Is it Time to Lift the Veil of the Freemasonry?

Freemasonry is an example of how the government continues to take opportunities to criminalize secrecy, which their citizens then follow. Humans have always been scared of the unknown and what it can offer.

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Italian banker Roberto Calvi was found hanging on the Blackfriars Bridge in London on July 17, 1982. Calvi had been the chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, an Italian bank that had collapsed four years prior because of illegal currency dealings. The Roman Catholic Church had been a heavy endorser of the bank and faced large losses. When the coroner declared that Calvi had not committed suicide, but had been murdered, many suspicions were pointed at the Mafia and the Freemasons. The latter theory seemed more relevant, as Calvi at the time was the Grandmaster, or the head, of a notorious Masonic lodge called P2, or Propaganda Due. In fact, the Freemasons have been linked to multiple scandals in the past, mainly because they have remained largely unknown due to their oath of secrecy.

The Freemasons are one of the oldest brotherhoods in the world, but one of the things that sets them apart from other fraternities is they have no standardized beliefs. This is because in the Freemasonry, the leaders refuse to have an oligarch who unifies all the lodges and their beliefs together. Furthermore, the lodge leaders don’t tell their members what to think about Freemasonry, preferring freedom of opinion to standardized teaching.

When masons are asked how they define freemasonry, they call it “a peculiar system of morality with strange symbols.” Many outsiders have compared freemasonry to religion, as there are many similarities, such as there being a hierarchical leadership system. But there are also key differences, like the masons’ lack of willingness to openly encourage others to become a mason. Yet when it is compared to religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, freemasonry is discriminated against in different ways, as less is known about it.

Instead, Freemasonry is often criminalized by the government, influencing the general public to do the same. Governments have never liked hidden groups that could have some influence in regulating the people, as they create the possibility of citizens rebelling. Historical precedent supports this, as powerful revolutionary and political figures such as George Washington, Simón Bolívar, and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (the founder of Turkey) have been contributing masons. Because of the potential danger that the freemasons could bring, the government uses the masons’ secrecy to their advantage by spreading propaganda that creates fear toward masons. During WWII, Hitler sent 200,000 troops to kill Freemasons, and the masons were criminalized along with the Jews. Hitler claimed that the Freemasons were part of a movement with the Jews and were one of the reasons that they had lost WWI. An Islamic movement in 1998 claimed that the Freemasons were all part of a large conspiracy that wanted to control the world. The fear that the government initiates feeds conspiracy theories and further accentuates citizens’ fear of the unknown.

Furthermore, people tend to model whatever emotions the government models. One example is Kevin McNeil-Smith, who runs a website called Freemasonry Watch, dedicated to conspiracy theories and alleged explanations of political scandals. He is one of the many examples of paranoia that has developed around the Freemasons. When people refuse to take responsibility for their actions, secrecy is immediately blamed, and this is the case of Roberto Calvi’s death. Since no one had immediately stepped forward to offer an explanation to the government, media, and general public about why Calvi was killed, the curious public decided to blame the two most secretive groups prominent in Italy: the Mafia and the Masons.

The media began supporting the stigma around Freemasonry in early 2004 due to an unfortunate shooting incident during an initiate ceremony. A New York Masonic lodge had been situated inside a bar, and many of the people at the bar would often volunteer to help the masons with new-initiate ceremonies. In one case, the new initiate was supposed to stand in front of a ledge of cans, and a person at the bar would shoot blanks at the cans. But instead, the person pulled out a loaded gun and actually shot the mason. The media took advantage of the incident to denounce the Freemasons, but the general public didn’t know that the entire incident had been misconstrued.

In fact, real Masonic rituals do not involve shooting loaded guns, and the lodge’s master did not disclose as to why the man had shot a loaded gun rather than the unfilled gun.

Even in the current age, the media plays a prominent role in forming people’s opinions the freemasons. A 2015 BBC documentary about Freemasonry only sparked further insults against the masons; the documentary itself seemed biased, over-dramatizing the situation and constantly repeating that it was a “secret” society, as if the only notable element about Freemasonry was that it remained unknown.

Yet modern Freemasons don’t enjoy living in a world where they are labeled as evil. In fact, English masons perform an annual public ceremony to prove that they aren’t evil. In the widely broadcasted ceremony, their higher Masons read speeches dedicated to the history of their founding and sing songs which resemble anthems. As stated by the Grandmaster, or the Duke of Kent, “People can see that our normal business is as we describe it, they may be persuaded to shed any unreasonable worries they still have.”

Secrecy is not an evil thing, but when one is secretive, humans tend to misinterpret the secrecy as a sign of guilt. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Freemasons should completely expose all of their secrets right away. A mason stated, “If everybody knew what a Freemason was without joining, what would be the point of joining?” As citizens ruled by a government, this does not mean that we should mirror the government’s beliefs. Instead of relying on conspiracy theories or skewed media coverage to provide ourselves with an explanation, we shouldn’t be scared to face the unknown and should look for the truth behind the unknown even if we do fear what we will find.