by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Brian Schimian
|International's Lapel pin|
Today being a Monday, I was not expecting much to come from it other than drywall dust and a lot of vacuuming. But to my surprise, and after my coffee pot took an extra long time to brew its delightful nectar (I guess everything takes time to get back into the routine after a 3 month hiatus) inspiration stuck. I have not delved into the world of “clandestine” or “irregular” Masonry, but after reading a post by a Brother on a social media page, I just had to.
Here is the post:
“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.”
Before I get going on my diatribe here, let me first say that, I couldn't care less. I am not looking to start the next crusade and rid the world of organizations that are not recognized by or chartered under the UGLE, State Grand Lodge or whatever. Any organization that takes good men and makes them better is fine in my book. I will however abide by my obligation and neither attend nor allow a member of such an organization admittance into my Lodge. My only fear is that the ideology of Freemasonry and I have known it since I was eight years old, is being used to line someones pockets, regardless of any “good” they report to have been doing.
Okay, back to the regularly scheduled rant… So in the thread of posts, someone took the time to actually find this organization and share the link. Should you choose to venture over to their site (www dot international masons dot org), it is rather well put together. The name of the organization itself raised some red flags with me: International Free and Accepted Modern Masons, Incorporated.
Apparently the creator of the CORPORATION was crafty at using the same terms and abbreviations that the A.F & A.M./F.&A.M Lodges that have been regularly constituted for use. He just added “International” (hey, why not? International CORPORATIONS and pretty prestigious) and took the “M” and made it “Modern”. According to their website, they received their “American Issued” Charter in 1950, but does not disclose under what jurisdiction it was granted. They continue: “…This American issued charter empowers International Masons to the same rights as those charters issued directly from the Grand Lodge of England or the Grand Orient of France…” I suppose if they say so, evidently they are writing their own rules anyway. Unless this organization shows dispensation under the UGLE (which there is no claim of on their site), how can it offer its members the rights and recognition?
The CORPORATION’s stated purpose is: ”provide moral, financial, benevolent, and charitable leadership to serve this present age”. Okay, I don’t know anyone that could argue with those points, as they are all noble causes.
Their site goes on to say that: “The institution of Free and Accepted Masonry is the outgrowth of Ancient Free Masonry, as adopted by Modern Masons in 1717 at the Apple Tree Tavern, England. It adheres to the ancient moral principles of Freemasonry…”, right, right. All Good!!!
It continues: “…but has been modified from time to time, that it may have all current and modern benefits to be offered by a Free Mason Fraternal Order…”, Errrr…. Whaaaaat?!?!?!?! Okay, It wasn’t until I got t the bottom of the page under “Benefits” where the wheels in my head came to a screeching halt and I had to scroll backup to make sure I read this line correctly. They have six such “Benefits of Joining”, the first being a “Low-cost endowment benefit for which you designate a beneficiary. Paid up after 20 years.” Now we start to see this CORPORATION for what it is. I will get to the other five “benefits” in a bit… Let me see, I sent in for membership information and received no word back, nor could I find any information on their site about membership, dues or these endowment fund fees. I can only imagine what kind of return on investment percentage one could expect to get and how much interest the CORPORATION was getting on all that money from everyone. I would have to believe that there is a “pyramid” type set up where Lodges filter the money in a “per-capita” type system to the “Supreme Council”. A quick scroll thru the online store was interesting. They will sell you, in two parts, a “Duncan Ritual” for $16.50 ea., that would be $33.00 for both. Part of me believes that this is the Duncan Masonic Ritual Monitor from 1866 that is freely available on the internet for no more cost than the time to do a Google search and download the file. How nice of the International CORPORATION, eh?
Continuing on they claim: “…We have no quarrels with other Masonic Bodies, and will be glad to cooperate with them in building Masonry as a True Righteous Order based on the principles of the Holy Bible…” Cool. Upright and Just… Almost. How do they say they have no quarrel with other Masonic Bodies, yet their members threaten to relieve Masons of their rings if they cannot “defend their light”? I also have to question the repeated statement referring to themselves as a “Christian Order”. True Masonry does not single one religion out above another. I have to wonder what they would do if they came across a Brother that was Jewish, Muslim or that of any other religion of the world. They claim on their website that: “…deny no person the right to fraternalism, regardless of race, color or creed…”, but then again state that they are a CORPORATION based on “Christian Principles”. I have to wonder if there are non-Christians allowed in their CORPORATION.
Next they list their “cardinal principles” and state that they “appeal to its membership in such a manner as to” and again, not much to argue about here, until the end…
“Promote better understanding and coordination.
To improve such fields of thought which tend to ensure sound judgment.
To install in the minds of youth the necessity of intellectual progress.
To regard all that tends to develop character and wholesome personality traits.
To establish only such assets or liabilities which are within the financial range of the membership.”
Establish assets or liabilities which are within the financial range of the membership. Sounds like they are talking about the “Supreme President & CEO” having to live within the means of what the membership dues will allow. I wonder how many of the Brothers of this CORPORATION have truly taught more Light and have come to see what this organization is all about. I am sure that not many are aware of the scheme they are wrapped up in.
The “History” continues: “…Other institutions of Freemasonry across the nation swell with pride at the great progress our Organization has achieved in this century. A large measurer of credits must be given to the well known reputation that Freemasonry enjoys throughout our nation and around the world…” Um, not so much. The Regular Institutions of Freemasonry are not swelling with pride. If anything, they swell with feelings of sadness for the members that have been sold a worthless bag of goods and are being used to fill the coffers of a select few on the coattails of a "Right & Just Order."
Continuing on, they again state: “…our beliefs in the Bible and Christian principles, we teach charity, and service to all mankind and we try to induce an ethical way of life which brings about those improvements necessary to the construction of good, clean respected citizenship…” Sounds great, but if they truly were such an organization, they would qualify for tax exempt status and thus would not be “Incorporated”.
Under the “Why Join?” heading I found a peculiar line: “…you will have a chance to improve your prestige…” So much for everyone being “On the Level”.
A little farther down the page, we come to the “What Do We Offer?” section. Here they state that: “…International Masons is democratically sponsored and controlled. Members vote for and elect their leaders. To prevent perpetuation all heads of departments have term limits…” This sound good as well, until you realize that having begun in 1950, they have only had 4 people serve as “Supreme President & CEO”. One of which was the founder and another that was appointed as interim after the founder passed. One self appointed, one temporary replacement, that leaves 2 “Leaders” that have been voted into office in roughly 65 years? Given that there are no years of service associated with the people, I can not find clarification on what the “term limits” are.
Getting to more of the “Six Key Benefits”, I will only cherry pick the 2 others beside the one previously discussed. “…Reasonable costs associated with joining and maintaining membership…” Again, I can only imagine what the “Supreme President & CEO” feels is “reasonable”. They make no mention of anything financial on their site. “…Yours is a lifetime transferable membership. If you move to another city, state or country, your membership will be transferred, and you retain your same seniority. You will be welcome to visit lodges and/or chapters wherever you go…” Great, transferable memberships, love this. But what kills it is the use of the term “seniority”. How can an organization that claims to be Masonic, which maintains all members come together “On The Level” have a scheme of seniority?
Under the “Other Special Advantages” heading they list some rather concerning language mixed with that of an upstanding nature. Here they mention again the Endowment fund but then add the word “protection” to it. Interesting. Then they dangle a carrot in the form of a “Bonus” for bringing in new members. They state: “…CLEAN SOCIALS: Family events for both youths and adults. You are taught how to enjoy yourself without the use of liquor, gambling or other forms of vice. Planned excursions and picnics are a regular part of our activity…” Nothing to argue with there, seems Upright & Just. Then they go back to “Prestige” and say: ”…You are no longer a lost soul in an asphalt jungle of houses…”. I am not going to get into the clearly defined racism and bigotry I feel with this sentence. I will just let it fall on it's own accord. They then ask that you: “…bring this message to your neighbors at every opportunity…”, of course, don't forget the “bonus” you get and the “Supreme President & CEO” that needs to live within the financial means of the membership.
I have had all I can stomach on this website and need to close this article out before I get any more upset for the wayward Men, Ladies and Children that have been misled by this CORPORATION. What better way than to use their own words. Somehow I truly believe that these are the most true words on this entire website that speaks to the very root of what this CORPORATION is all about, wealth and how much they can get of it.
“…There is an old toast that goes: "May you have health, wealth, and love, and a long life to enjoy them." This is our sincere aim…”
I've had some Intenational Masons rather hot with me because I include their fezzes on my "Clandestine Fezzes" page. How dare I, what right do I have, don't I see their long list of titles, why do I tear down instead of build, etc etc.ReplyDelete
I've been as cordial as I can muster (which is pretty cordial, actually); but I've stopped accepting new comments, because they're just more of the same. I tried pointing out that no doubt I would not be welcome to sit in their Lodges, any more than they would be able to sit in mine: we all have limits to our amity. But the gentlemen on the other end of the line seem not to care for that argument. I also point out that the term Clandestine has a meaning, and it is not one that I just made up. One man's Clandestine will necessarily be another man's Regular. No response on that.
Wish there was a way that we could shut these con artists and their Ponzi Schemes down. They do as much damage as the Anti-Masons.ReplyDelete
Don't get me wrong, there were and maybe still are lodges out there that that amounted to insurance companies. They were common among the eastern European immigrants. My maternal Grandparents, who immigrated from Hungary in the early 1900's were members of one in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. These organizations did not pretend to be Masonic outside of being organized something like a Masonic Lodge and when their membership declined to were they had trouble surviving, the one my grandparents belonged to was bought out by an insurance company.ReplyDelete
Until we as an organization accept that there is a problem, there will be no resolution.ReplyDelete
Because we have NO international governing body to hold either patents or copyrights on our titles, styles, emblems, etc, they fall into the public domain, and we have no legal recourse against anyone using them. I personally tell anyone who cares that the use of "Corporation", "Inc." or "LLC" in my experience denotes some version of a masonic "scam" being run, as no legitimate Grand Lodge does that. That said, anyone "made a Mason" in such a Lodge has as much right to hold me as "Clandestine" as I do with him. And ironically enough, members of any "Time Immemorial Lodge" may rightly turn up their noses at any and all Grand Lodges, and their subordinates, as irregular, since the "right" to create "Grand Lodges" is an "innovation in the body of Freemasonry" starting in 1717, and this right never existed until it was dreamed up in London in 1717. I fought hard to keep a straight face upon installation as WM, when my own Grand Lodge required me to swear that they did not exist .... though that is not, of course, how they worded it.ReplyDelete
"You are no longer a lost soul in an asphalt jungle of houses"ReplyDelete
I don't see any racism there, at all. Perhaps that's just on your end Brother, to me that says something like "no longer are you 1 in a million in a city, but are part of something" especially after "SOCIALS: Family events for both youths and adults. You are taught how to enjoy yourself without the use of liquor, gambling or other forms of vice. Planned excursions and picnics are a regular part of our activity" to me this is hinting at outdoor group activities, instead of self-asorbed solitary city life.
The term "asphalt jungle" in most assuredly a racist term. Else they would have used "concrete" in lieu of "asphalt". One need look no further than the people they and similar organizations prey upon.ReplyDelete
I would love to see the vote on a petition of a white person that wished to join...
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
I'm not a decade into masonry yet, but I have already served as Secretary 2 years and am now a SW. I have witnessed or agree with almost every thought in this article. The only detail we differ on a bit is you seem to attribute the majority of decline in petitions to intellectual desire rather than brotherhood. Here, in the midwest anyway, the majority of our petitioners list brotherhood as their reason.ReplyDelete
A group of regulars in our lodge has had long running discussions how to bolster and rejuvenate the membership; those conversations have been nearly identical to this article.
We launched a planned campaign of 1) better meals, 2) more fun events, 3) more family involvement, 4) restoring a practice of lodge officers knowing and performing their jobs and ritual parts, 5) focus on engaging new members, and 6) attempting to reengage older ones. Unfortunately many of these things are hard to do with only a few regulars.
None of this can be fixed quickly. We are happy to say that a year into this effort, starting with only a handful of us leading by example, the tide seems to be turning for our lodge. It will take a few more years, though before we can hope to see the results become self-sustaining.
Make it fun, involve the family, and give new members something to do before they disappear.
Dave, Carmel 421, Indiana
I have a few things, I want to say and ask. I joined IFAMM because I was told by several people from different affiliations that PHA was not recognized, because Prince Hall was an enslaved man, and you must be born free. Ok anyway not my point, but I wanted to know what would make these groups different? Most of the things on this page I didn't even know about until now. But I read books on my own, Koran, Holy Bible, Hirams key, Morals and Dogma, things like that. I joined because I wanted to be apart of something bigger than race, color, and religion. It's said we are to meet on the level, no matter what body you're from. We can't seem to do that in the US for some unknown reason. But anyway in closing it's simple I came to subdue my passion, and if I'm in the wrong group where do I need to go and what group do I need to be with to do that and be able to travel, teach, and do things the right way?ReplyDelete
A pha or mainstream lodgeDelete
Brian Johns, thank you for commenting and reaching out...ReplyDelete
As can be said about many organizations and the people that compose them, the issues isn't with the work or the worker, most times they are completely unaware that what is hopping at the top. Think of all the people that lost their jobs at Enron because of the actions of a few. I assure you that the secretaries and mailroom people had no idea what was really going on. Unfortunately there are hundreds of organizations that use the guise of Freemasonry and their good works to pull people in. What makes these organizations superfluous is their inability to be recognized from one of the original Grand Lodges or UGLE in England. Another thing that can tip you to their intent is look at their company structure and how they are organized. The internationals are incorporated, which means they are in business for making a profit. One way or another, someone is getting a fat wallet from your labors and from the coat tails of regular Lodges.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about PHA and like wise there are some people in some states that I am supposed to call Brother, yet they don't share the same thoughts on PHA as my Grand Lodge in the State of IL. Look up Bro. Charles Harper, he has written extensively on this subject matter and I hold him in very high regard.
As far as moving forward, I would need to know where you are located to assist any further. You can contact any state grand lodge to find a regular lodge in your area or any PHA grand lodge for the same as well. As I am a Master Mason in the State of IL, here is the Lodge Locator from their website:http://www.ilmason.org/site/GrandLodgeIllinois/Information/LodgeLocator.aspx
I wish I could have met you bro Brian, fortunaely I am member of IFAMM and I assure you we are no Ponzi scheme faternity. Your web research is vague and you did not know that PHA lost there charter and it was IFAMM in federal court help them get it back. We accept brothers all race and creed of brothers seeking light even yourself brother Brian. WE are under de france a york rite not UGLE. these are few things you didnt know. But its more to this faternity than just a brother out of order trying to take a ring. I saw no mention of you Bro Brian a 13 year brother giving correction to such a brother in his midst of being wrong to show correction. I am in question now on how you can create a resourceful arguement without being a brother to this brother from IFAMM. But i guess you have separate views learned on what masonry is. I hope your next read is to help not ridicule online to express your clandestine views. Thank you from a brother of IFAMM, hoping we can enlighten one another.ReplyDelete
Here your correction. Internation free and accepted modern masons is NOT a legitimate Masonic organization. As former member who held the office of Worshipful master, district grandmaster....and a member of the Consistory why did I walk away? Because they aren't right. Tell me how much instruction do you really get? You go to all those meetings and all you ever hear is money,money,money... don't tell me you don't hear it. And when a member questions the legitimacy of the organization do you ever notice how quickly the upper brass move to silence them? I was there when they got away from Duncan's and started the international masons ritual and then revised it twice (it was basically Duncan's with a few changes so someone could make more money)ReplyDelete
Hon. ILL I JOHN G JONESReplyDelete