I and several others from the masonic Information Center in Silver
Spring, Maryland, flew to State College to speak to Masons and critics
representing clergy in several churches in the State College area in an
attempt to resolve some of the questions being raised about our fraternity.
We were extremely pleased with the response and the anti-masonic rhetoric
has subsided, although it has not died out completely.
A number of reasons have been proposed for the current
anti-masonic effort, but I would argue that they are outward signs or
symptoms of a much deeper cause. Several reasons being offered, but which
miss the real cause are:
- Some Masons have speculated that perhaps some masonic critics were
turned down when they petitioned for lodge membership. While this may be
true, I have found no evidence of that. I have found that some Masons,
such as Jim Shaw, joined the fraternity for the wrong reasons. He grew up
in an abusive home. His father deserted the family when Jim was only a few
months old. His mother remarried. His step-father beat him and his mother.
Then, his step-father threw him out of the house at age 13. His parents
gave him little religious training. Shaw looked to Masonry–he was
encouraged to "try to be like your Uncle Irvin" who was a "good man and a
Mason." He joined the fraternity and began an active member, eventually
becoming a 32¡( KCCH). When he became a Christian, Shaw said he found what
he was looking for in his newfound faith in Christ. Because Freemasonry
had not provided what he had hoped it would, he turned against it.
- James Larry Holly, the Beaumont, Texas physician who was recognized as
the leading Southern Baptist critic of Freemasonry between 1985 and 1994
states that one of the reasons he is opposed to Freemasonry is because it
is a religion. Indeed, all masonic critics begin with the assumption that
Freemasonry is a religion. But Holly has a more personal reason for his
opposition to the fraternity. His father is a Freemason and an
Episcopalian. Holly says his father is not a Christian and blames
Freemasonry because he claims his father was told Freemasonry is all the
religion he needs.
- Money is a driving force for many masonic critics. In fact, most of
the agitators are people who operate a ministry seeking to condemn not
only Freemasonry, but the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups
they have decided are not "Christian." Sensational stories sell magazines
and books just as putting a scantily-clad woman on the cover of a
paperback sells books. Ed Decker finds streets in
Washington, DC that form a five-pointed star or
pentegram and a square and compasses. To fire up his readers, Decker
calls his diagram an "occult iceberg" with the White House, the Washington
Monument and the House of the Temple within his "Masonic conspiracy
puzzle." He sees the head and ears of what Satanists call the goat of
Mendes in the circle drive and short streets behind the Capitol and
associates this with Freemasonry. When he finishes spinning his web, he
concludes that the United States is under the control of Masons and
assorted other groups.
- In some countries, politics plays an important part in the
condemnation of the fraternity. This is a primary reason behind the Roman
Catholic Church's opposition to the fraternity. A Mason, Giuseppe Garibaldi, led the successful effort to crush the temporal
power of the Pope in Italy, reducing the Roman Catholic Church's holding
in Italy to the 109-acre Vatican City. This successful effort was a main
catalyst for Pope Leo XII's infamous encyclical, Humanum Genus, in 1884. It condemned Freemasonry as a "wicked force"
and a "contagious disease" because Freemasons:
- call for religious liberty;
- call for separation of [the Roman Catholic] Church and state;
- call for education of children by laymen rather than the [Roman
Catholic] Church and;
- believe people have the right to make their own laws and elect their
Cardinal Caro y Rodriquez, Archbishop of Santiago, Chile, was opposed to
Freemasonry because he claimed Masons were behind the removal of the
crucifix and images from public schools (after the Chilean elections of
1924); were behind the organization of the Boy Scouts "with the concealed
purpose of alienating the children from the [Catholic] Church;" were behind
the effort to replace the Catechism and influence of Catholic parents with
"teachers of lay morality, without religion;" and favors and helps
Protestantism, which he defined as "a rebellion against the authority
established by His Church by Our Lord Jesus Christ."
Dictatorships such as Nazi Germany and various communist countries drove
the fraternity underground during the early part of this century.
I would argue that all of these illustrations are but symptoms of a far
more fundamental hatred of the fraternity.
I will present what I firmly believe is the fundamental reason for the
attack on the fraternity at this time in history.
A particular kind of theology called dispensational fundamentalism is the
driving force for all Protestant evangelical critics of the fraternity.
Dispensationalism traces its roots to the early 1800s with Margaret McDonald
and John Nelson Darby who began to teach that evil would soon take control
of the world under the rule of the Antichrist, who is the beast in the Book
of Revelation, who will fight Christ in the final Battle of Armageddon. This
particular theology found its main followers within rural, less educated
Christians, until the mid-1960s when it became increasingly popular among
more educated main-stream Christians such as independent churches and then
Professor Donald Bloesch of Dubuque Seminary finds that one of the marks
of dispensational fundamentalism is its inordinate attention given to
eschatology; an emphasis on the last days of human history.
According to this theology, the world as we know it will last 6,000
years. Since it was created about
4000 BC, or 6,000 years ago, we are living in the last days. According
to this theology, we are living in the final church age, called the
Laodicean age in Revelation 3, which is marked by liberalism and apostasy in
the church and moral decay in society.
Signs of this moral decay are said to include the USA Supreme Court
rulings disallowing prayers in public schools in 1963 and allowing abortions
in 1973, the teaching of evolution, acceptance of homosexuality, the
breakdown of the family, drug use, &c.
The creation of the nation of Isræl in 1948 is said to be the greatest
sign. Hal Lindsey, a leading popular exponent of dispensational
fundamentalism, writes in The 1980's: Countdown to Armageddon, "And after
nearly 2,000 years of wandering through exile, the Jews returned to
Palestine and formed the nation of Isræl on May 14, 1948. On that day, the
prophetic countdown began!"
The creation of the European Common Market is seen as a fulfillment of
the biblical prophecy in Revelation 17 which speaks of ten kings who make
war against Christ. Lindsey writes, "When I wrote that in Late Great [Planet
Earth in 1970] the only possible successor to the Roman Empire (in my
opinion) was the European Common Market."
When he adds the Arabs, Russia and China, Lindsey concludes, "Thus we
have all five pieces of the [Old Testament] prophets' scenario for the later
days. All the powers–Isræl, the Arabs, Russia, China and the revived Roman
Empire–are fixed in place.
Conspiracy hunter and author of the book, The New World Religion, Gary
Kah, in a recent program on Pat Robinson's Christian Broadcasting Network,
warned about the coming "One World Government." He lists groups he claims
are promoting the "One World Government." They include the United Nations,
the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Trilateral Commission. Kah says, "I have found repeatedly, as I have
investigated some of these organizations, that the leaders of many of them
do belong to one or more of the secret societies, particularly the
institution of Freemasonry."
The church and the government have been unwilling or unable to stop the
moral decline in our society. It is believed government, religious leaders,
church-related academics, and liberal pastors seem to have lost their way
and become part of the problem. Fundamentalists see themselves as God's last
hope in our world today.
Everyone is believed to be either for or against God. So-called true
believers and so-called unbelievers are divided into two camps. These
individuals form the extreme right in the religious world; anyone to the
left of them is automatically a part of the other group. Human institutions
, civil, political and religious, are inherently defective and doomed.
In the political arena, we see this in the rise of the religious right
and the Moral Majority and the candidacy of men such as TV evangelist and
masonic critic, Pat Robinson.
Democracy must be replaced with a theocracy–or rule by God rather than
man. Of course, the religious right sees itself as the only avenue through
which this can occur. One Southern Baptist leader warned the Republican
Party, "evangelical Christians are looking for parties and candidates that
endorse their values, not vice versa. I add that if you want evangelical
Christians to support you, you must adopt and support their values and
Democracy has allowed citizens to have too much freedom–where all
convictions about right and wrong are of equal value. Fundamentalist Ralph
D. Winter said, "I recall with chagrin how naïvely in my youth I accepted
that famous line from the Declaration of Independence–'life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness.' What a poison for any nation to drink."
In addition to the government, the church must be prepared and made pure
by purging it of liberalism, false doctrine and unbelievers. The church is
called the "bride of Christ" in the New Testament. The church must be a pure
virgin when Christ returns. Thus, the purge taking place.
Concerning this purge, there can be no compromise–and the purge is on the
fast-track. Total defeat of anyone perceived to be opposed to God is the
only goal. Nothing less will do. George Dollar says, "Evil and error must be
exposed. It is vital for fundamentalism to resist any tolerance of error and
compromise and to maintain its militant spirit." In another book, Dollar
defines fundamentalism: "Historic Fundamentalism is the literal exposition
of all the affirmations and attitudes of the Bible and the militant exposure
of all non-biblical affirmations and attitudes."
Mortimer Ostow says, "Fundamentalists think in terms of black-and-white
polarities, finding the intermediate shades of gray inconceivable."
Compromise is not a word in our critics' vocabulary. The hope that
masonic critics will eventually forget about the fraternity is a naïve hope
which simply will not be realized.
My replacement at the Southern Baptist Convention's North American
Mission Board has referred to himself as the only official heresy hunter in
the SBC. I never considered myself a heresy hunter. His attitude points out
a major difference between Masons and fundamentalists. Masons seek
friendship even with people whose beliefs are not the same as ours while
fundamentalists look for evidence of liberalism, apostasy or toleration with
the world and seek to isolate or destroy anyone holding a view different
from theirs. Masons point out the good they do in society, but the critics
are not interested in that good. They do not look for the good, but only for
the perceived bad. They look for reasons to condemn and reject.