Everybody is worried about Masons taking over the world. Heck, we can’t even organize a picnic.
– A Mason from Washington state.
To find an Anti-Mason, you need look no further than the Internet for there is an abundance of discourse on the Net berating and misrepresenting the fraternity. As Freemasons, we are blamed for everything from the assassination of JFK, to World War I, both Gulf Wars, and God knows what else. The same people who track UFOs, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and Elvis, are the same people tracking Freemasonry.
Why? Because we make a convenient target.
As a “society with secrets” (not a “secret society”) it is easy to draw erroneous conclusions about our motives and activities. And make no mistake, the Anti-Masons are capitalizing on the naivete of the general public in the same manner as the supermarket tabloids do and for the same reason: to make a buck.
In researching this subject, I visited numerous Anti-Masonic web sites on the Internet. Even though they are all closely related, I have categorized the Anti-Masons into three groups: Conspiracists, Religious Zealots, and Wackos.
I like to refer to these type of Anti-Masons as Michael Moore “wannabees” as they are alarmists claiming that the sky is falling. They are all self-proclaimed freedom fighters acting as watchdogs of the fraternity. They write numerous exposes on Freemasonry with just enough research to make them look authoritative on the subject. What is disturbing here is that although Freemasons can easily see through the malarkey in their writings, the general public cannot.
At the root of their argument is the premise that Freemasons are overtly concerned about the social engineering of the planet. Under their scenario, the Masonic Fraternity is an inherent member of the Illuminati, a group of international bankers and power brokers who are obsessed with enslaving the human race and putting all of the world’s wealth into their hands. If this was true, I wish the Illuminati would share some of their wealth with the many Craft Lodges who are struggling to make ends meet.
In a nutshell, the religious zealots portray Freemasonry as either an autonomous religion or as one dedicated to Satan. We also have people claiming to have been Masons but have “seen the light” and recanted their membership. Frankly, their membership in the Masons are somewhat questionable as their description of Masonic activities doesn’t jive with what we have learned.
“Ex-Masons for Jesus” is an organization of Christian men and women who claim to have been members of a Masonic Lodge or one of the affiliated Masonic organizations such as Eastern Star, DeMolay, Job’s Daughters or Rainbow Girls. “We have left Masonry because of our commitment to Jesus Christ and a realization that Masonry is not consistent with a sincere expression of the Christian faith. We have found that participation in Freemasonry interferes with a close relationship with Jesus Christ.” Nuts.
Finally, we come to the offbeat critics of the fraternity who attack it for a variety of reasons, such as child abuse and other forms of sexual misconduct.
To prove their point, the Anti-Masons turn to Masonic and news quotations to support their claims. In reality, the sources are either misquoted or quoted out of context. However, accuracy of reporting and truthfulness is not the forte of the Anti-Masons.
As Masons we are charged not to suffer our zeal for the institution to lead us into arguments with those who, through ignorance, may ridicule it. But because we often cloak our ceremonies in secrecy, we make a convenient target to be cast in the role of “bogeyman.” Laugh as we might at our critics, they do have an effect on the general public. Let me give you an example, I know of a young Mason in the Tampa Bay area of Florida who was initiated an Entered Apprentice and passed to the degree of Fellow Craft before falling in love with a young woman who frequents the Internet and became suspicious of the fraternity her fiancé had joined. Frankly, I think she jealously saw Freemasonry as something that would divert his attention from her. Nonetheless, she read a lot of the propaganda and came to the erroneous conclusion that Freemasonry was anti-Christian with hidden motives and, consequently, swayed her fiance to halt his Masonic involvement.
Whether we like to portray ourselves as a “secret society” or a “society with secrets,” we have become fodder for every crackpot accusation imaginable. This puts us in the unenviable position of having to defend ourselves of every charge brought against us. As Masons, we can readily see through a lot of these falsehoods, but how do you defend yourself against a crime you didn’t commit? Unlike American jurisprudence where a man is “innocent until proven guilty” we find ourselves in the predicament of being “guilty until proven innocent.” Our critics know this and use it to their advantage by charging us with any ludicrous accusation they can dream up. Their motto seems to be, “When in doubt, blame the Masons.”
What our critics don’t seem to understand is how we investigate the background of everyone who petitions to join the fraternity. The only general criteria for joining is that a person believe in a Supreme Being (based on their religion of choice), that he does not believe in the overthrow of his resident government, and that he hasn’t committed any heinous crime. From this perspective, we are God-fearing peaceful citizens who happen to enjoy the company of other God-fearing peaceful citizens. If this is a crime, I plead guilty, most guilty.
In reality, our critics are well aware of this, and if they were to honestly answer you, they would have to admit as such.
So what is their motive? Why do they find it necessary to harass Freemasons? Is it because some of them were blackballed? Perhaps a woman feels scorned? Perhaps. More likely, it goes back to a simple human trait: Greed. If you look at the background of the Anti-Masons you will find people who have failed in business, but having an aptitude for writing, have concocted inflammatory stories which appeal to conspiricists, the religious right, and other wackos. Bottom-line: they are out to make a buck at the expense of Freemasonry. To do so, they build arguments out of minuscule incidents from our past and paint a picture of distrust and felonious activities with the truth sacrificed in the process. Even the noted author, Dan Brown, uses this to his advantage with his highly acclaimed books, such as “The Da Vinci Code” and the upcoming “The Solomon Key.” But unlike the Anti-Masons, and to his credit, Brown is quick to point out his stories are works of fiction. Bottom-line, the Anti-Masons are capitalizing on the ignorance of the public to sell books and make public appearances. Plain and simply, it’s all about money. They take a little Masonic knowledge and blow it out of proportion knowing we cannot or will not defend ourselves.
One interesting attribute of all of the Anti-Masons is that they strongly safeguard their identity. In fact, they are cloaked in more secrecy than a Masonic Communications. You won’t find too many photos of our detractors, and their whereabouts on this planet are strongly guarded. To communicate with them, you must go through a “cloak and dagger” e-mail process which I find to be particularly ironic as they often accuse Freemasonry of being too secretive. Fortunately, their anonymity hurts their credibility with the public.
Understand this, Freemasonry wouldn’t be plagued by such voluminous false accusations today had it not been for the Internet, a powerful communications medium that can carry the Anti-Masons messages to the masses at little cost. Sure, Freemasonry has had detractors in the past, but the Internet has accelerated the volume of contrived nonsense being presented to the public.
Also, many young people are caught up in the Anti-Mason movement which may be natural since young people find it fascinating to discuss cover-ups and conspiracies of world domination. Let us not forget that we live in a day and age of extremists who can readily communicate through this powerful medium.
So what should Masons do, turn the other cheek and let our critics run all over us? As Masons we are taught to subdue our passions and not directly engage our critics. Maybe. However, when flagrant errors appear in print, they should not go uncontested, otherwise the public will think the detractor is correct. As an example,
I do not encourage our Brothers to get directly into arguments with our critics, but I think we have a responsibility from time to time to clarify our position, if for no other reason, to dispel misinterpretations that might hurt our membership. I am reminded of what M:.W:.Harold G. Ballard, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, said,
Masons should never forget, nor miss an opportunity to inform the uninitiated that Freemasonry is a fraternity of men from all walks of life who meet as equals in a common quest for knowledge and a better life, both philosophical and material, for all mankind.
In other words, I recommend we become proactive in our communications with the general public, not reactive as we have been.
Just remember, the anti-Masons are not interested in the truth. If they truly did their homework, they would inevitably arrive at a different conclusion. As evidence, consider the work of Dr. Jessica Harland-Jacobs who wrote Builders of Empire: Freemasons and British Imperialism, 1717-1927 a non-Mason who thoroughly researched our background and “gets it.”
So, what drives the anti-Masons? In a nutshell: Money. Why do they continue to argue with the fraternity? Because we represent a threat to their livelihood. It’s as simple as that.
Keep the Faith.
by W:.Tim Bryce, PM, MPS
Palm Harbor, Florida, USA
“A Foot Soldier for Freemasonry”
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this essay are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any Grand Masonic jurisdiction or any other Masonic related body. As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:
Article reprinted with permission of the author and www.FreemasonInformation.com
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Also be sure to check out Tim’s “Pet Peeve of the Week” (non-Masonic related).
Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.