[Square & Compasses]

The Mason in the Mirror

Burrell McKelphin, 32°
St. Johns' Lodge No. 16 P.H. F.&A.M.

There have been many discussions on the issues dealing with "Bogus Masonry" particularly coming out of the African American community. Many Prince Hall Masons complains about the fast and growing problem of Clandestine Masonic groups. Many of these groups have organized themselves for the purpose of committing fraud and to take advantage of good and true men looking to join the Masonic Fraternity for monetary gains. This is true for the most part, however there are those groups that are classified as Bogus but exemplify Masonry in the eye of the public. Many Brothers like myself have witness some of these groups participate in the community in a positive manner. Despite the fact that these are good deeds, we (Prince Hall Masons) ridicule them and thumb our noses at them for one simple reason, they are not "LEGITIMATE" in the eyes of Freemasonry.

I see Brothers' point, but I guess what I am really trying to say is that WE as MASONS might know that they are non bona fide Masons, but to the PUBLIC in general or to the PROFANE all they see is individuals who portray the image of Masons doing work in the community. Who do you think they will probably roll with? US because we are legit but not so hot in doing the work?

Example: If bogus Masons were doing a clothes and food drive for those less fortunate, do you think that those people care whether they are legitimate or not? They are just happy that someone is doing something for them. They can care less if they were to call themselves AL-Queda if that is the case. Do you see where I am getting at on this issue?

Freemasonry teaches the tenet of Relief. "To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent on all men, particularly Masons, who are linked together by a bond of sincere affection. To soothe the unhappy, to sympathize in their misfortune, to restore peace to trouble minds should be the aim of each Freemason." Do you think they will probably support some of the Bogus groups because they are doing the work? We are supposed to be doing the work of Freemasons not in just my lodge or another brother's lodge or my jurisdiction nor someone else's jurisdiction, but all of us in this fraternity should be about the business of making ourselves visible to the public and the communities in which our lodges exists.

Basically, in order to combat this issue of Bogus Masonry, we must begin to do more in our communities. We have to start taking more initiative to participate in community affairs. To be LEGITIMATE is not enough. If that's our only defense then we can hang it up. What makes us as Prince Hall Masons think that we can leech off of the community without showing any sense of reciprocity? Are we so far gone that community involvement is just a punch line? Is it something we say to people to get them off our backs so they do further criticizes us for the things we say we do but don't do?

Bro. Doug Evans from out of the jurisdiction of the MWPHGL of Georgia once said, " PHA Lodges practice Bogus Masonry if they are not doing their father's work. Charity to the needy does not care where it comes from." And he is very correct. Before we go on our witch hunt my Brothers, let us look in the mirror find out what we are doing to allow these groups to take lead within the community. Where do we fall short? How can we correct and improve our shortcomings?

It is the TRUTH my Brethren. We need to check our own backyard for garbage before we go into someone else's telling him or her to clean up his or her act.

If we view history that has been researched and recorded by Harry Williamson, Harry E. Davis, Dr. Charles H. Wesley and Joseph A. Walkes, Jr. and many others we can see the blueprint laid out before us by the earlier Brothers of African Lodge or the Prince Hall Masonic Fraternity as it is now called. We see the universal "Trestle Board" for the Prince Hall Mason. It has been there all the time and it act as a template design ready for use. The only thing that becomes Bogus is us if we allow others to do our work for us.

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