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

clandestine adThe 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.

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A devoted student of the Western Mystery Traditions, Greg is a firm believer in the Masonic connections to the Hermetic traditions of antiquity, its evolution through the ages and into its present configuration as the antecedent to all contemporary esoteric and occult traditions. He is a self-called searcher for that which was lost, a Hermetic Hermit and a believer in “that which is above is so too below.” Read more about Greg Stewart.


  1. I’m sorry, but if I understand this petition correctly, “we” will be submitting it to the White House for inclusion in some sort of review? And what makes anyone think this will not open the door to federal challenges of our membership policies with threats from the DOJ to cease and desist from barring full female participation, Eastern Star and other “women’s” organizations not withstanding. I can see fines and penalties being levied on all lodges and Grand Lodges until “fairness” reigned.

    No. I do not support this misguided petition. You mat feel free to forward this email and open the matter up for comments.

    This petition is the nose of the camel under the tent!


    Wor. JH Laprime

  2. Bypassing my Grand Lodges for political goals is unacceptable and not anything I want to participate in.The governments involvement in choosing which MASONIC entity is best, smacks on a classic violation of the 1st amendment.Allowing the U.S. Governments nose in our tent will next usurp our sacred membership requirements.

  3. I signed the potition. IMHO, it time to get rid of the parasites, trouble makers, and con’s, and that include the divine sisterhood of YaYa menstruaters club (comasons).

  4. I’m so glad that, it appears, this will not get enough signatures. I, for one, do not want the executive branch, regardless of political leaning, to offer their opinion on what legitimate Freemasonry is. Nothing seems to work right after the government gets their hands on it… And who is to say that the government won’t decide that our misogynist old boys club isn’t discriminatory and then we need to let women into the order? This is the effort of a select few who want to right the ark and don’t look forward to potential consequences.

    Also, the petition itself is erroneous…. All Grand Lodges do not claim their lineage to the Grand Lodge of England, Scotland for one, and all of her daughter lodges. I imagine that members of Mother Lodge Kilwinning have something to say about the idea that Masonry began in 1717. Not all of the 450 irregular Grand Lodges participate in hazing.

    I’m not for hazing and bullying or even fraud… However when we get the government involved they are going to want to see all ritual… Mainstream and not, to see if what is happening is really hazing. Are we willing to give up our secrets to destroy an illegitimate organization? Are we going to destroy someone else’s idea of masonry because it doesn’t correspond with our flavor of masonry, even though they’re not hurting anyone (comasons for example)?

    This is a slippery slope brethren?

  5. Brother Albert McClelland, I understand your position and I am a great admirer of your work throughout the years that you have served the fraternity. However, I have addressed the issue of investigating to whether the grand lodge could enact, or speak to any politicians regarding the issue of spurious Freemasonry in the state of Illinois and the constitutional code forbids the grand lodge from seeking such measures. I could not even seek a private meeting with members of the fraternity who are state senators through the grand lodge to investigate placing the same laws that the state of New York and Connecticut State Legislatures already have enacted. Only a private citizen who happens to be a Mason, can seek such measures on his own accord.

    State courts have already established that they have jurisdiction over cases of these masonic issues, and have ruled in favor of the regular grand lodges.

    Could you elaborate on how you feel that this suggestion violates the 1st amendment of Free Speech. Thank you Brother and all that you do for masonic education again.

    Charles M. Harper Sr.

  6. What must happen as well, of course, is for Grand Lodges (as well as individual Lodges under their jurisdiction) to work to be certain that there is a credible brand of legitimate Masonry offered to candidates and Brethren. That will do as much, perhaps, to further the Craft’s interests, in the long run, as almost any battle against the pretenders.

    Freemasonry would be well served (and, please understand, I’m NOT saying there’s no place for fighting the impostors) to take a tip from banks’ training of tellers. The varieties of counterfeit currency are potentially almost infinite (as are the lies and deceptions of clandestine Masonry), so no training could familiarize employees with all possible forms of bogus bills. Instead, tellers are trained by having them handle quantities of the ‘real thing.’ They handle it repeatedly and often, and, in so doing, they become so intimately familiar with the touch, feel, smell, etc of the ‘genuine article’ that the fake stuff stands out like a neon sign.

    If we as Masons demand such scrupulous adherence to the real thing as it our exclusive ability to recognize (and within our complete control to provide within our Lodges) and then make that real Freemasonry a force within our communities, we can add to petitions and legal action such a ready supply of the real thing that the pretenders will be hard pressed to find potential members among a public informed of their scams. This is the part that we can control ourselves and, not to our credit, the aspect of the problem that we have enabled by decades of neglect.

  7. Dear Brother Harper, In today’s world any man who wants to know every word and syllable we have diligently attempted to commit to memory and live by, is available on the internet for the taking.It is a buyer beware market . We are surrounded by frauds in virtually every market place.Exposures in Freemasonry were published in Great Britain as early as 1723. Many believe the Morgan Affair was a attempt to prohibit a member of the Craft from publishing more exposure’s.That incident brought the fraternity to its knees and its recovery is still slow after all these years.
    The First Amendment guarantees and protects Freedom of Assembly and Association. As long as your not assembling and associating to overthrow the U.S. Government, chat on.
    In all due respect..”Only a private citizen who happens to be a mason can seek such measures on his own accord.” A private citizen did not just happen to be a mason, he solicited a Masonic Lodge of his own free will and accord,initiated a petition, paid required fees, took three degrees and assumed the position among his Brothers as a Master Mason. In this journey he voluntarily obligated himself to his respective Grand Lodge and its Laws…When standing among his citizens as a member of the Masonic-Freemason family he is a living representative obligated to his Grand Lodge. Individual Masons do not petition governments to change how their Grand Lodges do business.
    I know you are frustrated in your rightful quest and the answer to your goal is Masonic Awareness ,not litigation in any form. As the author of Freemasonry in Black and White you are providing the “Awareness” one volume at a time.Congratulations.

  8. I (from a position of being an American but raised in a UGLE Lodge and a joining member of a Massachusetts Lodge) do not support this petition. Hazing is a crime, and thus if clandestine Lodges are hazing their initiates they should be brought to justice under the existing laws. I suspect that the civil authorities might hesitate to support an all-male fraternal organisation in trying to drive other fraternal organisations “out of business” on the grounds that the other organisations are not recognised by ours. And, as another commentator has mentioned, will we then move against all-female or mixed lodges on the same grounds? Will Grand Lodges in states which do not recognise Prince Hall Masonry as legitimate then move against PH Grand Lodges as well?

    I would be astounded if the petition, no matter how many signatures it has, would be ultimately successful. Opening wormcans can be perilous for the opener.

    W.Bro. Chris Hansen

  9. Since this post, I have ventured deeper into this issue from a cultural anthropological perspective and see even clearer, the systemic issue here. There is a glaring reason many do not wish to take heed to this matter of fraudulently practiced Freemasonry. The gravity of it is missed by the perspective of the audience. It is easily dismissable, the horrid practices of these lodges stating that if one is being hazed, they should alert the authorities. It is easily dismissable, this desire to have pressure placed against the Fraternity, examined for its practices. The Fraternity, as a whole. enjoys its cultural isolation from the public. In this regard, it does not need to answer for its actions, each grand lodge being sovereign, but viewed as one collective entity. We enjoy segregation. it allows us to feel that we are somehow elite, morally astute, and somehow, beyond reproach.

    A person who keeps their head faced to the ground cannot see the problems of the storm headed their direction. In our Fraternity within the borders of the United States, we harbor some of the most horrid practices of social prejudice seen from a society that espouses to regard the internal and not the external of a man for membership. We say that as it sounds good and was anciently created. But, we do not practice this on a collective basis, even if those who are outspoken denounce it. I could state that I am speaking from experience, but that is not an academic foundation to convince the masses.

    The fact is that the foundation of this great nation and the expansion of the Fraternity here grew intertwined in their belief structure in regard to social status. Of course, we are talking slavery, Missouri Compromise, Jim Crow and its practice of Separate but Equal. I could go on, but I believe we are an educated bunch and to expand further is not needed. What is often dismissed, is the embedded social prejudice that was the outgrowth of this immoral actions of a profane, and Masonic, society. We grew in parallel with these prejudicial practices and we tend to ignore the psychological ramifications that are seen, yet unseen. Did you know that by the 1860’s and the development of our social sciences such as psychology, sociology, and my favorite area of collegiate study, anthropology, scientifically proved that Blacks were less than capable of higher thought to justify a continuance of the laws that were established after the passing of the 13th amendment? These were, and some areas still are, laws that perpetuate a social class system? I say this not to blame anyone here as none of us were alive then. The point in this history lesson is this:

    Socially, we are often aloof to the fact that we tend to be dismissive of ideas that challenge our sense of secured beliefs most often founded in Biblical Law, or from a trusted source from within our culture. An example you ask? Sure. A person of a foreign cultural group having no prejudice about them, walking on a street at first alone, will tend to take cautious action when confronted with a person of a different culture unfamiliar to them, approaching. It is an unconscious reaction that is not predicated on racism or outward prejudice, but a subtle fear of the unknown which causes a physical action. Because of the lack of familiarity, a cautious action is taken. A decision is made due to the absence of knowledge.

    Relating this back to the fight against clandestine Freemasonry and the fear the government will invade the sanctity of our lodges and rules. Well, initially that is unrealistic as past court cases have proven that the government has been asked to intercede on the Fraternities behalf against those who use the Fraternity for fraud. So, that fear needs to be subsided. But further, the gravity of the situation is missed here by those who have never experienced being a member of these fraudulent groups or being so far culturally isolated from the larger impact of their existence. These groups exist because of the social growth of the country and Freemasonry’s long inaction to be resistant to the cultural practices of the profane. The clues are missed because the impact of their existence is missed. The Fraternity and the fraudulent masonic groups are a reflection of the social standing of Amercian culture…. Practiced segregation. We use our walls to shield us from the truth. As much as the social sciences have existed within our rituals since the enlightenment, we avoid the application of them in practice.

    We stand by and allow the refusal of Blacks, or Whites, Homosexuals, Pagans, etc. into membership because the ballot box is sacred and harmony must prevail in the lodge. We do this knowing all the while why a person of a different race, sexual persuasion, or religion belief, is denied membership. We use the exceptions to this practice as substantiated proof to deny the claims. We allow the grand lodges who overlook these practices to stay in fraternal communication with us because they are a sovereign entity. We ground our opinions with the use of the Holy Bible, which though a furniture of the lodge, we are not to talk religion in the lodge. Hypocritical, don’t you think?. We substantiate our claims because it is the way it has been done, regardless if it is morally right. We allow such things and because we do, we allow the perpetuation of segregation. We are hypocrites.

    We will use peer pressure to force the Grand Lodge of Minnesota to withdraw recognition from the Grand Orient of France because they allow atheists into their membership. We do this in ignorance, not understanding that an atheist in France simply means a person who does not go to church. We forced the Grand Lodge of Washington to revoke recognition with the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington because it was believed then, just as it is still today in Lodges and Grand Lodges in the U.S., that Blacks cannot be Freemasons as they are descendent from slaves, and cannot, therefore, be Free-Born. These claims are made in ignorance as the words Free-Born having nothing to do with the physical or social class birth of a person.

    We commit practices that spurn some of the very issues that are killing our Fraternity. And, we protect these practices in vain. No one wants the government meddling in the Craft? Great! I do not desire it as well. But, the question then remains. What are you going to do? Are you going to complain about the actions someone else is trying because they see the forest beyond the trees and wants to try something? Or, are you going to be rebellious against a proverbial tyranny that is eroding this great Fraternity from the inside? Since the beginning, members of this great Craft have been rebellious, standing face into the wind of immoral actions that restrict the spiritual and intellectual growth of mankind. it is easy to dismiss claims when the gravity of the consequences are not readily seen for any number of social reasons. Cancers begin this way. Diabetes begins this way. One can continue to treat this as an acute issue as it relates to a topic that tends to emotional, and difficult to discuss. However, that does not send cancer into remission, or stems the existence of diabetes. No.

    We are far passed preventative measures. We must take action. If one does not like my method, that is fine. Develop something better. If not, I believe we are obliged to support any Master Mason in their laudable endeavors, giving them good and wholesome counsel along the way. I cannot sit idly by while the Fraternity is in theory, the model for a better social society that America can learn from, and watch it implode from the inside out. My door is always open.

    W. Bro. Charles Harper

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