15 Comments

You can’t prove or disprove something that doesn’t exist. The common explanation is that because I am not within the inner circle that knows the “truth”, I am just ignorant of what is going on. Like ghosts/aliens/Bigfoot/loch ness monster, just because I don’t believe in them, and that there is no valid proof that they in fact exist, doesn’t mean they don’t. Since I can’t prove they don’t exist, the history channel makes millions pandering to those that believe.

There is a metric crap ton of information out there already explaining what freemasonry is about, just as there is an equal amount of garbage out there claiming the opposite. People are only going to seek out what they want to hear, what is going to confirm their already preconceived notions of the truth.

I’ve watched shows where people, with a completely straight face, say that the bush and royal family were nothing but alien lizard people in hiding, as part of a global cabal to control the new world order.

Well, that last bit might be true.

There are plenty of organizations in this world we should be concerned about that openly exist. There are plenty of evil people in this world, some in seats of great power that hold the lives of millions, billions of people in their claws.

All of the other crap people push as the truth is just a distraction from reality. The 21st century version of bread and circuses.

And we can’t stop crazy. Having personal experience with people blindly following the multitude of conspiracy theories, they can’t be reasoned with. If it doesn’t fit the narrative of their world view, it’s a lie. They get angry and defensive when confronted. As my dad always said, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

Expand full comment
author

>>"The common explanation is that because I am not within the inner circle that knows the >>“truth”, I am just ignorant of what is going on."

Yeah, I've heard this too.

Us low ranking Freemasons just aren't told the 'truth' that is known by the higher ups. Alas, I joined the Scottish Rite, and didn't hear any of the evil secrets. I was sure that maybe I'd learn all about our evil plans when I got the Past Master's Degree, but alas, not yet. Now I am given to understand that there is a Past Grand Master's Degree, perhaps, if elected, I'll learn all about our evil plot then, but I imagine it much more likely that it'll be a dinner with some ritualistic advice & instruction urging me not to make an ass out of myself in the East.

But, I'll keep holding out hope that maybe I'll learn the good (or is that evil) stuff.

Seriously though, the sad thing about all of this is just as you point out. There are truly evil organizations out there, that have murdered millions, truly evil ideologies, that have inspired the murder of millions, and truly evil people.

By worrying about fake illuminati/masonic conspiracies, attention is drawn away from that which is truly evil.

Expand full comment
founding
May 10, 2021Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

As Bro. Glenn shared, you can’t prove a negative and nature abhors a vacuum. Being the only known “secret society”, we are an easy target. In the UK, there are groups that are demanding the rolls of Freemason Lodges to learn who the members are. They are certain members are rewarding other members with jobs and promotions in all levels of their government.

Should we enter into every disinformation that arises? Should we defend ourselves more vigorously? Do we need a more singular message that goes out? It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible to stop a small group or single person from doing harm to Freemasons or any other group. What will we do if we ever find ourselves in the Q Anon world? It’s not a big leap to accuse Freemasonry of running the government from behind the scenes, we’ve been joking about it for years. Does GL need to develop an Intelligence and Security committee / group to monitor such things? How secure is Grand Lodge Annual Communications? I know a few years ago there was some concern about a brother showing up that wasn’t necessarily welcome. We’ve talked about lodges not having the funds to maintain their lodges, so if the doors are locked during meetings, should they be replaced with doors that have crash bars, they’re expensive. Does locking the doors during meetings violate a Fire Code? I think we can be diligent always be aware of our surroundings. If a lodge is engaged by someone on social media, they should probably share that information with their local law enforcement and the other lodges in their district and with GL. If we, whether as Freemasons or men, walk about our daily lives with a victim mentality, then that is exactly what we will become.

Expand full comment
author

I'd not been thinking of the United Kingdom when I wrote the introduction to this discussion, but you are certainly right to bring it up, and we are lucky to not have the problems that Freemasonry faces there. Facing open hostility in parts of society, and occasional hostility from government as well.

I know that there are similar difficulties, with government anyway, for Italian Lodges.

I guess my main concerns, for us in Washington anyway, revolve around making sure that our Lodges are properly insured for property damage, and the lone nut who decides to do harm. We can easily take care of the first, but I'm not sure that we can do anything truly effective about the second.

Expand full comment
May 10, 2021Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

It may be more difficult to secure the virtual spaces where we place public information, such as Masonic websites than to secure our Lodge Halls. While consequences may be less serious than a physical attack, the various ways that cyber attacks can affect a website range from inconvenient (posting embarrassing content) to downright difficult to fix (embedding malicious code in a websites that causes it to be black-listed and therefore unavailable to the public).

I'm guessing that few Masons who manage the Lodge website are aware of the many ways their sites can be breached. We depend on the hosting provider or the creator of the underlying software to "take care of that stuff." However, I believe that no website is completely impervious to an experienced and dedicated hacker, especially ones that use widely-used software.

So, what can we do? Unfortunately, vulnerabilities and suitable protections vary with each software system as well as the platform we use to access or update our sites. Email software as well as our browsers or the administrative access allowed to a site are vulnerable.

In this post I'm not going into any more detail, because the scope of possibilities and the huge range of different situations extend far beyond what I know. What I can say to any website manager, is check everything out regularly - site content, user logins, new accounts, strange messages, alerts from you hosting provider or software publisher, from the back end of the site to the computer or device you use to access it. Suspect anything that appears "strange." In so far as you can, ensure that all software has the latest update.

Steps listed in this article are basic: https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/building-websites/how-to-secure-a-website/

I wonder, "Why does anyone do that stuff?" Who knows, but some is done via automated bots and attempts to infiltrate anything from a computer or device to modifying system code that runs the website - all without any personal concern about whom it might affect. In other words, it's not personal or directed at my site - every site is a target. But it would be easy for a hacker to "specialize" in Masonic sites.

Expand full comment
author

I really appreciate you posting this advice. I for one have absolutely no idea how to ensure good online security, beyond making strong passwords of course. That's why I've opted for Emeth to be professionally hosted here on Substack, instead of trying to go it alone (at a much lower cost.) I just figure it is much better to have a large, successful company keeping an eye on everything 24/7/365.

But I know that many of our Lodge websites, are DYI affairs, and the advice you give to check everything out on a regular schedule, looking for anything suspicious seems excellent, and importantly, doable. Hopefully it will be heeded.

I do often wonder, now that it seems like everything is connected virtually, how easy it could be for someone to bring it all down. My checking account is connected to my credit cards which are connected to merchants I use, and on and on. I've never had a problem because of that, but I wonder about it.

The only fraud I've ever actually suffered has been the old fashioned kind where someone stole my credit card number. This has happened to me twice, but both instances were easily fixed because I could show that I was nowhere near the place that the charges were made.

Thank you again for posting this advice, I really appreciate it.

Expand full comment
May 10, 2021Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

The tinfoil crowd is part of a larger problem that is bedeviling society today. If it’s not just conspiracies about our craft, it’s also about elections being stolen and UFO’s abducting Girl Scouts selling cookies in front of marijuana dispensaries. Even before the advent of social media, there were things such as the Morgan Affair and (as you pointed out in Sunday’s remembrance thesis) dictators who ordered the roundup of brethren and other undesirables that eventually turned into war crimes.

What to do about all this? It is an overwhelming feeling. I know I don’t have the answers. Our craft does good for society, but it’s not being recognized for it. Our members are involved in the sciences, medicine, business, and many other occupations that contribute to the greater good. It’s just not our charitable giving or supporting youth organizations.

It’s easy to cast a wide net blaming nut jobs for all our ills, when the truth is, there are some respectable people out there who are behind some of the worst of today’s hate-mongering. Society is fractured. But the only thing we can do is stand up for who we are and what we do. Lead by example. Start telling our story. Be more visible in our community outreach.

Brother Pike says it all when he wrote that what we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others lives for eternity.

Expand full comment
author

>>"It’s easy to cast a wide net blaming nut jobs for all our ills, when the truth is, there are some >>respectable people out there who are behind some of the worst of today’s hate-mongering. >>Society is fractured."

You make a solid point. I do know at least a couple otherwise rational people who seem to believe the illuminati/masonic conspiracy nonsense. Despite the fact that they know me. I can only surmise that as Glenn mentioned above, they believe that there is a secret leadership cabal that hides the truth from the rest of us Freemasons.

And of course political organizations of all kinds of different stripes work to create division within society, for by creating fear and loathing, they are able to more successfully fundraise.

That Pike quote is my favorite. Back when I had an office (Covid has turned my dining room into my office) it hung proudly on the wall.

Expand full comment
May 10, 2021Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

Members of our Craft have come into public scrutiny from time to time, exciting the public with their misdeeds. No matter what other distasteful characteristics the miscreant may have possessed, the one glaring deficiency in that person's character is that he is a Mason. In my Lodge, we have (had) a man who did terrible things, for which he was expelled from Masonry, and is now serving a lengthy prison sentence. In news reports, the journalists always mentioned that he was a Mason.

Leo Taxil and others have given us a black eye, simply because they did not understand Freemasonry, nor did they wish to. What are we to do? We can provide all the education about our Craft we wish, but if the scandal-seeking public chooses to remain ignorant, there is nothing we can do, except to protect ourselves. Does this mean that we should give the Tyler an M-240 machine gun in place of his traditional sword? No. That would further inflame the issue.

But, we should ensure that all entrances to the building are secure before we enter the Lodge Room. I have been a Rainbow Dad, and have had to *constantly* remind the young ladies to lock the doors and bring all their personal possessions (phones, purses, street clothes, etc.) upstairs with them. And they always forget. Until something is stolen from them.

What to do about the loonies who think we're part of a global conspiracy? Really, nothing. We can scarcely decide how to conduct a Lodge barbecue, let alone conspire to rule the world. If the loonie doesn't *want* to learn, no amount of education will enlighten him.

In the meanwhile, we can take more active measures to protect ourselves. We can develop more "situational awareness," lock our doors and windows during meetings, and wear our Square and Compasses with pride to exemplify what we are, as Masons.

Expand full comment
author

>>"...wear our Square and Compasses with pride to exemplify what we are, as Masons."

I really like this, and I do my best to always be wearing something Masonic. In this way, others can know us through our deeds.

Unfortunately, that can sometimes backfire on us to, when a member of our Fraternity acts in a manner unbecoming a Freemason.

I try to always remember that the emblems we wear as Masons (or put on our social media accounts) come with a responsibility. The responsibility to act as Masons.

Expand full comment
May 10, 2021Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

My goodness you like to open those cans of worms!

There are three sources, in my opinion, of propaganda that seem to haunt us, Leo Taxil (1890s), the Illuminati (1776), and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (1903). Taxil and the Protocols make exaggerated claims about our role as Freemasons in world politics and history, and the legend of the Illuminati feed that fear. I won’t bore everyone by going over material you all know about.

If those three sources of information are the source of cowan propaganda, then there are two ways that propaganda is propagated; One thru website and literature that spread it, and Two our own esoterica and rituals that in some ways seems, to the uninitiated, to support it. Now, I recognize the beauty of the romantic imagery these stories evoke and do not want to change that, but we have to understand that much of that material is intended to communicate moral and spiritual lessons. Its not necessarily history. Inside Masonry there is a ‘tin-foil hat degree’ that feeds into the swirl of fear and lies that the non-Masonic world sometimes believes. In a desire to inflate their own egos, or sell a book, there are Masons willing to go on the History Channel and support these wild claims.

I am a Mason that is deeply interested in and energetically pursue the esoteric in Masonry, and dive much deeper than most I have met. I cherish that aspect of our Craft. I in no way want to truncate the work of other serious students of the Craft. That said we should not be stupid. The day after the fires in B.C. I was talking to my work colleagues, who know I have written publicly about Masonry, and they expressed concern for my personal safety. I’m not worried, being the smallest fish in that particular ocean, but the fear is not entirely unfounded.

It is my opinion that as Masons we need to quit publicly talking about our more mystical side. What we need to do is focus on our outward charitable work and moral training when we talk to the uninitiated. Our symbols have power, and in the hearts of a serious initiate they are transformational, but in the hearts of the uninitiated they can fester into a cancer of fear. Today there seems to be a culture of fear and anger that just can’t handle information that is outside the normal lives of average people. So far in the U.S. no Masons have been killed, but if trends continue, I am not confident that will stay true, and if the wrong talking head on TV or a blog decides we are part of a world conspiracy the legions of hatred WILL come for us.

Our fraternal ancestors understood the need for secrecy, because in the early days a man could be arrested for being a Mason. They understood that our ritual and mythology would not be understood by everyone. Since that time the world seems to have been more tolerant, but that trend, at least for now, seems have reversed. I agree with RW Cameron, we need to lock our doors both literally and figuratively, so that we can continue to explore our Craft and be safe.

Expand full comment
author

I think that we can't do anything to change the minds of those who are convinced that Freemasonry is evil. Some will always preach that dogma, and some more will always follow them.

What we can do however, I think, is work against intolerance, fear, and hatred within our own small spheres of influence. Freemasonry has a saying that we are all 'Brothers under the Fatherhood of God.' I think that is true, but it applies to the whole human race.

Social media, political figures, special interest groups, all of these things work to divide us, for they find success in doing so. Perhaps Freemasons, and legions of good people everywhere can overcome current trends, so that our society can start coming together once again.

That is my hope anyway.

Expand full comment
May 10, 2021Liked by Cameron M. Bailey

When I first caught this in my E-mail this morning, the first thing that ran through my mind was... cashews or pecans?

But then I quickly realized what our Deputy Grand Master was talking about. And as a small business owner who works in a downtown area, I've also ran across my share of interesting people. I have to keep my Masonic affiliation pretty close to the vest, as I must note I've lost customers over it, sadly.

I remember about 20 years ago when some locals trashed the OES logo on the Winlock Masonic Lodge. There was a tenant in the little apartment that was part of the Lodge building, and they witnessed it and called out the vandals. They argued that the logo was satanic, due to its point-down pentagram shape. One of the OES ladies of that Chapter (Adah Chapter) then responded with a nice letter to the editor in the local paper explaining what happened, and how and why those vandals were wrong in their crime, and explained what the OES was really about.

There had been cases where our landlord (who was a past District Deputy) would peek in the door and talk of an update, etc. concerning the Lodge, and sometimes the customer would ask what that was all about. Most of the time, it was harmless. But one time, we had a Past Deputy talking some lodge logistics and a customer who was an active member of a local church overheard it and had some comments. I remember, I lost it. I tore right into him, but in the third person. "Dude! You seem to have a real problem with these Freemasons! What the heck's your beef? What did they do to you?" The customer was taken aback, but I reminded him that he started it. He didn't have a personal justification for his stance, it was based on what his pastor told the congregation. I eventually lost him as a customer, but not for that reason (he moved out of the area.)

Then I had other members of that church call me a dualist or someone who will mingle with people of other faiths. To one of them that I knew well, I simply stated he was right! As a barber, it behoves me to mingle with people of ALL faiths. I make more income that way! He didn't think it was funny, but I responded that I didn't think his pastor was funny, either.

But that's the source of most of the Anti-Masonic stuff I've experienced. The local churches.

But on the other hand, for the few that I've had contention with over my Masonic membership, there have been several who have joined or affiliated with our local Lodges through conversations in that same business. Also, I became a point of contact for many downtown business and building owners concerning the Centralia Masonic building. And the ratio isn't even close. It's WAY to the better. Again, establishing relationships in your community goes a long way towards better understanding, and more support for your Lodge.

But there's always that one...

Expand full comment
author

My random interactions at work as well have been almost completely positive. I've never made any effort to hide my Masonic interests, and it seems widely accepted and appreciated in that environment.

I do though worry if that will change in the future. As our society grows more and more fractured, with increasing intolerance for anything outside of any particular group's norms. I think we are seeing this play out with the 'cancel culture' and vilification in the world of politics now, and if nothing changes that will continue to spread.

I do hope though that people will eventually wake up, and realize that we are all more alike than we are separate and that hate has no legitimate place in civil society.

Expand full comment
author

I had long thought that Freemasons, and Freemasonry were largely immune from the rage so many are feeling towards anyone who disagrees with them, but today, disturbingly, I had that perhaps naive belief shattered.

It all started out with my essay, The Forget Me Not.

Well, it was censored by the administrators of one of the largest Masonic Facebook Groups. It was deemed inappropriate because the post did not condemn those who believe the story of the Forget Me Not to be literally true.

I found that to be bad enough.

But then some fellow, a Mason, someone halfway across the country whom I've never met in my life, declared me to be without integrity and dishonest because of the essay. Because he does not believe the story to be true.

Of interest to me, in all of this, is that I never claimed that the story is true. But the fact that I didn't condemn it as false, is apparently enough for at least two Masons to both censor my work, and declare me a liar.

Of course the actual fact of the matter is that we can not know if it is true or false. By the grace of God we were not there. I said that, in the essay.

But in today's world, at least when it comes to all of those who now thrive on anger and hate, not knowing is a sin. One must 'know' with proof or without, and anyone who disagrees is dishonest and without integrity.

No culture or society can long survive under those conditions.

Expand full comment