Conspiracy theory close the Freemasons points to the semisecretive nature of the scheme as well as the acknowledged political involvement of many of its members to back upward the allegation that the Freemasons are an extremely powerful as well as wealthy cabal of antireligious subversives who have got infiltrated trouble concern as well as authorities structures worldwide.
The history of Freemasonry tin live hard to trace, inward component division because many of the sources available are markedly biased. Masonic historians claim that exclusively Freemasons, who have got been initiated into the secrets of the order, tin accurately write its history as well as accuse that non-Masonic scholars are ofttimes swayed past times anti-Masonic sentiment.
Conversely, those who oculus conspiracy theories on Masonry struggle that Freemasons have got participated inward massive cover-ups of their ain activities, which brand the trouble of the “truth-seeking” historian arduous, if non perilous.
Both Masonic historians as well as many anti-Masonic conspiracy theorists assert that the roots of the monastic enjoin engagement dorsum to antiquity, though most third-party historians dispute this claim. The craftsmen’s guild on which the present-day fraternal society was based can, indeed, live traced dorsum to the medieval era.
Some of the fraternal society’s characteristic features, such every bit its ritual initiation as well as hugger-mugger signs of membership, tin also live accounted for past times the nature of masonry every bit a profession; members sought to protect their condition past times developing elaborate forms as well as rituals to ascertain eligibility as well as proclaim membership, as well as since masons tended to live itinerant laborers, they created signs, such every bit the muchtouted “secret handshake,” inward monastic enjoin to assure recognition of guild membership.
The mythology embraced past times Masonic tradition, however, reaches dorsum to a greater extent than than 5,000 years to encompass the architect of Solomon’s Temple, Hiram, who is said to have got been murdered because he would non let on the secrets of Masonry. Some historians also link the Freemasons to the Knights Templar, a crusading monastic monastic enjoin outlawed past times the papacy inward the fourteenth century.
While pro-Masonic historians tend to elaborate a long history of anti-Masonic persecution, conspiracy thinkers reckon inward the same narrative a history of hugger-mugger conspiratorial plots that occasionally come upward to light, but that have got never been fully exposed or interrupted.
Notwithstanding these competitor accounts of Freemasonry’s past, most historians exterior the debate empathize the fraternal monastic enjoin of Freemasons to have got emerged inward United Kingdom of Great Britain as well as Northern Ireland inward the early on eighteenth century.
These historians distinguish “nonoperative” or “speculative” Freemasonry every bit a fraternal monastic enjoin whose component division is primarily social, from the much older craftsmen’s guild that served professional person functions as well as which they term “operative” Masonry. “Nonoperative” Masons were attracted to the guild past times its combination of rationalist/scientific query as well as deep abide by for tradition as well as fellowship.
Eventually, every bit the guild scheme died out as well as every bit “speculative” membership grew, the scheme came nether the leadership of the nonoperatives as well as was transformed into the modern order. Membership of the Freemasons grew speedily inward the eighteenth century; the scheme spread across Europe as well as into the North American colonies, alongside the offset American lodges forming shortly after 1730.
Conspiratorial Accusations inward the Eighteenth Century
The offset century of Freemasonry saw explosive growth inward the popularity of the monastic enjoin on both the European as well as North American continents, fueled past times widespread involvement inward the Enlightenment ideas upon which the monastic enjoin based its cardinal tenets and, especially on the American continent, past times the perceived social advantages of membership.
As membership grew, as well as then did world suspicion of the order. As early on every bit the 1720s, charges of immorality as well as lewdness were levied against the Freemasons. Since the proceedings of Masonic gatherings were secret, nonmembers could non uncovering out what the organization really did during their meetings as well as dinners.
Critics claimed that Masons habitually overindulged inward alcohol, as well as many also insisted that the all-male meetings were footling to a greater extent than than majority orgies, at which sodomy as well as ritual flagellation were practiced. These complaints did not, inward themselves, amount to charges of conspiracy, although afterward conspiracy theories adapted as well as reiterated them.
The earliest joint of Freemasonry every bit a conspiracy came from the Roman Catholic Church, which claimed that the monastic enjoin intended to undermine the Church as well as its teachings. The Church’s organized opposition to Freemasonry began inward 1738, inward the shape of a papal bull issued past times Clement XII, which condemned Freemasonry as well as excommunicated all Masons. Numerous other bulls issued inward the next decades denounced the secretive practices of the monastic enjoin as well as declared it an enemy of Christianity.
Masonic chapters were also intermittently defendant of political conspiracy inward Europe. During the 1730s as well as 1740s, Masonic meetings were interrupted as well as fifty-fifty banned, as well as members of lodges were interrogated past times law inward Holland, France, as well as elsewhere, every bit nation forces came to suspect the scheme of subversive political aims as well as antiroyalist beliefs.
The Enlightenment ideals of religious pluralism as well as private freedom embraced past times the scheme increased church building as well as nation suspicion of Freemasonry inward the eighteenth century; it was argued that the conspiratorial actions of the grouping were exactly the logical extension of its radical philosophies.
Conspiracy thinking close Freemasonry on the American continent drew upon all of these charges, though early on American Freemasons tended to live the target of mockery to a greater extent than than of sustained investigation. In the offset one-half of the eighteenth century, American Masonic lodges, to a greater extent than often than non less concerned alongside Enlightenment thought than many European lodges, functioned primarily every bit social clubs.
Following the pattern set past times British lodges, they often rejected membership applications from individuals who did non brand an “independent” living, excluding a sizeable part of the colonial middle classes. After 1750, many of those rejected began to ready their ain Masonic lodges, known every bit “Ancient” Freemasons.
Members of these lodges were strongly inclined to the colonial cause, spell members of the older lodges (dubbed “Moderns” past times the “Ancients”) often tended to loyalism, though neither grouping took an official stance. Nevertheless, the Masonic affiliation of many key players during the American Revolution led the monastic enjoin to seat itself, inward the post-Revolutionary period, alongside the substance values of the novel Republic.
At the 1793 dedication of the U.S. Capitol, for instance, President George Washington wore Masonic garb as well as performed a modified Masonic ritual during the ceremony, assisted past times other Masonic brethren; a silvery plate set over the cornerstone located the dedication inward the 13th twelvemonth of American independence as well as the 5,793rd twelvemonth of Masonic history.
Conspiracy thinkers also indicate to the incorporation of Masonic symbolism inward the pattern of the Great Seal of the U.S.A. every bit proof that Freemasonic influence on authorities was pervasive inward this period; however, Freemasons deny that the all-seeing oculus atop the pyramid is a specifically Masonic symbol, although it resembles about pattern elements used past times Masons.
Even every bit Earth profile of U.S. Freemasonry improved inward the 1790s, the offset major moving ridge of conspiracy thinking close Masonry was cresting inward Europe. John Robison’s exposé, Proofs of a Conspiracy against All Religions as well as Governments of Europe, published inward 1798, set the blame for the French Revolution on the Freemasons, who, he claimed, had been thoroughly infiltrated as well as corrupted past times a supposedly atheistic hugger-mugger society known every bit the Illuminati, which was founded past times Adam Weishaupt, a Jesuit priest, inward 1776.
Weishaupt became a Freemason inward 1777 as well as believed that Freemasonry could assist him to spread Illuminati beliefs, which were based on Enlightenment thought. Those who raised the alert over the Illuminati charged that the extent to which they had infiltrated as well as transformed Masonry was unknown. Robison’s piece of employment raised an alert inward the United States.
Congregationalist government minister as well as Federalist supporter Jedidiah Morse was amidst those who publicly denounced the conspiracy, which he represented every bit a grave threat to the immature republic. Others, such every bit Timothy Dwight, president of Yale University, joined inward the growing alarm. Morse insisted he did non hateful to condemn all Freemasons; rather, he insisted, it was exclusively “Illuminized Masonry” that he meant to warn against.
Morse, a Federalist, claimed that the conspirators planned to brand inroads onto the American continent through the Jeffersonian party. Other Federalists took upward the charges, as well as fifty-fifty Masonic blood brother George Washington admitted to concern over the unsafe presence of “Illuminized Masonry” inward the United States.
Anti-Federalists denied links to hugger-mugger societies as well as responded alongside conspiracy charges of their own, such every bit Abraham Bishop, who, inward Proofs of a Conspiracy against Christianity, as well as the Government of the U.S.A. (1802), charged Robison alongside royalist sympathies as well as defendant his supporters of seeking to undermine U.S. democracy.
“Illuminized” Masonry remains a cardinal subject inward present-day conspiracy theory close the Freemasons, but the Federalist-era disceptation did non tarnish the icon of Freemasonry amidst most members of the post-Revolutionary middle as well as elite classes. On the contrary, the upper levels of U.S. society, as well as those who aspired to bring together them, were increasingly drawn to Freemasonry.
The rigid identification of the monastic enjoin alongside key American values enhanced Freemasonry’s popularity inward the post-Revolutionary United States; fifty-fifty to a greater extent than importantly, the monastic enjoin served increasingly useful networking functions inward a acre that was actively rebuilding its ain political as well as social infrastructure. Masonic membership was associated alongside condition as well as power; accordingly, those seeking condition as well as ability also sought to travel Masons.
The identification of the Masonic monastic enjoin alongside the nation’s most powerful as well as influential citizens drew increasing suspicion inward the offset component division of the nineteenth century, culminating inward the offset national anti-Masonic motion inward the belatedly 1820s as well as early on 1830s.
In contrast to the alert raised inward the wake of Robison’s book, which, for the most part, confined itself to members of the clergy as well as authorities officials, the anti-Masonic motion of this menstruation was a truly populist movement.
The motion was touched off past times the abduction as well as suspected murder of William Morgan, who was inward the procedure of publishing an exposé of Freemasonry, inward 1826. When his abductors received low-cal sentences, many charged that a cover-up was inward process.
The reformist motion that developed inward the wake of the Morgan thing claimed that Freemasons were anti-Christian as well as antidemocratic, that they deliberately sought ability as well as conspired to elevate the social seat of Masons, as well as that, if unchecked, their growth would have got disastrous consequences for the immature nation.
They supported this claim past times pointing out that hugger-mugger societies were on the rise; for instance, a Massachusetts congregationalist, the Reverend Peter Sanborn, argued inward 1829 that a hugger-mugger alliance existed betwixt Freemasons as well as Phi Beta Kappa. Noting that upward to a tertiary of college-educated men were yearly inducted into the hugger-mugger accolade society, Sanborn argued that a subversive plot supported past times educated youth as well as well-placed older Masons would destroy the nation. In response, inward 1831 Phi Beta Kappa abandoned its hugger-mugger practices.
The anti-Masonic motion also argued that Freemasonry undermined spousal human relationship past times forcing husbands to maintain secrets from wives, who were non allowed to have got component division inward Masonic proceedings. Women, alienated past times the all-male order, joined the anti-Masonic motion inward meaning numbers.
Suspicion of Masonic practices led to the formation of an Anti-Masonic Party, the offset major independent U.S. tertiary party, inward 1827. The political party held its offset national convention inward 1830 as well as inward 1832 ran a candidate for president against the Masonic incumbent, Andrew Jackson. After 1833, the political party withdrew every bit an active forcefulness inward national politics, focusing on nation as well as local-level campaigns. The motion continued to decline inward the belatedly 1830s as well as the political party had disbanded past times 1843.
During the years of the anti-Masonic crusade as well as its aftermath, national membership inward the Freemasons declined significantly, as well as the menstruation saw the formation of a number of competitor fraternal organizations such every bit the Odd Fellows. However, past times the 1850s, Masonic membership was over again on the rise. During this decade as well as especially after the Civil War, the Freemasons reformed their reputation as well as regained much of their old prestige.
Changes inward the organization’s self-presentation implicitly addressed about of the charges of conspiracy thinkers; the novel Masonry professed Christianity, refuting claims that they sought to undermine organized religion, as well as countered claims of self-interest as well as greed past times actively promoting charity. Masons also responded to the long-standing objections to the all-male nature of the society past times forming a woman somebody order, the Order of the Eastern Star, inward 1869.
In 1867, the National Christian Association revived conspiracy charges against the Masons; their crusade led to the presidential candidacy of General John Wolcott Phelps on an anti-Masonic platform inward 1880. Phelps performed real poorly inward the polls, receiving exclusively a few hundred votes. After this campaign, anti-Masonic groups avoided electoral politics. Conspiracy charges against the Freemasons, however, travel on until the introduce day.
Conspiracy theory close the Freemasons to a greater extent than often than non does non straight engage the legacy of the Prince Hall Freemasons, an African American Masonic scheme founded inward Boston inward 1775. The African American lodge received its charter from the British Grand Lodge during the American Revolution; after the Revolution, other U.S. lodges refused to recognize the group, ostensibly on the grounds that it was non “regular” because it had been chartered past times a unusual power.
Racist as well as segregationist catch amidst many members of the Freemasons, especially inward southern lodges, prevented their recognition of the Prince Hall order; this nonrecognition lasted inward many cases until the 1990s. Prince Hall Masonry is rarely charged alongside the form of far-reaching influence as well as subversive aims of Freemasonry inward general; many conspiracy theories produce non fifty-fifty bring upward its existence.
Christian conspiracy theorists inward detail travel on to struggle that the group’s agenda is both antiChristian as well as antidemocratic. Late twentieth- as well as early on twenty-first-century conspiracy theorists reckon Freemasons every bit the key to the New World Order conspiracy. Others allege that the grouping is satanic, that it worships a goat-headed Luciferian god known every bit Baphomet, as well as that it is actively involved inward plots to covert upward UFO discoveries.
Freemasonry has been tapped every bit component division of the conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy, as well as also plays a key role inward conspiracy thinking close the Oklahoma City bombing and, to a greater extent than recently, the bombings of the World Trade Center as well as Pentagon on September 11.
In add-on to forming the oculus of many conspiracy theories, Freemasonry, every bit ane of the oldest U.S. conspiracy theories, also acts every bit an index of thinking close conspiracy. Anti-Masonic catch inward full general as well as the anti-Masonic political motion inward detail have got been cited past times mid-twentiethcentury political theorists every bit a key instance of the “paranoid style” inward U.S. politics.
These scholars struggle that such large-scale suspicion of the Freemasons, a harmless fraternal organization, reflected U.S. xenophobia as well as anxiety. More recently, about populist historians of the menstruation have got suggested that, inward fact, many Masons did possess a groovy bargain of influence as well as often used it nepotistically, if non conspiratorially.
Since the post-Revolutionary era saw a concentration of ability as well as wealth amidst the U.S. upper classes, they observe, antebellum anxiety close Masonry reflected non paranoid suspicion but a well-founded as well as legitimate concern over the unequal distribution of wealth as well as ability inward the republic.