Misrepresentations of Freemasonry


MISREPRESENTATIONS OF FREEMASONRY
S. Brent Morris, 33*




Recent anonymous postings ("Masonry FAQ: Blasted to Bits," "Secrets and
Secrecy," and others, all by Enchanter!) to several newsgroups
attempted to portray the Masonic fraternity as an "evil force which is
permeating every corner of our society." The documents are filled with
misunderstandings, misstatements, and deceptive half-truths. I read the
various BBS irregularly and cannot post directly to any of them. Thus
my response is delayed, for which I apologize.


The Difficulty of Dialog

Enchanter! has established an interesting logical system in which he
conducts his inquisition. It enables him to accept any "evidence" that
suits him, and ignore what doesn't. Non-Masons who question him are
dismissed for not being "real 33rd degree Masons."

   May I ask you Mr. Billman, what degree Mason are you? If you are
   less than a 33rd degree Mason, does it not make sense that I should
   accept the opinions of a real 33rd Mason over yours on this
   subject?

Then any response from a Mason is similarly dismissed because the
author defines them to be unreliable.

   You obviously are a Mason, and therefore have taken vows to uphold
   certain secrets, even if it means telling lies.

I have neither the time for nor interest in changing the author's
opinion of Freemasonry. It may be instructive, however, to catalog some
of his inaccuracies as a caution to other, interested readers.


The Fundamental Misunderstanding

The first and most fundamental misunderstanding of the document is that
the Scottish Rite Supreme Councils and "real 33rd Degree Masons"
somehow control Freemasonry. The author seems fixated on 33rd Degree
Masons and quotes their writings religiously. As an example of the
confusion, the original posting said, "Masonry is a two-faced preditor
[sic], just as the Masonic icon of the two-headed eagle indicates." The
author later acknowledged that the eagle is a symbol of the Scottish
Rite, and not of Freemasonry, but the basic confusion of control
persists throughout.

   Any discussion of Masonic government must start and end with one
   essential fact: all Masonic authority originates in a Grand Lodge.
   The Masonic Service Association of the United States (M.S.A.) has no
   authority over Grand Lodges. No Supreme council, no respected
   author, nor any other group or person speaks for or controls
   Masonry; that prerogative rests solely with the Grand lodges. Anyone
   doubting this need only check the cases when Grand Lodges have
   closed down the Scottish Rite, the Shrine, and other appendant
   Masonic bodies in their states or suspended or expelled their "high
   officials." It is a rare but powerful reminder of who is in charge.

   (Art deHoyos and S. Brent Morris, "Is it True What They Say About
   Freemasonry?" (Silver Spring, Md.: M.S.A., 1994), pp. 1-2. Available
   via anonymous ftp to 'ftp.netcom.com' and CD to
   'pub/rogeri/freemasonry')

A 33rd Degree Mason does not necessarily have more knowledge or speak
more authoritatively than other Masons. One might as well assume that
Eagle Scouts know more about Scouting policy and history than anyone
else or that a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of a University is a more
reliable source for university plans and policy than a dean. Scouting
does not work this way; universities do not work this way; and
Freemasonry does not work this way.

The author asks, "Is the author of the FAQ a 33rd degree Mason?" "If
not, then it would seems to me that Pike stands as a better authority
on issues such as the Occult Sciences and Lucifer." Following this
logic, Bishop John Spong of the Episcopal Church should be a better
authority on issues of Christian doctrine than most other Christians.
He was ordained in direct apostolic succession from Jesus Christ.  He
questions the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus, however, among
other doctrines.

Does Bishop Spong speak for all Christians? Does he speak for all
Episcopalians or even just those within his diocese? Anyone believing
any of this does understands neither Protestant Christianity nor the
politics of the Episcopal Church. The author similarly misunderstands
Freemasonry.

Dr. Robert A. Morey, a Christian critic of Freemasonry, nicely
summarized the efforts of many writers on Masonry.

   Most anti-Masonic writers are far too gullible in believing the
   extravagant claims of overzealous, misinformed, or devious Masonic
   writers who have not done Freemasonry a favor by making outlandish
   statements which provided much fodder for the guns of anti-Masons.

   Too many masonic writers have arrogantly claimed that they speak for
   the whole Craft when they give their personal interpretation of the
   origin and symbols of Freemasonry.

   (Robert A. Morey, _The Truth About Masons_ (Eugene, Oreg.: Harvest
   House Publishers, 1993), p. 21.)


The Source of Accurate Information

Every Grand Lodge in the United States publishes annual "Transactions"
or "Proceedings" which detail the motions, debates, and business
conducted at their meetings. Grand Lodges print and widely distribute
hundreds of copies of their proceedings. These are not secret and can
be read at the Grand Lodges or in the larger Masonic libraries. Annual
transactions are the source for accurate, official actions of any Grand
Lodge. A further source of information is the annual proceedings of the
Conference of Grand Masters of North America. (For a listing of Masonic
Libraries, write the Masonic Service Association, 8120 Fenton St.,
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4786, (301) 588-4010.)

There are scores of Lodges devoted to studying the history of
Freemasonry. The oldest such "Research Lodge" is Quatuor Coronati Lodge
No. 2076 in London, founded in 1886. Its annual transactions, "Ars
Quatuor Coronatorum," are an abundance of carefully researched
historical papers on Freemasonry. American Masonic research
organizations with extensive publications include the American Lodge of
Research (New York), the Missouri Lodge of Research, Iowa Research
Lodge No. 2, the Ohio Chapter of Research (Royal Arch Masons--part of
the "York Rite"), the Philalethes Society, and the Scottish Rite
Research Society. (For a listing of Masonic research societies, write
the M.S.A.)

In short, there is a wealth of readily available information on the
activities of virtually every American Masonic organization. Much of it
is boring (e.g., debates on how Lodge meeting notices should be
mailed), but it is publicly available to anyone who wants to do genuine
research on the actual, not imagined, activities of Freemasonry.
Similarly there are thousands of papers (poorly- and well-written) on
the history, philosophy, and origins of Freemasonry, all available to
anyone willing to take the effort to read them.


Deficient Research

Albert Pike is the favorite "whipping boy" of modern anti-Masons, and
Enchanter! is no exception. Pike is usually first portrayed as the
central, guiding force behind Freemasonry, and then he is vilified.
Pike was a circumloquacious Victorian writer whose style (to my taste
at least) was better suited for a century ago. (Certainly he never read
Strunk & White!)

In one place in _Morals and Dogma_, Pike refers to Jesus as "the
mysterious founder of the Christian Church." Enchanter! quotes this
passages and then uses it to launch an ad hominem attack on Pike.

   Notice how Pike avoids even writing the name of Christ, and would
   rather substitute a cumbersome phrase in its place.

The statement is a non sequitur; Pike's writing style has nothing to do
with Masonry. More than this, the accusation is wrong; it betrays
tissue-thin research. Pike had a vast vocabulary, but did not hesitate
to use "Jesus," "Jesus Christ," or "Christ."

   On its face was inscribed the word [Ichthus], a fish, the initials
   of which represented the Greek words, [Iesous CHristos THeou HYios
   Soter]; Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour. [M&D, p. 547]

   The person of Jesus having disappeared, there was seen in His place
   a cross of Light over which a celestial voice pronounced these
   words: "The cross of Light is called The Word, Christ, The Gate,
   Joy, The Bread, The Sun, The Resurrection, Jesus, The Father, The
   Spirit, Life, Truth, and Grace." [M&D, p. 567]

   Paul of Samosta taught that Jesus Christ was the Son of Joseph and
   Mary.... [M&D, p. 564]

   According to the Church, Christ was of the same nature as God....
   [M&D, p. 565]

   None can deny that Christ taught a lofty morality. "Love one
   another: forgive those that despitefully use you and persecute
   you...." [M&D, p. 540.

   Jesus of Nazareth, the "Son of man," is the expounder of the new Law
   of Love. He call to Him the humble, the poor the Pariahs of the
   world. [M&D, p. 309]


A Source Misunderstood

The author of these various posts readily accepts and repeats negative
information about Masonry without understanding the source. For
example, he says:

   In 'Scottish Rite Masonry Illustrated' (Vol. II, p. 259) we find
   that the candidate, after a bizarre and somber ceremony involving
   coffins and skulls, hears these words voiced by the Grand Master:

A quotation then follows in which the candidate is told he will have
"to obey, without reserve, all that you will be commanded to do." This
sounds ominous, but it has no bearing on any legitimate Masonic body,
because the author has not checked his sources. The book in question is
an exposure of the rituals of "Cerneauism," a Masonic movement in the
nineteenth century that violently opposed legitimate Scottish Rite
Masonry in the United States. What superficial similarities there are
between Cerneau and Scottish Rite rituals are objects of curiosity and
a source of Masonic research papers. (For more information on
Cerneauism, see S.H. Baynard, "History of the Supreme Council, 33*," 2
vols. [Boston: Supreme Council, 33*, N.M.J., 1938].)

   The rituals in the Reverend Jonathan Blanchard's "Scotch Rite
   Masonry Illustrated" (1887-1888) are usually taken as gospel truth.
   ... Rev. Blanchard's outdated book was actually an exposure of
   Cerneauism, an illegitimate pseudo-Masonic organization founded by
   Joseph Cerneau and chiefly active during the 1800s. Oaths of fealty
   and other references to the Cerneau "Supreme Council" appear
   throughout Blanchard's exposure. [vol. 1, pp. 124, 145, 303, 358,
   419, 436, vol. 2, pp. 137, 242, 287, 340, 388, 445, 462, 464, 470,
   472, 475] These references would have raised red flags to competent
   researchers.

   (deHoyos and Morris, "Is It True?" p. 5)

The references to the Cerneau Supreme Council occur throughout the
book. Confusing Cerneauism with regular Scottish Rite Masonry is like
confusing the Church of Christ with the Church of Christ, Scientist.
Their names are alike and their orders of worship are superficially
similar, but they are fundamentally different denominations. It is
shallow research to accept Blanchard's book without question. It is
incompetent to confuse the Cerneau Supreme Council with regular
Scottish Rite Masonry. It is irresponsible to accuse Scottish Rite
Masons on the basis of an irrelevant book.


Unsubstantiated Allegations

   the sheer numbers of Masons involved in global reorganization....

   the ranks of the many Christians and God-loving people who got out
   of Masonry because they did not like the secrets revealed at the
   higher levels.

   A small percentage of the US population are involved in freemasonry,
   yet in the US government (especially the secretive intelligence
   agencies like the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc.) there is a very high number
   of freemasons.

   this evil force which is permeating every corner of our society.

If true, these allegations can be supported objective research. There
is no need to sit by idly when the public record can be checked to
substantiate these claims. Any reader easily should be able to confirm
Enchanter!'s statements, if only he will share his information. All we
need to know is the name of the Mason, a reference to his membership,
and his position.

   *If Freemasonry is "permeating every corner of our society," then it
   should be simple to give a dozen verifiable examples.

   *If so many Masons are "involved in global reorgaization," then it
   should be simple to name a score of them.

   *If so many "many Christians and God-loving people" have left
   "Masonry because they did not like the secrets revealed at the
   higher levels," then we should be able to read the witness of their
   experiences.

   *If the US government and its intelligence agencies have a very high
   number of freemasons, then there is no problem in giving a few dozen
   names.


A Secret Book

The author quotes extracts from the preface of _Morals and Dogma_, and
then says, "Clearly this book is or was some sort of a secret." Again,
the facts show otherwise. Below is the quote from Enchanter! with
[brackets] marking words left out.

   The following work has been prepared by authority of the Supreme
   Council of the Thirty-Third Degree, [for the Southern Jurisdiction
   of the United States,] by the Grand Commander.

   [as the cost of the work consists entirely in the printing and
   binding, it will be furnished at a price as moderate as possible. No
   _individual_ will receive pecuniary profit from it, except the
   agents for its sale.] It has been copyrighted, to prevent its
   republication elsewhere.... [Whatever profits may accrue from it
   will be devoted to purposes of charity.]

   It not being intended for the world at large, [{the author, Pike}
   has felt at liberty to make, from all accessible sources, a
   Compendium of the Morals and Dogma of the Rite, to re-mould
   sentences, change and add to words and phrases, combine them with
   his own, and use them as if they _were_ his own.... He claims,
   therefore, little of the merit of authorship, and has not cared to
   distinguish his own from that which he has taken from other sources,
   being quite willing that every portion of the book, in turn, may be
   regarded as borrowed from some old and better writer.]

In reading the full words of the preface, several points are clear.

1) _Morals and Dogma_ was never intended to serve all of
Freemasonry--just the Supreme Council, 33*, S.J. (It was, in fact,
rejected and ignored by the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.)

2) The book was copyrighted because of Pike's concern that it be sold
at the lowest possible cost and that all profits go to charity.

3) Because he was not writing for a general public, Pike didn't worry
about citing all of his sources as he normally did.

Far from proving that M&D is a "secret book," the full preface shows:
1) it was produced at cost for Scottish Rite Masons; 2) no individual
was to profit from its sale or resale; 3) Pike used an informal
reference style because the book was intended for his Brethren only.

No restrictions have ever been placed on storing, reading, or loaning
the book. Consider these statistics from the 1992 _Transactions of the
Supreme Council_. In 1907 (the first year membership figures are
summarized in the _Transactions_) there were 33,000 Scottish Rite
Masons in the Southern Jurisdiction; in 1950 there were 374,000. In
those 43 years, ignoring deaths and resignations, 341,000 Masons joined
and received a copy of _Morals and Dogma_, with no restriction on who
could read it. This seems like a singularly odd way to manage a "secret
book."


Selective Quotations

Enchanter! makes several quotes from _Morals and Dogma_, after first
falsely claiming it is among "the writings held sacred within the
Lodges." M&D was published and distributed by the Southern Jurisdiction
of the Scottish Rite in the U.S. (A little over 20% of American Masons
have chosen to join the Scottish Rite in the S.J., and slightly less
are in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction--60% of American Masons are
not in the Scottish Rite.) M&D has no role in Blue Lodges, it is not
used in the N.M.J., it has not been distributed in the S.J. since ca.
1971, and it has never, ever been held "sacred" by any Masonic group.

The first quote from M&D is preceded by Enchanter's inflammatory
introductory comment, "If you read this through, I'm sure you will
agree with me: it's a perversion of the Christian teachings, riddled
with magic(k) and occultism."

   Ialdabaoth, to become independent of his mother .... communicated it
   to a small number of His apostles.... [MAD p. 563-564]

This passage is indeed found in M&D, but it is a description of the
beliefs of the Ophites. The paragraph from which this quote is taken
begins, "The Ophites commenced their system with a Supreme Being, long
unknown to the Human race...." The chapter from which Enchanter! quotes
is filled with brief descriptions of early religious beliefs. On page
564 are six brief summaries.

   Tatian adopted the theory of Emanation, of Eons....
   The Elxaites adopted the Seven Spirits of the Gnostics....
   The opinion of the Doketes as to the human nature of Jesus....
   Noetus termed the Son the first Utterance of the Father....
   Paul of Samosta taught that Jesus Christ was the Son....
   Arius called the Saviour the first of creatures....

All of this is descriptive with nothing prescriptive for Scottish Rite
Masons. Enchanter! earlier quoted two sentences from Pike's
introduction to M&D. Had he posted a little more of the introduction,
Pike's intent would have been clear. First and foremost, neither Pike
nor the Scottish Rite is requiring its members to believe anything.
This is clear to all Masons and to anyone who reads the introduction.

   Every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever
   herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound. It is only required
   of him that he shall weigh what is taught, and give it fair hearing
   and unprejudiced judgment.

Further, Pike's motives in describing early religious ideas are clear
from his introduction. Anyone bothering to read the introduction knows
this.

   Of course, the ancient theosophic and philosophic speculations are
   not embodied as part of the _doctrines_ of the Rite; but because it
   is of interest and profit to know what the Ancient Intellect thought
   upon these subjects, and because nothing so conclusively proves the
   radical difference between our human and the animal nature, as the
   capacity of the human mind to entertain such speculations in regard
   to itself the Deity.

This sort of selective quotation out of context is scattered throughout
Enchanter!'s postings.

   To prevent the light of escaping at once, the Demons forbade Adam to
   eat the fruit....
   ...Satan created and governs the visible world [MAD, pp. 566-567]
   "One of the most twisted variations of Genesis I have ever heard."

The first quote is from a paragraph that begins, "Manes, founder of the
Sect of the Manicheans...." The second quote follows, "With the
Priscillianists there were two principles...." It's not surprising that
they seem "twisted variations," as they were declared heresies
centuries ago. Pike is describing "ancient theosophic and philosophic
speculations," just as he explained in his introduction. Just after the
last quote above, Pike says, "Such were some of the ancient notions
concerning the Deity; and taken in connection with what has been
detailed in the preceding Degrees, this Lecture affords you a true
picture of the ancient speculations." [M&D, p. 568]


Conclusion

Enchanter! appears to have a vendetta against Freemasonry and is
willing to go to great lengths to defame the organization and its
members. He removed Pike's explanatory material to M&D, ignored his
introduction, took his words out of context, and tried to pass them off
as something from "writings held sacred within the Lodges." Enchanter!
is not fair to Pike, he is not honest about Masonry, he ignores the
organization and structure of the fraternity, and he insults the
intelligence of his readers.

It is not clear to me whether he has done his own "research" or whether
he merely is quoting from some other anti-Masonic text. Thus I cannot
decide if he is a naively incompetent researcher or a maliciously
deliberate liar. I leave that decision to more objective readers.