Myths, Misconceptions and Conspiracy Theories surrounding Freemasonry

As a Freemason I have often been asked some strange questions such as Do you have to ride a goat when you join the Lodge?  Or That’s the same as the Orange Order isn’t it?  Which really highlights the number of myths or misconceptions surrounding the Ancient and Accepted Rite of Freemasonry.

If you search for information on the Internet about Freemasonry, many of the top sites are anti-Masonic in nature, Masons are accused of dominating world governments or arranging the assassination of non-Masonic leaders, Freemasonry traditionally advises its members to keep silent when faced with those who, through ignorance, know nothing about it.  The trouble is, when you don’t answer them, the unbalanced minds never get a proper view of the truth and the multitude of conflicting information leaves the bystander confused.

In my blog I will explore some of the more common myths, misconceptions and conspiracy theories told about the Craft over the years.

Why is the Craft so Misunderstood?

The answer to that is for hundred of years the members of Freemason lodges themselves misunderstood what was meant by Masonic Secrecy. Technically the ‘Secrets’ that Mason’s are forbidden to discuss with people outside the craft are the Signs, Tokens and Words of the order traditionally these are the methods the Masons use to identify one another.

Unfortunately generations of Masons have taken their obligation of secrecy to mean that they couldn’t discuss the fraternity outside the Masonic Hall at all. 

This leads to the problem that with no information coming from Masons, it’s all too easy for people to fill the holes with incorrect information or just plain lies, particularly if they are eager to sell book’s, DVD’s or gather subscribers to their paranoid web sites.  Like a game of Chinese Whispers these lies get compounded as they are repeated.

From the time of the Middle Ages, the goat has been the symbol of the Devil and stories were told of witches who came riding into town on a goat to take part in their blasphemous activities, later as Freemasonry gained in popularity its detractors took the opportunity to accuse them of witchcraft and associate them with the riding of the goat.

masongoatcard

It did not help that some of the early Masonic ritual books referred to God as ‘God of All Things’ and abbreviated it as G.O.A.T. That was quickly changed, and God is now referred to by the acronym G.A.O.T.U. which means Great Architect of the Universe.

And of course many Masons seized the opportunity to tease non members and new initiates, with humourous tales of Goats at Lodge Meetings.

 

 

masonic-bibleMasons have been accused of using their own Satanic bible in their ceremonies, this stems from a custom of many lodges to present a Master Mason with a commemorative Bible upon completing the 3rd Degree Ceremony.  This bible is usually the 1611 translation of the King James version and has additional pages to record the Master Mason’s raising date and has spaces for the Lodge Officers to sign.  Copies of the bibles sometimes find their way on to eBay and other auction sites.

Freemasonry is open to all men with a belief in a Supreme Beings so it is perfectly natural for more than one holy book to be open depending on the beliefs on the members of the lodge.  The combined name for these books is the Volume of the Sacred Law or VSL.

dollar_bill_great_sealAnother myth is that the ‘All Seeing Eye on top of the unfinished pyramid’ design on the $1 bill is related to Freemasonry. In reality the bill was initially designed by a committee of four men, only one of whom was a Freemason, Benjamin Franklin.  The eye was suggested by the artist Pierre du Simitiere. 

The design was modified by two other committees before being approved the unfinished pyramid was added at the time and none of these final designers were Freemasons.

 

Through the Renaissance period the eye within the triangle was used as a non denominational representation of God.  There is nothing sinister or occult about it.

Another area which is ripe for misconception and myth is Freemasonry relationship with organised religion, a lodge meeting is not an act of worship, a Lodge is not a church and Freemasonry is not a religion.  Mason’s use prayers to open and close their meetings but so do many Parliaments and Congress’ throughout the world.  Freemasons take oaths on the Volume of Sacred Law but so do Judges, and military personnel even police officers and boy scouts.

The misconception is that Masonic Meetings are some sort of bizarre, secret worship service, offered up to a Pagan god, a goat or to Satan himself. This ridiculous notion is alleged to stem from the trials of the Knights Templar in the early 1300’s ce when they were tortured and force to confess to the worship of Baphomet and these false confessions have been trotted out every since by those that want to believe the salacious and unbelievable.

The Freemasons and World Takeover

There are a huge amount of Conspiracy theories linked to the Ancient and Accepted Rites of Freemasonry.  Most of these theories claim that Freemasonry exerts control over politics at all levels. Perhaps the best-known example is the New World Order theory, but there are others. These mainly involve aspects and agencies of the United States government, but actual events are used to lend credence to claims.

Freemasons are forbidden to discuss politics in the Lodge, which makes it particularly hard to plot a world takeover plan and with over a million men in nearly every country in the world in the Craft, how would it be kept a secret?.  So all in all if the Freemasons were planning to take over the world we are really not very good at it.

Regular Freemasonry does not now, nor has it ever aspired to be a world-dominating empire.  Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that simply seeks to improve men so that they may, in turn, improve society around them.  It makes good men better.  But it does not tell them how to do it, nor does it give them political, commercial or religious instructions.

Some of the conspiracy theories involving Freemasonry are:

  • That Freemasonry is a Zionist front for world domination. An example of this is the notorious and fraudulent document The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
  • That Freemasonry is controlled by the Illuminati, which refers to a purported conspiratorial organization which acts as a shadowy power controlling world affairs through present day governments and corporations.
  • That the Victorian Serial Killer Jack the Ripper was a Freemason whose murders resembled Masonic initiation rituals.
  • That the September 11 attacks were part of a hidden war between Masonry (as descendants of the Crusader Knights Templar) and Islam.
  • That Freemasons intertwine various symbols and numerology into modern culture, such as corporate logos.
  • That the KKK, Skull and Bones, Orange Order and other organizations are intimately tied to Freemasonry.
  • That Freemasons were behind faked Apollo moon landings
  • That Freemasons were behind the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, JFK, Diana, Princess of Wales and even ex-Beatle John Lennon.
  • The sinking of the Titanic was planned and carried out by Freemasons.
  • The Freemasons were behind The French, American and Russian Revolutions.

In the past European Kings and Religious leaders distrusted Freemasonry because it encouraged freedom of thought, of religion and expression exactly the kind of thing they did not want their subjects to have.

Robert Cooper, the Curator of the library of the Grand Lodge of Scotland has this to say on the subject of conspiracies surround Freemasonry

I strongly suspect it’s our fault. People asked us questions and we didn’t answer because it wasn’t their business. That is no longer sustainable but you can see the problems it’s caused. Because we didn’t respond 100 years ago to these allegations there has been 100 years of belief that we’re hiding something, no matter how open we are now.

24 thoughts on “Myths, Misconceptions and Conspiracy Theories surrounding Freemasonry

  1. Pingback: Poker Blog » Blog Archive » Tarot: the Story of Life « in Search of Simplicity

  2. Bro. Sives:

    This is very well stated! I can only add that, on matters of conspiracy theories we will always have two fundamental communications problems.

    On matters of religion, even if most Masons knew how to respond to inquiries from religious zealots who claim we teach some form of dogma, our comments would still not represent any official statement about Masonry. The reason is that there is no such thing. For any of us to have an “official” position about Masonry would deny other brethren their right to think for themselves and their right to follow the dictates of their own faith. Although this is an extraordinary statement on the merits of human equality, it is a difficult concept for closed minded folk to grasp.

    Secondly, one does not really communicate with conspiracy theorists because the conspiracy is always more important to them than any facts which might discredit their position. Conspiracy theorists have no place for peer review, knowledge, or the respectability of source material. They simply cannot discern good evidence from bad; and could really care less. It is enough for them to keep the conspiracy alive.

    Fortunately, most people see through such drivel. The beauty of these rantings is that they actually attract people to us and, in the process, filter out much of the riff-raff we would not otherwise invite into our unique group, even if we could. 🙂

    Thank you for this wonderful post!

  3. Thank you Thank for this wonderful article. A thread began on a discussio board of the Black Think Tank. I do not profess to be scholar in all things Masonic. I do know that I am proud to be affilited with the Prince Hall Group and will never be deswayed.

    I was able to provide a good refrence point for them by providing them your link. Thanks again. Feel free to visit tbtt08 and set the record straight.

  4. Pingback: Myths, Misconceptions and Conspiracy Theories surrounding Freemasonry | Area69

  5. I always tell the conspiracy nuts that ‘We are not trying to take over the world – we already run it!’

  6. The last comment said it best ‘ We already run it’.. What I am laughing at is all ye lowly AG minions think ye are part of something special but what you low degree masons fail to see is that you are part of nothing until you reach the top of the pyramid.
    ‘Yeah, but we make great contacts thru it….’
    Ye are but a speck of dust that is blowing past Solomons Temple and having met many of ye over the years…very very few actually really know whats going on. What…a couple of funny handshakes and a few greek letters and your friends with your bank manager. The best part is that none of ye will ever comprehend the full effect of what ye serve

  7. oh.. yeah ther is nothing wierd about it? its not a cult? nuthning secret about it? well.. u cant gon on with fooling people.. we know about ur agenda’s and secret propgandas.. and the tool u use.. – MIND CONTROL.
    well the all seeing eye is of anti christ.. and the pyramids and oblesiks u ppl are obsesssed with is ur secret geometry.. and ‘new world order’. to hell with all that.

  8. Well i don’t care what people think about you.. And as far as i believe.. You guyz aren’t nuts.. Its very practical approach in life that should be followed,… I respect you guyz for what you are..

  9. Some authors such as Dan Brown and other various “people have said: “All Is Revealed at the 33rd Degree”. What is that about?

  10. here is what I don’t understand, if freemasonry is supposed to help better a man and in return help better a society through the man, then why are others still being kept in the dark. the comment above states a lot of what i’ve researched, the lower level masons know nothing until they reach the third degree. my whole question is, why all of the secrets if you are trying to help someone. it doesn’t make practical sense. the other interesting note is that religion usually state that telling the truth and living your life honestly and humbly will lead to a prosperous living. these masons are stating that they have all of the answers to living a great life. IF that is all true then why have the bible or other holy books open during your “meetings” if you are only going to go against everything it stands for. JUST SAYING. get out of your little club boyscouts and join the real world.

  11. You have done a great work with this article.
    There are so many conspiracy article but no balance.
    As Tao culture says: “If a man talks about death, you talk about a newborn.”
    great job once more!

  12. Great blog/article. Have pity for the uneducated jackasses that read conspiracy theory information ALONE and use information gathered to “fit” into their hate. This is like condemning an entire religion, for example, Catholicism, for a few corrupt people or sects. If only some people weren’t so incrediblely lacking in brain capacity so that they could research THOROUGHLY about Freemasony AND the REAL history behind it’s symbols from it’s beginnings. There are real theories of conspiracy I agree with as far as the NWO but it’s gotten WAY viral on the net and blown out of proportion. To “Zafy”-you’re obviously reading conspiracy sites alone or not enough TRUE historical information comparing both sides. Have you ever thought that you and whomever you are talking to are doing the exact thing you are thinking the Freemasons were or are involved in? HATING/BREEDING AN ORDER OF ONE THOUGHT? Have you ever thought that YOUR mind is being controlled? Freemasons were and are FOR FREEDOM of THOUGHT, acceptance and the love of God. Mind control is of hate. Isn’t hat what you’re doing? Good job.
    Dr. P. (late father, grandfather, g grandfather, gg grandfather…and ON were all Freemasons…..also war veterans)

  13. Would someone be so kind to tell us the oath which the Royal arch masons must swear?

    And why the monarchy have headed freemasonry since the 900’s?

    And why the King james bible was full of freemasonry symbolism?

  14. Let me help clarify a few things, I am a Master Mason, (3rd degree). THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF FREE MASONRY. Now, to relieve the added confusion by my last statement, there are organizations with a prerequisite of being a Mason, yet are not exactly Free Mason organizations I.e. Shrine, Knight’s Templar, etc. Now, the highest degree obtainable in this system is the 33rd degree, which is who people say are taking over the world. I know a few 33rd degree brothers, just here at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, in the army, doing a whole lot of NOT taking over thr world. I digress, now, a big thing in our Craft is “ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you”, christians should recognize that quote too. The “secrets” you hear about are not secrets. We have our own religious beliefs, not specified by our craft, possibly different from our fellow brethren. In no religion does it say you can reach salvation through sin, or bad actions, but it is necessary to live an honorable life among other things, all we can do is teach how to live an honorable life, and hellp with doing that. We do not force our ways on the public, thats why you think its “not available to all”, when it really is.

  15. This is for Marie what are you talking about? You are so invested in your antisocial negative thoughts about masonry that you have been blinded to what the “real world” is really about. Of coarse not all the “secrets” are not revealed till the third degree they are not even a member till they receive the third degree. And these mystical secrets you and your type, instinctively believe because of your absolute unwillingness to accept the real work, choose to believe don’t even exists.

  16. A bit late to this party, but I have to say, this is a well-written article. Unfortunately, many CTs won’t believe it, because they somehow think they know more about Masonry than actual members. I never understood that position.

    “Why all the secrets”? Masonry does have secrets, but they are only the handshakes, signs, and words, otherwise known as the “Modes of Recognition”. In days gone by, governments and the Church didn’t want people to be “free thinkers”, or to rebel against injustice and tyranny. Instead, they wanted people to blindly follow their dictates. Speaking out or being a free thinker in those days could get you tortured and/or killed in horrible ways. Being able to know who were “on your team’ was truly a matter of life and death.

    Ancient stone masons had a system of handshakes and passwords to identify other stone masons, and their rank, and were able to discern who was and who was not eligible to know the “trade secrets” of a master craftsman. Freemasons simply borrowed the concept.

    The ‘secrets” are pretty trivial things in the real world today, and there is nothing sinister about them – more tradition, really. They’re not particularly secret either, because they’re posted all over the internet, but I won’t tell you where. The reason a modern Mason won’t tell you or tell you where to find them isn’t because there’s some grand conspiracy, but for the simple reason that he has promised not to. Keeping promises goes to the honour of the individual. Honour and virtue are important values to a Mason, and if a man can’t be trusted to keep trivial things like handshakes and words secret, he probably can’t be trusted.

    Other things sometimes referred to as “secrets” are the lessons each man learns and experiences as they move through the degrees and learns who he is, his own weak points, and how he can improve himself. Since those things need to be experienced, no-one can tell you what they are. Not because they’re “Masonic secrets”, but because they are different for every man and can’t be explained.

    Everything else about Masonry is wide open for the asking. Where and when we meet are public information. Membership isn’t secret either, though you won’t see a list published because of privacy laws. Many of us wear rings, tie clips, and lapel pins, and/or have bumper stickers on our cars that identify us.

    There is NO “upper echelon”. Masonry has 3 degrees, and once you’ve reached the 3rd, there is no “higher rank”. There are appendant bodies you may join, such as the York Rite or Scottish Rite, the Shriners, etc. The Scottish Rite in particular is misunderstood. It confers degrees numbered 4-32, and some think that the numbers refer to “rank”. This is incorrect. In truth, they are no higher in “rank” than a Master Mason (3rd degree). The 33rd degree is an honourary degree only.

    If you want to know the TRUTH about Masonry, and not just some paranoid nutjob’s conjecture, pseudo-research, and outright lies, ask a Mason. As long as you don’t ask about the Modes of Recognition, he’ll tell you. If you want to know more, petition to join and see firsthand.

  17. thx for the insight into freemasonry it’s good to read a bit from your guys side. I have spoken to a mason about some things but obviously there is only so much that they say and unless you ask qs they don’t give any answers. so you don’t always ask qs that you should

  18. This article is well written. I don’t understand why people seem to have a problem with the free masons having secrets? Everyone has a secret or two. I just think that people should respect the free masons traditions and not just jump to conclusions that than become far fetched. To Bob M I enjoyed reading your reply.

  19. Running a little late, but somebody should answer some of the remaining questions.

    Fluxed: ” Would someone be so kind to tell us the oath which the Royal arch masons must swear? And why the monarchy have headed freemasonry since the 900′s? And why the King james bible was full of freemasonry symbolism?”

    From the top…

    1. No. It’s private.

    2. Um, Freemasonry has not been in existence since the 900s; you really need to change your sources of information as somebody has been feeding you fertilizer.

    It is true that members of the British royal family have been involved, including King George VI, but he stepped down when he became king. It is a tradition in England to have nobility sit in their Grand Lodge. It’s their custom. If you are concerned, consider that the Grand Lodge there has absolutely no authority over Masons anywhere else. None.

    3. Right off the top, suppose I should challenge you to come up with specific quotes from the KJB showing Masonic influence.

    Common sense however would show that the KJB was published in 1611 and remained the standard holy book in the UK for hundreds of years (still is in many places). Masonry began in the UK at a time when almost everybody there was a devout Christian. How surprising is it that men putting together a solemn ceremony (not a religion, mind) would turn to their Bible for specific passages and themes?

    In short, the KJB is not full of Masonic references; it’s the other way round.

    +

    Marie:

    ” here is what I don’t understand, if freemasonry is supposed to help better a man and in return help better a society through the man, then why are others still being kept in the dark.”

    and

    ” why have the bible or other holy books open during your “meetings” if you are only going to go against everything it stands for.”

    To bring everybody ‘out of the dark’, to use your way of putting it, would require everybody being *forced* to study. Is that what you would want? Seeds can only grow on receptive soil. Freemasonry has no writ, desire or intent to educate everybody on the planet. Rather, for those interested, it offers a philosophy and way of personal self-improvement.

    I would challenge your premise that Masonry goes against everything the Bible (or other holy book) stands for. Such a claim is simply without truth.

    The original Freemasons were Christian, so the volume displayed in their Lodges was a Bible. That remains the case in many places, but in others where another religion is common, it might be a Torah, a Koran or any other appropriate volume. In all cases, it is there to remind members of the moral precepts by which they are supposed to live.

    BTW, Freemasonry has never claimed to have all the answers, nor does it offer a path to prosperity. All it offers a man is a way to help him make moral decisions in his life.

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