Religious Anti-Masonic Persecution
David R. Grooms, P.M.
We are accused of the most heinous crimes against the church, the world, and God. Supposed crimes against the young and old, against gender and race, against governments and kingdoms, are built up into the fabrication of a world wide conspiracy. Popes have issued bulls against us, political parties have been formed and now we face a religious purge by the Southern Baptists. Why are these people attacking us? Who do they think we are, or what do they think we are trying to do that makes us seem so dangerous?
Those who attack usually take issue on theological grounds. Our rituals are studied piece-meal and the living (esoteric) interpretations of our allegories have never even been approached. More over, few of our detractors have the necessary theological background to judge our ideal. Yet many have already found us guilty, and have begun an active campaign of persecution. Some who have the necessary qualifications are found to have ulterior motives. What position can we take against these seemingly theological assaults?
In 1884, Pope Leo XIII came out against us with a document from the encyclical "Humanum Genus", titled "The Masonic Sect". It begins by dividing the world in half:
"The Human Race, after, by malice of the devil,... divided itself into two different and opposing parties, one of which assiduously combats for truth and virtue, the other for those things which are opposed to virtue and to truth...The one is the Kingdom of God on earth... The other is the Kingdom of Satan..."
"...those who follow the evil one seem to conspire and strive all together under the guidance and with the help of that society of men, spread all over, and solidly established, which they call Free-Masons."
Not only does Pope Leo place us in Satan's camp, but also makes us out to be the leaders of all who follow evil. Generals and commanders of Satans army in a great biblical war against all that is good. But what is it that we are specifically accused of?
First, we are accused of naturalism. From the pulpit of naturalism, we then deprive the Church of its divine privileges. We then wage war against the Apostolic See by opening our gates to persons of every creed, promoting "the great modern error of religious indifference and parity of all worships, the best way annihilate every religion". We are further accused of promoting civil authority, independence, realism, public education, separation of church and state, equality of all mankind; and worst of all he says we teach that:
"...the people are sovereign; those who rule have no authority but by the commission and concession of the people; so that they can be disposed, willing or unwilling, according to the wishes of the people. The origin of all rights and civil duties is in the people or is the State, which is ruled according to the new principles of liberty..."
Among the many conclusions that are drawn, he finalizes his battery against our institution in saying, "Its tenets contradict so evidently human reason, that nothing can be more perverted."
Let's hear from a few more of our detractors before formulating our position, for although we may understand who we are in our own hearts, we should at least hear those crimes we are accused of.
The New Christian Crusade Church, lists Masons under the 'Secret Societies and Subversive Movements' category of their books for sale listing they publish in a newspaper called 'The Sons of Liberty'. Perusing their lists of titles, we may place them in our list of hate-mongerers. They are anti-semetic, pro-KKK, pro- neo-nazi, racist, white-supremasists, who claim to be the protectors of the Aryan race.
The titles under the heading they've given us include: The Mystery of Freemasonry Unveiled, which is a reprint of the Humanum Genus by Pope Leo XIII (whose contents we excerpted above); Grand Orient Freemasonry Unmasked as the Secret Driving Force Behind Communism; Lightbearers of Darkness; Freemasonry as the Secret Political Weapon of the Jewish-English Imperialism. The gist of their rhetoric is the supposition of a Jewish-Communist-Masonic conspiracy culminating with the supra-secret order 'The Illuminati' who are the perpetrators of the United Nations in an age old master- plot of world domination.
This position is also found in the Humanum Genus document which alludes to the Freemasonry-Communism connection:
"...subversive revolution is the deliberate aim and open purpose of numerous communistic and socialistic associations. The Masonic sect has no reason to call itself foreign to their purpose, because Masons promote their designs and have with them common capital principles."
This brings us to Dr. James L. Holly of Beaumont Texas and his crusade to expel Freemasons from the Southern Baptist Churches. He portrays Masons using the "Satanic cult" imagery popular during the witch-hunting days when over 400,000 innocents across the western hemisphere were ripped apart and burned at the stake. A powerful, but deadly ploy used by the politically religious ambitious. Of course, any church has the right to accept or reject anyone they wish. But let us gather the weight of their accusation so as to comprehend the point of view by which we are attacked.
During 1992, Dr. Holly mailed an estimated 10,000 booklets to fellow Baptists condemning Freemasonry as a "spiritually devastating and ungodly brotherhood of Satanic darkness", Its "occultic, Satanic and sensual nature" is "an evil that must be removed from the church", that it "is incompatible with being a faithful Christian or a Southern Baptist". Further, that Masonry is "nonbiblical, anti-christian, and wrong in its doctrine about God". Just short of calling us cannibalistic!
Where does Dr. Holly get this prospective? It would be hard to say with out talking to Dr. Holly himself. But I would point out the similarity to the first paragraph as related above; of yes, once again, the Humanum Genus. The logical extrapolation is a sophistry, a fabric of fallacy that uses 'us-and-them' tactics, woven with professional stratagems known to philosophers as 'Argumentum ad Populum' (argument to the people), also known as the 'Appeal to Popular Attitudes'. In this case, fears.
Another sophistic technique used here and by most of our self appointed antagonists is the fallacy known as 'Arguementum ad Ignorantiam' meaning 'argument to ignorance'. It goes something like this: claim X has not been shown to be false, therefore X is true. In other words, because Freemasons have not revealed their ritual 'proving' that they are not satanists, they therefore must be satanists.
I've gathered only a few of the religious views regarding anti-masonic movements. There appears to be a thread to be traced back to the Humanus Genus of 1884. Pope Leos' original accusations have echoed through the ages, now and again picked up by those who would perpetuate their own careers and agendas. But what was it that was feared. A deeper look into the Humanus Genus document would reveal less of a theological concern and more of a political fear. In fact, it would seem that through the ages, anti-masonic episodes have been based upon political motives.
By political, I mean, the preservation of the body politic. That which leaders perpetrate upon the masses to convince them of the necessity for self-integration and the purge of the non- conformist. This usually lethal manipulation may be motivated for reasons of self-preservation of the leaders themselves, but is usually guised by flags of nationalism or religious purity. Scapegoat tactics have been used since tribal times and have only grown more insidious as our societies have grown in complexity.
When the absolute power the Catholic church had known for a millennium came to an end, aggressive positions were taken. Defensive posturing against the perceived attacks of a great conspiracy gave a sense of self-righteousness. "We are good and they are evil" is a wide paint brush of many shadows; camouflage tactics designed to take attention away from hierarchical, organizational, and theological short-comings.
The concern for loss-of-power is reflected in this same condemning document by Pope Leo. He complains, that "The ecclesiastical revenue is in a thousand ways tied up" and that the Roman Pontiff was "deprived of temporal power". That the state has assumed the power of matrimonial bonds and that "in education of the children, no religion (is) applied, and when grown up every one will select that which he likes."
He then presents his argument:
"Once granted that men through Gods will are born for civil society, and that sovereign power is so strictly necessary to society that when this fails society necessarily collapses; it follows that the right of command emanates from the same principle from which society itself emanates, hence the reason why the minister of God is invested with such authority..."
"...it is a capital error to grant to the people full power of shaking off at their own will the yoke of obedience."
This demonstrates the pope's concern; the power center had shifted from the iron fist of Rome into the humanitarian hands of civil government. A political, not a theological concern. In fact, the hole document is a political concern.
The real issue can be focused into the line above that reads, "...it follows that the right of command emanates from the same principle from which society itself emanates", here we find the root of conflict; we all agree that God is the principle "from which society itself emanates", and thus we are perceived as a religion. For our journey as Masons begins with God. It is the one fact that all true Freemasons 'must' agree. Yet, while we believe that sovereignty belongs in the hands of the people, by the people and for the people; they believe that all authority belongs in the hands of the pope.
There is no teaching in Masonry that specifically attacks or condemns the Roman church or any other church. But many of our Masonic forefathers did take a stance regarding the empowerment of civil authority: for the protection of 'all' religious beliefs, including the Catholic.
We teach about Virtue, life beyond the grave and we judge who will be apart of 'our' society. We empower the individual and chasten him toward moral rectitude. And we invoke the Great Architect of the Universe into our gatherings. This was knowledge and power that the Roman church theologically justified that only they had the right to dispense.
The reasons why men come to Masonry are as many as there are men in it. While it's true that some members join because of disagreements with church hierarchy or dogma; the craft recognizes the true Mason as one who joins not for mercenary motives but rather by a favorable impression of the Craft.
So now we must consider many things. It can be seen that at a certain point in history the power structure of the church changed. That men the world over turned toward a belief in representative government empowered by the people. It was claimed by the Apostolic See that this civil authority undermined the authority of the church. And it was perceived that our Masonic fathers supported a democratic civil republic rather than a theocratic monarchy governed from Rome. This is the ground for the original attacks from the church. Truly, the Roman Church had less of a conflict with Freemasonry and more of an embitterment toward civil government.
The Roman church theologically believed that they were the one and only sovereign authority on earth, by right of succession. They therefore considered any authority not privileged from the Holy See to be against all Catholicism, thus derived from the powers of Satan. This would have included the Southern Baptists and any other Protestant denomination; all civil powers; and all dogma not derived from Rome. In the Humanus Genus document the words Free-mason could just as easily have been exchanged for Southern Baptist. If the civil powers did not exist and all authority came from Rome, the skies would be black with smoke from body piles at the stake. The Vatican Army would have rounded up the Southern Baptists long ago.
Can we Freemasons, who are ever searching for that which was lost, even with open minds searching our own sources, are we to discover absolutes from our detractors? An analysis of the original accusations brought against us turned out to be political rather than theological. The issues brought forth by the Southern Baptists are the misunderstood echoes of these Catholic documents. Groups like the New Christian Crusade Church a/k/a 'The Sons of Liberty' are only using these misconceptions to promote their own hate doctrines; a compliment in its own way, yet their activities promote the sort of beliefs that affect the likes of Dr. James Holly. So nothing can be derived from the perspectives of our accusers regarding our true nature.
There is a difference between the ideal presented by our craft and the source material. In that difference are found many manifestations, a checker-board of good and bad. As Masonry impresses itself upon the mind of an individual, he changes. And his points-of-view change as his prospective gains stature. If the ideal is followed, then he should grow into an upright citizen; civil in his responsibilities toward God, his country, his family, his neighbor and himself: in that order. We are accused of reversing that order. Dis-order begins in darkness, the process of illumination is the revelation of order. We are illuminaries; Sons of the Enlightenment. Our Craft: harmonious, loving and divine. Let the Craft be judged by its ideal, its methods and its finished product; not by the course material it uses, nor the satanic imaginings of its accusers.