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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions: Taking GM Johnson's Decisions One By One

As should be common knowledge among all Knights Templar wheresoever dispersed, Sir Knight Michael B. Johnson, Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America, issued four decisions on Sept. 1, 2021, a mere two weeks after being elected Grand Master.

There are substantive issues with these decisions. And there are incorrect assertions of fact in the background arising them. For your reference, you may download a copy of the decisions, here:

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• Decisions 1 -3, Background

In the background of the Decisions 1-3, S.K. Johnson states that the Jurisprudence Committee “once appointed” serves “until the close of the next Triennial Conclave.” Decisions, p. 1 (citing Constitution § 97) and p. 2. This inference is a clear misrepresentation of the Grand Master’s powers as expressly cited in the Constitution. See Const. § 23(c) (the Grand Master has the power to “appoint all committees authorized by the Constitution of the Statutes or created by action of the Grand Encampment and to change the membership thereof at his pleasure”).

It is curious that, while publicly reprimanding his predecessor for removing the Chair of Jurisprudence (after it became apparent that, as Chair, he was incapable of remaining impartial in his role and was motivated to suppress legislation due to a vested interest in the outcome), the current Grand Master, S.K. Johnson, somehow claims power to unilaterally remove an elected officer without cause. See here.

Clearly S.K, Johnson is taking an unusual reading of the Constitution, to excuse expedience for political ends.

In fact, S.K. Johnson is wrapped up with a small group of Sir Knights who are attempting to supplant an elite Rite of Freemasonry with a clandestine version under their own control. See here.

S.K. Johnson goes on to say that “Sir Knight Jeffrey N. Nelson, K.G.T. [sic],” his predecessor in office, was “upset with the preliminary report of the Chairman of the Templar Jurisprudence Committee on two items of proposed legislation.” See Decisions, p. 1. This, too, is incorrect. The Past Grand Master was not “upset” with the Chairman of Jurisprudence; he removed him from office because of an apparent last minute attempt to prevent two items of legislation coming to the floor. S.K. Tsirimokos had deliberately targeted two items of legislation, items that a small faction of the leadership did not want adopted, and had invented procedural grounds to try to prevent the legislation from reaching the floor. For more information on this, please see our post, here.

S.K. Johnson then states that Past Grand Master Nelson “berated the Chairman.” Decisions, p. 1. This is also manifestly false. S.K. Nelson informed S.K. Tsirimokos via email that, if he was not able to be present at the Committee meeting the following day, Aug. 14, 2021, at the scheduled time and place, he would be replaced. The entire text of that email is quoted below.

Dear Tom, I just learned that you will not arrive in Minneapolis until Sunday. The Notice of Conclave provides that the Jurisprudence Committee will meet at 11:00AM on Saturday, August 14, at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center. Any member of the committee not in attendance will be replaced for the duration of the 68th Triennial Conclave. Courteously, Jeff

S.K. Tsirimokos was not present on Aug. 14, 2021. He was, therefore, replaced.

S.K. Johnson also states that S.K. Tsirimokos had “circulated draft Reports to the Committee” and had “furnish[ed] Grand Master Nelson the link to the [rescheduled] video teleconference.” Decisions, p. 1. This is also untrue – S.K. Tsirimokos did not send the link to the rescheduled meeting to anyone other than Committee members and a Professional Registered Parliamentarian whom S.K. Nelson had previously requested be allowed to attend the meeting. S.K. Nelson was not included in that email, which was sent less than 24 hours before the scheduled time and place for the Committee meeting, and which contained S.K. Tsirimokos’s Committee report that decidedly reversed action on two specific items of legislation. See here.

Again, S.K. Trisimokos sent this report less than 24 hours before the meeting time. S.K. Nelson did not see the report until the evening of Aug. 13, 2021 despite the fact that all legislation had been submitted prior to May 15, 2021 and had already been printed in the Notice to Conclave. This sudden change was no doubt deliberate, timed for effect, and was based on false premises.

Continuing, S.K. Johnson goes on to state that “Grand Master Nelson and several of his officers insisted on participating in the Committee’s deliberations and dictated the contents of the Committee’s report concerning the proposed legislation.” Decisions, p. 1-2. This is also untruthful as anyone who attended the meeting may freely attest. (There were a dozen or so Sir Knights who attended the meeting.) In fact, S.K. Nelson introduced the Committee, announced his appointments to fill the two seats vacated by absence, and the meeting was turned over to the appointed Chair, S.K. Ben Williams, who then led the meeting and went line by line through the proposed legislation in the Notice to Conclave.

The Committee voted unanimously that all legislation was in order, save for the two items mentioned previously, to which one Committee member, S.K. Jim Herndon, objected. When asked, S.K. Herdon did not provide any reason for his objection; he simply stated that, “well… I think I just need to object. I object.”

It is pertinent to note that the Committee unanimously approved as in proper form for submission to the assembly legislation that proposed expelling all members of the CBCS without trial. (This legislation had actually been written by S.K. Tsirimokos.) If the abuses of office S.K. Johnson accuses S.K. Nelson of were in any way accurate, then S.K. Nelson could have used his influence to quash this legislation in like manner as S.K. Tsirimokos (and the faction he represents) had previously attempted. S.K. Johnson's Decisions are predicated on behavior of which his own faction of leadership is guilty: that is, motivated action that misapplies the Constitution to excuse political expedience. And now, with these Decisions and background, we can add misrepresentation to the list.

In fact, the Jurisprudence Committee ensured that all legislation timely submitted and in proper form was presented to the floor to vote.

Thus, we see the Background section of the Grand Masters Decisions is replete with manifest untruths – prevarication directed to discredit S.K. Nelson in an unknightly manner while affecting grounds to excuse abuses of office.

• Decisions

Decision No. 1. reads verbatim that “Attendance at meeting of Committees shall be limited to Committee members, unless attendance by a nonmember is specifically requested by the Committee to facilitate its deliberations. Invitees, if any, shall confine their comments to those areas expressly requested by the Committee and will immediately depart the meeting when their comments are concluded. Only the Committee members will participate in deliberations and preparation of Reports.” See Decisions, p. 2.

Members of any organization, let alone the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, unequivocally have rights to participate in their committees’ sessions. Sunshine laws, enacted to protect the public and maintain transparency in public organizations, provide ample rationale for access to meetings of committees appointed in public proceedings. (Sensibly, only executive sessions for the purposes of addressing personnel matters are closed.) In like manner, shareholders in any corporation are encouraged and allowed to attend any committee meeting which affects the day-to-day of their shared corporate interests (again, personnel issues are excepted for obvious reasons). Why should a fraternal organization be any different? Shouldn’t members be allowed to ensure their committees are doing their job? Why is corporate transparency to the members suddenly undesirable? This, Sir Knights, is troubling indeed.

This decision by our new Grand Master, then, appears to be an absurd statement of law; it is against the interest of the members and it may be unlawful. Every member has the right to attend a committee meeting to watch the proceedings. If you are a member of an organization that restricts access to its own deliberations, it seems likely that that organization is not representing your interests….

Frankly, this decision is insensible. It illustrates the scope of the problem we have. It’s a clear abuse of office: an overreach to prevent participation by the membership in correcting abuses of office and is probably unenforceable. It may be actionable – in and of itself, grounds for removal.

Decision No. 2 states essentially that all proposals for recognition must be referred to the Foreign Relations Committee pursuant to Section 99 of the Constitution.

More accurately, pursuant to Section 99, the Foreign Relations Committee should simply report on “all matters of interest connected with the doings and current history of Foreign Bodies of Knight [sic] Templar” and “make such suggestions as may conduce to the benefit and good of the Order of Christian Knighthood throughout the World” and “consider and report upon such correspondence as may be had between this Grand Encampment and any foreign body of Knights Templar.” Const. § 99. The Grand Encampment makes the decisions as to recognition.

Thus there is never a time where the Foreign Relations Committee is not able to report upon matters of interest regarding foreign Templar bodies to the Grand Encampment. This decision is redundant. It is unnecessary and appears to be politically affected to infer that somehow the Foreign Relations Committee should have preemptive jurisdiction over proposed amendments that touch upon recognition before the Jurisprudence Committee can make its decision as to whether such legislation is in proper form. Such a role of the Foreign Relations Committee would be in direct contradiction with Section 97, which requires the Jurisprudence Committee advise on all proposed amendments affecting Templar law.

Decision No. 3 states verbatim that “Personal attacks, interference with the membership of Committees, meddling in their deliberations, and refusal to observe the dictates of the Constitution and Statutes are clear violations of an officer’s vow of office and constitute unknightly conduct. Officers and other Sir Knights who countenance or are complicit in such actions or defaults also bear culpability.” Decisions, p. 2.

One wonders if S.K. Johnson is aware of his own decisions or how they clearly apply to his own conduct. This one should probably be enforced against him based on the text of the decisions alone.

Decision No. 4. In the background, S.K. Johnson explains that this decision is a reaction to “literature authored by the Great Priory of America” that was “placed in the Asylum on tables which were intended for official reports of the Grand Encampment and its Officers and Committees.” Decisions, p. 2.

Decision No. 4 then goes on to state that “[d]uring any Conclave of the Grand Encampment, no literature or other materials concerning legislation, elections or otherwise intended to influence the Voting Delegates may be distributed or made available within the Asylum or within one hundred feet (100’) thereof, except official reports of the Grand Officers, auditors or Committees of the Grand Encampment.”

This rather belabored attempt to silence the minority opinion in assembly seems heavy-handed and undemocratic. Further, it belies the tradition of candidates for Right Eminent Grand Captain General distributing their own brochures as has been the custom in years past. The Decision is, again, politically affected to excuse political expedience in attempting to reverse the 77% vote of delegates that rescinded the 2012 Resolution which pronounced the CBCS an irregular Templar body and would expel any Knight Templar who was a member of the CBCS.

• Koon Decision No. 2, 24 May 2010

Lastly, the NOTICE. S.K. Johnson states that “Koon Decision No. 2 dated May 24, 2010 and approved on August 13, 2012 remains Templar Law.”

This Koon decision states the same tired argument, that the “Great Priory of America CBCS…is an unrecognized Templar Order operating within the United States of America, in direct conflict with Section 3 of the Constitution of the Grand Encampment of the United States of America. Accordingly, membership in the Great Priory of America CBCS is incompatible with membership in the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of American [sic] and any Grand, Constituent, or Subordinate Commandery under its jurisdiction or owing allegiance to the same.” Decisions, p. 3.

The issue here is that the 2012 Resolution, now rescinded, was the resolution that codified this decision into law. The repeal of that 2012 Resolution renders this decision unenforceable and moot.

Thus, Koon Decision No. 2 dated May 24, 2010 can only remain Templar Law if the resolution it engendered was not repealed and voided ab initio.

According to 77% of our membership, the 2012 Resolution no longer exists. According to 77% of our membership, the 2012 Resolution never existed (voided ab initio).

Therefore, the decision that engendered the resolution must be mooted, too.

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