Secret societies

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What are they? What do they do? Are they real or a figment of our overactive imagination? Get ready to enter directly into the world of the unmentionable. A world where the light only shines where it wants and where things may or may not be what you think they are. Enter the world of Secret Societies.

Secret Societies Who are they? What do they do? Are they real? Or are they the figment of overactive imaginations? Get ready to delve straight into the Unmentioned World, a world where light only shines where it wants to and where things may or may not be what you think

The first of the Secret Societies we're going to pull back the curtain on has several names, and each one sounds more nefarious than the last

Known primarily as Skull and Bones, this first organization also goes by the names The Order, Order 322, and The Brotherhood of Death

Skull and Bones is an undergraduate senior secret student society at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

They are the longest running senior class society at the university and have become a cultural institution known for its influential alumni and various conspiracy theories

Skull and Bones is one of the big three societies at Yale, the other two being the Wolf's Head Society and Scroll and Key

Informally, the society is known simply as Bones, and its members are known as Initiated to the Order, Members of the Order, or Bonesmen

Skull and Bones was founded back in the year 1832 after a quarrel amongst Yale debating societies known as Brothers in Unity, the Calliopean Society, and Linonia over that season's Pi Beta Kappa awards

It was Alfonso Taft and William Huntington Russell who co-founded the Order of the Skull and Bones

The first senior members included Taft and Russell alongside 12 other members

The society's assets are overseen by its alumni organization, the Russell Trust Association

This association was incorporated in the year 1856 when it was named after the Boneses co-founder

The Russell Trust Association was founded by Russell and Skull and Bones member, Daniel Coit Gilman

Author Lyman Bagg gave the world its first extended description of Skull and Bones in his 1871 book, Four Years at Yale

Bagg noted that the mystery now attending its existence forms the one great enigma which college gossip never tires of discussing

Each spring as part of Yale University's Tap Day, Skull and Bones selects new members amongst the students and has done so since 1879

The society started including women within their membership since the early 90s

Each year 15 women and men of the junior class are selected to join the organization

Skull and Bones only chooses those that they view as campus leaders and other notable figures for its membership

Every society needs a place to gather and the Skull and Bones hall is known as the Tomb

How appropriate! The Tomb was built in three phases

Its first wing was constructed in 1856 and the second wing was built in 1903

Finally, in 1912, neo-Gothic towers were added to the rear garden

In the late 90s, New Hampshire landscape architects Saucer and Flynn designed the wrought iron fence that surrounds a portion of the complex

The society owns and manages an island retreat on the St

Lawrence River known as Deer Island

About a century ago, Deer Island was home to softball fields that were surrounded by gooseberry bushes and lavish tennis courts

Stewards catered elegant meals for the society and cat boats wait on the lake to offer them a relaxing ride

Today, the picture is nowhere near as pleasantly painted

Even though it has become a tradition for every new member to visit Deer Island, the place is a shadow of its former self

It's been described by its members as just a bunch of burned-out stone buildings

Some have gone so far as to refer to it as being anywhere from ruins to a dump

Like other Yale senior societies, for much of its history, membership in Skull and Bones was almost completely limited to white Protestant males

Even though Yale had exclusionary policies in place, which were directed at particular religions and ethnic groups, their senior societies were even more exclusionary

Occasionally, a Catholic was able to join such groups, but Jews were more often unable

Some of those who were excluded eventually entered Skull and Bones through sports

In 1969, Yale became co-educational

This prompted some other secret societies like St

Anthony Hall to transition to co-ed membership

Skull and Bones remained entirely male until 1992

The Bones class of 1971 tried to suggest women for membership, but the move was opposed by Bones alumni

Bonesmen debated this issue for decades until 1991, when seven female members were tapped for membership in next year's class

This created a conflict with the alumni association, who then changed the locks on the tomb

With the Hall now off limits, Bonesmen were forced to meet in the manuscript society building

The dissident nearly ended with a male-in-vote by members, who decided by 368 to 320 to permit women into the society

After the vote, a group of alumni led by William F

Buckley was granted a temporary restraining order to block the move

Buckley argued that a formal change in bylaws was what was needed

Other alumni, like R

Rinsley Clark Jr

and John Kerry, spoke out in favor of admitting women

The dispute was covered in an editorial page of the New York Times

In October 1991, a second alumni vote agreed to accept the class of 1992 and the lawsuit was dropped

Chief research archivist at the Yale University Library, Judith Ann Schiff, once wrote, The names of its members weren't kept secret

This was an innovation of the 1970s, but its meetings and practices were

In 1985, an anonymous source leaked Skull and Bones' rosters to writer Anthony C


Membership information was kept privately for more than 15 years, and Sutton was afraid that the photocopied pages may identify the member who leaked the information

Sutton wrote a book on the group, entitled America's Secret Establishment, An Introduction to the Order of Skull and Bones

The data was reformatted as an appendix in the 2003 book, Fleshing Out Skull and Bones, a compilation edited by Chris Milligan

Skull and Bones were home to many prominent figures, such as former president William Howard Taft, former presidents and father and son George H


Bush and George W

Bush, former United States Secretary of State and former United States Senator John Kerry, Morgan Stanley co-founder Harold Stanley, and FedEx founder Frederick W

Smith are all said to have been members

In the 2004 United States presidential election, both the Republican and Democratic nominees were alumni of Skull and Bones

George W

Bush wrote in his autobiography, In my senior year I joined Skull and Bones, a secret society, so secret I can't say anything more

When asked what it meant that he and Bush were both bonesmen, former presidential candidate John Kerry said not much, because it's a secret

There are many mysterious things about Skull and Bones

For instance, the number 322 appears on their insignia

It is widely believed to be significant as the year of Greek orator Demosthenes' death

According to a letter between early society members in Yale's archives, 322 is a reference to the year 322 BC and that members measure dates from this year instead of from the common era

That was the year that the Lamian War ended with the death of Demosthenes and Athenians were made to dissolve their government and establish a plutocratic system in its stead

In this new society, only those possessing 2,000 drachmas or more could remain citizens

Documents in the tomb have been found dated to Anno Demosthenes

It suggests that members measure the time of day according to a clock five minutes out of sync with standard time

This has become known throughout the Skull and Bones as barbarian time

Another legend suggests that the numbers in the Skull and Bones emblem represent founded in 32 II Corps in reference to the First Corps in an unknown German university

Members of Skull and Bones are given nicknames such as Long Devil for the tallest member

The majority of the chosen names are taken from literature like Hamlet, Uncle Remus, Myth and Religion

The society has a reputation for stealing keepsakes from other campus buildings and other Yale societies

Members refer to this practice as crooking and continuously try to outdo each other's crooks

Over the years Skull and Bones has been accused of crooking some genuine oddities like the stolen skulls of Pancho Villa, Martin Van Buren and Geronimo

Rumors abound about the club

It has been featured in movies and books that claim that it plays a role in a global conspiracy for world dominance

Skull and Bones are rumored to be a branch of the Illuminati and some say that they may even control the Central Intelligence Agency

No one outside of the group knows the truth and they are not talking to anyone

Our next group is so elite that they even have that word in their moniker, the Power Elite

An American sociologist named Charles Wright Mills used the term Power Elite to describe a small, loosely connected group of individuals who control American policymaking

This Power Elite is said to include intellectual, corporate, media, bureaucratic, military and government elites who have ultimate control of the principal institutions in the United States and whose actions and opinions influence policymakers' decisions

How does one become a member of the Power Elite? As the name suggests, it's all about having power

Mainly institutional power within a prominent public or private organization

A study of the United States Society has suggested the demographic characteristics of this elite group

The age of a Power Elite member is usually about 50 years old and up

Corporate leaders are about 60 years old

Elite heads of foundations, law, education and civic organizations aged around 62 years old

And elite government employees are about 56 years old

Men make up 80% and women account for 20% of the political realm

White Anglo-Saxons dominate in the Power Elite

Protestants represent about 80% of the top business leaders and about 73% of Congress members

Almost all of the leaders have a college education with nearly half graduating with advanced degrees

About 54% of the big business leaders and 42% of the government elite graduated from just 12 prestigious universities with large endowments

The majority of top position holders in the Power Elite enjoy exclusive membership to at least one social club

About a third belong to a small number of especially prestigious clubs in major cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, London and Washington DC

One of the most infamous gatherings of secret societies is the Bilderberg meeting, an annual conference established back in the year 1954 to help foster dialogue between North America and Europe

The group's plan, initially to prevent another world war, is now defined as bolstering a consensus around free market Western capitalism and its interests around the globe

Participants in the Bilderberg meeting include industry experts, political leaders, academia and the media, numbering between 120 and 150 participants

Attendees are permitted to use any information they gather at meetings but never say where they got it

This practice of secrecy is to encourage open debate whilst allowing attendees their privacy

It's this provision that's fueled conspiracy theories from both the right and the left in the world of politics

The first Bilderberg meeting was held in 1954 at the Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeek, Netherlands from May 29th until May 31st

The session was initiated by several people who were concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism in Western Europe

They proposed an international conference at which leaders from the United States and European countries would be brought together to promote Atlanticism

What's that? Atlanticism is a better understanding between the cultures of the United States and Western Europe to foster cooperation on political, economic and defense issues

The meeting was a great success and as a result, the organizers decided to hold the conference annually

A permanent steering committee was put into place and Polish scholar and international political activist Jozef Hieronym-Retinger was appointed permanent secretary

The steering committee also maintained a register of attendees' names and contact details to create an informal network of individuals who could call upon one another in a private capacity

Over the following three years, conferences were held in Denmark, France and Germany

In 1957, the first United States conference took place on St

Simons Island, Georgia with $30,000 contributed by the Ford Foundation

Ford also supplied funding for the 1959 and 1963 Bilderberg meetings

The Bilderberg Group has been criticized for its lack of transparency and accountability

The undisclosed nature of the proceedings and all of the secrecy surrounding them has sparked many conspiracy theories in the political arena

Some of the left accuse the Bilderberg Group of conspiring to impose capitalist domination

In contrast, some on the right have accused the Group of conspiring to impose a world government and planned economy

In 2005, Bilderberg chairman Viscount Davignon talked about the accusations of the Group striving for a one-world government with the BBC

Davignon stated, It is unavoidable and it doesn't matter

There will always be people who believe in conspiracies, but things happen in a much more incoherent fashion

When people say this is a secret government of the world, I say that if we were a secret government of the world, we should be bloody ashamed of ourselves

In 1996, Mike Peters of Leeds Metropolitan University wrote one of the most concise academic papers critical of Bilderberg's deep state role in influencing geopolitical events out of the public spotlight

Entitled The Bilderberg Group and the Project for European Unification, Peters expresses astounding disbelief that few academics have examined the Bilderberg Group's international financial and political lobbying clout

Peters' paper takes a look at the links between the post-war effort for a united Europe and specific individuals who are connected with the Bilderberg Group

Investigative journalist Chip Burlitt argued in his 1994 report Right Woo's Left, published by the Political Research Associates, that right-wing populist conspiracy theories about the Bilderberg Group date back as early as 1964

According to Burlitt, many of these conspiracy theories can be found in Phyllis Schlafly's self-published book, A Choice, Not an Echo

Schlafly's book promoted a conspiracy theory in which the Republican Party was secretly controlled by elite intellectuals dominated by members of the Bilderberg Group

Their internationalist policies would pave the way for world communism

In August 2010, Daniel Esterlin's 2006 book, The Secrets of the Bilderberg Club, was cited by former Cuban President Fidel Castro when he wrote a controversial article for the Cuban Communist Party newspaper, Granmar

In his article, Castro describes sinister cliques and the Bilderberg lobbyists who were manipulating the public to install a world government that knows no borders and is not accountable to anyone but its own self

Advocates of Bilderberg conspiracy theories in the United States include individuals and groups such as the John Birch Society, writer Jim Tucker, political activist Phyllis Schlafly, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, political activist Lyndon LaRouche, and politician Jesse Ventura, who made the Bilderberg Group a topic of a 2009 episode of his True TV series, Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura

Non-American proponents include British politician Nigel Farage and Lithuanian writer Daniel Esterlin

Concerns about lobbying continue to rise

Author Iain N

Richardson sees the Bilderberg Group as the transnational power elite, an integral and to some extent critical part of the existing system of global governance that is not acting in the interests of the whole

We may never know what the Bilderberg Group is really about

One thing is for sure, its membership is not talking

Another group that has managed to capture the imaginations of the world for their secretive ways are the Freemasons

Freemasonry has long been the subject of many conspiracy theories over the years

Freemasonry or masonry is made up of fraternal organizations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons, that regulated the qualifications of stonemasons, and their interaction with authorities and clients during the 14th century

Modern Freemasonry primarily consists of two main recognition groups

Regular Freemasonry insists that a volume of scripture be open in a working lodge, that every member professes belief in a supreme being, that no women be admitted, and that the discussion of religion and politics be banned

Continental Freemasonry is now the general term for the jurisdictions which have removed some or all of these restrictions

The primary local organizational unit of Freemasonry is the Lodge

Private lodges are normally supervised at the regional level by a Grand Orient or Grand Lodge

There is no international worldwide Grand Lodge that manages all of Freemasonry

Each Grand Lodge is independent, and they do not necessarily recognize each other as being legitimate

The degrees of Freemasonry retain the three grades of medieval craft guilds, those of apprentice, journeyman, and master mason

The candidate of these three degrees is progressively taught the meanings of the symbols of Freemasonry, and entrusted with signs, grips, and words to signify to other members that he's been initiated

The degrees are part lecture and part of an allegorical morality play

Three degrees are offered by craft Freemasonry, and members of any of these degrees are known as Freemasons or Masons

There are other degrees that vary with jurisdiction and locality, and are typically given out by their specific bodies

Since the middle of the 19th century, Masonic historians have searched for the origins of the movement in a series of documents called the Old Charges

These searches date back to a 1425 Regius poem

Until the beginning of the 18th century, the Old Charges allude to the membership of a lodge of operative Masons

Historians related to a mythologized history of the craft, detailing how oaths of fidelity are taken upon joining, and the duties of its grades

These documents also indicate that the first evidence of ceremonial regalia can also be traced back to the 15th century

There's no precise mechanism that illustrates how these local trade organizations evolved into today's Masonic lodges

The oldest passwords and rituals are known from operative lodges around the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries

They show continuity with the Masonic rituals, which developed in the later 18th century by those members who did not practice the physical craft

These members became known as speculative Masons

The minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh, also known as Mary's Chapel, number one in Scotland, shows continuity from a functioning 1598 lodge to a modern speculative lodge

It should be noted that Mary's Chapel is reputed to be the oldest Masonic lodge in the world

In addition to that, author Thomas de Quincey put forward the theory in his work, Rosicrucians and Freemasonry, which suggests that Freemasonry could be a byproduct of Rosicrucianism

Rosicrucianism is a spiritual and cultural movement that gained momentum in Europe in the early 17th century after the publication of several texts which announced the existence of an unknown esoteric order to the world

Quincey says that seeking its knowledge from a hidden order seemed very attractive to people, and that's why the Freemasons flourished in popularity

German professor J


Buller made this very same argument in 1803

The first Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster, later called the Grand Lodge of England, was founded on St

John's Day, June 24, 1717, when four existing London lodges met for a joint dinner

Many English lodges joined the new regulatory body, which itself entered a period of self-publicity and expansion

However, many lodges couldn't endorse the changes that some lodges of the Grand Lodge of England made to this ritual

As a result, these lodges formed a rival Grand Lodge on July 17, 1751

It was called the Ancient Grand Lodge of England

These two Grand Lodges battled for supremacy until the moderns promised to return to the ancient ritual

On December 27, 1813, they came together to form the United Grand Lodge of England

The Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Grand Lodge of Scotland were formed in 1725 and 1736 respectively

They were unsuccessful in persuading existing lodges in their countries to join for a very long time

Freemasonry began to spread to the Western world

The earliest known American lodges were in Pennsylvania

The collector for the Port of Pennsylvania, John Moore, wrote of attending lodges there in the year 1715, two years before the reputed creation of London's first Grand Lodge

The premier Grand Lodge of England appointed a provincial Grand Master for North America in the year 1731 based in Pennsylvania

This led to the formation of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania

In Canada, Nova Scotia Council member Erasmus James Phillips became a Freemason whilst working on a commission to resolve boundaries in New England

During the year 1739, he became the provincial Grand Master for Nova Scotia and went on to form Canada's first Masonic Lodge in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

Other lodges in the colony of Pennsylvania received authorizations from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and ancient Grand Lodge of England, which was well represented in the British Army's traveling lodges

Many lodges began life without a warrant from any Grand Lodge

They would apply and pay for their authorization only after being confident of their survival

Following the American Revolution, independent United States Grand Lodges began popping up in each state

Some thought was given briefly to organizing a Grand Lodge of the United States

Virginian Lodge George Washington would have served as the first Grand Master, but the idea was short-lived

The various state Grand Lodges didn't want to diminish their authority by agreeing to such a body

Was there any racial divide within the Freemason society? Prince Hall was a leader and an abolitionist in Boston's free black community

He went on to found Prince Hall Freemasonry on September 29, 1784

The United Grand Lodge of England had no problem recognizing the Prince Hall Grand Lodges

However, due to widespread racial segregation of 19th and early 20th century North America, it was difficult for African Americans to join lodges outside of Prince Hall jurisdictions

It was also impossible for inter-jurisdiction recognition between the parallel United States Masonic authorities

These discriminations became a thing of the past in the 1980s

Today, most of the United States Grand Lodges recognize their Prince Hall counterparts, and the bodies of both traditions are currently working towards full recognition

Whilst celebrating their heritage as lodges of black Americans, Prince Hall is open to all men regardless of race or religion

What about women? Could they join the Freemasons? The answer to this is complicated

The status of women in corporations and the old guilds of medieval masons remains a bit of a mystery

The principle of femme sole allowed widows to continue the trade of their former husbands

The law of femme sole varied locally, such as limited business by deputations or approved members of that body or full membership of a trade body

In masonry, there's little available evidence that points to the less empowered end of the scale

During the 1720s at the dawn of the Grand Lodge era, James Anderson composed the first printed constitutions for Freemasons

They became the basis for most subsequent structures, and they specifically excluded women from Freemasonry

As Freemasonry began spreading, continental masons started to include women in what were known as lodges of adoption, which worked three degrees with the same names as the men's but with different content

The French officially abandoned the experiment in the early 19th century

Later, organizations with a similar aim emerged in the United States but distinguished the names of the degrees from those of male masonry

A woman named Maria de Rasmus was initiated into Freemasonry in the year 1882, then resigned so her lodge could rejoin the Grand Lodge

Having failed to achieve acceptance from any masonic governing body, she and Freemason George Martin founded the first mixed-sex lodge in the year 1893

It was known as the Grand Lodge Symbolique Ecossais, Le Troît Humain

British socialist, theosophist, women's rights activist, writer, orator, educationist and philanthropist Annie Besant spread this phenomenon throughout the English-speaking world

Disagreements over ritual led to the formation of exclusively female bodies of Freemasons in England

These female-specific lodges quickly spread to other countries

Meanwhile, the French had reinvented adoption as an all-female lodge in the year 1901 only to cast it aside again in the year 1935

Still, the lodges continued to meet and by the year 1959, there was a body of women who were practicing continental Freemasonry

In general, continental Freemasonry is sympathetic to Freemasonry amongst women

From the 1890s when French lodges assisted the emergent co-masonic movement by promoting enough of their members to the 33rd degree of the ancient and accepted Scottish right to allow them in 1899 to form their grand council recognized by the other continental ground councils of that right

The United Grand Lodge of England made a statement in the year 1999 which identified the two women's grand lodges to be regular in all but the participants

Whilst they weren't recognized as regular, they were part of Freemasonry in general

The attitude of nearly all regular Anglo-American grand lodges remains that women Freemasons are not legitimate masons

What about transgender men or women? In the year 2018, guidance was released by the United Grand Lodge of England concerning transgender women

It stated that a Freemason who after initiation ceases to be a man does not cease to be a Freemason

The guidance also says that transgender men are free to apply to become Freemasons

Not everyone thought Freemasonry was a good thing

Anti-masonry, also known as anti-Freemasonry, has been defined as opposition to Freemasonry but there is no anti-masonic movement with a single set of beliefs

Anti-masonry is made up of widely differing criticisms from different and frequently incompatible groups who are averse to Freemasonry in some way, shape or form

Critics include political groups, religious groups and conspiracy theorists, particularly those touting the Judeo-Masonic conspiracy theory and other Masonic conspiracy theories

Certain prominent anti-Masons, like an English far-right conspiracy theorist Nester Helen Webster, have exclusively condemned continental Masonry whilst at the same time regarding regular Masonry as an honorable association

There have been many exposés and damning disclosures dating as far back as the 18th century

However, they frequently lack content and may be outdated for various reasons

Some are believed to be outright hoaxes on the part of the author

These hoaxes and exposés have often become the basis for the criticism of Masonry

They are usually religious or political or based on suspicion of corrupt conspiracy of some form or another

It was political opposition that sprang up after the American Morgan Affair of 1826, a point in time where the influence of Freemasonry in government was greatly diminished, which gave rise to the term anti-Masonry

The name is still used in America today as a self-descriptor by the critics themselves and Masons referring to their critics

Freemasonry has attracted criticism from organized religions and theocratic states because of its supposed competition with religion or alleged deviation from accepted or orthodox standards or beliefs within the fraternity itself

It has long been the target of conspiracy theories which tout Freemasonry to be an evil or occult power

Although members of various faiths have voiced their objections, certain Christian denominations have maintained high-profile negative attitudes to Masonry, going so far as to ban members should they become Freemasons

The Catholic Church is the denomination with the farthest reaching history of objection to Freemasonry

They base their objections on the allegation that Masonry teaches a naturalistic deistic religion that comes in conflict with Church doctrine

Many papal pronouncements have been issued against Freemasonry

The first was Pope Clement XII's In Eminenti Apostolatus on April 28, 1738

And the most recent was Pope Leo XIII's Ab Apostolici on October 15, 1890

The 1917 Code of Canon Law explicitly declared that joining Freemasonry would result in the banning of books in favor of Freemasonry, along with automatic excommunication

In the year 1983, the Church issued a new Code of Canon Law

Unlike its predecessor, the 1983 Code of Canon Law didn't explicitly name Masonic orders amongst the secret societies it condemns

It states, a person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty

One who promotes or takes office in such an association is to be punished with an interdict

This named omission of Masonic orders caused both Catholics and Freemasons to believe that the ban on Catholics becoming Freemasons may have been lifted, especially after the perceived liberalization of Vatican II

The matter was later clarified when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became known as Pope Benedict XVI, as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a declaration on Masonic associations which states, the Church's negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church, and therefore membership in them remains forbidden

The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion

On the other side of the spectrum, Freemasonry has never objected to Catholics becoming a part of their fraternity

Those Grand Lodges in solidarity with United Grand Lodge of England deny the Church's claims

The United Grand Lodge of England now states that Freemasonry does not seek to replace a Mason's religion or provide a substitute for it

In contrast to Catholic allegations of naturalism and rationalism, Protestant objections are more likely to be based on claims of occultism, mysticism and even Satanism

Masonic scholar Albert Pike is frequently quoted, and in some cases misquoted, by Protestant anti-Masons as an authority for Masonry's position on these issues

However, Pike was never a spokesman for Freemasonry and was believed to be a controversial individual amongst Freemasons in general

His writings only represented his personal opinion and a grounded belief in the understandings and attitudes of late 19th century Southern Freemasonry of the United States

His own Grand Lodge wrote a disclaimer for the preface of one of his books

To date, no one voice has ever spoken for the entirety of Freemasonry

It's doubtful anyone ever will

The founder of the Free Methodist Church, B


Roberts, was a vocal opponent of Freemasonry during the mid-19th century

He opposed the society on moral grounds and once stated that the God of the Lodge is not the God of the Bible

Roberts believed Freemasonry was an alternate religion or some bedeviled mystery

He often encouraged his church to not lend their support to ministers who were Freemasons

Freedom from secret societies is one of the frees upon which the Free Methodist Church was founded

Many bishops of the Church of England have been Freemasons since the founding of Freemasonry

In the past, few members of the Church of England would have seen any discrepancy in simultaneously adhering to Anglican Christianity and practicing Freemasonry

However, in recent decades, reservations about Freemasonry have increased within Anglicanism

This may be due to the increasing stature of the Church's evangelical wing


Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, appeared to have some reservations regarding Masonic ritual whilst being anxious to avoid offending Freemasons inside and outside the Church of England

In the year 2003, he felt it necessary to apologize to British Freemasons after saying that their beliefs were incompatible with Christianity and that he had barred the appointment of Freemasons to senior posts in his diocese whilst serving as Bishop of Monmouth

In the year 1933, the Orthodox Church of Greece officially declared that being a Freemason is just like a renunciation of a religious belief

Until he repents, any people involved with Freemasonry will be unable to partake of the Holy Eucharist

This belief has been affirmed throughout the entirety of the Eastern Orthodox Church

The Orthodox critique of Freemasonry agrees with both the Protestant and Catholic versions

That is, Freemasonry cannot be at all compatible with Christianity as far as it is a secret organization, acting and teaching in mystery and secret and deifying rationalism

Regular Freemasonry has traditionally not responded to these claims, beyond the frequently repeated statement that those Grand Lodges in solidarity with United Grand Lodge of England explicitly adhere to the principle that Freemasonry is not a religion, nor a substitute for religion

There is no separate Masonic deity and there is no separate proper name for a deity in Freemasonry

Christian men who were discouraged from becoming Freemasons by their churches and those who wanted a more religious society joined similar fraternal organizations like the Loyal Orange Institution for Protestant Christians or the Knights of Columbus for Catholic Christians

However, these fraternal organizations have been organized in part on the style of and use many symbols of Freemasonry

Many Islamic anti-Masonic arguments are closely tied to both anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism

However, other criticisms are made, like linking the practice of Freemasonry to the false Messiah in Islamic scripture, al-Masih ad-Dajjal

Some Muslim anti-Masons argue that Freemasonry promotes that aim to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a means to rebuild the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem and bolster the interests of the Jews all over the world

In Article 28 of its Covenant, Hamas says that Rotary, Freemasonry and other groups with shared beliefs work in the interest of Zionism and according to its instructions

A lot of countries with majority Muslim populations don't allow Masonic establishments within their borders

However, countries like Turkey and Morocco have established grand lodges, whilst in Lebanon and Malaysia, district grand lodges are functioning under a warrant from an established grand lodge

In Pakistan during the 70s, Zulfiqa Ali Bhutto, then the Prime Minister of Pakistan, placed a ban on Freemasonry

The government confiscated lodge buildings

Masonic lodges existed in Iraq as early as 1917, when the first lodge under the United Grand Lodge of England opened

Nine lodges under the United Grand Lodge of England existed by the 50s and a Scottish lodge was formed in the year 1923

However, the position changed following the revolution and all lodges were forced to close in the year 1965

Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein later reinforced this position

The death penalty was prescribed for those who promote or acclaim Zionist principles, including Freemasonry, or who associate themselves with Zionist organisations

In the year 1799, English Freemasonry almost came to a dead stop because of the Parliamentary Proclamation

In the wake of the French Revolution, the Unlawful Societies Act banned any meetings of groups that required their members to take on an obligation or an oath

The grandmasters of both the ancient and modern grand lodges called upon non-Freemason Prime Minister William Pitt to explain to him that Freemasonry was a supporter of lawfully constituted authority and the law

They also made him aware of all of the charitable work that the group has done

As a result, Freemasonry was specifically exempted from the terms of the Act, provided that each private lodge's secretary placed with the local clerk of the peace a list of the members of his lodge once a year

This continued until 1967, when Parliament rescinded the obligation of the provision

Freemasonry in the United States faced political pressure following the 1826 kidnapping of William Morgan by Freemasons and his subsequent disappearance

In reports of the Morgan affair, together with opposition to prominent Mason, Andrew Jackson's Jacksonian democracy helped spark an anti-Masonic movement

The short-lived Anti-Masonic Party was formed, which fielded candidates for the presidential elections of 1828 and 1832

In Italy, Freemasonry is linked to a scandal concerning the propaganda due lodge, also known as P2

The Grande Oriente d'Italia chartered this lodge in 1877 as a lodge for visiting Masons who were unable to attend their main lodges

Under the influence of Italian financier and fascist, Liccio Gelli's leadership in the late 1970s, P2 became involved in the financial scandals that nearly bankrupted the Vatican Bank

However, by this time, the lodge was operating independently and irregularly, as the Grande Oriente revoked its charter and expelled Gelli in 1976

Conspiracy theorists have long associated Freemasonry with the New World Order and the Illuminati, and state that Freemasonry is either bent on world domination or already secretly in control of world politics

Historically, Freemasonry has attracted criticism and suppression from both the politically far-right and the far-left

Freemasonry is viewed with distrust even in some modern democracies

In the United Kingdom, Masons working in the justice system, such as judges and police officers, were, from the year 1999 to 2009, required to disclose their membership

Whilst a parliamentary inquiry found that there has been no evidence of wrongdoing, the government believed that Masons' potential loyalties to support fellow Masons should be transparent to the public

The policy of requiring a declaration of Masonic membership by applicants for judicial office, for example judges and magistrates, was ended in the year 2009 by Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who initiated these requirements in the 90s

Straw stated that the rule was thought to be disproportionate, since no impropriety or malpractice had been shown due to judges being Freemasons

Freemasonry is both successful and controversial in France

As of the early 21st century, membership is rising, but reporting in the popular media is often negative

In some countries, anti-Masonry is often related to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism

Professor Andrew Prescott of the University of Sheffield once wrote, since at least the time of the protocols of the elders of Zion, anti-Semitism has gone hand in hand with anti-Masonry, so it is not surprising that allegations that September 11th was a Zionist plot have been accompanied by suggestions that a Masonic world order inspired the attacks

The preserved records of the Reich Security Main Office show the persecution of Freemasons during the Holocaust

Written documents that were overseen by Nazi official Professor Franz VI mentioned ideological tasks, which meant the creation of anti-Semitic and anti-Masonic propaganda

Whilst the number of victims is not accurately known, historians estimate that between 80,000 and 200,000 Freemasons were put to death under the Nazi regime

Masonic concentration camp inmates were classified as political prisoners and wore an inverted red triangle

Hitler believed Freemasons had succumbed to Jews conspiring against Germany

The small blue forget-me-not flower was first used as a Masonic emblem by the Grand Lodge-sur-Saône in 1926 at the annual convention in Bremen, Germany

In 1938, a forget-me-not badge made by the same factory as the Masonic badge was chosen for the annual Nazi party Winterhillswerk, the annual charity drive of the National Socialist People's Welfare, the welfare branch of the Nazi party

This coincidence enabled Freemasons to wear the forget-me-not badge as a secret sign of membership

After the Second World War, the forget-me-not flower was used again as a Masonic emblem at the first annual convention of the United Grand Lodges of Germany in 1948

The badge is now worn in the coat lapel by Freemasons around the world to remember all who suffered in the name of Freemasonry

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