These days most Americans don’t know it, but George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and a number of other Founding Fathers of the nation were Freemasons, as have been many very important and prominent men since then, and before then.
Freemasonry is based on mutual respect, brotherly love, charity, cooperation and collaboration, and it transcends religious doctrine and dogma, focusing instead on ageless universal truths that are common to all religions.
The real roots of Freemasonry, however, are in the ancient Kabbalah, which is called the Secrets of the Torah (the first five books of the Tanakh or Old Testament), and the ancient, mystical secrets are the real spiritual root of Judaism and Christianity.
Now, the teachings and practice of Freemasonry have been learned by many educated men of faith from ancient times, but the practice became known as Freemasonry in Europe in the late 16th Century. And while some claim that Freemasonry was an offshoot of the Rosicrucian Order, the origins of both are misunderstood and a lot of false or erroneous or misleading information has been spread about the origins of Freemasonry.
Ironically, some that erroneous information has been spread by misguided people who think they are Freemasons or Rosicrucians but are not. But, the most false, misleading a deceptive information about Freemasonry has been spread by misguided “Fundamentalist Christians” who hate the idea of religious freedom with equality and pluralism because they have been led to believe that their religion is preeminent and superior, and who are still trying to turn the world back four centuries and reestablish a medieval Church-State Theocracy because they think only Christians should rule.
Therefore, people should know the truth, because Freemasons of the European and American Renaissance and “Enlightenment” eras were true servants of God who wanted further reformation of the Christian churches because they knew the Protestant Reformation merely established superficial reforms and improvement. Unfortunately, they ultimately failed and were overruled by the Theocrats who used religion and the church as a means to establish material power, wealth, and domain.
Moreover, the real foundation of Kabbalah and Freemasonry is what the book of the prophet Isaiah called the “cornerstone of the sure foundation of Zion” (see the article on Where Is Zion?).
The “cornerstone of the foundation of Zion” was, in both a spiritual and a physical sense, established in the days of the Israelite King Solomon, and it was very familiar to Kabbalistic and Talmudic Jews like Hillel the Elder, whose teachings greatly influenced Jesus of Nazareth.
Furthermore, his apostle John, who as a very old man wrote the book of Revelation while in exile on the Greek Isle of Patmos, was a practitioner of Kabbalah, which is evident in the symbolism of the words he used in his writing.
Because of the necessary secrecy due to persecution and oppression of the organized church during the Dark Ages, the historic record of the esoteric Kabbalistic teachings is scant. It began to surface between 1200 C.E. and 1600 C.E., though, very gradually. And it was actually instrumental in putting an end to the Dark Ages and bringing on the Renaissance and "The Enlightenment."(It was also indirectly instrumental in bringing about the Protestant Reformation, though its leaders (like Martin Luther and John Calvin) were no doubt ignorant of the esoteric teachings and were focused on the exoteric canon (Bible) compiled in the fourth century by the church patriarchs organized under the Emperor-Pope.)
However, thanks to the "Enlightenment" period of a little more freedom, Freemasonry became widely acknowledged and practiced during the 1700s, which is why eight signers of the American Declaration of Independence were Freemasons. And since then, eighteen following presidents, many Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress, and other influential people in all walks of life have been Freemasons.
Because Freemasonry is so inclusive, many Freemasons in the 1700s came to accept Deism as a more rational approach to the understanding of Christianity’s essence. Deism is belief in God within reason, with rejection of superstition, rejection of supernatural myths, and rejection of the divisive theocratic dogma and doctrines of men.
However, a Freemason may belong to any religion or congregation, and what is important to a Freemason is mutual respect, brotherly love, charity, cooperation, and collaboration, regardless of the religion of other members.
A Freemason who actually studies and learns the teachings of ageless wisdom of the Qabalah (the Western name for Kabbalah) has, at the very least, an intellectual knowledge of the universal truths at the core of all spiritual teachings and all religions — about universal love, compassion, empathy, charity, faith, tolerance, forgiveness, temperance, patience, and restraint.
Therefore, a Freemason respects all religions and beliefs in a higher consciousness or Divinity, by whatever name.
That is why in the U.S. Constitution the Founding Fathers used generic terms for Divinity, like Creator. And it is why they wrote Article 6 to expressly forbid any religious requirement for office, and the First Amendment to establish real religious freedom and equality and a "wall of separation between church and state" (as Thomas Jefferson wrote), to prevent any sort of theocratic intrusion or imposition of religion into the operations of government.
The Persecution of Freemasons
Unfortunately, Freemasons have been victims of slander and persecution at many times during the last two thousand years, and especially the last sixteen centuries. As was mentioned above, the practitioners of the esoteric ageless wisdom teachings were persecuted by some of the early Christians who sided with Paul rather than James, and by the early medieval Roman Catholic Church, especially during the Inquisition, and slander and persecution of Freemasons continued.
In fact, Freemasons are still persecuted. During the last 30 years, Freemasons have come under increasing attack again by the theocratic fundamentalist "Christian Right" in Australia, Europe, and in America, where the Theocrats simply ignore Article 6 and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and ignores the clear intent of the Founding Fathers.
Perhaps that explains why Freemasonry has a tradition of secrecy, since the tradition of slandering and persecuting those who study and practice Kabbalah and Qabalah and labeling it as "pagan" or "heretical" ontinued even after the Protestant "Reformation" and persists even today.
Remember, the organized church established the "Divine Right" of Catholic Christian Popes and Kings (and eventually of Protestant Christian Kings) to rule by the sword. It led to a long series of official church actions called the Inquisition against "heretics" -- and later, as the official Church of England, the Anglican Church was, in its own way, nearly as theocratic as the Roman Church.
All the above is why the Founding Fathers of the United States of American demanded freedom and independence from imperial "religious" military industrial Theocracy in 1776.
Unfortunately, that part of the American Revolution did not work. Thomas Paine was wrong when he wrote: “Soon after I had published the pamphlet, ‘Common Sense’ [on Feb. 14, 1776] in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion.” But it was not. With respect to the intent of The Founding Fathers Regarding Religion, they have been essentially ignored.
That is why Americans now need to know that the Founding Fathers were very much against the theocratic church leaders in their day, and they were highly critical of the blatant theocratic abuse of power demonstrated in America in New England, especially during the notorious "witch-hunts."
That's why Benjamin Franklin in an essay on "Toleration" stated: "If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. [The Puritans] found it wrong in the Bishops [of the Church of England], but fell into the same practice themselves in New England [in America]."
You see, in the late 1700s misguided, theocratic "Christians" even slandered the founders of the United States of America, and it was because, again, most of the founding fathers were Deists and many were Freemasons. They wanted to establish real freedom of religion, with freedom from religious bigotry and theocratic imposition. But misguided, right-wing theocratic Christians did not like that. In fact, they fought against it.
That is why Thomas Jefferson wrote: "The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man."
More to the point, Jefferson also wrote: "The returning good sense of our country threatens the clergy and they believe that any portion of power confided to me will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me, and enough too in their opinion, and this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me."
Even more important, Jefferson also said: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
James Madison wrote: "What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not." And Madison also wrote: "Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by [Christian] Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history."
Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, John Adams and others, including Abraham Lincoln, felt the same way. (See the article Ignored American History.) But, unfortunately, with respect to the need for religious pluralism and equality, the Founding Fathers’ influence did not last for long.
Today most Americans are unaware of that, because aggressive, theocratic Christians gradually negated the pluralistic influence of the Founding Fathers regarding religion, and there have been times when theocratic right-wing Christians have become politically aggressive, as they are now and have been for the last 30 years.
One of the offensive and deceptive things some Fundamentalist Christians who slander Freemasonry do is perpetuate a “quote” supposedly stated in a speech in l889 by Albert Pike, an influential Freemason. They claim that Pike said: “The Masonic religion should be, by all of its initiates of the higher degrees, maintained in the purity of the Luciferian doctrine.” And the quote usually claims that Pike claimed Lucifer was and is God, and they claim that Lucifer was Satan or Satanic.
Now, of course, Pike was only human, and like other men had many faults and was wrong about a lot of things. However, no true Freemason would make such a statement. Freemasonry is not a religion, and it regards the doctrines and dogma of organized religions as personal and private beliefs, not to be discussed among Masons out of mutual respect for their beliefs, and certainly not to be adopted as Masonic doctrine. Freemasonry is free of doctrine and dogma.
The problem is that the idea that Pike did make that statement persists, and it’s probably because of what Edith Starr Miller wrote in her 1933 book, “Occult Theocracy,” under the pen name “Lady Queens Borough,” and she probably found her quote in the 1894 French book by Abbe Clarin de la Rive, Le Femme et L’Enfanr dans la Franc-Maconnerie Univer-seile (Woman and Child in Universal Freemasonry). However, in both books, the attribution of the Pike "quote" is riddled with titles, terms and words that reveal rather startling ignorance of, and false statements about, Freemasonry.
However, even though a true Freemason would not advocate a so-called "Luciferian Doctrine," the accusation that Pike did brings up an interesting point, because many Christians have been led to believe in an erroneous idea of just who “Lucifer” was.
As is explained in the article on Lucifer and Satan, the name Lucifer is seen in Isaiah 14:12 because it was used in some Latin and English translations of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible), and in the King James and most subsequent versions of the Christian Bible. However, the original book of Isaiah in Hebrew does not use the name Lucifer.
The name Lucifer comes from the Latin word for "light bringer," but it is derived from the Roman Latin translation of the Hebrew word for bright or brilliant one. And, in the original Hebrew Isaiah 14:12 says: "morning star, son of the dawn, how far you have fallen," and that "son of the dawn" rebuked by the prophet Isaiah happens to be the "King of Babylon," not an archangel or angel or any other supernatural being.
Even so, fundamentalist Christians ignore of deny the facts, preferring their own story. That has been the case since Paul began spreading his epistles in 50 AD, and it was the case in the mid-1930s, not only in America, but in Europe.
In Germany, Adolf Hitler, who claimed he was a Christian in speeches and in his book Mein Kampf, incited the Nazis to persecute and even murder Freemasons along with Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals and many other groups. The Fascist Nazis claimed, and even believed, that they were the true Christians, ushering in a thousand year reign of pure Christian Aryan rule.
In the 1930s in America, misguided Christians like Edith Starr Miller also asserted themselves, just as their Prohibitionist predecessors did. And, in reaction to the success of the good liberal progressives who supported President Roosevelt’s New Deal, there was a revival of political activism driven by right-wing conservative, dogmatic Christian sects who hated Roosevelt's liberal, progressive ideas. (And by the way, in spite of what "conservatives" claim, the meaning of the word “liberal” is: “Favorable to progress or reform; advocating individual freedom of action and expression; advocating representational government as opposed to aristocracies or monarchies; advocating freedom from bigotry and prejudice; open-minded and tolerant; characterized by generosity,” etc.)
Theocrats sought to establish more firm "Christian" control in the United States, and they founded a "Legion of Decency" designed to do that. It consisted of much the same denominations, sects and factions that even today make up the "Christian Right" and what they call a "Moral Majority" or "Christian Coalition." They too think they are the true Christians, and they assume they are in the majority, but they are neither Christians or the majority.
The American "Christian Right" ironically acts in opposition to the true majority of Christians, because true Christians do not impose on or judge their fellow human beings harshly, nor do they cast stones. True Christians actually care for and/or advocate for the majority, and especially the poor and the least of our brethren, just as Deists and Freemasons do.
Now, the latest rise of slander against Freemasonry began in 1980 with the rise of the theocratic “Fundamentalist Christian Right,” and during the last 30 years many of its leaders have made many misleading, false, slanderous and even malicious claims about what Freemasonry is, and about what Masons are, and what they do.
In fact, it has become what might be called a new Inquisition, only this time it’s being waged on television and Internet sites by false shepherds, false prophets and hatemongers, poisoning the minds of misguided blind "born-again Christian" flocks and leading them to think they are superior and “holier than thou,” and that everyone else is ruled by “Satan.”
The hypocrites who claim to be Christians have even been spreading a conspiracy theory about the Great Seal of the United States of America, which was designed by the Founding Fathers in 1782, and since 1935 both sides of the Great Seal have appeared on the one dollar bill.
In spite of the truth, the hypocritical Theocrats on the “Christian Right” claim that the Eye of Providence at the top of the pyramid on the seal is a “Satanic” Masonic symbol, despite the fact that the Great Seal was not created by Freemasons.
Benjamin Franklin was the only Freemason who was a member of any of the various Great Seal committees who created and adopted the seal. According to knowledgeable scholars cited at Wikipedia, of the four men whose ideas for the seal were adopted, none were Freemasons, and the Eye of Providence was a fairly common Christian motif throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and was commonly used as such in Europe as well as America throughout the 1700s. So, even though its symbolism was understood by learned Freemasons, it was not Freemasons who made it a symbol for Divine Providence.
Furthermore, the Latin “Novus Ordo Seclorum” on the Great Seal means New Order of the Ages, not “New World Order,” as superstitious hypocrites and slanderous hatemongers on the “Religious Right” claim. The Founding Fathers were establishing, or at least intended to establish, a new order of government with Jeffersonian democracy, liberty, freedom of religion and freedom from Theocracy, shunning the idea of being a dominant, imperialistic, theocratic religious military industrial world power with a state religion, as British King George’s Empire was.
Now, since Freemasonry has been maligned by the "Religious Right" in America in books and web sites that have concocted misleading and deceptive conspiracy theories about Freemasonry, and since Dan Brown's book "The Lost Symbol" and the movie by the same name feature Freemasonry as an important part of the story, it has become even more important that the facts about Freemasonry be told and the real truth revealed.
The Truth About Freemasonry
The name Mason refers to craftsmen, specifically to stonemasons all the way back to those who built the ancient Temple of Solomon, as was mentioned above. However, even though there is a tradition of secrecy, it is not because Freemasonry is anything like a "cult." It is not.
In fact, like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, all Masons believe that one’s spiritual and religious beliefs are a private matter and between each person and God, and are no one else’s business.
Moreover, Freemasonry has no single leader. It does not recruit members, nor does it coerce members in any way, and it does not claim to have knowledge of the only truth. Masons are free, and they can participate regularly, or sporadically, or rarely, as they choose. And they can also choose to end their membership if they wish, without any notice or complications.
Freemasonry is not necessarily "religious," because while the belief in a God or a Supreme Being is a requirement for Masons, no single religion dominates. In fact, Masonic rules ban even the discussion of religion and politics, because Masons understand that they could very well disagree about such matters, and that would cause disharmony among members. Therefore, Masons can belong to any religion or any sect, or no religion at all. That’s their own business, and no one else’s.
Freemasonry does not have any sort of global network, or even national network. There are many Masonic lodges, and they are not connected. In fact, there are some that very different than others in certain ways. And that’s because Masons are free to follow their own sense of ethics, mutual respect, etc. And each lodge takes on the character of its members as a whole.
Furthermore, contrary to what some uninformed critics claim, Masons are not members of "The Knights Templar." The Templars were an order of militant, medieval crusaders in the early 1300s, and they were not necessarily associated with Freemasonry as we know it. Furthermore, Masons are not part of a so-called "Illumanati." The original Illuminati died out about eight years after the American Revolution of 1776. And even though there have been so-called revivals of so-called "Illuminati" groups, they have been fraudulent organizations led by impersonators and pretenders who were not really enlightened but pretended to be.
Now, as to the labeling of Freemasonry as "occultism," that is a complex issue, because the true meaning of the world "occult" merely means hidden. It is in some ways synonymous with the word "esoteric," which means something known only by a few. Neither term is actually negative, even though they have been grossly misunderstood and mislabeled by misguided, judgmental, self-righteous people.
In fact, over the centuries Christian hypocrites have succeeded in creating a pejorative connotation to the term "occult," and they have led people to believe that occult teachings have something to do with "satanism." And granted, that has been partly because there have been and are charlatans and pretenders who misuse the tools (like the Sacred Tarot) used in esoteric teachings, to suit their own purposes. But then, there are charlatans and pretenders who misuse the words in religious scriptures like the Bible to suit their own purposes too. For what can be bad is not the tools or the words, but those who misuse them in self-serving, exploitive pursuits, out of spiritual ignorance and self-interest.
Some of the tools used in Freemasonry are the symbols used in Kabbalah, from Astrology, Numerology, Gematria, Alchemy, and the Major Arcana of the Sacred Tarot. Many of them are universal symbols used in most Ageless Wisdom teachings. But all those systems of spiritual teaching are for self-examination and self-discovery. They are not religious, as we use the term, but they are actually designed to produce what true religion is supposed to produce, which is self-realization, unity, harmony, peace, freedom, sisterhood, brotherhood, love of God, and love of our fellow human beings.
Regarding the 32 Degrees of Freemasonry, they have to do with the 32 Paths of Wisdom depicted in the Tree of Life diagram used in the Qabalah. The Tree of Life is an ancient symbol, mentioned the books of Moses, David and Solomon. And, in John’s book of Revelation, the Tree of Life is depicted as "baring twelve manner of fruits, and yields her fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." (Revelation 22:2) It is not a literal tree but a symbol for Wisdom, and the twelve "fruits" refer to the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and the leaves refer to the 32 healing paths of Wisdom in the diagram.
There is confusion about the Masonic degrees, however, because there are really only three degrees of Freemasonry: Initiate-Apprentice, Craftsman, and Master. But Masters can then go on in their studies and service to become Adepts and earn the thirty-third degree. But that is an honorary degree awarded for exceptional service, and in the original and true teaching system of Ageless Wisdom there are 32 paths.
Unfortunately, some people, including some who have been Masons but did not realize true Wisdom, think the paths or degrees have to do with personal ranking, and hierarchy, when that is not the case. That is a distortion of the teachings, and a misinterpretation of the numbers. In fact, with each step, one comes closer to the realization that we are as one, and equal joint heirs to the kingdom of heaven
Again, just as the words in the Torah, Tanakh and Bible have been misinterpreted, misunderstood and misused by authoritarian patriarchs to justify acts of materialistic control, oppression, persecution, and even wars and genocide, the tools of esoteric spiritual teachings have been misused by certain people. Hell, Adolph Hitler consulted Astrologers who were unethical and unscrupulous. And there have always been charlatans who pretended to be fortune tellers, who have used the Sacred Tarot simply to bilk money from gullible, naive people.
The point is that the original and true purpose of Freemasonry is not about hierarchy or becoming more important or more powerful or higher or richer than others. It’s about sharing for the common good, about fostering brotherhood, about self-examination and true self-realization, and about realizing that the True Self is the Self of All.
After all, Jesus said: "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not and does not know him. But you shall know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you... Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more ... [And one] day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." (John 14:17-20) For we are One In Spirit. That’s the truth that an enlightened person realizes.
This is an extremely important point, because many people can intellectually learn words and concepts without truly understanding them. For example, there are right-wing partisan preachers who have memorized the Bible and can quote any chapter and verse, and yet they are still spiritually blind and do not understand divine will and intent.
Similarly, there are "Master" Freemasons who have intellectually learned the words and concepts of the Qabalah and yet they are still spiritually blind and do not understand divine will and intent. That understanding comes only with Wisdom received through divine revelation, when you least expect it (see the article on The Highest State of Consciousness).
Now, as for the patriotism of American Masons, you should know that most Masonic meetings in America are preceded by the pledge of allegiance to the flag, and support for the U.S. Constitution is a central component of American Masonic values.
As was mentioned earlier, eight signers of the American Declaration of Independence were Freemasons, including Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, and sixteen following presidents were also Freemasons. However, the only presidents who were Masons in the last 60 years were Gerald Ford and Harry Truman. Most Masons have learned to keep their Masonic membership to themselves as a private matter.
In alphabetical order by last name, here is a partial list of other famous American Freemasons, which includes:
Irving Berlin, Composer;
Hugo L. Black, US Associate Justice;
John Blair, US Associate Justice;
Ernest Borgnine, Actor;
Omar N. Bradley, US Army General;
Kit Carson, American Adventurer;
Paul Foster Case, Founder of the Builders of the Adytum;
Cecil B. DeMille, Movie Director;
Everett Dirksen, U.S. Congressman and Senator;
Bob Dole, US Senator;
James Doolittle, US General and Shriner;
William O. Douglas, US Associate Justice;
Duke Ellington, Musician;
Sam Ervin, US Senator;
Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company;
Charles Lindbergh, US Aviator;
Thurgood Marshall, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice;
Sam Nunn, US Senator;
Arnold Palmer, Professional Golfer;
Norman Vincent Peale, Inspirational Writer;
Roy Rogers, American actor;
Will Rogers, American political commentator and satirist;
Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. President;
Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. President;
John Philip Sousa, Music Composer;
Mark Twain, American author;
Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States;
There are many more Americans listed at the source from which these names came, which lists also many famous people from around the world who have also been and are Freemasons, including Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England.
The above names and the Internet link shows you that Freemasons are diverse in their religions, politics, and ideologies. But those who become wise understand that brotherhood is far more important than religions, politics, and ideologies. We can agree to disagree about those things, and we can agree that we are all children of the Great Spirit-Parent who is our God in heaven.
So, do not believe the hateful and divisive nonsense that you may find on the Internet sites slandering Freemasonry. They are posted by misguided zealots on the so-called Christian Right who ignore the core, universal teachings of Jesus. Instead, they cling to the erroneous, theocratic doctrine of preeminence and superiority that is loved by hypocritical, egocentric people. They are as the blind led by the blind, and their worst leaders are as wolves in sheep’s clothing.