Masonry Unmasked: Inside the Freemasons
Book by former member reveals beliefs of a strange group and links its 'shriners' to Muslims
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
By Michael H. Brown
There it was on a Masonic website. On August 28, the Scottish Rite Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, meeting in Chicago, was going to confer one of its highest degrees on 235 members who were elected last year. "More than 2,000 thirty-third-degree Masons and their ladies from 15 northeastern states are expected at the meeting," said the website -- referring to the general conference, which lasted the better part of a week.
The August 28 event would have gone unnoticed but for a minor detail: the "impressive" ceremony took place in the Merle Reskin Theatre at DePaul University.
DePaul is supposed to be a Catholic institution and the Church leaves no doubt about its position on Masonry: one of official condemnation.
And so we are at this time when bishops accept awards from Masons and Catholic facilities are rented to them and Masonic emblems are on cars in church parking lots and few realize what occurs in this organization that some believe is similar to the Elks or Moose Lodge or even the Knights of Columbus when in fact it goes beyond that into the realm of dark mystery.
Such is brought into sharp focus by a powerful new book, Masonry Unmasked, by John Salza, a book worth mentioning not only because it is well-written and extremely informative -- a book that, without histrionics, or overwrought conspiracies, tells you everything you need to know about the Masons, their structures, and their beliefs -- but also because Salza, a lawyer, is a Catholic and also a former Mason himself.
Recommended? Highly. "An insider reveals the secrets of the lodge" says the subtitle, and indeed he is the first Catholic known to write a major book after leaving the secret organization.
Initiated as an apprentice Mason in 1996 in Wisconsin, he advanced to Master Mason and thirty-second degree in the Scottish Rite, along with membership in the Masonic organization called the Ancient Arabic order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, or "Shriners." He was about to be elected "Worshipful Master."
A Catholic? How could a Catholic not know it is wrong?
"During my tenure, I frequently heard my lodge brothers comment on the Catholic Church's position on Masonry," writes Salza. "While the Church had once opposed Catholic membership in Freemasonry, so I was told, it had reversed its position and now had no objections to the fraternity.
"Just to be certain," adds the lawyer, "I called my parish priest and asked whether I could be a Mason, assuring him that I saw nothing in the lodge incompatible with my Catholic faith. Although he hadn't studied the matter, he too indicated that the Church had no objections to my membership in Masonry."
In fact, as Salza was to eventually realize, there was a world of incompatibility. More on that in a moment. And the Church had been condemning Masonry since the time of Pope Leo XIII in the 19th century -- the Pope who wrote the famous prayer to the Archangel Michael. Actually, popes had been speaking out against it since 1738.
As recently as 1983, a code of canon law made clear an express prohibition against membership. In some cases, the punishment could be excommunication. Pope Benedict XVI himself, as Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote a declaration stating that Masonic principles were "irreconcilable" with the doctrine of the Church and that Catholics who enrolled in such an association were in a state of grave sin.
In a clear, interesting way, Salza explains that Masonry dates back to the stonemasons who built the great cathedrals of medieval Europe. Those men were known as "freemasons" because unlike local guild masons, they were not indentured servants.
The actual birth of modern Masonry, says Salza, came on June 24, 1717, when the Grand Lodge of England was founded, taking masonry from an operative organization that built grand structures to one that was an esoteric club with rituals that can be traced back to ancient mystery religions that were preserved through Kabbalism, Gnosticism, the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucians, and the Illuminati.
In spirit, there are links to ancient druidism and even Babylon.
By 1750, Freemasonry had found its way to America, with lodges in Boston and Philadelphia.
Originally Christian, the English lodge, in keeping with the Enlightenment, moved Masonry more toward secularism, the occult, and a vague, general notion of God.
There was an oppression of religion in favor of the "rational" study of nature.
In fact, so vague was the God which Masons acknowledged that the group could embrace everything from Christianity and Judaism to Allah, Hinduism, and occult religions.
With Shriners, in fact, "the basic organizational unit of the Shrine is the Temple, or Mosque, in recognition of Allah, the honored deity of the Shrine," says Salza.
"All Shriners swear an oath to Allah on the Koran promising, under gruesome symbolic penalties, never to disclose the secrets of the order," says lawyer - adding, however, that the threats are often hollow.
Some go too far with it all. Some give Masons more credit than they deserve. There is no authority that speaks for worldwide Freemasonry, says Salza. There is also no single governing body over American Grand Lodges - which now have the highest number of Masons, at four of the world's estimated seven million, though those numbers have dwindled as a proportion of the populace.
But that is not to say - as we will see next - that they have not exerted a nefarious, shocking influence over society.
We are called to love, but we are also called to be careful about association with the demonic, and Masonry - knowingly or unknowingly - has long stepped into mysteries that summon the wrong source.
Although presenting itself as a spiritual and often even a Christian organization, there is no required belief in Jesus, and God is not seen as personal. There is no Trinity. It is indifferent to the notion of fallen man and redemption.
Instead God is seen as the Supreme Architect - the all-seeing eye that is on the American dollar bill (no surprise in that 17 U.S. presidents have been Masons). In their rituals, Masons incorporate agnosticism, pantheism (the belief in many gods), nature religions, and animism (the African occult religion).
"Through the repeated use of oral prayers, which are offered in an atmosphere of oath-bound secrecy, Christian Masons are conditioned to view God according to the Masonic worldview," says Salza, who has broken the oath because he swore to it under what he has judged to be false pretenses.
The initiation includes a ritual wherein "all jewelry, including wedding ring, Crucifix, Scapular, and other sacramentals" are removed.
The candidate is then blindfolded, and a noose placed around his neck, reveals the author. The candidate is stripped down to his underwear and, says Salza, "is virtually helpless. Nearly naked, divested of all jewelry and sacramentals, he has been blindfolded and secured by a rope around his neck. In this state of vulnerability, the candidate is properly prepared to receive the solemn truths of Freemasonry.
"Now the candidate is led to the Inner Door (the entrance used by lodge initiates), on which he is to knock three times. The Senior Deacon then opens the door and asks, 'Who comes here?'"
And so it goes.
Among the signs that has gained it a fearsome reputation is one in which a Mason makes a motion like the slitting of a throat. The bark is worse than the bite.
It is not an organization that enforces matters like the Mafia or Hell's Angel. It is more the spiritual component -- which can be worse.
In Masonry, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal to Brashma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
It borrows from many religions, including the world's three great religions. The Bible is placed on the altar, and passages from the New Testament are woven into the rituals (though Christ is omitted). Some lodges are even dedicated, says Salza, to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, who are claimed as "eminent Christian patrons of Masonry."
Scottish Rite degrees even mirror the sacraments of the Eucharist and Confirmation, says Salza in this rather much a blockbuster explanation. If there is any reference on Masons, or just intriguing reading about Masonry that you seek, choose this book.
A harmless jumble?
Not in what rubs off spiritually. If there is exaggeration of Masonry, it is in its organizational structure, and its conspiracies.
Or are there conspiracies?
We'll discuss that in the next report.
It is a "fraternity" that in trying to incorporate all religions mixes the sacred with the unholy.
And brings this Scripture to mind:
"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealous anger? Are we stronger than Him?" [1 Corinthians 10:14-22)
Originally published at Spirit Daily