means, so we will have to go with an interpretation of our own, that most people agree is reasonable: “occasionally but not often.” How do we quantitatively define what’s occasional and what’s often? We simply can’t – at least not in an objective manner.
Article 508 raises even more questions:
- How far reaching are we defining “occupied or used by any Lodge?”
- Is this for any building, that’s been used by any lodge, for any purpose whatsoever, at any time?
- Is this only for lodges that permanently meet in a building on a consistent basis?
- How do we define “small quantities?”
- When we say, “observance of special occasions required by existing regulations,” what do we mean?
- How do we define what a special occasion is?
- Are Shrine stated meeting dinners a special occasion that is required to be obvserved?
- What about Scottish Rite Burns dinners?
- What does it mean if a space is “properly leased for commercial purposes,” and what is the range of “commercial purposes?”
- Does this include a one-time dining hall contract for a wedding reception?
- Does a non-profit company count?
- Is the space required to be leased to one business or organization exclusively?
- Can a lodge be the owner of a business that is properly leasing space from a lodge for commercial purposes?
My personal take on this is that Article 224 and 508 are filled with language that is vague and unenforceable, requiring significant changes, either in the form of definition additions, or wholesale deletion.
- Hereafter referred to as “the laws,” “Grand Lodge Law,” or “the lawbook.”
- Hereafter referred to as the “Grand Master’s Decisions.”
- Grand Master’s Decision № 6, 1955
- The full text of Title II, Chapter 6, Article 225 reads as follows:
- Art. 225. Use of Lodge and Anterooms by Other Organizations: (a)Allied Masonic Degrees, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Council of Royal and Select Masters, Daughters of the Nile, DeMolay, Grotto, “High Noon Clubs,” High Twelve International, Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests, Knights Templar, Knights of the York Cross of Honour, Ladies of the Oriental Shrine of North America, Order of Beauceant, Order of the Eastern Star, Order of the Amaranth, Order of Knight Masons, Order of Rainbow, Order of Red Cross of Constantine, Order of Saint Thomas of Acon, Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, Royal Arch Masons, Royal Order of Scotland, Scottish Rite Bodies, Sojourners, The Daughters of Mokanna, The Masonic Rosicrucians (S.R.I.C.F.), York Rite College, The Worshipful Society of Free Masons, Rough Masons, Wallers, Slaters, Paviors, Plaisterers, and Bricklayers (otherwise known as “The Operatives”) and any degrees, Honorary Degrees and authorized groups authorized, recognized, permitted or commonly used by any of the above named orders, with the approval of the Lodge, and in the event more than one Lodge regularly meets in the Lodgeroom, then with the approval of all such Lodges, may be permitted under such conditions as may be specified by resolution of the Lodge or Lodges, to meet in the Lodgeroom, to place its charter on the walls of the Lodgeroom, and to leave its fraternal paraphernalia in the Lodgeroom, so long as such organization is permitted by the Lodge or Lodges to use the Lodgeroom. Members of the families of members of such organizations may be authorized by the Lodge to use portions of the Lodge building and premises other than the Lodgeroom and the immediate anterooms, for family social activities and for the other activities authorized in Article 224. (b) Such organizations may be permitted to hold open meetings in the Lodgeroom for the purposes and on the conditions stated hereinafter, and such open meetings may be held for any of the following purposes only; (i) Installation of Officers; (ii) Memorial Services; (iii) Observance Services of anniversaries of such Order and only under the following conditions: (1) The Lodge, by formal action, recorded in its minutes, has authorized the said Order to hold its closed meetings in the Lodgeroom; (2) That no meeting be held on Sunday or on June 24th or December 27th; except that with the permission of the Worshipful Master of the Blue Lodge, or if there be more than one Subordinate Blue Lodge which meets regularly in the Lodge Hall then with the permission from all Worshipful Masters of all subordinate Blue Lodges which meet in the Lodge Hall, such Lodge Halls may be used on Sunday afternoon between the hours of 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., for the purpose of studying and practicing Masonic work; (3) That any such meeting held must comply with the usual Masonic customs and under the restrictions in Article 224 of our Laws and the decisions there under; (4) The Worshipful Master of the Lodge may authorize the meeting (unless there is more than one Lodge meeting in said Hall, then it will be necessary for the Master of each Lodge to approve), and report to the District Deputy Grand Master of the District in which the Lodge is situated, advising him of the purpose and time of such meeting. Permission may also be so granted by any Lodge for Easter Sunday Ceremonies, and Knights Templar Ascension Day and Christmas Ceremonies on December 25th and 27th even when these days fall on Sunday.
- Art. 225a. Other Organizations, predicating membership on Masonic membership, recognized. In addition to those organizations recognized in Art. 225, next above, as being entitled to use Lodgerooms and Anterooms of Subordinate Lodges, the Grand Lodge of Texas may recognize and authorize other organizations which predicate membership on Masonic membership. Recognition and authorization must take place by approval of the Grand Lodge in Grand Communication. After an organization has been recognized and authorized by the Grand Lodge of Texas in Grand Communication, pursuant to this Art. 225a, Texas Masons may participate in, and be a part of, such organizations. Organizations recognized and authorized by Article 225a are not to use the Lodgeroom and/or Anteroom of a Subordinate Lodge under the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge. The organizations recognized and authorized pursuant to this Art. 225a will be published in the annual proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Texas and a listing will be maintained in the office of the Grand Secretary for reference thereto. This Grand Lodge has always had and retained the right to withdraw, at its pleasure, approval of any organization heretofore approved by it, and this Grand Lodge continues to reserve that right. (New 2005)
- Art 225b. North-American Interfraternity Conference. Use of the Lodgeroom and Anterooms for Fraternity Chapters belonging to the North-American Interfraternity Conference must meet the following conditions: (1) that the fraternity seeking permission to use such facilities can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the Worshipful Master of the Blue Lodge, that its formal ritual of initiation was written or influenced by a Master Mason; (2) the ceremonies of initiation, of the requesting fraternity, are consistent with Masonic customs; (3) a Master Mason, in good standing with the Grand Lodge of Texas, who is also a member of the requested Lodge and the requesting fraternity, and who is approved by the Worshipful Master, must be present, at all times that the fraternity members are present in the Lodge or its Anterooms; and (4) that the requesting fraternity agrees to abide by and be governed by any and all rules set forth by the granting Lodge. In instances where the building is owned by the Blue Lodge and other York Rite Bodies, there being two (2) distinct Lodgerooms available and the requesting fraternity desires to use the York Rite room, then permission must be granted also by the Most Excellent High Priest, the Thrice Illustrious Master, and the Eminent Commander with a York Rite Companion or Knight being a member of the fraternity and also present. (New 2005)
- Article 225c. New and Existing Texas Organizations. Any organization located in Texas which predicates its membership on Masonic membership, having Masonic purposes, and one or more Texas Masons as part of its membership or governance (other than a Lodge and other than those Masonic organizations described in Article 225) (“affiliates”) shall adhere to the Masonic principles as set out in the Constitution and Laws of the Grand Lodge of Texas.Any new Texas Masonic organization which desires acceptance and recognition by the Grand Lodge of Texas under Article 225a (“new affiliate”) shall submit the information about its Masonic purposes, governance, expected financial support and structure on forms provided by the Grand Secretary. This information must be provided by the new affiliate to the Grand Secretary by June 30 of the year of its submission to the vote of the Grand Lodge of Texas in Grand Communication.Any existing Texas organization which is accepted and recognized by the Grand Lodge of Texas under Article 225a (“affiliate”) shall submit an annual report about its purposes, governance, structure and financial position on forms provided by the Grand Secretary. This report shall be due in the Grand Secretary’s office by June 30 of each year. Failure to submit the report shall subject the affiliate to revocation of its recognition and by the Grand Lodge of Texas. (Adopted 2012)
- From Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed: Any liquor used as a beverage and which when so used in sufficient quantities ordinarily or commonly produces entire or partial intoxication; any liquor intended for use as a beverage or capable of being so used which contains alcohol either obtained by fermentation or by the additional process of distillation in such proportion that it will produce intoxication6 when imbibed in such quantities as may practically be drunk.
- From Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed: The state of being poisoned; the condition produced by the administration or introduction into the human system of a poison. But in its popular use this term is restricted to alcoholic intoxication, that is, drunkenness or inebriety, or the mental and physical condition induced by drinking excessive quantities of alcoholic liquors, and this “is its meaning as used in statutes, indictments, etc. See Sapp v. State, 116 Ga. 182, 42 S. E. 410; State v. Pierce, 65 Iowa, 85, 21 N. W. 195; Wadsworth v. Dunnam, 98 Ala. 610, 13 South. 599; Ring v. Ring, 112 Ga. 854, 38 S. E. 330; State v. Kelley, 47 Vt 296; Com. v. Whitney, 11 Cush. (Mass.) 477.