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ANTI-MASONRY (Part one)


Anti-Masonry is far from a new phenomenon - it has been going on almost since Freemasonry began.

The first published attack on Freemasonry was in a leaflet distributed in London in 1698, accusing Masons as being...this devilish set of men..., based on religious grounds.

On 7th July, 1722, a letter was published in a London newspaper, accusing Masons of being a pretentious and illegal association referring to them as...a set of low gentry amongst our articifers, who lately make a great bluster amongst us.

The following year, 1723 saw the publication of a bawdy poem The Free Masons, which suggested that Masons were notoriously heavy drinkers and sexual libertines, with a sordid reputation as far as women were concerned. It even ran to a second and third edition. The full poem can be read in Wallace McCleod's book The Grand Design. When it was published again in 1944 by those well known Masonic scholars, Knoop, Jones and Hamer, they printed only 158 out of the 366 lines, stating that: 'we have omitted portions displeasing to modern tastes.'
 

In 1738, the Pope issued a Bull or Decree and forbade all Catholics to join Freemasonry accusing it of 'perverting the hearts of the simple' and working against the Catholic Church.

Some years later, the 'Morgan Affair' arose in the USA, when Masons were accused of murdering William Morgan who had threatened to publish all their rituals after he had been refused permission to enter a lodge in New York. He disappeared, and although some unscrupulous politicians and the media made the most of the story, it was pure speculation.

 

This affair created much anti-Masonic feeling and led to the formation of an Anti-Masonic Party, which even nominated a Presidential candidate.

The upshot was that Morgan was never found and nobody was charged with his murder. He simply disappeared. However, the damage had been done - Which resulted in the number of lodges falling from 480 to 82 in a three year period. Many lodges closed, particularly those on the east coast, never to open again, and it took Freemasonry many years to recover from the scandal.

One of the worse periods of Anti-Masonry in 1800's was when a French pornographer, Leo Taxil, decided to turn against Masonry when his true character was discovered after he had been initiated into a lodge in Paris and subsequently expelled.

 

Taxil published several Anti-Masonic books and was the darling of the Catholic Church until he revealed at a public meeting in Paris in April 1897 that it had all been a hoax and he had conned the church into supporting him. The audience received these revelations with indignation and contempt and he was forced to escape from the meeting with help of the police. However, he was less concerned, as he had made a fortune and he retired to Sceaux in the southern region of Paris, where he died at the age of 57.

 

Throughout the 20th century, Freemasonry was attacked many times. In next months (part two of this article) we will look at some of those attacks which have been carried out by Hitler and the Nazi regime and later by the Church of England and the Methodist Church.


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