Anti-Masons, in their condemnation of the fraternity, often cite "former Freemasons" as proof that we Freemasons are evil (in whatever form) and involved with nefarious agendas. Next, to Bill Schnoebelen, Jim Shaw is often cited as he was supposedly a 33° and therefore "in-the-know" since anti-Masons think the Scottish Rite is the end-all authority over Freemasonry. Recently I saw an uptick in citing him and I thought it prudent to present the facts.
In 1988, Jim Shaw co-authored a book named "Deadly Deception" with Tom McKenney which recaps the story of Jim Shaw joining Freemasonry, joining the Scottish Rite, and, after supposedly receiving the 33°, leaving the fraternity. Shaw claims to have become a born-again Christian and decided that it was his duty to expose Freemasonry to save others from the "deadly deception." Along with his story, he calls his former Brothers drunkards and accuses them of appalling behavior.
It is sad to say, but Jim Shaw was a Freemason for a time. Shaw was initiated into Evergreen Lodge No. 713 in Indianapolis, IN, on September 11, 1945. He was passed to the degree of Fellow Craft and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in Biscayne Bay Lodge No. 124, Miami, FL, on May 21, 1946, and July 23, 1946, respectively. He affiliated with Allapattah Lodge No. 271 on July 1, 1952, in Miami, FL, and remained with this Lodge until his resignation on October 25, 1966. Shaw claims that he served as Worshipful Master Allapattah Lodge, but the records of that Lodge do not support his claim. Allapattah Lodge lists him as Junior Steward in 1964 and Junior Deacon in 1965.
He joined the Scottish Rite in 1952 and received the Knight Commander of the Court of Honor (KCCH) on December 18, 1965. Shaw claims he presided over the four bodies of the Scottish Rite, but, again, no records existed to substantiate his claim. What the records do show is that within the Valley of Miami, he only served as an appointed officer: Prelate (1961), Captain of the Host (1963), Assistant Expert (1964), Expert (1965), and Master of Ceremonies (1966).
He also claims to have been invited and coronated a 33° on October 25, 1966. The issue with his claim is that within the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America, one must be a 32° for 46-months before he is eligible for the KCCH, and you must be a KCCH for another 46-months before he is eligible for invitation to the 33°. On top of those minimum time limits, you must be 35-years of age. So, it is entirely impossible that Shaw, by these standards, to have been 33° when he resigned and demitted from Freemasonry entirely; he was still 37-months away from eligibility for an invitation to the 33°; well after he resigned from Freemasonry. It is also important to note that with his claims he never provides any documentation to support this argument. The only evidence was that he was a 32° KCCH. Anti-Masons claim that this lack of extant records is due to the fact that he burned everything else, but the KCCH investment (How convenient). I would also like to note that the Supreme Councils list all names of those elected to honors (KCCH, 33, and Grand Cross) in their annual "Transactions of the Supreme Council", none of which list Jim Shaw as a 33°. Brothers Arturo de Hoyos and S. Brent Morris, in their book "Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry?", did a lot of research and I recommend that every Freemason read this book. They point out that the supposed expose of the 33° ceremonies is plagiarized from "the 'Cerneau' 33° ritual in Jonathan Blanchard's Scotch Rite Masonry Illustrated" that was published in 1887. Much of his book is plagiarized from other anti-Masons such as Samuel Prichard and William Morgan.
When these glaring discrepancies came to light, Tom McKenney, the co-author, back-peddled and blamed the publishers for exaggerating Shaw's Masonic career and yet it wasn't the publisher who used those false credentials to fabricate the story of Shaw being coronated and defaming the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite. Some anti-Masons claim that Freemasons altered records to discredit Jim Shaw. Such a conspiracy would require the Grand Lodge of Florida recalling and altering every copy of its Proceedings that it sends out within its own jurisdiction as well as numerous copies that go to other Grand Lodges and Masonic bodies. This would have to have been done not just one year's proceedings either, but every year that Shaw was supposedly Senior Deacon, Junior Warden, Senior Warden, and then Worshipful Master. Then Allapattah Lodge would have to recalled and altered their Lodge minutes, officer photos, monthly bulletins, annual reports, Lodge awards, and their sign-in rosters for their Lodge that would have listed Shaw as a Worshipful Master. Then the Valley of Miami, the Orient of Florida, and the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, would also have had to recall and alter bulletins, minutes, reunion programs, pictures, and numerous other documents that would have listed Shaw as a 33°.
While I did not know him personally, it is clear from his actions that he was a poor Mason, a poor man, and a poor Christian. He manipulated facts, exaggerated his resume, and fabricated lies to increase is Masonic pedigree in the eyes of the foolish and the vicious. His lies were not just simple mistakes of a misguided Mason, but calculated to deliberately slander the fraternity that he fled from. The only "Deadly Deception" is the deception Shaw foists on his readers. As Brother Morris states, this book is a fine example of the level to which anti-Masons are willing to stoop in pursuing their vendetta against Freemasonry".
1. Beverley, J. A. (1998, February). The Struggle Over Freemasonry. Retrieved from Grand Lodge of BC & Yukon: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/struggle.html
2. de Hoyos, A., & Morris, S. (2004). Is it True What They Say About Freemasonry? M. Evans & Company.
3. Excerpt from Jim Shaw's Deadly Deception. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Masonic Trowel: http://www.themasonictrowel.com/ebooks/fm_anti_masonry/Shaw_-_A_Freemason_33Rd_Degree_Initiation.pdf
4. Flory, J. (2014, June 14). Book Review of Deadly Deception. Retrieved from James Flory's Memory-Holed Book Reviews: https://jamesflory.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/the-deadly-deception-by-tom-mckenney-and-james-shaw/
5. King, E. L. (n.d.). Jim Shaw. Retrieved from MasonicInfo: http://www.masonicinfo.com/shaw.htm
6. Shaw, J. D., & McKenney, T. C. (1988). The Deadly Deception: Freemasonry Exposed by One of Its Top Leaders. Vital Issues Pr.
7. Stewart, G. (2006, February 1). Jim Shaw and His Agenda. Retrieved from Masonic Traveler blog: http://masonictraveler.blogspot.com/2006/02/jim-shaw-and-his-agenda.html
8. Stewart, G. (2011, April 21). A Deadly Deception? Retrieved from Freemason Information: http://freemasoninformation.com/2011/04/a-deadly-deception/
9. Transactions of the Supreme Council, S.J. (1965)., (p. 218). Washington, D.C.