This topic should be very comprehensive but I'll try to remain concise. Simply put - anti-Masons have little knowledge about what they talk about.
Like-wise so do many Masons, but more Masons, and scholars have delved into that world of symbolism than have anti-Masons. In fact, anti-Masonry is
rooted in ignorance.
Where did it begin, or why? The Catholic Church was the first to condemn Masonry - people often use this as great evidence against Masons, but the
Catholic Church condemned many others ... burning at the stake the first man to suggest there were worlds around other stars (do these same
anti-Masons shun this notion now that we have discovered over 100 solar systems?)
They imprisoned Galileo, and prosecuted Copernicus, they excommunicated England because they resisted Church rule.
I am in no way against the Catholic Church - they got us through the Dark Ages and were the beginnings of the scientific movement, but when they
unleashed science and it bit their dogma - they retaliated.
Freemasonry - the first known speculative masons being the first to create the Royal Society (the first scientist academie in Britain) namely Elias
Ashmole and Sir Robert Bacon - received the full brunt of the Catholic oppression.
Now - various things are misunderstood by anti-Masons.
Take for example the all seeing eye. A symbol that was used for hundreds of years originating in the 1600s.
The All Seeing Eye on a Catholic Church
Ironic - what people consider "gnostic" or "statanic" is in fact used by the Catholic church (but many who are anti-Masons probably think the
Catholic church is satanic too).
Symbolism is often changed over the years and then people misunderstand that...
Such as the Star of David - which is found on Midieval churches in the holy land - before it became a symbol of Judaism.
In short - when the actual symbols of Masonry are understood, there is little ground for anti-Masons. But you have to cut through the changing
interpretations of symbols or meanings...such as Lucifer (which is not in Masonry at all anyway).