Freemason Information

The Petition Against Clandestine Freemasonry

The following is from a comment posted by Brother Charles M. Harper Sr. on the post Bar Sinister Clandestine Hazing. Upon receiving it, I thought it warranted its own post given the depth to which he explored his ideas. The context to the piece comes as an explanation for why the petition is necessary in this modern age.

Here is a little of the information, from my book, A Spurious State of Confusiondue out at the end of July that provides both extensive quantitative and qualitative research to substantiate my stance that spurious Freemasonry is a problem, what it exactly is in the scheme of the Masonic world, how the problem came to be and what are choices that can be explored to stem the tide.

I expect the Obama Administration, in accordance with the petition, to examine this issue. I think it is inevitable that many will thwart this petition because of political feelings, and somehow, will tie in their dislike of Obama with the intent of the petition. It is human nature and to be expected.

Just some other historical evidence of some legal grounds that can substantiate at least the filing of this petition.

The conviction in the Federal Court at Salt Lake City, Utah, on May 15, 1922, of Matthew A. McBlain Thomson, Thomas Perrot and Dominic Bergera, of using the mails to defraud, was the culmination of efforts of the United States Government, begun in 1915, to have a reckoning with the perpetrators of one of the most ingenious mail frauds, and the most daring and spectacular Masonic imposture in American history.

In 1929 there was filed in the office of the Secretary of State of New Jersey a Certificate of Incorporation of “The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of New Jersey,” under which certificate the incorporators claimed the right to:

Practice and preserve Ancient Craft Masonry according to the Ancient Charges, Constitutions and Land Marks of Free Masonry; to create, organize and supervise subordinate Lodges of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, granting to them dispensations and charters, empowering them to confer the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason; and to do all things necessary to carry into effect the objects and purposes of this incorporation.

The regular Grand Lodge instituted suit in the Court of Chancery against this spurious Grand Lodge with the result that in 1932 there was entered a decree restraining and enjoining this “Grand Lodge of ancient Free and accepted Masons of New Jersey,” its officers, agents, members and employees,

  1. From using the name or designation “The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of New Jersey.”
  2. From using any name or designation containing the words “Free and Accepted Masons,” or word “Mason,” or “Masons,” in conjunction with either or both of the words “Free and Accepted.”
  3. From practicing, or pretending to practice Ancient Craft Masonry, according to the ancient Charges, Constitutions and Land Marks of Free Masonry; from creating, organizing or supervising subordinate Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons in the State of New Jersey, or pretending to do so; from conferring or pretending to confer the three degrees of Free Masonry known as Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason, or any of them.

South Dakota once had an Italian spurious body, but it has disbanded. Texas has to contend with the clandestine Mexican bodies. Utah has had some experiences, but her most famous contribution to the history of clandestine Masonry was the trial of the notorious McBain and Thompson. That Masonic fraud was there exposed and the perpetrators sent to jail. M.W. Sam H. Goodwin, Grand Secretary, writes of this:

Grand Lodge has not entered the arena against clandestinism, but a great battle against clandestinism was brought to a successful conclusion in the Federal Court in Salt Lake City, and the chief promoters of the Thompson Masonic Fraud (three in number) heard a jury declare them guilty, on ten counts, of using the U.S. Mails to defraud.

In a majority of States, legislation has been passed making it an offense against the law to use the emblems of a fraternal organization without a right, or to adopt and use the name of a pre-existent fraternal, charitable, benevolent, humane or other nonprofit making organization. Some of these laws are very elaborate, others are less specific, but in States where such legislation has been invoked by regular Masonry against usurpation by clandestine bodies, the courts have upheld, or are now in the process of upholding the regular and recognized Grand Lodges of the nation against those who would profit at their expense. – Source: Clandestine – from a Short Talk Bulletin – Dec. 1935, Masonic Service Association of North America

There have been state rulings against spurious masonry, filed by Grand Lodges, since before the 1950’s by Prince Hall Grand Lodges. – Source – Masonic Court Cases

As to the former rulings against Prince Hall and its standing amongst the Masonic Community today, the United Grand Lodge of England established a committee that examined at great lengths the legitimate origins and determined in 1992 that Prince Hall Grand Lodges were indeed regular Grand Lodges, though formed irregularly but consistent with the forming of Grand Lodges during its time of organization. 40 U.S. Grand Lodges now in amity with the Prince Hall Grand Lodge substantiates that they would not be included in such categories as spurious Freemasonry, which is simply not Freemasonry, but the imitation of it.

The word clandestine today is an often misapplied word compared to prior to the Baltimore Convention of 1834. All Regular Grand Lodges are clandestine to some other regular Grand Lodge. Being clandestine in the proper context has nothing to do with proving a standard of regularity that has been substantiated over time by the courts, and is codified by laws in New York state, and other states.

The word ‘clandestine’ falls with unhappy significance upon modern Masonic ears, but it did not in those days mean quite the same thing as it does to Masons of this age, Prior to the ‘Lodge of Reconciliation’ and the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813, the two Grand Bodies of England, the ‘Moderns’ (who were the older) and the ‘Antients’ (who were the younger, schismatic body) each considered the other ‘clandestine.’ – Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania Proceedings February 3, 1783

The feminine disciplines though irregular, and are thus clandestine to traditional Freemasonry, do have origins found within the Masonic Fraternity definitively from the Grand Orient of France’s requirement their existence would be attached to a traditional all male Masonic lodge and one woman at least was made a Master Mason in a Masons Lodge, though it was against the rules of the Grand Orient, Maria Deraisme. The Grand Orient, at one time determined to be regular, has legitimate origins.

What is often not included in the mainstream discussion of the quantitative effects of spurious Freemasonry, which include more than 450 spurious grand lodges in the United States alone, which collectively boasts memberships close to 400,000 members, and grossing more than approximately $43 million dollars, all in the name of traditional freemasonry. These groups advertise for membership with famous Masons such as George Washington and Fredrick Douglass. What is also not often examined are the horrid perpetuation of racism used to emotionally inspire the continued separation between races within the Masonic institution by the feeding of negative stereotypes gathered through mass generalizations.

Please allow this petition to be supported if nothing else, to bring national attention to fraudulently practiced Freemasonry. Our Fraternity is on a cusp of a great resurgence with a massive return to focus on Masonic education as the center of bonds in the fraternity being created. We need not stand idly by while fraud undermines our progression.