I Was Wrong, Conspiracies Are No Laughing Matter
by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners
In September and October, Freemason Lodges across Illinois started to receive anti-Masonic literature like that above. This literature was deposited by a person or persons who not only have no idea what Freemasonry is or does, but that also decided to reuse arguments from Leo Taxil's hoax as the main basis for their Anti-Masonic rants. Today, the arsonist that attacked several lodges in Vancouver, British Columbia was sentenced. While he attacked them because of his drug problem and mental illness, the basis for the attack was because of his belief that the Freemasons were up to no good. I also read today on social media about a brother who was having a conversation with some of his other brothers in front of his Masonic lodge after an event, when a truck stopped and a gentleman got out and started calling them, "Baby-eating satanists."
The last example has realized my fear that some of the conspiracies put forth by Q-Anon, which has linked Freemasons and/or the Illuminati as being part of the cabal made up of satan-worshiping pedophile US politicians and entertainers which they believe wanted to remove and keep former President Trump from rooting them out, is at the heart of the rise of anti-masonic rhetoric.
It's gotten so bad that there are people claiming that the Bible that President Biden took his oath on is a "Freemasonic Bible", further giving credence to their beliefs. Read about it here.
We only need to look back in our recent history to see what popular Anti-Masonic sentiment did to our craft. This culminated with the formation of a political party that sent members of it to Congress in the 1830s. Is it only a matter of time before we face similar forces?
When I raised my concerns about this disturbing trend on other social media platforms, most of the reaction I have received is that I'm somehow legitimizing the conspiracies by addressing them. Unfortunately, I do not think that we can afford to bury our collective heads in the sand, and to believe that the people that believe these conspiracies are going to disappear--they're growing in number. Recent polls have shown that 15-20% of Americans agree with Q-Anon's beliefs, while others have shown that it's more like 4-5%. Any percentage over 0% is too much.
Back in the simpler days of September 2017, I wrote a satirical piece for this very blog about Conspiracy Theories and Freemasonry. You can find the article here.
I was wrong.
At the end of the article, I stated that I didn't care what someone believed as long as they were a brother. Unfortunately, I need to say that this is no longer the case. I do not care what your religious beliefs or political affiliations are as long as they are not ones that hold that Freemasonry is evil, immoral, or indecent. If you subscribe to anti-Masonic conspiratorial beliefs, then we are in opposition. Yes, I understand that I also just wrote an article about Being Curious and not Judgmental, however, I cannot in good conscience do that when the person on the other side of the argument has already judged the institution of Freemasonry as being something that it is not and will never be.
I want to be clear because I don't want to get accused of taking sides politically for having specifically called out Q-Anon. This isn't a political issue. Any group that holds anti-Masonic conspiratorial beliefs regardless of their political leaning is a direct threat to the institution of Freemasonry. Also--it's just plain rubbish.
Our new Grandmaster in Illinois, MWB Michael Jackson, made a very important point to the Freemasons gathered at our Annual Communication in October. His point was that a Masonic Lodge is like the human body. If it is not active, it will atrophy and will most likely die. However, if it is active and healthy, then it has a better chance of survival. His words ring true as there is only one way to combat conspiracies, and it's something that my mother lodge has been struggling with--hell, many lodges are struggling with this. The only way to combat conspiracies is to show that they are not true by being transparent and active in your community.
This means opening your lodge doors by having open houses and inviting your community in. Yes, we need to start talking about what Freemasons are and what we do in public forums. Not only this, but we also need to start participating in community events and actively promoting our charitable efforts in the media (social and otherwise) if we are not already doing so.
While we might not convince someone that is firmly entrenched in their conspiratorial beliefs about Freemasonry, we can at least try to make sure that those same beliefs don't spread like cancer in our communities by showing that we are the opposite of what the conspiracies say we are. We will not be giving away our secrets by doing so. Who knows, maybe we might gain some new members this way as well. We just need to make sure that we are doing our due diligence and guarding the West Gate.
WB Darin A. Lahners is our Co-Managing Editor. He is a host and producer of the "Meet, Act and Part" podcast. He is currently serving the Grand Lodge of Illinois Ancient Free and Accepted Masons as the Area Education Officer for the Eastern Masonic Area. He is a Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph. He is also a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), where he is also a Past Master. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and a member of the Salt Fork Shrine Club under the Ansar Shrine. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.