Originally posted by KarenW
Conspiracy Theories have become the in thing and it is up to the individual to believe what he or she wants to believe. This makes life interesting.
I would probably agree with most of that. But the problem is that conspiracy theory often demonizes innocent people. Anyone can invent a conspiracy
theory and post it on the web, or even write a book about it. I'm not opposed to conspiracy theories for fun, but I remain opposed to falsely
accusing innocent people of wrongdoing.
I would like to understand if they are squeaky clean how and when did they start getting the reputation of being evil, etc? ...if anyone can
offer an answer regarding how the reputation was established that would be great...
This is afascinating story in itself, and has several components. The original anti-Masons seem to have been the Roman Catholic Church. During the
Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries, men of learning began questioning the inherent authority of the status quo. This status quo, consisting
of a close relation between the Church and the various absolute monarchies, epitomized the dark ages. But the new sciences of Newton and philosophy of
Voltaire, Locke, and Diderot finally called everything into question.
Many began to stand up and claim that the Church had no inherent authority to control men's lives; also, these same rebels began to say that kings
did not rule by divine right as the Church claimed, but that, in reality, legitimate government rules only by consent of the people.
These new ideas threatened the power of both the Church and the monarchies. Such men who espoused these new theories began to be excommunicated from
the Church, while others left it voluntarily. For some reason we're still not sure of, many began congregating in the Masonic Lodges instead.
This led the Church to officially denounce Masonry. The Church began to claim that Masonry was anti-Christian because it refused to recognize the
ultimate authority of the Roman Church. The Church also accused Masonry of teaching "naturalism", i.e., the religious doctrine of "the law of
Nature and Nature's God", instead of orthodox Catholic teaching.
Freemasonry also began to teach the complete separation of Church and State, which again threatened the Church's power. In Pope Leo XIII's
anti-Masonic bull "Humanum Genus", he claims that the Church has every right to educate all children according to its doctrines, and neither the
children's parents nor the state has the right to deny the Church this supposed "authority". Pope Leo goes on to say that since Freemasonry denies
the Church this right, it is anti-Christian.
Even Protestantism borrowed some from the Catholics in this regard. Although Protestants agreed with Masonry that the Catholic Church had no inherent
authority over non-Catholics, and that the Church and State should be separated, many Protestants nevertheless agreed with Rome that Freemasonry
taught Naturalism, and that non-Christians could serve God and their fellow man.
Today, the primary religious crticism of Masonry is that it supposedly teaches Naturalism. The truth of the materr is that, although many Naturalists
have been and are Masons, Masonry itself does not teach Naturalism, except for the separation of Church and State.
Some religious zealots have went even further by claiming that Masonry is not only naturalist, but even satanic. This claim is only found by those
religious zealots who are on the fringes, and mainstream evangelicals know that it is not true. Their criticism of Masonry is that it is naturalistic,
not satanic. The belief that Masonry is somehow satanic derived from a famous hoax perpetrated by a French author named Leo Taxil in the late 19th
century, who forged several documents that he initially claimed was written by a recently deceased Masonic administrator in the USA named Albert Pike.
Eventually, due to contradictions in his story, Taxil was forced to admit that it was a hoax, but the fringe mentioned above generally ignore this,
and continue to spread this hoax. For more info on that bizarre story, see the US News article "Devil In A Red Fez", published last year in its
Famous Hoaxes issue:
A second group (other than the religious group) opposes Freemasonry for political reasons. Historically, Freemasonry has been associated with
classical liberalism. The classical liberalism of the British philosopher John Locke and our own American forefathers held it that men possess certain
natural rights: freedom of speech, of religion, and assembly; popularly elected government, which governs by consent of the people, etc.
Two political groups who have opposed Freemasonry on these grounds were the Communist Party and the various Fascist organizations. Of the Fascists,
the Nazi Party was the most violently anti-Masonic, although Franco's Falange Party in Spain and Mussolini's Fascist Party in Italy would routinely
launch police terror against Freemasons in their countries.
Both the Communists and the Fascists believed that Freemasons were conspiring to overthrow their governments, and to set up a liberal democracy in its
place (similiar to what happened during the American Revolutionary War). Both Communists and Fascists considered liberal democracies to be weak and
decadent, and therefore sought to eliminate the threat by eliminating Freemasons.
Today's opponents of Freemasonry usually borrow from either the Church's or the Nazis' anti-Masonic propaganda, or a combination of both.