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Because of Freemasonry's inadvertent involvement and the misuse of Freemasonry by the Illuminati's founder who had become a Mason, the legends of its continued existence (and influence) persist into the twenty-first century tying the organizations somehow together. In fact, Weishaupt founded the organization and then tried to get the Freemasons involved. He achieved a very limited success in a couple of lodges but was soon seen as a 'user' and his group removed - not unlike the 'fake Masonry' of today, actually!
In the 1950s and 1960s, members of the John Birch Society made much of this supposed 'shadow' organization, using it as an effective substitute for their anti-Semitism. Perhaps some of the confusion regarding the organization is due to the fact that over time, the word illuminati came to be used more expansively for many enthusiasts of Enlightenment, including but not limited to the followers of Emmanuel Swedenborg. Nevertheless, the Illuminati's connection with Freemasonry was date-specific (the late 1700s) and place-specific (what is now Germany); it had NO involvement in Freemasonry elsewhere despite fanciful claims. Even the oft-mentioned 'Proofs of A Conspiracy' written in 1797 by Robison (and the root cause of so much furor in the United States as a result of one Boston Minister's fanciful claims made based on that book) notes that the Illuminati's brand of Freemasonry was NOT the same Freemasonry as found in England and from which all other legitimate Masonic lodges today can trace their ancestry.