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Apophenia: Illusory correlation (behavioral sciences). "Spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena." Skeptic’s Dictionary, Robert Todd Carroll.
Anti-masonry Frequently Asked Questions
Section 6, version 2.9

1. What were the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the most notorious and most successful work of modern antisemitism, draws on popular antisemitic notions which have their roots in mediaeval Europe from the time of the Crusades. The libels that the Jews used blood of Christian children for the Feast of Passover, poisoned the wells and spread the plague were pretexts for the wholesale destruction of Jewish communities throughout Europe. Tales were circulated among the masses of secret rabbinical conferences whose aim was to subjugate and exterminate the Christians, and motifs like these are found in early antisemitic literature.
The conceptual inspiration for the Protocols can be traced back to the time of the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century. At that time, a French Jesuit named Abbé Augustin Barruel (1741/10/02 - 1820/10/05), representing reactionary elements opposed to the revolution, published in 1797 a treatise blaming the Revolution on a secret conspiracy operating through the Order of freemasons. Barruel’s idea was nonsense, since the French nobility at the time was heavily masonic. In his treatise, Barruel did not himself blame the Jews, who were emancipated as a result of the Revolution. However, in 1806, Barruel circulated a forged letter, probably sent to him by members of the state police opposed to Napoleon Bonaparte’s liberal policy toward the Jews, calling attention to the alleged part of the Jews in the conspiracy he had earlier attributed to the freemasons.
The direct predecessor of the Protocols can be found in the pamphlet "Dialogues in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu", published by the non-Jewish French satirist Maurice Joly in 1864. In his "Dialogues", which make no mention of the Jews, Joly attacked the political ambitions of the emperor Napoleon III using the imagery of a diabolical plot in Hell. The "Dialogues" were caught by the French authorities soon after their publication and Joly was tried and sentenced to prison for his pamphlet.
Joly’s "Dialogues", while intended as a political satire, soon fell into the hands of a German antisemite named Hermann Goedsche writing under the name of Sir John Retcliffe. Goedsche was a postal clerk and a spy for the Prussian secret police. He had been forced to leave the postal work due to his part in forging evidence in the prosecution against the Democratic leader Benedict Waldeck in 1849. Goedsche adapted Joly’s "Dialogues" into a mythical tale of a Jewish conspiracy as part of a series of novels entitled "Biarritz", which appeared in 1868. In a chapter called "The Jewish Cemetery in Prague and the Council of Representatives of the Twelve Tribes of Israel", he spins the fantasy of a secret centennial rabbinical conference which meets at midnight and whose purpose is to review the past hundred years and to make plans for the next century.
Goedsche’s plagiary of Joly’s "Dialogues" found its way to Russia. It was translated into Russian in 1872, and a consolidation of the "council of representatives" under the name "Rabbi’s Speech" appeared in Russian in 1891. These works furnished the Russian secret police (Okhrana) with a means with which to strengthen the position of the weak Czar Nicholas II and discredit the reforms of the liberals who sympathized with the Jews. During the Dreyfus case of 1893-1895, agents of the Okhrana in Paris redacted the earlier works of Joly and Goedsche into a new edition which they called the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The manuscript of the Protocols was brought to Russia in 1895 and was printed privately in 1897.
The Protocols did not become public until 1905, when Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese War was followed by the Revolution in the same year, leading to the promulgation of a constitution and institution of the Duma. In the wake of these events, the reactionary "Union of the Russian Nation" or Black Hundreds organization sought to incite popular feeling against the Jews, who they blamed for the Revolution and the Constitution. To this end they used the Protocols, which was first published in a public edition by the mystic priest Sergius Nilus in 1905. The Protocols were part of a propaganda campaign which accompanied the pogroms of 1905 inspired by the Okhrana. A variant text of the Protocols was published by George Butmi in 1906 and again in 1907. The edition of 1906 was found among the Czar’s collection, even though he had already recognized the work as a forgery. In his later editions, Nilus claimed that the Protocols had been read secretly at the First Zionist Congress at Basle in 1897, while Butmi in his edition wrote that they had no connection with the new Zionist movement, but rather were part of the masonic conspiracy.
In the civil war following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the reactionary White Armies made extensive use of the Protocols to incite widespread slaughters of Jews. At the same time, Russian emigrants brought the Protocols to western Europe, where the Nilus edition served as the basis for many translations, starting in 1920. Just after its appearance in London in 1920, Lucien Wolf exposed the Protocols as a plagiary of the earlier work of Joly and Goedsche, in a pamphlet of the Jewish Board of Deputies. The following year, in 1921, the story of the forgery was published in a series of articles in the London Times by Philip Grave, the paper’s correspondent in Constantinople. A whole book documenting the forgery was also published in the same year in America by Herman Bernstein. Nevertheless, the Protocols continued to circulate widely. They were even sponsored by Henry Ford in the United States until 1927, and formed an important part of the Nazis' justification of genocide of the Jews in World War II.1
The complete debunking of the Protocols has not stopped their continued circulation. In an attempt to negate the refutation, William Guy Carr claimed in 1958 that the Protocols were actually an older document recording a speech by Mayer Rothschild in 1773. This claim is occasionally repeated, although Carr provided no justification, documentation or citation for an accusation founded on his paranoid fears of international communism and banking. [RETURN TO INDEX]

1. Posted by news@cs.brown.edu in the newsgroups alt.conspiracy on 10 Feb 1993 18:15:22 GMT. Mirrored from www.nizkor.org Also see: >http://www.holocaust-history.org/short-essays/protocols.shtml
2. Was Albert Pike the leader of Universal Freemasonry?
No. And he also didn't give a speech claiming "Lucifer is God."
What follows is a forgery by Léo Taxil, falsely identified as part of a speech and written order which Albert Pike was supposed to have delivered to freemasons on Bastille Day, July 14, 1889:
"That which we must say to the world is that we worship a god, but it is the god that one adores without superstition. To you, Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, we say this, that you may repeat it to the brethren of the 32nd, 31st and 30th degrees: The masonic Religion should be, by all of us initiates of the higher degrees, maintained in the Purity of the Luciferian doctrine. If Lucifer were not God, would Adonay and his priests calumniate him?
"Yes, Lucifer is God, and unfortunately Adonay is also god. For the eternal law is that there is no light without shade, no beauty without ugliness, no white without black, for the absolute can only exist as two gods; darkness being necessary for light to serve as its foil as the pedestal is necessary to the statue, and the brake to the locomotive.
"Thus, the doctrine of Satanism is a heresy, and the true and pure philosophical religion is the belief in Lucifer, the equal of Adonay; but Lucifer, God of Light and God of Good, is struggling for humanity against Adonay, the God of Darkness and Evil."
This letter appeared in Paris three years after Albert Pike’s death. Taxil admitted he had written it as the work of "Albert Pike, Sovereign Pontiff of Universal Freemasonry, Instructions to the twenty-three Supreme Councils of the World, July 14,1889."
No one in regular Freemasonry ever held the title of "Sovereign Pontiff." While the rhetorical phrase "Universal Freemasonry" is not unknown, it has never been used as a proper title, since there is no such organization. Of the hundreds of masonic bodies in the world at that time, Pike was the leader of just one, the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite. In spite of its blatant fraudulence, Taxil’s publicly confessed forgery was a huge success. (See Section III Subsection 7.)
This lie was unwittingly reprinted in Abel Clarin de la Rive’s La Femme et L'Enfant dans la Franc-Maçonnerie Universelle(1894) and later copied by Lady Queenborough, Edith Starr Miller, in her Occult Theocrasy, published posthumously in two volumes in 1933. De la Rive retracted his support of Taxil and any of his creations in the April 1897 issue of Freemasonry Disclosed,
The hoax has been both widely reprinted and exposed. A short bibliography on the subject can be viewed at <freemasonry.bcy.ca/taxilhoax.html> or at <srmason-sj.org/web/misc/taxilhoax.html>. [RETURN TO INDEX]
3. Does A.L. mean “In the year of Lucifer”?
Originally an abbreviation for one of the Latin phrases meaning 'in the Year of Masonry' — probably 'Anno Latomorum' — it now is considered an abbreviation for Anno Lucis which translates as "in the year of light" and is arrived at by adding 4000 to the common era. No other explanation for this has been made other than the archbishop of Armaugh, James Ussher’s (1581-1656) published support of a long-accepted chronology of Scripture which fixed the earth’s creation on October 23rd, 4004 BCE [RETURN TO INDEX]
4. Isn't the masonic Bible supposed to be Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma?
There is no "masonic Bible". The proper masonic term is "Volume of Sacred Law". Freemasonry having evolved in Christian, and at one time Catholic, nations, members were predominantly Christian and therefore a version of the Christian "Holy Bible" is utilized in most masonic lodges. The Authorized King James 1611 version is the most common, although few jurisdiction specify usage. If its membership is composed of men of different faiths, a lodge may choose to use one or a number of different books such as the Koran, Torah or Bhagavadgita (Song of the Lord). (See Section III Subsection 7.) [RETURN TO INDEX]
5. Didn't George Washington renounce Freemasonry?
George Washington remained a member of the Craft from his initiation into the Lodge at Fredericksburg, Virginia No. 4 on November 4, 1752 until the day he died on December 14, 1799, when he then, at his widow’s request, received a masonic funeral. George Washington’s papers are available online at memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/gwhome.html
This hoax got its start in 1837 with the publication of a tract by Joseph Ritner, Governor of Pennsylvania. Although easily debunked, it was reprinted by E. A. Cook & Co., Chicago, in 1877, shortly after Prof. Charles Albert Blanchard (1848-1925), a founder and first lecturer of the National Christian Association published a rewriting of the same story entitled Was Washington a Freemason?

1. Vindication of General Washington from the stigma of adherence to secret societies, Joseph Ritner (1780-1869). Communicated by request of the House of representatives, to that body, on the 8th of March, 1837, with the proceedings which took place on its reception. Harrisburg, Printed by T. Fenn, 1837. 26 p. 21 cm. LCCN: 09026879
2. Was Washington a Freemason? Charles A. Blanchard. n.p.: n.d. Typed Copy. SC-29 Wheaton College.
6. Doesn't the “Big Book of Conspiracies” explain all this?
The compiler, Doeg Moench, DC Comics and Time Warner Entertainment Company have avoided actionable libel by including a carefully worded "Publisher’s note", defining conspiracy theories as opinions, which may or may not be true, inferring relationships between facts, which may in fact have no relationship, and drawing conclusions without any other proof.
Most of the fanciful claims made in this "comic book" are addressed in this FAQ. Errors in facts and specific claims regarding freemasons are detailed and refuted in the "Big Book page."
It is unfortunate that the term conspiracy has been so debased that the real conspiracies, a real danger to a free and open society, so often go unreported or unremarked. [RETURN TO INDEX]
7. Didn't John F. Kennedy criticize Freemasonry?
American President, John F. Kennedy, gave an address to a gathering of newspaper publishers on 27 April, 1961. The full text, available from the Kennedy Library in Massachusetts, shows that, in context, Kennedy was criticizing the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This excerpt makes it clear that Kennedy’s concern was government, not fraternities:
The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know. [RETURN TO INDEX]
8. Doesn't the satanic design of Washington, DC’s streetplan prove that there’s a masonic conspiracy?
It does not take much imagination to look at a map of Washington, DC and see the outline of a five-pointed star in the streets to the north of the White House. But the assumptions required to believe that this arbitrary geometric shape reveals a secret political or occult agenda have no foundation.
One has to assume that the pentagram is a uniquely evil symbol, highly valued by freemasons who believe that its physical representation can have a real impact on the world and that freemasons are responsible for intentionally including it in Washington’s street plan.
None of these assumptions bear scrutiny. First, the pentagram is not an exclusively satanic symbol nor does it have any particular masonic significance. Second, Freemasonry, promoting rationalism, places no power in symbols themselves. It is not a part of Freemasonry to view the drawing of symbols, no matter how large, as an act of consolidating or controlling power. Third, there is no published information establishing the masonic membership of the men primarily responsible for the final streetplan. Freemason George Washington commissioned Pierre Charles L'Enfant and approved the streetplan executed by Andrew Ellicott and Benjamin Bannecker, but neither the last two nor Thomas Jefferson were freemasons. L'Enfant was initiated as an Entered Apprentice but there is no evidence that he took any further interest in Freemasonry.
It also bears mentioning that the pentagram, if it is to have any masonic significance, must be an equilateral pentagram, representing the golden ratio.
Drawing lines on a map of Washington, DC proves nothing other than the physical existence of streets and buildings. [RETURN TO INDEX]
9. Aren't the freemasons plotting to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem?
This is another story perpetuated by Lyndon LaRouche. In essence, the theory is that British Freemasonry, by design of members of the House of Windsor, and through the mechinations of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, is secretly plotting to gain control of the Temple Mount and rebuild the Temple. LaRouche’s researchers have assembled a collection of facts and near-facts and linked them together with unproven opinions and assumptions. A refutation of the accusation is found at freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/rebuild_temple.html.
10. Didn't Adolf Hitler praise Freemasonry?
Adolf Hitler (1889/04/20 - 1945/04/30) is recorded in referring to his perception of Freemasonry as an example of how he wanted the Nazi party to develop, specifically with an hierarchical organization and initiation through symbolic rites. A full record of his actions and writings though, clearly demonstrate that he despised Freemasonry. For further information and quotes, view freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/hitler.html. [RETURN TO INDEX]
11. But wasn't the Nazi party founded by the freemasons?
A distinction must be drawn between the acts and beliefs of individual freemasons and Freemasonry as a group. While Freemasonry had nothing to do with the Nazi party and in fact was a major target for its hatred, there was one freemason—of a sort— in the party’s early history.
Rudolf Glandeck von Sebottendorff (born Adam Alfred Rudolph Glauer in 1875) and Hermann Pohl (founder of the short-lived magical fraternity, the German Order Walvater of the Holy Grail) established another magical fraternity in Munich, the Thule Gesellschaft, on August 17, 1918. Originally called the "Studiengruppe für germanisches Altertum" (Study Group for German Antiquity), and deriving its ideology from such occultists as Guido von List (1848-1919/05/17), Adolf Lanz, aka Lanz von Liebenfels (1874-1954) and Madam Blavatsky, the group was politically active and played a leading part in assisting the successful attack on Munich’s Communist government on 30 April, 1919. Whether or not the occult affectations of the Thule were anything more than a cover for counter-revolutionary activism has not been determined.
Regardless, the Thule amalgamated on 5 January, 1919 with the Committee of Independent Workers, renaming themselves the Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei, the German Workers' Party. Adolf Hitler claimed he was the seventh member to join this group which changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party in 1920.
Sebottendorff is purported to have been initiated into an irregular body of the Rite of Memphis while he was in Turkey. From his own writings it is clear that his version of Freemasonry incorporated aspects of Islamic Sufi mysticism, alchemy, astrology and Rosicrucianism. In his autobiographical novel Der Talisman des Rosenkreuzers (The Rosicrucian Talisman), he makes a clear distinction between Turkish Freemasonry and regular Freemasonry:
"It must be shown that Oriental Freemasonry still retains faithfully even today the ancient teachings of wisdom forgotten by modern Freemasonry, whose Constitution of 1717 was a departure from the true way."
Sebottendorff’s Bevor Hitler kam (1933)—banned by the Bavarian political police on 1 March, 1934— claimed precedence for the Thule Gesellschaft in the ranks of early influences on Hitler. This claim has been promoted by popular writers, most satisfied to seek corroboration in Hermann Rauschning’s Hitler Speaks (1939) without noting that this book was anecdotal, unsubstantiated, and later discredited by scholarly research.
With his book suppressed by the Nazis, Sebottendorff was arrested by the Gestapo in 1934, interned in a concentration camp and then expelled to Turkey, where he is believed to have committed suicide by drowning on 9 May, 1945.
Both Sebottendorff’s claims to masonic association and influence on Hitler are unproven and questionable. For further information and quotes, view freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/sebottendorff_r.html. [RETURN TO INDEX]
12. What is the masonic testament?
An invention by the highly imaginative authors Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, compiled from excerpts of the many rituals devised in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that—at one time or another—were worked in masonic lodges or by freemasons independently of their lodges or without Grand Lodge authority. These rituals came from a multitude of independent sources and were created for a multitude of reasons. Knight and Lomas have arbitrarily selected passages from these texts to compile what they refer to as a chronology or history. The Masonic Testament is a work of fiction included in their book The Book of Hiram (2003).
Knight and Lomas' "The Masonic Testament" is a contemporary text having no historical validity. It is not accepted as having any masonic authority, nor is it endorsed by any masonic body. It is a work of fiction. It should also be stressed that the phrase, "Masonic Testament" does not refer to another misnomer, "the masonic Bible." There is no such thing as a Masonic Bible; the Volume of Sacred Law which is used in every regular masonic lodge is that book held sacred by the members of the lodge—generally in North America, the King James Authorized Version of the Christian Bible. [RETURN TO INDEX]


© 1871-2014 Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon A.F. & A. M. Updated: 2011/10/26