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For the Spirit of Truth

From the cowardice that dares not face new truth,
from the laziness that is contented with half-truth,
from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
Good Lord, deliver me. Amen.

-- Prayer from Kenya

This chapter is comprised of the correspondence between one of the authors (Morris) and Mr. T.N. Sampson, of "Cornerstone Ministries" (Poquoson, Virginia). Because the letters are self-explanatory, we need not detain the reader with a lengthy introduction or analysis, other than to say that it largely concerns the veracity of Rev. Shaw's claims.

[Letter 1]

August 28, 1993

Dr. S. Brent Morris, Book Review Editor
The Scottish Rite Journal
1733 16th St., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20009-3199

Dear Dr. Morris:

Cornerstone Ministries was formed by my wife and myself to provide information to Christians about non-Christian cults and religions. Not surprisingly, Freemasonry is a topic we are addressing. I have spent some time reading the various articles and books dealing with both sides of the issue and have found that the truth in the matter is somewhere between Dr Holly and Mr Robinson; however, falsehood abound on both sides.

I read your article The Sound and The Fury in the February 1993 edition of The Scottish Rite Journal and came away uncertain as to whether you were being truthful or not in your criticisms of Jim Shaw's book, The Deadly Deception. Since my attempt is to ascertain the truth, may I trouble you to respond to the following questions?  

  • You note that Mr McKenney confused "a Thirty-third Degree Sovereign Grand Inspector General with a Thirty-third Degree Inspector General Honorary". I do not understand what the difference is. Mr Shaw claims to be a Sovereign Grand Inspector General (pg. 103) and Coil notes that is the proper title for the 33 degree (pg 608 of his Encyclopedia). I could not find the latter title so I cannot figure out what was being confused for what (though I am confused!).
  • You say that Mr Shaw was never a 33rd degree Mason. I have written a similar letter to Mr Shaw asking him about this and will share his answer with you when it is received.
  • You note that Blanchard claimed that his Scotch Rite Masonry Illustrated contained the ceremonies of the Cerneau Council. As I understand it, Blanchard did not claim that his book reflected Cerneau ceremonies; this is a claim made by Masons, and an unproven one at that.
  • In shooting fish in a barrel, you hit one or two that weren't in there:
  • You say that Shaw depicts Masons as being drunkards (pg 83). On that page, Shaw merely notes that there was a great deal of drinking at the conclave, a statement which does not support your criticism. You further note that "neither the Grand Lodge of Florida nor The Supreme Council 33º, SJ permit alcohol to be served at their functions". That is nice, but you state current practice, not historical practice. Did either allow alcohol when Shaw was a member in the 60's? As well, Shaw notes going to a "distant city" to receive this high honor, which may or may not have been in Florida.
  • You dispute Shaw's claim that Masons spend thousands to received the 32nd degree; however, that's not what he claimed. On pg 63, he notes that "going all the way to the 32nd degree can be very substantial, well into the thousands of dollars today." Thus, the cost estimate goes from Entered Apprentice to the Master of the Royal Secret. Do you dispute his actual statement?
  • Your comment about Hiram being restored to life by Solomon appears correct, based on what I know of the Master Mason ritual.

I am struck more by what you have chosen not to criticize that by what you do. Why do you not challenge Mr Shaw's descriptions of the Maundy Thursday ritual? Or his linkage between the Hiram Abiff legend and that of Isis and Osiris? Or any of the other significant charges that would give any Christian pause for thought?

Finally, I found it interesting to read in your article that you find the theory that Masonry "descended from the so-called "Ancient Mysteries" and other forms of pagan worship" has been discredited, and that only anti-Masons continue to perpetuate this charge. How can this be true? To quote Rex Hutchens in A Bridge to Light "Whatever the truth of history, the contributions to the symbolism of Freemasonry by the religions, philosophies, mythologies and occult mysteries of the past lie upon its surface for all to see." Hutchens' book must be considered authoritative; how do you resolve the conflict between the two viewpoints?

I am looking forward to hearing from you.


T.N. Sampson

[Letter 2]

September 23, 1993

Mr. T. N. Sampson
Cornerstone Ministries
P.O. Box 2183
Poquoson, VA 23662-0183

Dear Mr. Sampson,

Thank you for your letter of August 28 about my February 1993 book review column, "The Sound and the Fury." It is always satisfying to authors to get feedback on their writing. I am happy to answer your questions about the Reverend James Shaw.

Everything I wrote in my column was truthful to the best of my knowledge. One misstatement, however, did slip in despite my best intentions. I made the embarrassing mistake of assuming that Rev. Shaw told the truth about being a Past Master. The record reveals that he was never elected to any office in Allapattah Lodge No. 271. I can find no evidence he ever belonged to another Florida Lodge; neither did he serve in any office in his mother Lodge, Evergreen No. 713 in Indiana. It appears I fell for one of Rev. Shaw's slickly packaged lies. Mea culpa.

The Deadly Deception is a well-written, entertaining book. As I said in my review, "The biography is engaging, empathetic, and scattered with clever, vicious lies." It is also written in "simple language, accessible to someone without a high school education." This is testimony to Mr. McKenney's abilities as a writer; he told a good story in simple language. For a much less accessible book on anti-Masonry, see Paul Goodman, Towards a Christian Republic, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Mr. McKenney said "[Jim Shaw's] ardent quest carried him through . . . the position of Sovereign Grand Inspector General. . . ." (emphasis added) In the Southern Jurisdiction, "Sovereign Grand Inspector General" is both the name of a degree and of a position. Each state has one active member of the Supreme Council who has the position of "Sovereign Grand Inspector General" for that state. All other Thirty-Third Degree Masons are honorary members of the Supreme Council and are called "Inspectors General Honorary." The nomenclature is somewhat different in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. For more information, see Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, p. 313, s.v. "Honorary 33rd Degree Masons."

I stand by my statement that Rev. Shaw was never a Thirty-Third Degree Mason. Rev. Shaw became a Knight Commander of the Court of Honour in December 1965 and resigned in October 1966, thirty-seven months before he would have been eligible even to be nominated for the Thirty-Third Degree, much less elected. The names of every newly created Thirty-Third Degree Mason are published in the Transactions of the Supreme Council, and thousands of copies are distributed. All Rev. Shaw has to do is to give the year, and you can easily check the record.

The title page of Rev. Blanchard's book claims to contain, "The Complete Ritual of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite," and the rituals themselves abound with references to various clandestine Cerneau Supreme Councils. Rev. Blanchard was much too smart not to have known which Supreme Council he was dealing with, especially as he provided a detailed commentary on all aspects of each degree. I can only conclude he understood what he wrote.

Here is one reference to a Cerneau Supreme Council, vol. 1, p. 124, ". . . under the auspices of the Supreme Council of the 33d degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scotch Rite, in and for the Sovereign and Independent State of New York. . . ." This name was used by H. C. Atwood's Supreme Council, ca. 1852-1854.

The name of a different Cerneau Supreme Council, is found in vol. 1, p. 303, ". . . under the auspices of the Supreme Grand Council of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the 33d degree for the Northern Jurisdiction of the Western Hemisphere. . . ." Edmund B. Hays, Atwood's successor, used this name ca. 1860-1863. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, pp. 600-617, s.v. "Scottish Rite Masonry," gives many names of the Cerneau Supreme Councils.

For more evidence that Scotch Rite Masonry Illustrated, contains Cerneau ceremonies, see the 1979 edition, vol. 1, pp. 124, 145, 303, 358, 419, 436, vol. 2, pp. 137, 242, 287, 340, 388, 445, 462, 464, 470, 472, 475. I cannot think of better proof that the rituals are Cerneau ceremonies than this extensive, explicit, internal evidence. Confusing the regular and Cerneau Scottish Rites is like confusing the Church of Christ with the Church of Christ, Scientist.

Your reading of Rev. Shaw's comment on p. 83 differs from mine. He does begin by talking about the Conclave, but he then goes on to say, "Why must we always do so much drinking? . . . But it bothered me that there was always so much of it and that it played such a major role in the Masonic life." This is a general comment on normal Masonic behavior. My dictionary gives this definition for drunkard: "1. One who habitually drinks strong liquors immoderately." Rev. Shaw's comment clearly portrays Masons as habitually drinking strong liquors immoderately.

You questioned whether such restrictions were in place when Rev. Shaw was a member. He affiliated with Allapattah Lodge No. 271 in 1952. The 1954 Digest of the Masonic Law of Florida F.&A.M. is pretty clear on the issue of alcohol.

    28.06 (398) No particular Lodge shall allow its properties or any part thereof to be used for the purpose of conducting or carrying on a liquor business or for the dispensing of alcoholic beverages in any form.

In 1975 the regulation was unchanged, though the following decision had been added to clarify the law. "The serving of any intoxicating beverage in Masonic Temples or Lodge Rooms or at Masonic banquets is forbidden by Masonic Law. (1969 Proc. 58, 212)" Equally explicit are the 1953 Statutes of the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction: "Art. XV §24. The use of any spirituous, vinous, or malt liquors by any Body is hereby prohibited. . . ." The prohibition is unchanged in the 1991 Statutes, though it has been renumbered as Art. XV §25.

Rev. Shaw received the K.C.C.H. on December 18, 1965, in the "distant city" of Orlando. Neither the Grand Lodge of Florida nor the Supreme Council, S.J. then permitted or now permits alcoholic beverages to be used by any of their subordinate bodies. Florida Masons are bewildered when asked how alcohol "played such a major role in the Masonic life," because it has no role. What sort of meetings did Rev. Shaw attend where they "always do so much drinking?" It could not have been meetings of Florida blue lodges or Scottish Rite.

I indeed dispute Rev. Shaw's statement that "...going all the way to the 32nd Degree can be very substantial, well into the thousands of dollars today." When joining Evergreen Lodge No. 713 in 1945, Rev. Shaw paid $50 in initiation fees for the 1 -3 ; the cost in 1952 for the Fourth through Thirty-Second Degrees, was $160. Thus the total for him "going all the way" was $210. In 1993 the comparable fees were $125 and $200, respectively, for a total of $325. This is far from being "well into the thousands of dollars"; it's not even close to $1,000.

It is satisfying to know that you agree Rev. Shaw's comments about the resurrection of Hiram Abiff appear incorrect, as in fact they are. Rev. Shaw's description is not the result of some simple misconception. He was a Mason for twenty-one years and claimed to be a Past Master. His malignant distortion of the legend of Hiram Abiff was consciously designed to outrage Christians. He was not confused. His description is not some minor misstatement, like calling an I.G.H. an S.G.I.G. He carefully designed his story and its many amplifying details with the purpose of defaming Freemasonry.

I chose to criticize those parts of Rev. Shaw's book that could be verified by non-Masons; his lies concerning the Maundy Thursday ceremony cannot. The space assigned to my book review column further limited the number of lies I could expose.

The connection between Hiram Abiff and the Isis-Osiris legend was quite popular some 100 years ago. Many of those writers also found connections between Isis-Osiris, Jesus, and Baldur. Shaw supports his case by citing "the most authoritative Masonic writers." Mackey and Sickles wrote a century ago, and I neither have heard of nor read Pierson. Mackey and Sickles wrote before the advent of the "authentic school" of Masonic historians; they accepted evidence that would be laughed at today. Coil discusses this pp. 310-311, s.v. "History of Freemasonry." Robert Freke Gould's 1885 History of Freemasonry is probably the best Masonic history. It isn't "authoritative," just accurately researched, carefully written, and conservative in its conclusions, the most that can ever be asked of history.

The theory of descent from the Ancient Mysteries has indeed been discredited among serious Masonic historians, including Gould; there is no evidence to support its fanciful ideas. You could compare Coil's opinion of the theory, pp. 432-433, s.v. "Mysteries, Ancient Pagan." The most serious Masonic history is published by Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, London, in their annual transactions, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum.

Your quote by Dr. Hutchens refers to the symbolism of Freemasonry, not its organization. Freemasonry uses some symbols that were used by earlier organizations. This borrowing of symbols is found in many organizations. For example, the cornucopia is a symbol of plenty used by many churches to represent the overflowing bounty of God's blessings. The symbol came from the magical horn that Zeus gave to Amalthea, the goat who nursed him as a child (legends vary as to details). While the symbol originated in a pagan religion, it would be ludicrous to suggest that churches perpetuate pagan worship if they decorate their Sunday schools with cornucopias at Thanksgiving. Similarly, the dove used by Christians to represent the Holy Spirit was used much earlier as a symbol of Aphrodite.

Dr. Hutchens's book, like Pike's Morals and Dogma, is an expression of personal opinion; neither represent dogmatic teachings. A printing oversight led to the omission from the current edition of A Bridge to Light of the disclaimer that Pike used for Morals and Dogma (and which still applies today): "Everyone is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound." This disclaimer will be added with the next printing of A Bridge to Light.

I would be most interested in seeing your correspondence with Rev. Shaw. It will be easy for you to confirm if he received the Thirty-Third Degree, was a Past Master, or was Past Master of all Scottish Rite Bodies. Once he gives you the dates and places he served, you can check the records. If you can send me any evidence that I was wrong, I will correct my statements, as I intend to correct my misstatement that he is a Past Master.

I think part of my review of The Deadly Deception is still appropriate. "Identifying and exposing these pathetic inventions, however, is a task that must be ultimately fruitless. Anyone willing to overlook the easily verifiable lies on the book's cover will just rationalize away the corruption within. What is saddest about this book is the eagerness of the authors to cheat the public to achieve their twisted ends, all in the name of Jesus."

Sincerely yours,

Book Review Editor
The Scottish Rite Journal

cc: J. W. Boettjer, 33º

[Letter 3]

October 4, 1993

Dear Dr Morris:

I was pleasantly surprised by your response to my earlier letter concerning Rev Jim Shaw's The Deadly Deception. In my dealing with Masons, not all the responses I receive (verbally or via letter) maintain a proper degree of cordiality. You have probably experienced similar problems yourself with those who are against Masonry. At any rate, your response was far more detailed than I hoped to expect and I certainly appreciate the time you took in its composing. You were very considerate of a stranger's request.

I have not yet received a response from Rev Shaw on my questions about his book. Should he respond, I will send along a copy to you. Should he choose not to respond, I would conclude that he has no answer to the charges you raised, that your criticisms are valid and drop him from my source list. I find it hard to believe that he would falsely claim so many titles and Lodge offices, but people have done worse for what they considered to be a worthy goal. I have always felt that the ends do not justify the means; rather, the means must be worthy of the ends.

As to my own efforts, I have come to the conclusion that Masonry is indeed a religion, and that the god of Masonry is not the God of the Bible. one can quote Pike, Coil and Hutchens, on these points, but the rituals speak eloquently for themselves. Purporting to convey a mystery, or hidden 'knowledge,, they teach concepts which are alien to Christianity and lead the Christian Mason to choose between the two Deity's. over time, his studies of Masonry replace his studies of Christianity and he begins to believe what those rituals teach. Finally, by his participation in them, he implicitly approves what is being taught.

I have enclosed a summary of what I have found concerning Masonry, which I use when answering questions about Masonry. I would appreciate learning of any errors I may have made. My primary references were Ankerberg's The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, Hutchens' A Bridge to Light, the SBC's study on Masonry and Duncan's Ritual.with respect to the latter, I have compared it to a much-censored version of the Oklahoma Murrow Masonic Monitor and find enough commonality to conclude that it accurately details Masonic rituals. Should there be errors, perhaps you could send a complete Monitor which would show where I have made mistakes. (I'm not serious; this is a little joke between us!)

I appreciate your position that Hutchens presents his own views and is not authoritative; however, that confounds reason. The fact that the Supreme Council endorsed his book (disclaimer or no disclaimer) and that it is given to Masons, in the Lodge, as part of the 14th degree, makes the book authoritative. Someone of his stature must know what masonry teaches and can be considered authoritative until he is shown to be in error. If we extend the Masonic argument, if Coil is not authoritative when he says masonry is a religion, then you are not authoritative when denying that statement. So where does the authority lie? It is clear to me that Masonry likes nothing to be authoritative except the Rituals, and then tries to ensure that no one outside masonry can see them. As an analyst by profession, the logic of this escapes me.

Finally, I would like to state that in everything I say or write concerning masonry, I try to stick to the facts and be nonjudgmental. This is hard, as you can imagine; however, both my father and father-in-law are masons, and if I attack any Mason, I attack those I love as well. Yet by keeping silent I also hurt them by not expressing my concerns and prodding them (or any) Mason into questioning what he does and why. The Mason's decision is his to make, for he accepts the consequences. This leads me to ask you: Is Masonry is your religion? Is the Lodge more important to you than Jesus? Do you spend more time studying Masonic rituals than you do in Bible study? If these answers are yes, perhaps you should consider what you have accomplished in Masonry in the light of the instructions Jesus gave his disciples in the last chapter of Matthew.

T.N. Sampson II

[Letter 4]

February 12, 1994

Personal and professional obligations have prevented me from answering your letter of October 4 in a more timely manner. I do appreciate the cordial tone of your letters; you are the only anti-Mason to communicate with me and to have the civility of identifying yourself. I usually receive anonymous mailings of tracts by Jack Chick or Ed Decker.

It is not surprising that Rev. Shaw has not responded to you. He is a pathetic liar caught in his web of deceit. As far as I know, no anti-Mason has ever expressed embarrassment or even chagrin at his lies (or those of Carlson, Schnoebelen, Chick, Decker, and so many others). Only Dr. Robert Morey has acknowledged the outlandishness of some attacks against Masonry. Most anti-Masons, if they can be convinced that one of their sources has engaged in premeditated fraud, just quietly drop the reference and move on to another "expert."

Rev. Shaw did much more than "falsely claim so many titles and Lodge office," as you narrowly acknowledged. He maliciously perverted the descriptions of his Lodge experience to slander Freemasonry, and his book is still in wide distribution, a wolf in sheep's clothing, duping the trusting.

Your summary of Freemasonry is interesting, but abounds with factual and interpretative errors. There are so many that I must decline your offer to correct them for you. I simply do not have the time to point out all of them, but I will show you some.

The only mysteries or hidden "knowledge" to be found in Freemasonry are the modes of recognition and the stories told in the degrees. Masons are encouraged to undertake a spiritual examination, but no answer is given or demanded. Each Mason must reach his own, independent conclusions. Freemasonry, not being a religion, is incapable of providing an answer.

Your sources deserve some comment. Ankerberg's The Secret Teaching of the Masonic Lodge relies heavily on Blanchard's Scotch Rite Masonry Illustrated (which I hope I convinced you is inaccurate, but on which you haven't commented). I do not have Duncan's Ritual, but I presume it, like most exposés, is reasonably accurate. The problem comes with the inaccuracies. For example, Rev. Shaw gives a generally correct description of Freemasonry but slips in his twisted tales of reincarnation, resurrection, and phallic worship. I have a complete monitor for you and will present it on the night you become a Master Mason. (This is a joke between us, but the offer is nonetheless serious.)

You are right that I am not authoritative when I deny Masonry is a religion. I, as well as Hutchens, Coil, et al., am an individual Mason speaking for myself. I am, however, consistent with most historians, the vast majority of Masons, the Southern Baptist Convention's study, and, most importantly above all others, with Grand Lodges.

Here's what the S.B.C. said on p. 70 of their $100,000+ report. (Its final version was so negative towards Freemasonry that its principal author, Dr. Gary Leazer, asked that his name be removed.) It's confounding that you choose to ignore the consistent statements of Grand Lodges, the "overwhelming majority of Masonic Leaders," and the finding of the S.B.C.

  • While some Masonic writers and some Masons consider Freemasonry a religion, even their religion, the overwhelming majority of Masons reject the idea that Freemasonry is a religion. The various monitors of Grand Lodges and statements from the overwhelming majority of Masonic leaders in the past and today deny that Freemasonry is a religion.
  • Since Freemasonry requires no doctrinal statement from members, other than the general affirmation concerning the existence of God, it is reasonable to expect that Masons profess a broad range of beliefs about religious matters. . . . While the vast majority of Masons are professing Christians, some Masons are non-Christians, a few are probably or have been anti-Christians. It is illogical to insist that the beliefs of one or more Masons constitute the beliefs of all Masons.
  • It was not found that Freemasonry is anti-Christian or Satanic, nor does it oppose the Christian church. While a few Masonic writers glorify non-Christian philosophy and religions, they are clearly a minor voice. Every organization, including the Christian church, has some individuals who espouse positions not held by the vast majority of members. Organizations must be judged by the positions of the majority, not those of a small minority.

Authority for Freemasonry lies with Grand Lodges, not independent writers, however respected they may be. Henry Wilson Coil was a Californian Masons; his encyclopedia was commercially published in New York. The only force his writings have on Maryland Masonry is that of a good, conservative historian.

Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart were (and perhaps still are) widely heard and read ordained ministers of the Assemblies of God (if my memory serves me). Their writings are not authoritative for the Assemblies of God, much less the Baptists or Presbyterians.

It is difficult to comment on your paper as you chose to give few citations and seem to rely almost exclusively on secondary research. I will offer a few corrections, but cannot give a comprehensive revision.

I have never heard of a Grand Lodge named "Ancient Order of Free and Accepted Masons." Most commonly in the U.S. the fraternity is known as "Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons," A.F.&A.M., or "Free and Accepted Masons," F.&A.M.

Masonry does not deny Christian beliefs any more than Rotary does. It is not a religion, it does not allow religious discussions at its meetings, and is thus incapable of accepting or denying the beliefs of any religion.

The history of Masonry written prior to the twentieth century is indeed "almost totally fiction," but you ignore or are unaware of the "authentic school" of Masonic history that arose about 1880 and now comprises the majority of Masonic history writing. Robert Freke Gould exemplifies modern Masonic scholarship: scrupulous in facts, insistent on details, conservative in conclusions. There are abundant, accurate (and non-sensational) histories available for anyone who bothers to look. Good choices are Gould's History Of Freemasonry, Coil's Freemasonry Through Six Centuries, Hamill's The Craft, and almost anything published in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, the transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, London, the premier Lodge of Masonic research.

There is no Masonic "doctrine" to keep pure. Thus the idea of central enforcement is meaningless. Freemasonry, not being a religion nor having a doctrine, does not care how much or how little its members believe, as long as they believe in God.

The Worshipful Master is not a symbol of deity, any more than the "Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of London." The title preserves an archaic word form, as found in the Wycliff Bible, "Worchyp thy fadir. . . ."

There is no part of the Lodge called the "Holy of Holies." During parts of the ceremonies, the room indeed represents King Solomon's Temple, with the porch, steps, middle chamber, and Holy of Holies. This usage is similar to a church front lawn at Christmas representing the manger in Bethlehem.

Master Masons are not symbolically raised from the dead. The Hiramic Legend has the body of Hiram removed from a temporary grave for reinterring.

Masonry does believe in the Fatherhood of Good and the Brotherhood of Man. It says nothing about "all men [being] His spiritual sons in good standing with Him." To belabor a point (which you hae choosen to not accept), Freemasonry is not a religion and is incapable of such pronouncements.

Freemasonry does not each "that self-improvement and good works will secure God's favor and guarantee entry into heaven." It offers no path of salvation nor sacraments of any sort. It only presents symbols for the individual Masons to interpret for himself. My lambskin apron reminds me of St. James's admonition that "Faith without works is dead."

Contrary to your assertion that Masonry teaches "God is an unreachable, uncaring Spirit," Masons are taught the vital importance of regular prayer.

Masonry does not teach that the Name of God is lost. The Royal Arch Degree in particular reaffirms that His name is (the pronunciation of which is indeed lost.)

The York Rite does not teach that "Jahbulon" is the secret name of God. This lie originated with Walter Hannah's Darkness Visible, 1952. (A little more attention to original sources would greatly improve the accuracy of your paper.)

The name of Jesus is not forbidden in Lodge prayers. His name is used widely in Lodges around the world.

The legend of Hiram Abiff is not presented as biblical history; its analysis is available for anyone to read. I suppose some Masons may think it is history, but then again many Christians probably believe the Bible says there were three wise men and their names are Balthazar, Melchior, and Gaspar.

I am particularly disappointed in the way you subtly misused my statistics on 1990 Masonic charity. The source of your figures is my book, Masonic Philanthropies, which you did not choose to acknowledge. When I compiled the figures I tried to be scrupulously accurate in all categories, so there was no possibility of misinterpretation by fair-minded readers. Your quote is "42% of the $525 million collected by Masonic charities went to non-public (i.e. Lodge) purposes." This could be easily read as going for refreshments, entertainment, or Lodge operating expenses. The money went to orphanages and retirement homes, which I think can be appropriately called philanthropy. The Methodist Church maintains a retirement home in Baltimore, and the Church considers it a part of their ministry, even through the residents are all Methodists. Is this true charity? The Methodist Church thinks so, I think so, but you may not. If you don't, then by all means discount this aspect of Masonic philanthropy, but your readers deserve a more accurate treatment of the facts. Tell them where the money goes and why you don't think it counts as charity.

At this point I must stop correcting your errors; I do not have the time. My efforts, though, would be ultimately fruitless as you have reached a verdict, passed sentence, and now seek only to sift through the evidence to support your conclusions. I have neither the time nor interest to continue our correspondence.

In closing, let me answer your final questions.

  • Masonry is not my religion.
  • Jesus is infinitely more important to me than the Lodge.
  • I study the Bible more than Masonic ritual.

In fact it was through Masonic ritual that I increased my interest in and study of the Bible. This led to a two-year Bible teacher training program with a commitment to teach a two-year Bible course. I have ten weeks left teaching my original course and am making plans for another when this is done. Regular Bible study is essential to Christian growth.

It is important to me to be challenged in my response to God's love, to be reminded of the impossibility of ever repaying or of being worthy of His great gift. The most I as a repentant sinner can be is what I am now: forgiven.

When given a challenge to my Christian faith and responsibilities, such as contained in your last paragraph, I am grateful for the reminder of my debt and of my failures in repaying it. I gladly turn my other cheek to you.

Sincerely yours,

Book Review Editor
The Scottish Rite Journal

cc: J. W. Boettjer, 33º

[Letter 5]

February 27, 1994

Dear Dr Morris:

Thank you for your response. I appreciate the time expended in compiling the response, and I find your sense of humor delightful and your letters a real pleasure to read. However, I will respect your decision to discontinue our correspondence.

To wrap up our exchanges, I have taken the following actions pertinent to your letter:

  • changed the title to "Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons".
  • rewrote the statement about doctrine and lack of central enforcement, as the latter is indeed meaningless.
  • deleted the reference to the WM being a symbol of Deity.

This came out of The Scottish Rite Journal (Crabbe, Summer, 93). (*) I had assumed since it is published by the Supreme Council that it must be factual. No other Mason has subsequently has supported that position.

  • deleted the reference to the Master Mason's Lodge being called the "Holy of Holies"

This came from Duncan's Monitor, but no Mason I have talked to is aware of it.

  • rewrote the Masonic charity comment.

I was not aware that you were the source. I'll get a copy and ensure my statements are consistent with yours. I drew the data from the Journal (Hinton, Feb 93), which did not address the remainder of the equation.

  • will get a copy of Gould's History of Freemasonry.

As to your other comments:

  • Blanchard is inaccurate.

I am matching it against A Bridge To Light to see what commonalities there are. I have also asked masons who have demitted to comment on some of the rituals quoted by Blanchard.

  • Masonry is not a religion.

At the worst, include me in a minority Masonic opinion. Masonry's practices and rituals are proof enough to support such a conclusion. FYI, the PR campaign about Masonry not being a religion has been successful. Masons mention that right up front, though many have never heard of Masonic writers who support that viewpoint (Pike, Coil, etc) . Coil is undergoing revision, and his view will not survive the update by the purity group. Of interest to you, one Mason noted that Pike and Hutchens were outdated, and no longer applicable. I pointed out that you had done a review of Hutchens I book in the Nov 93 issue of the Journal, thus undercutting his argument. His vague response was not flattering to you, and I found myself in the strange position of defending your integrity.

  • No symbolic raise from the dead.

I can see no other meaning of the candidate being "raised" in the 3rd degree. The candidate has been doing a great job of imitating a corpse for almost an hour; I think the act we are addressing has no other practical teaching. Several Masons have confirmed that viewpoint.

  • "All men in good standing with Him".

You will not be surprised how many Masons have expressed exactly that sentiment to me.

  • Name of God lost/no Jahbulon.

Both have been confirmed by other Masons. With many of the rituals being given in very compressed times, it is quite believable that many have not understood the impact of this part. However, those who choose to study the rituals for moral and spiritual lessons seem to find the oddest things there. "Self improvement". As before, I find that viewpoint over and over again when talking to Masons.

  • Jesus, name used in lodge?

Again, many Masons have explained to me very carefully why His name cannot be used in the lodge.

  • The SBC study.

I have indeed read it, and several times at that. Did Dr Leazer remove his name? Others have said he was fired for his lack of impartiality. In any rate, I found the study flawed in some key areas, but, as I have stated before, agreed with the conclusion.

Your comment about authoritative writers contained a nugget that you perhaps did not intend. Both Baker and Swaggart, before or after their respective Waterloos, were authoritative only when their writings or comments were consistent with the Bible, which is the source of Christian doctrine. By the same token, Coil, Hutchens and Pike are authoritative only when consistent with Masonic doctrine. This doctrine does not exist in clear written form, but exists nonetheless in the ritual and in the lodge. have dealt with enough Masons to hear the same comments over and over again to finally understand that such doctrine does indeed exist, and covers four main points:

  • the Bible is one of several books of Divine Will, and no better or worse than the others; all religions are part of one Religion; all gods merely reflect one God; good works, tolerance of all religious beliefs and personal improvement are all one needs to enter the Celestial Lodge above.

I think that this doctrine extends to many Masons, spiritual life, and contributes to their strange view of Christianity.


T.N. Sampson II

P.S. -- You may be interested to know that Ed Decker recently stepped on his sword in a very large and public fashion. His Mormon video, Godmakers II, used sources that were questionable at best. As a result, it has been condemned by the most reliable sources of data on Mormonism. He retains little credibility because of that work and his very negative reaction to criticism.

[* The article by Norman William Crabbe actually appeared in the Royal Arch Mason Magazine. See Letter 6. ]

[Letter 6]

March 5, 1994

Norman William Crabbe
Edgewater, Maryland

Dear Mr Crabbe:

Your interesting article appearing in the Summer 93 issue of The Royal Arch Mason Magazine contained a statement that has been rejected by Scottish Rite gentlemen of the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction. I wonder if I could impose upon you to clarify the matter?

The question was whether the Master symbolized Deity, as your article claimed. I used that comment in an article I passed along to Dr S. Brent Morris at the Council and he specifically said that the Master symbolized no such thing. I realize that many may see different things in Masonic symbolism, but your comment seemed pretty clear and, appearing as it did in an "official" magazine, I thought that it reflected a body of opinion. By way of explanation, I am not a Mason, nor am I an "antiMason" (whatever that phrase may really mean). I have been researching masonry for about four years to see what it really is and does, and have been surprised by the amount of misinformation on both sides of the issue. Articles such as yours are an important element in my research as it is far better to hear the views of someone who has first hand familiarity with the subject matter than one who is "guessing" from the outside.

I thank you in advance for taking the time to explain this matter to me.


T.N. Sampson II

[Letter 7]

March 12th, 1994

Dear Mr. T.N. Sampson II:

Thank you for your letter. I will do my best to answer you but I'm not sure this answer will be of much help to you.

I would expect that Brent and I would have different opinions given the Democratic nature of Masonry. The Science of Freemasonry is exact but the Art of the Craft is left up to one's personal interpretation. I'm sorry but I am unable to offer you any substantiating evidence that my statements are in agreement with even one other Mason; living or dead. Please don't feel slighted. I have never intended to substantiate my statements to anyone either within the Craft or without the Craft. These views are personal, subjective, observations accumulated over years of study; not only of Masonry, but of Religions and Philosophies in general. They are my own.

The Royal Arch Magazine to my knowledge is a vehicle where Royal Arch Masons can air their personal views on Masonic topics. For Clarification please contact the Editor of the R.A.M.

I am enclosing a reading list that I hope you may find interesting. I hope that you are able to spend the time required to read at least some of these works.

Masonry is for many men a starting point on their quest for Knowledge. Masonry in of itself is never the "End" of the quest for Knowledge. This is one of the Many reasons why Masonry is not nor can it ever be a "Religion". There is "No" Dogma or Theology in Freemasonry. True Freemasonry is inclusive not exclusive when dealing with the Religions of the World.

Yours in Faith,

Norman W. Crabbe

[Letter 8]

May 31, 1994

Dear Mr. Sampson:

Please forgive me for troubling you after I asked that our correspondence cease.

    1. May I have your permission to reprint your correspondence in an article I am preparing on arguments used against Freemasonry?

    2. What definition of "cult" does Cornerstone Ministries use?

    3. Can you furnish me with a list of the organizations against which Cornerstone Ministries cautions Christians?

    4. Have you ever received a reply from Rev. Shaw responding to the evidence that he lied about his Masonic experiences? (I understand that his publishers are aware of the evidence and that they have contacted him and Mr. McKenny. I do not know what answer they may have received from Rev. Shaw or Mr. McKenny.)

Thank you for considering my requests.

Sincerely yours,

Book Review Editor
The Scottish Rite Journal

[Letter 9]

June 2, 1994

Dear Dr Morris:

With respect to your questions:

    1. You have my unrestricted permission to quote from my correspondence for any purpose you wish. I would be interested to know for which forum the article is intended, for the obvious reason. If it is the Scottish Rite Journal, perhaps you would forward my request for a subscription?

    2. Generally speaking, a "cult" can describe any group that deviates significantly from a "norm". Therefore, any group (Christian, Mormon, Islam, or even Masonry) can have cults in their midst. If Catholicism is considered the norm, one could brand the Protestant movement as being a cult. A cult differs from a religion in that it usually features faith in one person's teachings, an autocratic control structure, an absolute control over members' salvation. Having said all this, my own definition of a "cult" follows that used by Dr Walter Martin: a group of people gathered about a specific person or person's misinterpretation of the Bible." A cult then "embraces, teaches or practices religious doctrine contrary to the accepted and established truth of Biblical Christianity." (The Kingdom of the Cults, Bethany House, 1986)

    3. We primarily address the beliefs of two cults (Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses) and two religions (Freemasonry and New Age), though we also offer information on the beliefs of other religions, such as Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. We are also a member of the Cult Awareness Network (a secular group) and are available to answer questions on any religious belief We neither charge for our services nor do we solicit support from those who consult us.

    4. Neither Rev. Shaw nor his spokesman has responded to our letter. As noted earlier, I have removed his book from our bibliography due to the charges you raised. I am in no position to assess the truth, but you have made the better case.

Of possible interest to you is a current discussion on the Masonry forum in Compuserve on Masonic Spirituality. I have found it a fascinating discussion, given the public declarations that Masonry is not a religion. There has also been much discussion about possible legal action against those who "libel" Masonry. An interesting reaction, though I think it is more "spleen venting" than a plan of action. Finally, in yet another discussion, one of the correspondents ended his note with "in the faith..."; I wonder what faith he was referring to? At any rate, you would find the forum very interesting.

I am including the most recent copy of our booklet. You will find that the chapter of Masonry has been updated to reflect additional information learned since the initial printing. The first chapter on Christianity should provide sufficient background to understand my perspective on writing the booklet. Should you have additional questions, please let me know.


T.N. Sampson II

[Letter 10]

August 10, 1994

Dear Mr. Sampson,

Thank you for your letter of June 2, 1994, agreeing to let me quote from your correspondence. My article is intended as an additional chapter in a revised and expanded version of the book I co-authored with Art deHoyos, Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? (Silver Spring, Md.: M.S.A., 1994). It may be published separately as an article in its own right. I would not expect the revised book to be published for another year or so, but I will send you copies of anything in which I quote you.

It is satisfying to hear you say that I make a better case than Rev. Shaw, but I am disappointed that you feel you are in no position to assess the truth. The issues I raise are objective statements of fact that require no judgement or opinion. Rev. Shaw's publisher has sternly assured me that he can refute all of my charges, but so far he hasn't bothered to send me any data.

What would it take to convince you that Rev. Shaw is a liar? I have a copy of his resignation letter plus his dues card at the time which shows him to be a 32°, K.C.C.H., not a 33°. I can send you copies of lists of every Master of every Lodge in Florida from 1952-1966 (when Rev. Shaw was a member in Florida). I can also send you copies of lists of every new 33° from Florida during the same period. Is there any amount of objective, independently verifiable evidence that will sway your opinion of Rev. Shaw? Knowing this will help me revise my book.

Sincerely yours,


[Letter 11]

August 20, 1994

Dear Dr. Morris:

I look forward to your book and will obtain a copy for my library upon its publication. Good sources can be hard to find.

As to Rev. Shaw, I am somewhat curious why my opinion would matter. I am a 'cowan' on the Masonry forum on Compuserve, and it is clear from their conversations that anyone who dares criticize Masonry for any reason is a bigoted, intolerant fool who is in it only for financial reasons. That there may be those who have solid reasons for questioning Masonic practices, and who do so honestly, is not even considered a possibility. Given that standing definition, I do not see how any agreement we reach in this matter is useful to either of us.

Having said that, you have asked a fair question, and it deserves an answer. Rev. Shaw has made a specific claim about being selected to receive the 33º. You have stated that this is untrue. I would consider a letter from the Supreme Council, on letterhead, signed by C. Fred Kleinknecht, stating that Rev. Shaw was neither invited to receive, nor received, the 33° honor at any time sufficient proof that Shaw lied about this facet of his Masonic life. And, since it is such a critical part of his book, I would consider it be sufficient to reject him as a source of information (something, in fact, I have already done).

Since it has been somewhat over 3 years since I first started writing on Masonry, you may be interested to know how I have changed my own views. First, I no longer bring Albert Pike into the equation, as the main fact of his Luciferian viewpoints has indeed shown to be a lie (though there is a slight hint of this in Morals & Dogma, pg. 321). As well, I note a change in the ritual over the years, meaning that what is fisted in Blanchard, Duncan, and Richardson do not completely reflect today's Masonry. I also believe you did yourselves no favor by not sitting down with the foremost of Masonry's critics and let them see the ritual used. The honest ones would not then have relied on data listed in other sources, and you would have avoided some of the harshest charges. For example, what if Ankerberg had seen the actual rituals and not relied on Blanchard's work? Finally, I note the fact that Masonry changes slowly, but indeed changes. Perhaps the criticism raised has forced some of that change. But, with these modifications I have not changed my view that Masonry offers an alien god to those who fall for the stage props indicating that the Biblical God resides in the Lodge or is somehow connected to Him via Solomon. Nor have I changed my view that the tolerance so stressed in Masonic lessons highlights the underlying assumption that, since all religions are the same, one must be tolerant, as it is the same God in all. These I continue to find objectionable.


T.N. Sampson II

[Letter 12]

August 29, 1994

Dear Mr. Sampson,

Dr. S. Brent Morris, who reviews books for the Scottish Rite Journal, has forwarded to me a copy of your letter to him of August 20, 1994. In this letter, you say: "I would consider a letter from the Supreme Council, on letterhead, signed by C. Fred Kleinknecht, stating that Rev. Shaw was neither invited to receive, nor received, the 33° honor at any time sufficient proof that Shaw lied about this facet of his Masonic life." I am a little surprised you require such a letter to convince you Mr. Shaw has grossly and deliberately misrepresented the facts of his alleged Thirty-third Degree status in the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in his book The Deadly Deception, coauthored with Tom McKinney. I understand you have received a copy of Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? by Dr. Morris and Art deHoyos. In this book, pages 38 to 52, you have read specific facts and seen photocopied records directly refuting Mr. Shaw's claims.

Nevertheless, I am pleased to cooperate with your request and state unequivocally that Mr. Shaw was neither invited to receive, nor received, the 33° honor at any time. Rather, it is my opinion, Mr. Shaw has yielded to religious enthusiasm to such an extent that he is willing to lie in what he has come to believe is a good cause. This is putting the best light on his actions. Less charitable souls might point to the profits he, Mr. McKenney, and the book's publisher have gained by distributing this book. I hope Mr. Shaw, all concerned with The Deadly Deception, and you will pause to reconsider James 1:26 which states: "If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their heart, their religion is worthless."


C. Fred Kleinknecht

[Letter 13]

September 5, 1994

Dear Sir: [C. Fred Kleinknecht]

Many thanks for your letter of August 29. That you are willing to state in print that Rev. Shaw never held tile degree claimed tells me that the claim is false.

Let me put your mind at rest concerning my reason for the request. I do not have a copy of Dr. Morris' book Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? rather, I intend to buy a copy next year when the updated version is ready. I was also unaware that Dr. Morris had presented photocopied evidence refuting Rev. Shaw's claims in that book. With no such proof in hand, I felt the letter as requested would be sufficient, and certainly appreciate Dr. Morris' offer of "proof positive". I continue to find it illuminating that Rev. Shaw would lie in an area that could be so easily disproved.

Of interest, I recently talked to a woman who had persuaded her husband not to join Masonry. She had used Rev. Shaw's book to buttress her discussion. I told her that there was much disagreement about Rev. Shaw's veracity, but that I agreed with her that there were good reasons for avoiding the Lodge.

In any event, I do not use the book since Dr. Morris' concerns were raised, and certainly would not recommend it based on the facts at hand.


T.N. Sampson

[Letter 14]

September 3, 1994

Dear Mr. Sampson,

Thank you for answering my question about Rev. Shaw. You should have now a letter from Mr. C. Fred Kleinknecht stating that Rev. Shaw was neither invited to receive, nor received, the 33° honor at any time.

You have been a courteous correspondent, even if you carefully came just short of calling me a liar about Rev. Shaw. I asked what would convince you, because you have so doggedly dismissed any evidence offered in the case of Rev. Shaw. I wanted to know if there was any amount of testimony that would convince you or other critics of Masonry. Even with the unequivocal statement from Mr. Kleinknecht, I note that you will only consider this "proof that Shaw lied about this facet of his Masonic life."

Rev. Shaw did not tell the truth about being a 33°, a Past Master, Paster Master of all Scottish Rite bodies, or about revealing the "secrets" of the 33° for the first time in history. Further he distorted the cost of joining, as well as drinking in Florida Lodges. Each of these prevarications can be independently verified with public records.

There is no "'minimum donation' of a very large amount of money" to receive the 33°. There is no interview before receiving the 33°, and there is absolutely no discussion of member's religion before, after, or during the 33° ceremonies. These are among the many other fabrication that Rev. Shaw concocted about his Masonic experience, but none of these can be independently confirmed. I will not impose on your credulity by asking you to believe the word of a Mason.

However, there is plenty of objective evidence that doesn't require you to take the word of a Mason. Rather than only "doubt[ing] this facet of Shaw's Masonic life," you might have doubted more of his statements, perhaps even that nothing he said should be trusted without corroboration. Your loyalty to Rev. Shaw is very touching.

With the exception of Dr. Robert Morey, I have never read an anti-Masonic writer who had any concern about the venomous lies that are repeated about Masonry. Jack Chick's vile comic, "The Curse of Baphomet," comes to mind as an example, as well as the publications of Texe Marrs, Ed Decker, and Ron Carlson.

It is interesting that you think we should share our rituals with our critics. When Rev. Pat Robertson repeated the Pike-Lucifer hoax in The New World Order, Mr. Kleinknecht wrote to him on May 12, 1992, pointed out the error, and said, "If we must disagree let us base our disagreement upon the truth." He further said, "All of [Pike's] writings are in the Library of The Supreme Council, 33°, at the House of the Temple, in Washington, D.C. They are available for public inspection, and you are welcome to read them." I am not sure what more could be offered.

Rev. Robertson has not given Mr. Kleinknecht the courtesy of a reply. There seems to be little interest on Rev. Robertson's part in correcting factual errors, at least as long as only Masons are being defamed. I do not share your idealism about the good intentions of anti-Masons, especially those with a profitable line of lurid publications.

Sincerely yours,

Book Review Editor
The Scottish Rite Journal

cc: J.W. Boettjer, 33°


September 9, 1994

Dear Dr. Morris:

I did indeed receive the requested statement from Mr. Kleinknecht, who noted his surprise at the request. He had the mistaken impression I had already read your book Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry?and had seen the documentary evidence therein. I noted that I had not seen the book, but looked forward to buying the updated version next year. As to the letter itself, it was all I had asked for and I consider the case closed on Rev. Shaw.

I do remain somewhat curious as to why my opinion of Rev. Shaw's book, or his veracity, is of such apparent interest to you. I get the impression that there is something you wish me to say, but I cannot fathom what that might be. Rather than being 'loyal' to Rev. Shaw, as you have charged, I have dropped him from my list of references and do not use any of his material. I informed you of this as early as Oct 93 and again in Jun 94. Further, it is not my function to document and publish errors in books on Masonry, pro or con; rather, it is to find credible sources to use in developing my own opinions. I use this technique in any area of study, be it Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses or Christianity. Based on our correspondence, I do not find Rev. Shaw a credible source. Period.

Of possible interest to you is that a Mason recently noted to me that one selected to the 33° degree was required to pay $1,000 to cover the cost of his ring, dinner, hotel and other related expenses incident to his selection. Now you and I can quibble over what constitutes a "minimum donation", but clearly money is required from the candidate, a fact which you appear to deny. Another Mason noted that drinking was allowed in the rooms adjacent to the lodge when a new WM was installed. Yet you have flatly denied that drinking is allowed. Since the truth is not totally clear in either case, I do not accuse you of being a liar; however, I do think that you have been less than forthcoming in some key areas. As you quite correctly point out, nothing requires me to take the word of a Mason, or any other person, in matters of fact. Sufficient objective evidence can always be found to determine what is true and what is not.

As to sharing your rituals, the example I had in mind was John Ankerberg, who noted that failure to obtain the approved rituals resulted in using Blanchard. As I noted, a little "horse trading" on both sides would have resulted in more of the truth being known, and less of the unjust criticism. I found Ankerberg's books pretty well thought through, though he did overly rely on Blanchard, which you have convinced me does not reflect current Masonic rituals.

Finally, it is surprising that you would mention Jack Chick's The Curse of Baphomet, as I found a copy waiting for me the day I received your letter. A neighbor had ordered several such booklets and asked me about them. I found it somewhat overheated, and its conclusions do not agree with my own. I would neither endorse it nor distribute it based on its contents; however, it did raise an interesting question about the symbol on your cap. I have nothing on that symbol or its origination. Perhaps you could identify a source which explains such Masonic symbols? And rest assured: I do not accuse Masons of worshipping Baphomet!


T.N. Sampson II


November 29, 1994

Dear Mr. Sampson,

Your letter of September 9 was received. I resent your suggestion that I have not been forthcoming with you. I have answered you with statements you can verify for yourself. In contrast you present anonymous anecdotes, but I will try to respond fairly.

There is nothing more you need to say about Rev. Shaw; your many previous statements speak loudly and clearly.

On page 101 of The Deadly Deception, Rev. Shaw described the alleged "minimum donation" required to receive the 33rd Degree.

    She then told me that in order to receive the [33rd] degree, I would be expected to make a "minimum donation" of a very large amount of money (at least it was a "very large" amount for me). This took me completely by surprise for there had not been a word about any such "minimum donation" in my letter sent me by the Supreme Council.

It would seem that Rev. Shaw is trying to create an unflattering image of the Supreme Council luring 33rd Degree candidates to Washington and then surprising them with an unwritten requirement of a substantial donation. In my letter to you of September 3, I referred to this and other falsifications of Rev. Shaw concerning his alleged receipt of the 33rd Degree. There is a fee for the degree, but it is well-known and published in the Statutes of the Supreme Council, "Art. XI, Sec. 4.E. For the Thirty-third Degree, Patent included -- $200.00." Anyone who bothers to read the Statutes knows about the fee; every other expense associated with the degree is voluntary. There is no charge to new 33rd Degree Masons for the Supreme Council banquet, despite what your unnamed informant may have told you.

The Supreme Council normally elects new 33rd Degree members on a Monday morning, and the degree is conferred Tuesday afternoon. If a newly elected 33rd Degree Mason chooses to receive the degree in Washington, there is indeed the expense of travel and lodging. However, the degree is conferred many times around the country in regional meetings.

In 1991, Wilkins Jewelers, Inc. of Vero Beach, Florida charged $120.75 to $280.50 for a gold 33rd ring, depending on weight and karat, and $275 for a 33rd jewel. Neither a ring nor a jewel is required to receive the degree, just as a senior class ring is not required to graduate from high school or college.

A new 33rd Degree Mason could spend $755.50 for the fee, ring, and jewel. On the other hand I spent nothing when I received the degree: the Valley of Baltimore paid my initiation fee; I chose to continue wearing my 32° ring; and I have not bought a jewel.

I do not deny nor have I denied there are expenses associated with receiving the 33rd Degree. However, they are either well-known and published or entirely voluntary. What I do deny is Rev. Shaw's allegation that there is any sort of unexpected "minimum donation." That is simply not true.

I never said "drinking is not allowed." That would be as foolish as saying, "No one professing to follow Christ drinks." What I did point out is that the Grand Lodge of Florida and the Supreme Council, S.J. completely forbid alcohol at the functions of their subordinate lodges. Rev. Shaw's description of drinking by Florida Masons is as phony as the idea that a Seventh Day Adventist church would sponsor a wine tasting.

Different grand lodges have different rules concerning alcohol--some stricter and some more lenient than Florida. I cannot say anything about your other anonymous story, since you don't share the year, state, or other pertinent details. I can say, however, that Rev. Shaw's pious pronouncement on drinking in Florida is another of his slick fabrications: "But it bothered me that there was always so much [drinking] and that it played such a major role in the Masonic life."

The question you raise about the 33rd Degree emblem is an interesting one, but I do not have the time to do research for you. Thank you for answering my questions. This letter, so far as I am concerned, concludes our correspondence.

Sincerely yours,

Book Review Editor


Dear Dr. Morris:

This letter is not to restart old arguments, but rather to fulfill an old promise. Two years ago I said that if I ever received any information on Rev. Shaw's claims from the writer of The Deadly Deception, I would pass them along. Mr McKenney has sent along a position paper on the subject, which I have enclosed for your review. Rev. Shaw, as you know, passed away.

While I have your attention, may I recommend finding another editor? In rereading your book Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry?", I noted that, on pages 41 and 43 you have extracts from the references being used to rebut Rev. Shaws claims; however, you've used the 1989 examples, when Shaw left the Craft in 1966. Unless I've missed something, it would have made more sense to show the extracts from the year in which Rev. Shaw made his claims, not extracts some 20 years after the event. A second instance is in your article in the October 95 issue of The Philalethes entitled 'Misrepresentations of Freemasonry. In this article, I had a difficult time separating your comments from quotes by Enchanted. For example, refer to the paragraphs under the heading 'The Difficulty of Dialog' (pg 104). How is the reader to tell which paragraphs are yours and which are quotes? In rereading, I assume the odd paragraphs are yours (1,3 & 5) and the even by Enchanter! otherwise, the article has you saying "(you) have taken vows to uphold certain secrets, even if it means telling lies." (Was that indeed what Enchanter! said? Is that a true statement?) The same problem occurs in the quotes from Dr. Morey's book, where quotation marks were not used, nor was a colon used in the preceding paragraph to introduce the quotes. Ditto the quotes under the heading 'Deficient Research'. Seems to me that any good editor would have ensured that quotes were properly indicated. Finally, and a very minor point, Grand Lodges are capitalized except once in your quote from the deHoyos and Morris book. In that quote, one "lodge" appears with a lower case "I". Again, a good editor would have caught this. I bring this to your attention because arguments for or against Masonry are sometimes "discarded" for 'editorial' reasons, vice incorrect factual statements. I hope we both support the view that this argument should be based on facts.

While on my soapbox, I did find consistent your attempts to separate Albert Pike from the Scottish Rite. It's certainly true that he not the "guiding force" behind Masonry, but he certainly was that force behind the SR, southern variant. One cannot separate him as easily as Masonic writers would have us believe. I also found it interesting that you noted that Pike's tome has not been distributed in the SR since ca 1971, but did not bother to mention that A Bridge to Light is distributed in its place. Since the latter is based mainly on the former, one easily (and correctly) concludes that Pike's thoughts remain in force in the SRSJ.

Since you are interested in the 'online world', among the interesting opinions expressed on our electronic highways these days was one entitled 'The Damning of Spiritual Masonry' by Norman Williams Crabbe, MPS, (claimed to be reprinted from The Philalethes, April 1994). An intriguing article, to be sure. It told me much about Masonic thinking (minority view, I assume) and of the quality of writing that The Philalethes is willing to publish (assuming the claim is true).

Finally, the next Leadership Conference on Masonry will be in Indianapolis next June and I extended an invitation to Allen Roberts, via Nelson King, to attend. Mr. Roberts had a few comments on the last conference and I thought that he might wish to attend the next and present his own views. You should consider attending yourself if nothing else, it would get us all together for an open discussion of viewpoints (we all trust riot control measures will not be needed).


T.N. Sampson II

[By Tom McKenney]

22 February 1995

1. The Issue. Subsequent to the publication of "The Deadly Deception...Freemasonry Exposed by one of Its Top Leaders" (Huntington House, Lafayette, La), charges have been made by Scottish Rite Masonry that Jim Shaw was never a 33rd Degree Mason; the charges were subsequently expanded to allege that Jim also was never Worshipful Master of his Blue Lodge or Master of any Scottish Rite Body, and that he was not "one of (Masonry's) top leaders".

2. Evidence In Support of the Charges:

  • A. Scottish Rite Masonry presents that it has no records of Jim's having held the offices or degree in question.
  • B. Scottish Rite Masonry presents records appearing to show that Jim was made Knight Commander of the Court of Honor (KCCH), the prerequisite honor and "final stepping stone" to the 33rd Degree, in October 1965 but resigned from Masonry one year later, effective October 1966, before becoming eligible for the 33rd Degree. (Theoretically a man must be KCCH for 4 years before being considered for 33rd Degree).

3. Evidence in Support of Jim Shaw's Testimony:

  • A. Jim Shaw's Character and Reputation. Jim Shaw has been a dedicated Christian for 30 years, a man of unquestioned character until these charges were brought by Masonic officialdom.
  • B. Masonry's Attitude Toward Truth. Freemasonry is a system built upon lies and deception (for only one of many references, see Morals and Dogma, p 819).
  • C. My Own Pre-Publication investigation. Before I wrote Jim's story, on advice of a friend experienced in such matters, I investigated Jim's story. The only non-Masonic sources who could verify Jim's story were Jim's friend, Mike, Dr Swords, the ophthalmologist who had led Jim to the Lord, and Mrs Swords. I couldn't speak with Mike, for he had died of cancer years before. I found Dr Swords, in semi-retirement as a physician/ surgeon, and extremely active in Christian affairs. He is a man of sterling reputation and almost radically correct Christian character, a man who would never compromise, especially with the truth (yes, I checked on Dr Swords, also). Dr Swords got out Jim's medical records to refresh his memory, and I found that Jim's story was meticulously accurate according to Dr Swords' records and his very precise memory. Both Dr Swords arid his wife stated, emphatically and without hesitation, that Jim was 33rd Degree when he left the Lodge. They, of course, had not seen the Scottish Rite records, but knew him and his Masonic identity at the time of leaving the Lodge in 1966 extremely well.
  • D. His Credentials Never Challenged Before. Jim Shaw has openly presented himself to the world as "Rev james D. Shaw, ex-33rd Degree Mason" in his published tracts, pamphlets and cassette tapes for more than 20 years. In addition, he has had published forewords as an ex-33rd Degree Mason in two widely distributed major anti-Masonic books for many years. Never, during a11 those 20-plus years, was any question or challenge to his credentials or testimony raised by Masonic officialdom, either privately or publicly, until after publication of "Deadly Deception.
  • E. Most of His Masonic Records Were Burned. When Jim became a Christian, he burned his Masonic apron, regalia, certificates, etc according to the Scriptures. The only items surviving the burning were some that his wife hid; significant among these are Scottish Rite Reunion programs which show Jim as "32°, KCCH" and "Degree Master", the program from the ceremony making him KCCH, and a 33rd Degree Medal with purple ribbon, still in its original plastic case. (The medal is not personalized or dated.)
  • F. Acknowledged as 33° by the Universal League of Freemasons. There also survives a membership card in The Universal League of Freemasons, an international Masonic order, issued to Jim without his request by Sigmund Holsjen, Universal Grand Master, identifying Jim as "Bro. Rev. James D. Shaw, 33°" (photocopy, obverse and reverse, attached). Jim continued to pay dues to this order for some time after leaving the Lodge in order to receive its literature for research.
  • G. The Opinion of Another Christian 33° Mason. F. Evans Crary, Esq, who was made KCCH in the same program with Jim Shaw, and who subsequently became 33rd Degree and held the highest office in Masonry, Grand Master of Masons, Grand Lodge of Florida, believes that Jim Shaw was 33rd Degree.
  • H. They Possess the Records. The Scottish Rite has possessed the records for nearly 30 years; what reason have we to believe that a system based on lies and deception, with that much time, hasn't "lost" or altered the records prior to their recent, late-in-the-game charges? As possessors of the records, we certainly can't expect them to verify such a damaging testimony.
  • I. "One of (Masonry's) Top Leaders". Concerning Masonry's denial that Jim was ever one of Masonry's "top leaders", let me say first that this has never been Jim Shaw's claim. Those are the publisher's words, not Jim's. Before publication of "Deadly Deception", I argued against the word, "top", but the publisher prevailed. At any rate this point is moot; it could mean that in the 1960's Jim was one of Masonry's top 3 leaders, or one of the top 3,000, or it could mean that he was one of tile top 300,000; surely, if only Degree Master and KCCH in the Scottish Rite, he was at least that.
  • J. Jim's Testimony Is NOT "Impossible". Theoretically, one must be a Master mason for 6 months before becoming eligible for the Scottish Rite Degrees (4°-32°), then one must be a 32° Mason for 4 years before being eligible for KCCH, and then be KCCH for 4 more years before becoming eligible for the 33°. Concerning the argument that Jim wasn't KCCH long enough even to be considered for the 33rd Degree, let alone receive it, the fact is that the Supreme Council, which selects men for both KCCH and the 33rd Degree, can coronet men when they please.

    A Case in Point. A recent example of this is that of the late John J. Robinson. As a non-Mason, Mr Robinson wrote a sympathetic history of Masonry, "Born in Blood", followed by two more pro-Masonic books. Mr Robinson was made a Master Mason in Novemher 1992, a Scottish Rite Mason of the 32nd Degree on 24 April 1993 (Northern Jurisdiction) and 4 May 1993 (Southern Jurisdiction). On 3 Sept 1993, three days before his death, Robinson was made a 33rd Degree Mason. After going all the way from non-Mason to 33rd Degree in only 10 months, Mr Robinson died on 6 Sept 1993. it is certainly conceivable that Jim Shaw, after 20 years as a Mason, after more than 19 years as 32° and a year as KCCH, could have been made 33° just before he resigned from Masonry.

  • K. When Unable to Refute the Message, Attack the Messenger. Although the Scottish Rite Journal has publicly called me a liar and Jim Shaw a phony, first in a feature article and later in a special-issue book, not one word of our charges against Masonry has been refuted. It appears to be a classic case of damaging charges which can't be refuted, so the attack is made on the source instead; since they can't refute the message, they attack the messenger. This obscures the real issue (for which they have no defense), by creating a false issue (concerning which they hold all the records). This is exactly what has been done in Arkansas, incidentally, to everyone who has spoken damaging truth against the Clintons' circle of power (those who haven't died in the process).

4. My Conclusion. Initially, I was greatly troubled by certain aspects of the charges by Scottish Rite officialdom, especially the apparent problem in the time lapse between KCCH and 33rd Degree in Jim's case. When I discussed this problem with Jim, he replied simply that the Supreme Council can do whatever it chooses to do; this has proved to be the case.

In the final analysis I must choose whom I will believe. Upon consideration of all the above, and knowing Jim as I do, I accept and believe the testimony of Jim Shaw, including all his Masonic credentials, exactly as published in "The Deadly Deception".

/ Tom C. McKenney /

Tom C. McKenney
PO Box 413 Marion, Ky 42064
Co-author, "The Deadly Deception"
Author, "Please Tell me"

[Transcribed by S. Brent Morris, December 1995]

[Letter 18]

December 29, 1995

Dear Mr. Sampson:

Thank you for forwarding me a copy of "James D. Shaw and the 33rd Degree" by Mr. Tom C. McKenney. This document confirms my opinion of Mr. McKenney and Rev. Shaw. Your observations about the editing of my articles are noted.

A computer glitch seems to have destroyed the formatting of "Misrepresentations of Freemasonry"; I have enclosed a correctly formatted copy for you. I am responsible for the choice of reproductions in Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? As Rev. Shaw is never listed as an officer of Allapattah Lodge, I chose the 1989 listing as an example of what an independent researcher could find; I thought reproducing every listing of officers during Rev. Shaw's membership in the Lodge would be tedious.

Because of the confusion this has caused for you, we will consider adding a summary of all officers published in the Grand Lodge Proceedings in the next edition. We could include tables of Scottish Rite officers during Rev. Shaw's membership and a sampling of souvenir programs listing dignitaries, and so on. At sometime, however, this becomes pointless if Mr. McKenney and his ilk ignore the facts by stating that "Freemasonry is a system built upon lies and deception."

You said you enclosed the position paper for my review, and so I will give you a brief one, addressing the points made by Mr. McKenney. It is first worth noting, sadly, that the issue of Rev. Shaw has been reduced to ad hominem arguments. Rev. Shaw makes many claims about Freemasonry in his book that we cannot verify objectively. The reader is left to rely upon his veracity in judging his witness about Freemasonry. The way to counter Rev. Shaw's false statements is to show a general pattern of deliberate deceit.

For example, Rev. Shaw claims that candidates drink wine from a human skull in the 33rd Degree. This is plagiarized directly from Blanchard's Scotch Rite Masonry, vol. 2, p. 470, and is in fact an identifying characteristic of "Cerneau" ritual. I imagine if I produced a copy of the 33rd Degree ritual to counter this claim, Mr. McKenney would declare the document a forgery. Similarly neither members of the Supreme Council nor anyone else interview 33rd Degree candidates (pp. 102­103), but how could a researcher confirm this statement? We are reluctantly left with addressing the general pattern of Rev. Shaw's claims that can be tested.

  • 3A Jim Shaw's Character and Reputation. I have no doubt Rev. Shaw's friends and colleagues regarded him as a good Christian who tried to share the good news of grace through Jesus Christ's sacrifice. However, none of this addresses the factual evidence.
  • 3.B. Masonry's Attitude Toward Truth. Whether Freemasonry is based upon lies or truth is not the issue. Mr. McKenney makes claims that he cannot or will not substantiate.
  • 3.C. My Own Pre-Publication Investigation. I am confident Rev. Shaw told Dr. and Mrs. Swords that he was a 33rd Degree Mason, but, as Mr. McKenney admits, they never saw the records. We cannot verify their emphatic statement of Rev. Shaw's membership.
  • 3.D. His Credentials Never Challenged Before. This is an interesting argument--something of a statute of limitations for lying. The fact that no one has bothered to point out Rev. Shaw's lies does not give any greater credence to Rev. Shaw's statements.
  • 3.E. Most of His Masonic Records Were Burned. A cynic could argue this is much too convenient for Mr. McKenney's case. He says Rev. Shaw's records are not available and then argues (in 3.H) that Scottish Rite records cannot be trusted. His only evidence is a reunion program that lists Rev. Shaw as "32°, KCCH," an honor we have never questioned. The undated and non-personalized 33rd Degree Medal established nothing; anyone can buy one in a pawn shop.
  • 3.F. Acknowledged as 33° by the Universal League of Freemasons. The U.L.F. is a "clandestine" organization, membership in which usually results in expulsion for regular Masons. I know of no regular Grand Lodge that acknowledges the U.L.F. The question of whether membership in the U.L.F. proves one is a Mason is similar to the question of whether membership in the Mormon Church proves one is a Christian. It is my understanding the U.L.F. will accept anyone who claims to be a Mason. It might be amusing for you to join, or for me to get a membership for my cat. What the dues cards does prove is that Rev. Shaw had no compunction about deceiving the U.L.F. and claiming Masonic membership for nearly 20 years after his 1965 resignation.
  • 3.G. The Opinion of Another Christian 33° Mason. F. Evans Crary received the rank and decoration of K.C.C.H. with Rev. Shaw, but Mr. Crary offers no evidence that Rev. Shaw ever received the 33rd Degree. It is nice that Mr. Crary believes that Rev. Shaw received the 33rd Degree, but a lawyer should offer better corroboration than hearsay. Was Mr. Crary present when Rev. Shaw received the degree? Can he give us a date? Does he have any document--program, newsletter, or Transactions--that can be independently verified?
  • 3.H. They Possess the Records. Indeed we do, but we base our arguments on public not archival documents. The Supreme Council publishes its Transactions biennially and distributes hundreds of copies around the world. The Transactions lists every 33rd Degree Mason when he receives the degree. Further, the Valley of Miami publishes a newsletter that lists officers, and their reunion programs list their "Honor Men," the KCCHs, and 33rds. Thousands of these documents have been distributed. Any of these documents would establish Mr. McKenney's case and produce a public acknowledgment of error by me. Rather than call the Scottish Rite liars, Mr. McKenney should point to some fact that can be independently confirmed.
  • 3.I. "One of (Masonry's) Top Leaders." This question is moot, as we conceded that this as well within the allowable limits of advertising.
  • 3.J. Jim's Testimony is NOT "Impossible." Here we made a technical error. We stated that Rev. Shaw resigned from Masonry "thirty-seven months before he would have been eligible to even be nominated for the 33°." This is much the same as saying, "The U.S. Constitution prevents the election of a President and Vice-President from different parties." In the latter case, one has to add, "Unless no majority is obtained in the electoral college, and the election is moved to the Congress, and the House elects the President from one party, and the Senate elects the Vice-President from another." Of course the Supreme Council can make exceptions, as it did for John Robinson, but these cases are exceedingly rare and are always published. Mr. McKenney need not speculate how Rev. Shaw might have received his 33rd Degree in less than eleven months. We can rely on Rev. Shaw's own words that he waited four years: "I had been a K.C.C.H. for only four years. A man cannot even be considered for the 33rd Degree until he has been a K.C.C.H. four years. I was being considered for the 33rd in the minimum time!" (Deadly Deception, p. 90) Mr. McKenney continues to avoid the central issue (at least to us): When did Rev. Shaw receive his 33rd Degree? Mr. McKenney says, "I accept and believe the testimony of Jim Shaw, including all his Masonic credentials, exactly as published in 'the Deadly Deception.'" We should be able confidently to add four years to 1965, the date Shaw and Crary received the K.C.C.H., and check the records for Shaw's 33rd. The check is in vain.
  • 3.L. When Unable to Refute the Message, Attack the Messenger. Mr. McKenney suggests we have not answered his charges against Masonry. In his book he accuses the Scottish Rite of being drunkards, of having exorbitant initiation fees, of having bloody oaths, and of teaching resurrection and reincarnation. I think we refuted these rather well. As I noted above, Rev. Shaw makes many claims about Freemasonry in his book that cannot be verified objectively. Either you believe Rev. Shaw or you don't. We have gone to public documents to show that Rev. Shaw was not truthful about his membership claims. Mr. McKenney refuses to address the problem of there being no records to examine--Supreme Council Transactions, Grand Lodge Proceedings, Lodge or Scottish Rite newsletters, reunion programs, photographs. He tries misdirection when he says, "the Supreme Council can do whatever it chooses to do; this has proved to be the case."

Please excuse me for taking so long to review Mr. McKenney's position for you. I think we will include this analysis in the second edition of Is It True? Your invitation to attend the next Leadership Conference on Masonry is thoughtful, but I decline. Consider, as just one example, the chasm that exists between what Mr. McKenney thinks is evidence and what I do. I cannot imagine any productive discussion occurring at the Conference. Enjoy yourself there.

Sincerely yours,

Book Review Editor

[Letter 19]

January 2, 1997

Dear Mr. McKenney:

Thank you for your letter of October 31, 1996, and for a copy of your position paper, "James D. Shaw and the 33rd Degree." I had already recently received a copy of the paper from Mr. T.N. Sampson who has an anti-Masonic ministry in Poquoson, Virginia. Enclosed is a letter I sent to Mr. Sampson commenting on your position paper. Mr. Sampson no longer recommends The Deadly Deception in his ministry.

I can sympathize with your frustration with your publisher (I have had similar problems myself). However Huntington House's insistence on using the subtitle "Freemasonry one of its top leaders" only supports the contention of Art deHoyos and me: greed motivates the publication of anti-Masonic books. Why else would the publisher use a subtitle that an author thinks is "much too lurid"? Why highlight in eye-catching red the demonstrably false claim, "The 33rd degree initiation ceremony revealed for the first time in history"?

You are indeed correct that Supreme Councils can waive the normal waiting for the 33rd Degree, as with John J. Robinson, 33º. We will correct this statement in the upcoming revision of our book. What is consistent with Supreme Councils is careful public documentation of all recipients of the 33rd Degree. I have enclosed a copy of the public record of Bro. Robinson's degree (1993 Proceedings of the Supreme Council, N.M.J., p. 72).

It is not necessary, as you suggest, to search for a special meeting of the Supreme Council for Rev. Shaw's 33rd, since we can deduce the date he claims to have received the degree. He was elected to receive the rank and decoration of a Knight Commander of the Court of Honor on October 19, 1965 (1965 Transactions of the Supreme Council, S.J., pp. 218, 225); the ceremony was held on December 18, 1965. He later said, "I had been a K.C.C.H. for only four years. A man cannot even be considered for the 33rd Degree until he has been a K.C.C.H. four years. I was being considered for the 33rd in minimum time!" (Deadly Deception, p. 90). Thus, Rev. Shaw claims to have been elected to the 33rd Degree in 1969. I have enclosed a list of the twenty-nine 33rd-Degree Masons elected from Florida in 1969; Rev. Shaw's name is not included. (1969 Transactions of the Supreme Council, S.J., pp. 5, 42, 43) This is not surprising since Rev. Shaw submitted his letter of resignation on October 25, 1966.

Rev. Shaw received the 32nd Degree on November 9, 1952. He says, "I didn't enter the Shrine after the Spring Reunion [1953] when I became eligible.... In the blue Lodge I was Senior Deacon and preparing to be the Junior Warden, only two chairs away from the office of Worshipful Master.... The following fall [1953] however, after Reunion, I decided it was time to enter the Shrine." (Deadly Deception, p. 74) One can infer from this that Rev. Shaw was elected Junior Warden in 1954. He says, "I continued my progression 'through the chairs,' from office to higher office in the Blue Lodge...." (Deadly Deception, p. 77) Again one can infer that Rev. Shaw was elected Master of his Lodge (Allapatah No. 271) in 1956. The Grand Lodge of Florida publishes annual Proceedings of its meetings, which include a listing of the elected officers of every Florida lodge. Rev. Shaw is not listed as Junior Warden for 1954, nor Master for 1956, nor for any office during 1952-1956, the years he was a member (copies enclosed).

Rev. Shaw's story about his experience in Freemasonry abounds with inconsistencies, but I won't bore you with more details. It is difficult to carry on a civil discussion about objective, public facts when you say, "Freemasonry is a system built upon lies and deception" and "...What reason have we to believe that a system based on lies and deception, with that much time hasn't 'lost' or altered the records prior to their recent late-in-the-game charges? As possessors of the records, we certainly can't expect them to verify such damaging testimony." The Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Florida and the Transactions of the Supreme Council, S.J. are public documents. Hundreds of copies were published. They are distributed to each of their constituent bodies, to officers, and to other Masonic bodies, around the world. Masonry makes these records available to anyone.

You cannot produce any public records to support Rev. Shaw's 33rd Degree or his being Master of Allapattah Lodge, much less give us the dates when these events occurred so we can verify them ourselves. You ask that Rev. Shaw's testimony be trusted completely, and yet you accuse us of lying, deceiving, and altering documents when we present our public records.

I see two possible explanations for the situation here:

    1. Rev. Shaw is telling the truth. This means the Grand Lodge of Florida recalled and altered every copy of its Proceedings that list Rev Shaw as Junior Warden, Senior Warden and Master. Allapattah Lodge recalled and altered every monthly bulletin that listed Rev. Shaw as Master as well as every letter he wrote as Master. Similarly the Scottish Rite Valley of Miami must have recalled every bulletin, reunion and banquet program, and document that lists Rev. Shaw among their 33rd Degree members. Besides this, all Florida masons must have been instructed to deny Rev. Shaw's accomplishments, all photographs that show Rev. Shaw in his regalia have been destroyed, and every local newspaper article that may have mentioned Rev. Shaw has been altered.

    2. Rev. Shaw is lying.

I am willing to let our readers check the public records and make up their own minds.

Sincerely yours,


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