ABOVE: George Washington was a Free Mason who is said to have incorporated
the Order’s tradition, symbology and ritual into the nation’s earliest foundations.
Last night I watched a fascinating, 2-hour documentary about the history of the Free Masons on The History Channel. I don’t usually get my ideas for research projects from the television, but this particular piece ignited an interest in the way that the history of the Free Masons is presented to the Free Masons. It is no secret that some of our most prominent Founding Fathers were members of the Order and as a result, Mason symbology can be found throughout our nation’s most sacred identifiers including our monuments and currency.
As the legacy of this secret society is so well-protected, there must be a conscious effort to internally preserve and present the history that helped to define it. I wonder if there is a formal obligation to share the Mason’s heritage among its members, generation after generation. Since their inception, the Free Masons have been the target of countless naysayers who have accused them of being a dangerous organization. Some critics have even referred to them as the occult. I believe these kinds of blanket accusations are based on ignorance. This ignorance, albeit unintentional at times, is due to a lack of knowledge, which in a way is completely understandable when you are talking about a secret society. People tend to fear what they don’t understand.
There is a fraternal brotherhood among the Masons who are sworn to absolute secrecy. It would be a waste of my time to ask them to divulge anything that would go against their code. Personally, I have too much respect for them to do that. At the same time, I am “literally” interested in their history. What I would like to ask openly (to any of you Free Masons who wish to post a comment either by name or anonymously) is this: Are you taught the history of the Order? Are you expected to learn the history upon receiving membership? Is the history in itself, part of the process?
There are piles of unsanctioned “Secrets of the Masons Revealed-type books” out there spreading what is considered by many to be propaganda. At the same time, there are a growing number of “Behind the Free Masons-documentaries,” like the one I watched on THC. These shows appear to have Mason members as official consultants and claim to tell the truth. And who can forget the whole Dan Brown-Illuminati fad that resulted in an entire movement of misinformation about the Order. The bottom line is that when you are examining the Free Masons (as an outsider), it’s virtually impossible to know what is legit and what is speculation.
Perhaps the mass confusion and misinformation surrounding the true legacy of the Free Masons is all part of the process of protecting it? I just want to know if they are expected to know their real history.
Updated: Thursday, 1 April 2010 7:09 PM EDT