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 Confusion, due 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,
From using the name or designation “The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of New Jersey.”
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.”
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.
What is “Masonic Intercourse” many Masons ask? The definition can mean many things and different authors have given their opinion as to the actual purpose of having it in our rituals.
In The Meaning of Masonic Obligation, PGM R.V. Harris of Nova Scotia defines Masonic Intercourse as, “…to refrain from Masonic Intercourse with outsiders, and with irregular Freemasons and to discountenance all irregularities and immoralities.” Well, this is still not clear enough to define or determine its meaning. The web-site, “The Beacon Light of Freemasonry”, gives another definition which states, “Masonic communication, or as it is alternately called, Masonic Intercourse, involves any type of communication involving sharing the secrets of masonry. Primarily, that is sitting in a tyled lodge session, which is any type of Masonic meeting where the general public is NOT allowed, or where the qualification for attendance is being a Mason.”
The truth is that we must clearly and truly understand the difference in what we call “Masonry” vs. what some want to create out of it. There are two forms of Masonic Intercourse. There is the verbal (exoteric) which we are aware of, but many are not aware of non-verbal (esoteric) communication. The verbal is common understanding, as we would clearly understand that if you communicate with a clandestine (Bogus) Mason about the modes of recognition like passwords, grips and signs, you are in strict violation of your obligation. You can communicate verbally limited aspect of esoteric messages via words, but not many are Masonically educated enough to reach that level. Now, what we fail to realize that there is such a thing as non-verbal communication (esoteric). This is where some lose sight of the meaning of communication. Non-Verbal communication is a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, behavior, dress or gathering. It is to be in sync with one another for a common goal. It is like a tuxedo ball. Everyone is in sync until someone enters with jeans and sneakers. As the jeans and sneaker guest walks in, a communication automatically is transmitted via a non-verbal transmission. He is automatically out of place due to his appearance. Non-Verbal communication does not always reveal a negative existence and is hidden in its esoteric engagement. When we do not realize we are communicating or engaged in communication, we are blind of the effects it can cause. Masonic Intercourse is an exchange of verbal and non-verbal communication between parties whether you are communicating with legal Masons or not. Being invited to, accepting and attending in your Masonic regalia at a function such as an official Divine Service or St. John’s Day from a so-called Masonic group that is clandestine and irregular is Masonic Intercourse.
In Prince Hall Masonry, we have functions that we consider Masonic in nature that are called, “Divine Services, Prince Hall Day, and St. John’s Day” to name a few. In these events, we are clothed in formal Masonic regalia. We do so in reverence to our founder “Brother Prince Hall” and to reflect the struggles this organization has gone through and how we have evolved throughout two centuries. Most importantly, when our leadership is clothed in Masonic attire, we are representing the craft. When your Grand Master or his representative at anytime wears his jewel and apron, he is representing “Grand Lodge”. It is an official act. This is a form of “communication or communicating”. Communicating in the above fashion is clearly Masonic in nature as we are dressed in the order of business for the purpose of an official Masonic gathering. It is Masonic intercourse. In the above events, we must clearly recognize a few things.
Although no modes of recognition are displayed, through the very act of presenting ourselves in full regalia, we are communicating to each other the respect of accepting each other as equal (i.e. a Peer).
Although non-Masons are allowed, it is a form of education to advocate unity, love and admiration to one another within the fraternity. However, if a clandestine Mason (Bogus) is dressed the same, our act of acceptance is considered “irregular”, and that is only if we accept them as peers.
We are a distinct organization different from college fraternities, social organizations, political parties and most important, the average citizen.
Because of the struggles, of our path finder within this organization, we agreed to follow our progenitor’s path.
Lastly because of our rich history and knowing who we are and where we came from, that we will not devalue our institution by sympathizing and recognizing what our ritual and constitutions recognize as clandestine and irregular. That is, so-called Masons that belong to groups that cannot prove that they came from a competent Grand Body that empowered them to work.
Let us investigate what is “Clandestine”? Macoy’s Encyclopedia describes clandestine Lodges as “Lodges which have been formed by avaricious Freemasons, who take money from those people who have no idea of the difference between warranted Regularly Constituted Grand Lodge and one that is not regularly constituted.” History demonstrates that many of the bodies that call themselves Masonic in African American communities, were organizations established by suspended or expelled Masons. Why are we today placing our guards down against groups that have not come via the same regular or similar way as those who are known to be regular?
Their threat to legitimate Prince Hall Freemasonry is threefold:
They deprive our lodges of potential good recruits, and deprive those men of the opportunity to become genuine Masons;
Many of them bring Masonry into disrepute in the eyes of the general public by conducting degree mills for profit; and
Their very existence, and often their conduct, cause confusion among those mainstream Masons who assume that all Blacks calling themselves Masons are of Prince Hall Affiliation, and also among some Prince Hall Affiliated Masons who are tempted to place racial solidarity ahead of legitimacy of origin and global Masonic acceptance.
This is not to say that Prince Hall Grand Lodges do not have their problems, however, here in New York, we have a record within our proceedings and recorded transactions via committees that show the complications we have had in our state, due to Bogus and Clandestine Masonry.
Let us get back to “Masonic Intercourse” as this is our main focus and in truth really define the crux of the matter. In true Universal Freemasonry the pigment of a man’s skin has never been a signature of regularity, nor gives him the same rights as a member of a legally established Masonic Fraternity. However, in the history of Freemasonry in the United States, the concept of race has reared its ugly head and, has been a barrier to the acceptance of men of color, in particular “Prince Hall Masons”. Nothing is more sensitive than a subject that touches on racial lines especially when speaking of our own community. We must not confuse our various relationships and associations with individuals, social clubs, political organizations, college fraternities, or churches, to name a few, with Universal Freemasonry. Often times we believe that anything that looks like us are us. This is not always true. In my opinion, we do a severe disservice to ourselves and our organization by communicating with Bogus Masons in the act of accepting them as our peers by being fully regaled in Masonic gatherings that we hold dear to our organization. There is nothing wrong in educating them of history and our organization, as many of them are good timber and practice Masonry in their hearts, but we must understand that there is a difference between “Masonry and Freemasonry”. Freemasonry is the institution and it has specific rules found in our Constitution and Masonry is the original nature of the Universe.
We do not realize that the moment you enter a gathering in your esoteric garb known as gloves, apron, and jewels with a clandestine Mason, you have just committed Masonic Intercourse whether you initiated it or not.
Some of these so-called Grand Lodges are considered “Spurious” in nature, because spurious can be considered bodies of illegitimate birth, outwardly similar or corresponding to something without having its genuine qualities. It is a so-called Masonic entity that falsifies or erroneously attributes its origin to some non-existing Masonic source. It is deceitful in nature. Remember, if a thing is false, it cannot be a fact in its representation. The only fact is that a spurious Lodge is a false Masonic body. The word “spurious” was used in England as far back as 1824 when they considered lodge No. 557 spurious. This spurious Lodge met at an inn called, “The White Bear” and thereafter “The Royal Hotel”. Many who are spurious or even part of a spurious body do not know the origin of his Grand Lodge/Lodge, and are hoodwinked with false pretense that he has joined a respectful organization thinking that its main objective and cause is for the upliftment of humanity, never noticing fraud or deceit. Many good Men have been sucked into these organizations by way of ignorance. They, along with clandestine and irregular bodies, have often used the false history of Masonry and in particular the history of Prince Hall Freemasonry. They have used the mud throwing of calling us paupers of charters, beggars of recognition, and even calling Prince Hall Masons racist of their own kind, not knowing that although an organization with a make-up of predominately men of color, we have hundreds of white Brothers in our ranks.
On June 6, 1956, M.:W.: G.M. L Ernest DuBois in his address under Clandestine Masonry went on record as per the minutes of the 111th Annual Grand Communication:
“As like the two (2) previous subjects, this too has received a considerable amount of attention, not only in this jurisdiction, but throughout the Country by White and Negro Masons alike.
Our White Brethren have seen and read enough about Prince Hall masonry to the extent that they are fairly well convinced of our legitimacy and while they do not accept us as a group, they do, to a great extent, accept us as individual Masons, and as a whole do not consider us a threat to the Masonic Institution, just so long as we do not conduct ourselves and our activities in such a manner that it will bring reproach upon the Masonic Fraternity. This is an indication, in my opinion, based upon conversations with a few of our outstanding White Brethren that like integration, recognition by this group is on the way, but do not get the impression from these remarks that, like prosperity many years ago, it is just around the corner. This is far from the case, but there is a great interest in this subject on the part of our White Brethren and I hope and pray that if and when such recognition is accorded all Prince Hall Masons, we will be ready to accept it and will be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with Brother Masons throughout the World. Much depends upon the manner in which we conduct our affairs and the interest we take in, not only our Lodges, but our share of the community responsibilities.
“Several months ago your Grand Master addressed a communication to Grand Master Amos T. Hall of Oklahoma, and the President of the Grand Master’s Conference, in which was suggested that a committee composed of representatives of the Grand Master’s Conference, together with representatives of the Concordant Bodies, and the Shrine, convene for the purpose of discussing the subject of clandestine Masonry and suggest ways and means by which this great evil might be over-come. Several Jurisdictions have taken these groups into court and decisions in favor of the Prince Hall Jurisdictions have been handed down, but at a great expense financially. It was in my mind that if a concerted effort could be made, sponsored by the Grand Lodges and National organizations, a much more effective job might be done and in a much shorter space of time. In due time Grand Master Hall answered my communication and informed me that he appreciated the suggestions and would discuss it further at the Grand Master’s Conference.”
“While attending the conference the week of May 20th, Brother Hall informed me that about the same time he received my communication, he was the recipient of a like communication from the Sovereign Grand Commander, II. George W. Crawford, inviting him to come to the City of Philadelphia prior to the Supreme Council Session to discuss this matter with him and his officers.”
“It gives me pleasure to report to this M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge that definite steps have been taken in this direction. The Officers of the Supreme Council, together with the Imperial Council of the Shrine, have pledged their support to the Grand Master’s Conference to assist in combating clandestine Masonry. President Hall has been empowered by the Conference members to select a committee to work with the aforementioned groups for the purpose of study; the securing of data relative to clandestine masonry and in due time make recommendations as to how best to handle the situation. This, I believe, is a step in the right direction- at least a more concrete step than ever taken before and another indication that the entire Prince Hall Family is going to pull together toward one end. And I am just conceited enough to feel that New York State has had a small part in a great undertaking.”
I believe that our Brothers of the past had a better understanding of what was happening around them and focused on the good of the organization. Today, we have leadership who accepts Bogus Masons as their peers and recognize them as Masons only because the majority look like Prince Hall Masons in complexion, wear Masonic paraphernalia, meet in buildings labeled “Masonic Temple” or hold Masonic titles. Is this a good and wise reason we should accept and embrace these organizations as “Masonic”?
In my article, “Education For A People Unaware”, I stated:
“Regularity is a big question for most. Many have no clue what it really means. In the search for truth, we must investigate all the parameters that make up the substance of that which is to be considered for evaluation. Certain standards must be used for guidelines in which to measure against the intended interest of one’s choice, whether it’s an object or viewpoint. Freemasonry has been established centuries ago by Ancient Landmarks, Ancient Charges, Constitutions, and many unwritten laws. Taking basic attributes that make up regularity such as establishing Lodges from a “competent jurisdiction empowering it to work”, or abiding by the ancient charges in which most follow Anderson’s Constitution, you will see that many Lodges or Grand Lodges which erected them-selves illegally did not follow these basic rules. Lodges in order to be regular must have been established by a regular Grand Lodge. It must be truly independent and self-governing with undisputed authority over Craft Masonry. Freemasons under its jurisdiction must be Men having no Masonic Intercourse with Lodges, which admit Women or Clandestine Masons. You must believe in a Supreme Being, and take the obligation over a Volume of Sacred Laws. The three great lights must be displayed with the Square and Compasses, and finally to follow the tenets of Freemasonry to name a few.”
Most rituals of the day have some clause or state that you will not be at the in****, pas**** or rai**** of a clandestine Mason, so why are we going to joint events in our Masonic dress with individual that you are prohibited from witnessing their in****, pas**** and rai****? How can I be obligated to not be present at their initiation and advancement, but recognize them by being in function with our esoteric clothing representing Masonry? I do not know one man that can dress up as a Police Officer and think he can arrest crooks just because he has a police uniform, gun and badge and impersonates a cop. You can save hundreds of lives by impersonating a Doctor and practicing medicine without a license does not make you a physician. Making a certificate or degree on your computer does not mean you have a Masters like the many so-called charters that bogus Masons produce. Some even get a charter from the state and confuse the public and regular Masons as if a state charter is equal to a Masonic one.
In Massachusetts in 1903, a decision was made about John G. Jones, an attorney in Illinois and member of the MWPHGL of Illinois after his expulsion that:
The MWPHGL of The State of Massachusetts, does not and will not affiliate with or in any way recognize Masonically, any person affiliating with, recognizing or in any way having Masonic Intercourse with John G. Jones, recently expelled from Masonry by the MWPHGL of Illinois, or with those with whom he is in affiliation.” This was signed by GM William H. Jackson, and attested by Benjamin C. Hazel, Grand Secretary”.
In New York, In accordance with the foregoing communication, Most Worshipful Edward V.C. Eato at the time Grand Master of the MWPHGL of New York issued an edict warning the Lodges and their members not to have any Masonic Intercourse with Jones or his representatives under pain of punishment for contumacy.
Here is one example of a Prince Hall Mason being expelled from Masonry and today, the Grand Lodges that he created and their splinter groups have disguised themselves as legitimate bodies. Why are some of our leadership engage in fellowshipping instead of educating these groups of their origin?
On June 9, 1961 (116th Annual Grand Communication) Report by the Committee on Clandestine Masonry.
“As secretary of the Committee on Clandestine Masonry, I wish to make the following report: A Bogus Mason is a Bogus Mason. Perhaps a ‘faker’ is more appropriate term. For generations particularly during the second half of the nineteenth century deceptions, hoaxes, and ruses have been prostituted upon Men of Color in the fair name of legitimate Freemasonry. These would be Masons, or better styled, Masonic pirates, have worked there will of misbrands as they see fit, not recognizing the fact nor caring to that an entire race of people were being victimized, retarded and delimited, and very much so.”
“Some perpetrators may indulge in this fraudulent practice for the pure enchantment and needed treat it affords, others, for the monetary gains, power and self-esteem, it would rightly offer. Whatever the reason, it effects perversion and confusion. Masonry among Men of Color is made impure and the defiled stream reeks with a regurgitating stench of impurities and foreign bodies.”
“To be sure, deception and hoaxes have prevailed in the character of men from earliest times. It would seem to be innate within the personality of some. “Skim milk masquerades as cream,” and someone or some group is the unwitting recipient. The Old Testament tells the story of Jacob’s calculated deception, and also his dupe, to which he in turn was subjected (Genesis: chapter 27-29). From Homer, various Greek plays, medieval romances, and the deceived appear. Ellery Queen’s famous mysteries not to be excluded.”
“It should be perfectly clear in the mind as a consequence why some Negroes have entered and prospered in the business of bogus Masonry and why some individuals are ready made dupes of same: the cultural gap, lack of education and appreciative understanding, and the complexities surrounding a myriad of problems, also, imposed restraints moreover, encourage such malpractices. Such is the position of the American Negro and his continued role in Freemasonry, in a new decade, dedicated to Human Rights and the Betterment of Humankind.”
“At our 113th Grand Communication (1958), recognizing an indisputable “urgent need,” Grand Lodge did empower a special committee, the expressed purpose of which was to reduce and totally eliminate clandestine bodies and their fragments.”
“The first concern or object of this Committee was to identify the field. This having been done, it became necessary to determine believable procedure targeted to eliminate bogus bodies operating within our Grand Jurisdiction. Realizing that a Masonic millennium among “Men of Color” would not occur overnight, we took the immediate as well as the long view of our mandate. All objective evaluation of the prevailing situation leads us to believe that we had a long, tedious, and perhaps costly fight on our hands. This and all else, in order to rid Negro Masonry of this blight, and prevent future defiling of the pure stream.”
“A comprehensive and imaginative program was subsequently developed and formulated. In this fight, the Committee was firmly convinced that, every permissible tool in any permissible way should be used to advance our interest.”
“In the process of shoring up our court case, and future cases notwithstanding, a large amount of basic research became readily apparent. At first, we may have been under some form of self-delusion, as relative to our so-called secure position. However, we were abruptly confronted with bald reality as we attempted to olympicly wade through seven “examinations before trial.” What primary evidence we lacked, what points we were completely uneducated upon, were enough to give us pause. Nonetheless, at this time, we can report that our position has been advanced.”
“In conclusion, I wish to affirm the fact that, The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York must commit the full strength of its great capacity, in order to realize its object. The full energy and vitality of the Craft is imperative. It is hoped that at the 117th Grand Communication, we can report that everything is in progress.”
Harold A. Wilson, Secretary
Committee on Clandestine Masonry
There will be more information when I complete my book, Bogus Masonic Outfits, The Danger to Prince Hall Masonry.