James D. Shaw: Masonic Charlatan and Fraud.


Background Information
In 1993 Brent Morris and I co-authored the book Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? This work examines some of the popular methods used by anti-Masons to slander the Fraternity, and includes some typical anti-Masonic allegations, such as the infamous fraud of Léo Taxil (Gabriel Jogand-Pagès). Taxil alleged that Albert Pike (1809-1891), a prominent American Freemason, taught Luciferianism as a secret Masonic doctrine. Taxil's subsequent public confession and published recantation(1) has not quelled the enthusiasm of zealots who continue to foist this old lie on an unknowing public today.

Recently some anti-Masons, including John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and C.F. McQuaig, have relied on a modern version of Taxil to help sell their books. The "new" Taxil was James D. Shaw. "Reverend Shaw," as he is called by his devotees, demitted (resigned) from the fraternity and later began exaggerating his involvement to add credibility to bizarre stories of alleged violence, alchohol abuse, cultish teachings, etc.

In his book The Deadly Deception: Freemasonry Exposed by One of Its Top Leaders, Shaw and co-author Tom McKenney claimed Shaw received one of the highest honors in a branch of Masonry known as the "Scottish Rite." The honor which Shaw falsely claimed to have received is known as the 33º. He also claimed to have held the presiding office of his local constituent lodge in Florida, as well as all the presiding offices in his local Scottish Rite bodies. The truth of the matter is that he did not hold these honors. Shaw held the 32º (awarded to all American Scottish Rite Masons), and was further awarded the rank and decoration of "Knight Commander of the Court of Honor" (K.C.C.H.) for his faithful service, but he never received the 33º, or presided over any Masonic body. To say that Shaw was ever a "top leader" in Freemasonry takes a stretch of the imagination.

Although Brent Morris and I published a wealth of information concerning "Rev. Shaw," anti-Masons continue to foist Shaw's lies while professing that Freemasonry has either somehow altered the public records or is concealing proof of Shaw's achievements.

An enlarged edition of Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? was published by the Masonic Information Center in May 1997, and is also available on the world wide web. The new edition includes additional documentation concerning Shaw's fraud. Unfortunately, Shaw passed away before we completely exposed his fraud, but our published text and the following documentation delivers the coup de grâce to his false claims.


Page 33 of the Miami, Florida, ninety-seventh Convocation Memorial Reunion pamphlet; held May 8, 1966. It lists James D. Shaw, 32º, Knight Commander of the Court of Honor (K.C.C.H.) as the "Degree Master" for the 25º. This means he was the "casting director" for the drama his "team" performed.



Only five weeks before he reigned from Masonry, Shaw wrote this letter to Harold E. Harris, Assistant to the Secretary of the Miami Scottish Rite Bodies, thanking his then fellow Masons "for their kindness." He also expresses a desire to "be back...soon." Note that there is none of the hostility evinced in his published anti-Masonic writings.


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Shaw's letter of resignation with his then current Dues Card attached. This incriminating artifact reveals his rank as a 32º, K.C.C.H., not a 33º, as later falsely claimed.


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Shaw's Demit (official letter of resignation)

This also refers to him as a 32º, K.C.C.H.


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[Martin to Thompson, 12-19-66]


1. Léo Taxil's published confession is translated in full in Alain Bernheim and A. William Samii, "The Confession of Léo Taxil" in Heredom: The Transactions of the Scottish Rite Research Society Vol. 5 (Washington, D.C., 1996), pp. 137-168, and is available at Roger Ingersoll's web page.

Background image copyright (c) 1997 by Art deHoyos

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