Clandestine/Quasi-Pseudo Freemasonry – Beware what you join

I have often written regarding clandestine or quasi-pseudo Freemasonry, this one is to warn  you as to what you might join if not careful. When Freemasonry became organised in England in 1717 by forming the first Grand Lodge (other countries soon followed), not all Mason Lodges that were around at that time wanted to join in this venture. Some years later (1751) many of these Lodges formed a rival Grand Lodge, making two main Grand Lodges in England (there were a few others too). Maybe you would think that those Lodges that refused to join would have been deemed “clandestine,” but there is no record that they were. But in Anderson’s constitution there is a set of General Regulations (page 58) which were:

“Compiled first by Mr. George Payne, Anno 1720, when he was Grand Master and approv’d by the Grand-Lodge on St. John Baptist’s Day, Anno 1721, at Stationer’s-Hall, London; when the most noble Prince John Duke of Montagu was unanimously chosen our Grand-Master for the Year ensuing;”

The very first of these General Regulations states:

“The Grand-Master, or his Deputy, hath Authority and Right, not only to be present in any true Lodge, but also to preside wherever he is, with the Master of the Lodge on his Left-hand, and to order his Grand-Wardens to attend him, who are not to act in particular Lodges as Wardens, but in his Presence, and at his Command; because there the Grand-Master may command the Wardens of that Lodge, or any other Brethren he pleaseth, to attend and act as his Wardens PRO TEMPORE.” [Today, in England at least, the Wardens are the representatives of Grand Lodge.]

Implying that he has the right to enter any Lodge, so if a Lodge refused him entry would that be deemed “clandestine?” Let’s check General Regulation number VIII:

“No Set or Number of Brethren shall withdraw or separate themselves from the Lodge in which they were made Brethren, or were afterwards admitted Members, unless the Lodge becomes too numerous; nor even then, without a Dispensation from the Grand-Master or his Deputy: And when they are thus separated, they must either immediately join themselves to such other Lodge as they shall like best, with the unanimous Consent of that other Lodge to which they go (as above regulated) or else they must obtain the Grand-Master’s Warrant to join in forming a new Lodge. 

If any Set or Number of Masons shall take upon themselves to form a Lodge without the Grand-Master’s Warrant, the regular Lodges are not to countenance them, nor own them as fair Brethren and duly form’d, nor approve of their Acts and Deeds; but must treat them as Rebels, until they humble themselves, as the Grand- Master shall in his Prudence direct, and until he approve of them by his Warrant, which must be signify’d to the other Lodges, as the Custom is when a new Lodge is to be register’d in the List of Lodges.”

So, we can say here is that, as Grand Lodges were forming, it took a while before each individual Lodge joined in this scheme of one Grand Body of Freemasonry, headed by a Grand Lodge (the two main Grand Lodges in England formed a Union in 1813 to become the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE)). These slow to join Lodges were not deemed as “clandestine,” but if a number of Freemasons left their Lodge and formed another lodge but did not abide by General Regulations number VIII of Andersons Constitutions and didn’t obtain a warrant from the Grand Master, these were deemed “rebels.” So can we call these clandestine? Perhaps in today’s world we can because they would be meeting without consent, which meant that the Grand Master, or his deputy, would not be allowed to enter, and therefore what ever they got up too would be secretive from Grand Lodge, hence we now say they are “clandestine.” I also understand from research, that in some regular rituals in the USA, the word “clandestine” is included.

Today, the term “clandestine” is widely used amongst genuine Freemasons to refer to unregulated and unrecognised Freemasonry, but a more accurate term would be quasi, pseudo or even bogus, but for the sake of this article, I shall refer to all quasi-pseudo-bogus groups who deem themselves Freemasons as “clandestine.” And to further clarify, all Masonic organisations whose history can be traced back to the regular Grand Lodges formed in this same time frame, i.e the 1700’s, are known as genuine, as will any newer Grand Lodge in amity with any of these older Grand Lodges but formed later. Finally, for clarification, no mixed or ladies only Grand Lodges will be deemed as “clandestine.” Phew, sounds like the T’s & C’s from some law firm.

What we are referring to are those other Grand Lodges of quasi-pseudo Masons that are in no way connected to genuine Freemasonry as described above. Many articles have been written about these clandestine false Freemason organisations, this article joins in their ranks.

The term Freemason, unfortunately, was never copyrighted, so anyone can use it, and many do, often just to make money. It is such a shame that these are allowed to exist as they draw in those people who, if they had known the difference, would have made sound candidates for genuine Freemasonry. So, for those who genuinely wish to become, made, a Freemason, beware of imposters and please do your homework first. Freemasonry is a system of morality and is illustrated by ritualistic plays. Wherever you may reside in the world, The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has a list of Foreign Grand Lodges with which they are in amity (friendship), see here: https://www.ugle.org.uk/about-us/foreign-grand-lodges. If the so called Grand Lodge you wish to join isn’t listed here then beware, do more research, else you could end up ripped off and disappointed. Only Grand Lodges that can trace their lineage back to the Grand Lodges of England, Ireland or Scotland, or to the African Lodge number 459 are legitimate Freemasons, all others are bogus.  It is an unfortunate fact that many of these clandestine masonic organisations are duping the black population of the USA, when there is a perfectly great organisation that is genuine and in amity with UGLE, and that is the Prince Hall Grand Lodges, there is one in most, if not every, US State. Prince Hall first obtained his warrant for the AfricanLodge number 459 from UGLE. He and fourteen of his colleagues had joined an Irish Lodge in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1775. See this wonderful history here: https://princehallny.org/about/#history. The link on UGLE’s page (above) takes you to a joint statement from Grand Masters of both Prince Hall New York and New York State Grand Lodges. This is a pleasure to see, but I digress, but these are genuine Freemasons. Now for our story, we have picked out the IFAMM OES as our example, but see here for literally hundreds more in the USA alone: https://thephylaxis.org/bogus/bogus-organizations.html.

Note, I found a Grand Lodge listed on the above site named King Solomon Grand Lodge of Virginia, searching for its web site I came across only King Solomon Lodge (no number) and it is in Virginia. It is, however, a legitimate and recognised Lodge (not a Grand Lodge) and its Grand Lodge is the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, recognised by UGLE. So you see, finding a legitimately, recognised Lodge in the USA is an obstacle course, so please be careful. The next I checked was “Most Worshipful Consolidated Hiram Grand Lodge of Virginia,” this is definitely bogus. 

There is an article on the web pages of Midnight Freemasons entitled ‘The Amway of Freemasonry – The Clandestine Order of International Freemasons’ (http://www.midnightfreemasons.org/2015/04/the-amway-of-freemasonry-clandestine.html). The name of this organisation, on their web pages, is International Masons and Eastern Stars, that’s the page heading but the full name is The International Free and Accepted Modern Masons Inc. and the Order of the Eastern Star (IFAMM OES), and the article from the Midnight Masons recalls a post on a social media page, I repeat it below:

“So yesterday I had somebody who saw my ring. He asked if I could defend my light. I said what? He replies, answer questions correctly or I take your ring and give it to your lodge so you can be instructed. I said I’ve been a member 13 years and we never do that… He says he’s a brother and whips out his card. IFAMM. I just left laughing.”

I am pleased it was answered “what?” as far too much is made of the term “light” in Freemasonry (it simply is an allegory to being born ignorant – in the dark – no knowledge – and gaining knowledge – light, and nothing more!

The IFAMM OES was founded in 1950 by Dr William Venoid Banks, after a meeting in Ohio, this corporation was then set up in Delaware. It differs immediately from regular Freemasonry where it states:

“The focus was to form a Christian Fraternal Society that held very high ideals about the development of men, women and children.  IFAMM’s purposes are moral, financial, benevolent, and charitable leadership with the focus to serve the present age, hence Modern in the name.”

Freemasonry has no affiliation with any religion whatsoever, its members come from all walks of life, all monotheistic religions and of all diversity of race. IFAMM OES also states that it is open to men and women and:

“was founded upon Christian values that deny no person the right to fraternalism, regardless of race, color or creed.”

There are many pictures of members on their web pages, I have yet to find any other than African American. It then states the following:

“IFAMM, Inc. and OES adheres to the ancient moral principles and landmarks set up during the initial formation of Freemasonry in England back in the 1700’s.  However over the course of time and due to the advancements in technology, information sharing, and societal norms; things were modified in order to remain current and allow us to offer modern benefits to our members and society as a whole.”

These ancient moral principles did not include being based on Christianity in 1717, although it cannot be denied that before Freemasonry evolved from the guilds, companies and Lodges of stonemasons, these men were most probably mostly Christian. Our final extract is:

“Regarding recognition, there is no official authority in the world that oversees Freemasonry, there are model Fraternal Orders in all parts of the world.  Some Masonic Bodies operating within the United States were set up before the country gained its independence and acquired a charter from England. Every legally operating Masonic body set up after 1776 in the United States has acquired recognition from a State Governing Authority (i.e. Secretary of State). IFAMM, Inc. and OES was founded and incorporated August, 1950 in Dover, Delaware. IFAMM, Inc. and OES is empowered to practice Freemasonry, and operate as a Masonic Order throughout the United States, its possessions and territories as stated in our founding documents and language. We have the same rights as those with charters issued directly from the Grand Lodge of England. The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is the governing body of Freemasonry in England, Wales and the Channel Islands ONLY and does not regulate Freemasonry worldwide.”

Whilst it is true that there is no “official authority” that oversees Freemasonry, there are ancient principles and tenets laid down at that time (1717); this organisation therefore totally misunderstands those principles. Internationally, Freemasonry is a network of recognised Grand Lodges whose origin can be traced back to a Grand Lodge in Britain or Ireland, or to African Lodge number 459 (whose warrant came from the Grand Lodge in England in 1784 – before the union of the two Grand Lodges in England. All legitimate Lodges in the USA are affiliated with each other and in amity (friendship) with a Grand Lodge in Britain or Ireland who, of course, are also in amity with each other. Whilst US Grand Lodges may be “licensed” (or other legality, I have no knowledge), that doesn’t make them recognised as legitimate. As the US expanded, Lodges in new territories gained their warrants or charters from an existing Grand Lodge in a neighbouring State until the numbers of Lodges in the new state were sufficient to form their own Grand Lodge, which in turn was in amity with their neighbour, who in turn was in amity with England, Ireland or Scotland. In the case of Prince Hall Grand Lodges, this was probably the same, and the first Prince Hall Grand Lodge was in amity with one of England’s Grand Lodges. A great example of this is the King Solomon Lodge in Virginia mentioned above, that gained its charter or warrant from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, but I wonder why it never joined the Grand Lodge of Virginia (which is also legitimate).

Sounds complicated but it is very simple, each Lodge grew from an existing Grand Lodge, none was created independently after 1717, as is the case of this bogus (Masonic) IFAMM OES corporation. Incidentally, no regular Grand Lodge is a corporation.

So, this is meant as a warning to all who wish to join regular and legitimate Freemasonry, check, check and check again (or simple ensure your choice is on UGLE’s list of foreign Grand Lodges).

There is something more about this corporation that is puzzling, and that’s two forms I have found that mention money. Neither form will I reproduce here, but I’ll provide links to both. The first is from 1975 and can be found here: https://digitalvgw.omeka.net/items/show/1092. It does state on this web site that this form was “unissued,” but in any event it gives us a clue as to what this corporation is all about. On the top of the form are these words:

“Get involved in the progress of our people; you have friends wherever you go when you belong to International F. & A.M. Masons.”

F. & A. M. Is a term often used by US regular Freemasons, so immediately you are led to believe you are joining a regular Lodge. Immediately underneath it reminds you that they are the owner of the first black owned TV in the USA. Then there are words that a genuine Freemason would never expect:

“Have more security, prestige and enjoyment than others around you. Many of our members are secure for life. If you can qualify for membership, our training will put you in a different class wherever you go. I.M. stands by you, and you make steady advancement in our exalted degrees”

It then says fill out the application form and hand it to one of our representatives. To join Freemasonry you simply “ask of a friend,” if you don’t know any then apply to any Grand, District of Provincial Grand Lodge, if you enquire directly to a Lodge where you are not known you will be told to do just that. There are no financial benefits in being a Freemason, no prestige, no security (although you will be helped if needed). There are no qualifications for membership, just a few things that will keep you out, like a criminal record or being an atheist. Finally, there is no specific training that will put you in a different class either. So all of that tells me it is a phoney Masonic group, clandestine as the current term goes.

It goes on to ask even your last grade at school, and that has nothing to do with Freemasonry, and neither does this:

“Have you been under the doctor’s care in the last year? If so, When? And for what?

Then we get to uncover the totally non-Masonic part of the application:

“Amount of Endowment desired.”

ENDOWMENT???? Isn’t that insurance? But the rates go down if you are over 45, and I thought the older you get the higher the cost; but in any event, it states 35c for every $100, every month.

I am sure that everyone knows, if not they will after reading this, Freemasonry is not insurance and the fees you pay are for running the Lodge, rental, etc. and a fee to Grand Lodge; charitable donations are voluntary. For the IFAMM you are also required to give three character references.

The second form you’ll find here: https://www.internationalmasons.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IFAMM-Bonding-Form.pdf. This is from their actual web site.

This is an application for a bond of some sort to the “International Fidelity Bonding Association.” Whilst I can find all these words when I search, there are not in the same order which is puzzling as you would think that would be easy to chase down. I would think the information they require would be fairly standard in any application, like income, debts, do you own real estate, property, etc. but for a bond, for Freemasonry? I thought all that was needed for a bond was the cash to invest, shows what little I know. But here is another term I wouldn’t expect when investing, or joining Freemasonry:

“In consideration of the execution by INTERNATIONAL FIDELITY BONDING ASSOCIATION, of the surety herein applied for, I hereby agree that by signing this application, I do assign all my rights, titles, and interest to any property which I now own or hereafter acquire: First to indemnify the Association against all loss, liability, cost, damages, attorney’s fees and expenses of every kind which the Association may incur in good faith, as a result of my unfaithfulness in the performance of my duty in carrying out the said office. In consequence thereof, any statutory provisions to the contrary being hereby expressly waived by me.

Do you understand that the entities money should be deposited in its account at its designated financial institution within forty-eight (48) hours of its receipt by you and if in a bank, at least three (3) officer’s signatures are to be required for withdrawals; and at least one (1) officers signature is required if the account is with the I. M. Detroit

District Credit Union. Yes / No”

Well now, does this sounds like an endowment “bond” insurance policy? The bond’s value is $500.

I have been a Freemason for 35 years and never have I seen anything like the above in relation to Freemasonry. And this group, corporation, have the audacity to utilise – steal – the name Freemasonry and use it as above, and also state that they are “recognised!” Certainly not by any genuine Freemasons they are not! This corporation, as mentioned above, has owned a Radio Station in Michigan (WGPR – 107.5FM) since 1964 and it acquired a TV station in 1975 (sold to CBS in 1995). What a great way to recruit.

So, beware of quasi-pseudo Freemasonry, this is a great example of what you could land yourself into. Quasi-pseudo clandestine “Freemasonry” is apparently everywhere, especially in the USA.

If you are a lady and wish to be made a Mason then there are Freemasons for women in Britain and Europe, and the real Order if the Eastern Star in the USA (and elsewhere). There is also a group for both men an women too, called Le Droit Humain. There are most likely others too that aren’t selling insurance but beware, they may be clandestine, here are some links should you be interested:

Le Droit Humain: https://ledroithumain.international

Order of Women Freemasons (UK): https://www.owf.org.uk and https://hfaf.org  

Order of the Eastern Star: https://www.easternstar.org 

There is yet another group of Freemasons that are legitimate but not in amity with any regular Grand Lodge, but they too can trace their lineage back to 1717, but in 1877 chose to allow individual Lodges to decide whether they will accept atheists and they have also allowed political discussion within their Lodges. I have no issue with this as their credentials are without question, they simple chose a different path and therefore no longer follow all the ancient principles and tenets originally laid out in the first book of “The Constitutions of the Freemasons containing the History, Charges, Regulations, etc of that most Ancient and Right Worshipful Fraternity.” These, usually French connected, are out of bounds to regular Freemasons. Check here if you wish: https://www.godf.org.

The Picture above is apparently this corporation’s (IFAMM OES) logo and lapel pin, the “golden Key” is interesting but it denotes a phoney Freemason, or an insurance man or woman. So beware, if anyone mentions a “Golden Key” with respect to Freemasonry, he/she is probably that insurance man or woman, they only want your money!!!

These articles are written and researched by W Bro Steve Froggatt PPJGD, former Chaplain of Neptune Lodge No 5150 EC. Steve was initiated into Freemasonry in 1986.They do not represent the view of any Grand or Provincial Grand Lodge.

© Copyright 2019 Al-Khabar/Stephen Froggatt all rights reserved

About Steve

Steve is part of the publishing team of Al-Khabar. He was initiated into Neptune Lodge 5150 EC In 1986 and completed his third degree by being exalted into Neptune’s Royal Arch Chapter in 1989; he also enjoyed two successive years in the Chair of KS in 1993/4. He has also enjoyed being a Mark Master Mason and a Royal Ark Mariner. He has been honoured with the position of Past Provincial Deputy Grand Registrar. All the articles are his own and represent no Official Masonic Body

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