The Letterkenny Masonic Lodge this week made a donation of €1,500 to the Donegal Hospice. The money will go towards fundraising for a major extension and complete refurbishment of the existing hospice building. Pictured is Ann McGowan (front centre) receiving the cheque on behalf of the hospice at an event in the Masonic Hall along with the Chairman Letterkenny Masonic Lodge, William Mc Kinney and Lester Long, together with fellow… read more:
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Ed Snyder, report prepared exclusively for our web portal, December 3, 2023
Freemasons are no strangers to persecution. Since the early days, religions, dictators, and political actors have sought to repress the eponymous secret society that espouses liberty, equality, and fraternity to humanity, rather than any lesser cause or demagogue. As a result, conspiracy theories accusing Freemasons of everything from corruption to murder to cultism have become so pervasive in the world that less informed people simply accept these accusations as fact because of the cultural integration that they possess. In fact, there are many people who claim to fear and loathe Freemasons without knowing anything about them other than the name. During and since the Covid-19 Pandemic, civil unrest and violent crime reached a historic high, and in the last few years Freemasons have suffered increased targeting of such crimes. I had previously believed that the cause for this uptick in attacks may not be disproportionate when compared to the overall crime analytics, but it seems that there is indeed a disturbing upward trend in hate crimes when compared to overall crime rates.Background
Freemasons have embraced the secrecy of the Craft to differing degrees depending on the part of the world that they are in, but overall, the secrecy of the fraternity is greatest in regions like Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East, while being far more public in North America and the United Kingdom. A contributing factor to this is that the UK, US, and Canadian governments have historically been both stable and held a neutral or even ambivalent posture towards the fraternity, in contrast with the other regions have had histories of anti-democratic regimes including but not limited to: communists, fascists, theocrats, warlords, anarchists, et cetera. These regions have unilaterally criminalized membership in Freemasonry, with penalties of participation usually being severe and akin to treason or espionage. During eras of unprecedented censorship and oppression in these countries, Freemasons in the US and Canada have enjoyed the freedom to operate openly, with clearly marked Lodges and personal regalia declaring their proud membership in the fraternity.
Unfortunately, a myriad of factors has led to the rise of radical politics, which sling accusations against every minority, opposing ideology, and society, often encouraging or outright threatening violence against them. The most common of these accusations include the foundation of the “New World Order,” the “Judeo-Masonic Conspiracy,” belief that Freemasonry is synonymous with the Illuminati, et cetera. The secretive and exclusive nature of Freemasonry have made for a convenient scapegoat for radicals and conspiracy theorists, since Masons are unable to refute accusations against them with specific examples and evidence without violating their oaths to the fraternity; essentially, the refusal to use evidence to debunk claims of rituals and the masonic belief system being anything other than philanthropic humanism has allowed conspiracy theories to flourish, and some people have begun taking it upon themselves to punish those who have made no attempt to defend themselves from heinous crimes against humanity.A spike in violence
Targeting of Masonic lodges and centers have been on the rise in both the US and Canada. On 30 March 2021, Benjamin Orion Carlson Kohlman went on an arson spree in Vancouver, British Columbia and burned 3 Masonic Lodges within 45 minutes. Upon his arrest, he said that the Masons are evil and were attempting mind control on people in his community and voices told him to burn the lodges. He also declared himself to be a believer of various fringe conspiracy theories, including Flat Earth and the Judeo-Masonic Conspiracy. Canada is known for having a very low crime rate compared the US, though violent crime has been on the rise in recent years.
On January 8, 2023 Fayette Lodge 69 in Ellington, Connecticut was set on fire early in the morning while nobody was present. A man in all-black outfit was seen fleeing the scene and had been identified. On 14 June 2023, a man named Luke Pratt set fire to Leesburg Lodge 58 in Leesburg, Florida and guarded the site until the entire building was reduced to ash. Pratt claimed that the Masons were stalking him, and he had been experimenting with homemade explosives before deciding to use gasoline and matches instead.
On August 27, 2023 which is Labor Day in the United States, 29-year old Kadum Hunter Harwood broke into the Chattanooga Masonic Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. While inside, he was seen on surveillance camera smashing random objects with a sledgehammer, setting fire to them, then firing a “large caliber firearm” into the air as he departed. He then fled to Georgia and made several posts on Facebook boasting about his crimes and threatening the Vatican with violence next. He was quickly caught when he posted the address of the hotel he was staying at and dared police to come and arrest him—his posts suggested he was planning a gunfight and last stand which ultimately never happened.
A much more recent attack shows a clear escalation in brutality and directness. On 10 July 2023 in McAllen, Texas, a man named Julio Diaz gunned down Robert Wise of McAllen Lodge 1110 after the officers installation meeting. Diaz had been posting on social media that the Freemasons were evil and had put a curse on him. He also recorded and posted the murder on social media—the video has since been taken down. Although McAllen police have refused to announce the motive for the murder, people connected to the case are certain that the attack was politically and/or conspiracy related.
These are only a few examples of violent crimes committed against Freemasons, and sadly, most other hate crimes have not been prosecuted yet.Analyzing the data
According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Statistics Canada, crime rates did not change between 2019 and 2020, the year before the Covid-19 Pandemic was declared—a 5.02% increase in the US and 2.55% decrease in Canada. On the surface this seems like cause for optimism, but while crime statistics overall were stable during this period, the percentage of these crimes classified as “hate-related” shows a dramatically different story—hate crimes increased by 26.37% in the US and 35.62% in Canada. Interpreting this data, we can observe that even with the total number of violent crimes remaining stable, the targets for these crimes shifted dramatically towards minorities, foreigners, and other peoples subjected to prejudice and conspiracy theories, including Freemasons. Between 2020 and the present, the ratio of hate crimes to overall crimes has continued to outpace changes in the crime rates, which is cause for alarm for all protected peoples.Explanations for the trends
It is impossible to recall the Pandemic Years without remembering the myriad of conspiracy theories that were invented, revived, and spread during the mass panic that swept the globe, and much of the responsibility for this can be placed squarely upon the shoulders of politicians and media that capitalized on the chaos for personal gain. Yet not all of the blame can be placed on them, for there is a source of radical thought that has been in use by people all over the world for decades: the internet, and more specifically social media.
American and Canadian lawmakers have been reluctant to regulate on what can or should be posted on public forums like YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter (now called “X”), instead deferring to the companies to regulate themselves and their user bases. However, since almost all revenue for these platforms comes from advertising and user retention, it makes better business sense to give people more of what they want to consume, not less; and if more than half of a platform’s users are addicted to conspiracy-related content and doomsaying, then the platforms will deliver. It wasn’t until the insurrection on January 6, 2021 that platforms began to enforce stricter content controls, but even now mainstream sites continue to be breeding grounds of hate and radicalism.
While many older tech users get exposed to conspiracy theories through TV networks and mainstream social media platforms, there are much darker corners of the web where madness coalesces—forum boards. If regular social media is bad for the psyche, sites like 4Chan and 8kun are lobotomy clinics. Unlike regular social media where every post is connected to a real person’s name and photo, 4Chan and 8kun are entirely anonymous, never require registration, and proudly call themselves “bastions of free expression” which means that only topic moderation is enforced. This means that so long as a user stays within the bounds of the topic, they can say almost anything they want—including hate speech and threats and plans for violence (yes, there are boards for that).
Freemasonry is one of the most popular topics of these forums, but mentions of the fraternity are exclusively negative, and usually conflate it with the Illuminati, Satanism, pedophilia, et cetera. There is no fact or reality checking here; whichever posts receive the biggest reaction from the user base continue to grow, while ones that go unnoticed are forgotten. Therefore, the more offensive, hate-filled, and insane the post, the more likely it is to survive since people will be compelled to react to such posts.
This then creates what is called an “echo chamber,” where like-minded users will encourage increasingly hateful and violent rhetoric, and bully dissenting voices out of the forum, creating the illusion of community and solidarity and exhibitions of cult-like behaviors. It should be noted that all the perpetrators that have been caught committing violence against Masons were doing so because of conspiracy theories that originated on internet forums, and the murder of Robert Wise at the hand of Julio Diaz was intended to be posted online for all to see, especially those that would applaud the gore and call Diaz a hero. On the internet, every character that is posted is there for the world to see, and in a few cases, disturbed people will see these calls to action and be moved to it.Conclusion
Despite having a clear cause for the increase in hate crimes, the refusal of national governments to muzzle violent speech and instead conduct post-mortems of each attack means that there is little that can be done by Freemasons to prevent these attacks from occurring. In lieu of systemic change, lodges in the US and Canada have begun investing in better security systems which can alert police the instant that an intruder or attacker is detected. It is the most cost-effective method of crime prevention as well as investigation, since most anti-Masonic attacks are vandalism and arson conducted late at night when nobody in the community is active, and hiring night guards is both expensive and inefficient unless he or she is protecting a much larger building or complex than most lodges.
Some Freemasons on the platform Reddit have stated that their members have begun arming themselves to protect against attackers, and even suggested that lodge tylers begin standing guard with guns instead of or in addition to swords. This is an absurd notion for several reasons: 1) The public image of the fraternity arming itself with guns would only serve to stoke more fear from the community and tarnish the reputation of Freemasonry as a whole. 2) Unless the Masons carrying guns are trained, certified, and have combat training, the addition of guns to any confrontation only adds the possibility of collateral damage at the hands of Masons. 3) Armed lodges threaten the core values of Freemasonry—that we are loyal to humanity and hold a brotherly bond with them; guns are intimidating and dangerous even in an inert state and should be kept separate from Masonic functions in all situations. Giving in to fear only plays into the hands of those who would do us harm.
One last note is that although Brother Wise’s murder is tragic, it is the first reported instance of direct violence against a Mason, while the targets in all other incidents were lodge property. This attack shouldn’t be ignored, however, since it does mark an escalation in the threats present in the US and Canada, and as the number of hate crimes rise, the likelihood of another assault will also rise. Therefore, the best recommendation I have as a security specialist is to practice increased vigilance and open communications with police. If a lodge is suffering harassment, vandalism, or threats, it is imperative that every incident is reported to maintain a case file and increase the likelihood of catching the perpetrator(s) before they may decide to commit more serious crimes. Local and state / provincial police will have the answers for any lodges that would like to know more about how to better protect themselves from hate crimes, and anonymous tiplines are available for anyone who would like to report an incident; phone numbers, and online forms are available on police websites.
freemasonry.network, December 2, 2023
Over the past few years, there has been an alarming increase in the number of attacks on Masonic buildings and Freemasons themselves, with more cases surfacing every month. Police have been investigating a report of criminal damage to a Masonic Hall in downtown Belfast this week. The Masonic Hall, adjacent to the Victoria Square shopping center, is home to dozens of Masonic lodges in Belfast. On the Irish Masonic Network’s social media page, one member shared photos of the vandalized building and stated: “It is with great sadness that I must report the sustained attack on Freemasons Hall Arthur Square… The glass and inscriptions that have existed for over 150 years have been destroyed.” Earlier this month, the Vatican banned Catholics from joining Freemasonry. A few months earlier, a Freemason in McAllen, Texas, was fatally shot in front of a local lodge by a man who believed the Masons had “placed a curse on him.” There have been arsons and other serious acts of vandalism that have damaged or destroyed Masonic buildings in New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Connecticut, Vancouver, British Columbia, and other places. A Vancouver arsonist set fire to three Masonic buildings in that city in one morning, causing $2.5 million in damage, and was sentenced to 40 months in prison. It’s worth noting that his attorney claimed he “struggled with mental health issues and simply wanted to draw attention to what he described as dark spirits and CSIS tracking devices.” Outside the United States, Masonic Halls in Ireland and Greece have also recently come under attack by anti-Masonic activists. It is also worth noting that there has been a significant increase in anti-Masonic posts and videos on social media. The Grand Master of the State of Washington has issued a letter warning members of his jurisdiction against a man who has made numerous hateful threats against the Fraternity.
The editors of freemasonry.network, which has been operating continuously for 5 years and publishes daily posts on Masonic charity, have decided to come forward and finally take a firm stand against this wave of violence against Freemasons. These are the actions we will undertake:
- Freemasons in North America alone donate about $2 million every day to national and local charities, more than 70% of which is directed to the general public; Masons are also actively involved in community volunteering. We’ll be writing more about this – we’ll be publishing more posts about what the Freemasons really do: their daily acts of charity. In fact, this will be the same thing we’ve been doing every day for the past 5 years, but we want to do more of it, also showing how, by working on self-development, members of Freemasonry become better citizens and contribute to the betterment of society. Finally, we want to use the power of social media and implement paid promotion of our posts, by which our message will go beyond the circle of Freemasons themselves. Of course, we will only publish material based on official communications from Grand Lodges and their uplifted representatives!
- We are open to cooperation with Brethren all over the world – if you have ideas on how to improve our image and how to protect ourselves, let us know. Our pages are also open for your articles! The texts we will publish as part of this campaign will be about our security, among other things. To begin with, we have prepared a report, developed by a specialist, on the terrorist dangers to which Freemasons are currently exposed, which we will publish tomorrow. Please support our campaign: the more resources we have, the more widely we can run it on social media (paid promotion of posts, paid advertising).
Someone must do something to oppose violence against Freemasons!
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The grand master of the Maltese freemasons hopes society will one day judge them for the “peaceful and harmonious” people they are, after the Vatican reaffirmed its ban on Catholics joining the secretive organisation. The Vatican last week confirmed that Catholics are still forbidden from joining masonic lodges. Asked to react to the news, Simon Cusens expressed hope that ideas around freemasonry would change. “Our hope is that one day, all of society’s leaders and representational entities would judge regular freemasons and freemasonry only on its peaceful and harmonious practices and intentions in the societies and communities where we live.” “We hope to be judged on the philanthropy we do in silence, the universality of mankind that we embrace and the peace and harmony between all men that we pursue.” The lodge… read more:
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Police are investigating the report of criminal damage to a Freemason’s Hall in Belfast city centre this week. It was reported that a window above a door at the property in Arthur Square was smashed sometime between 8.45pm on Monday evening and 11am on Tuesday morning. A male was observed acting suspiciously in the area at around 10pm on Monday evening, and officers say they “would be keen to speak with him”. The PSNI said he was dressed in a black hoody with the hood up, an orange top hanging below the hoody, grey bottoms, and that he was carrying a black bag. The Masonic hall, adjacent to Victoria Square shopping centre, is… read more:
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In appreciation of the care given to two Connaught Freemasons, the charities Blind Veterans UK and Dorothy House Hospice received donations during a special presentation evening on Friday, 24th November. Sarah Barnes, a Community Support Worker with Blind Veterans UK explained the work of the charity and how they give life changing assistance after sight loss. Although mainly giving help at home the charity also has two residential centres for assessments, respite care and where veterans can meet each other and find mutual support. Lodge member Rod Hartnell, a Royal Navy veteran who saw action in the Falklands, and who lost his sight several years ago acknowledged the invaluable support Sarah has given him from… read more:
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Bovey Tracey Swimming Pool is to be one of 19 local Devon organisations to receive financial support from Devon’s Freemasons. The £1250 of donated funds will go towards installation of solar panels to try and offset the significant electricity charges for this valuable community asset. Every Spring and Autumn Freemasons from all around Devon meet to support local organisations who require financial assistance, among which are children’s charities, schools, youth centres and… read more:
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Warrnambool’s Lyall Gill celebrated his 90th birthday on Monday, November 20, 2023, on the same day he was recognised for 70 years as a Freemason. Picture by Sean McKenna Like father, like son… read more:
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Hyderabad: Freemasons Grand Festival begins here in the city at Imperial Garden in Secunderabad. The two day festival kicked off Saturday and will conclude on Sunday. The Grand Festival is being held for the first time in Hyderabad in the history of Grand Lodge of India, the apex body of Freemasons in India. Freemasonry is a 293 years old organisation in India. It is the annual gathering of Freemasons of the Grand Lodge of India. It is hosted by the Freemasons of Telangana. 1200 plus Freemasons from across India and abroad are participating in the Grand Festival. Delegates from several different Grand Lodges of countries such as the United Kingdom, Scotland, Paraguay, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Russia, Mauritius and others are expected to read more:
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The inaugural Herefordshire Provincial Charity Presentation was held on Saturday November 4 at which donations to over seventy local charities in Herefordshire, some made on the night and others previously this year, reached an amazing total of more than £110,000. Over one hundred charity representatives, honoured guests and Freemasons gathered in Hereford Masonic Centre to attend the presentations. The Head of Freemasonry in Herefordshire, Michael Holland, welcomed everyone to the first event of its kind in Herefordshire. The presentation began with a brief background and history of Freemasonry in… read more:
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Maine/US – ‘It feels good to give’: Auburn toy drive and Santa look to help those in need this holiday season
Laurie Babineau took a selfie with Santa Friday at the Auburn Masonic Hall, then decided to walk over to Big Lots to get some toys. She bought a fireman set, a baby doll and a fuzzy toy, her contributions to a growing pile of toys that will be donated to children in need in the Lewiston/Auburn area. “I work in the local schools and I see a lot of homeless,” said Babineau, who lives in the Oxford County town of Hartford. “It’s hard. It’s hard living. It’s hard for me and I have a good job. Kids, they need toys at Christmas. It feels good to give.” Babineau was just one of the generous donors who dropped off toys on Friday for the 4th Annual Maine Masonic Toy Drive. The Masons donate the items to local charities and the Lewiston and Auburn police departments, which then distribute the toys, hats, mittens and toiletry items to local families in need, said Martez Proctor, the worshipful master of the local Masonic lodge. In past years, they’ve collected hundreds of toys as part of their mission to help as many people as possible. “In regards to Masonry, we view humanity as one large family,” he said. “And we try to take care of that family in little ways.” While the toys… read more:
‘People have been guessing what foot I kick with all my life’ – Belfast Freemason reacts to Vatican ban on Freemasonry
As the Vatican has issued a ban this week on Catholics joining the Freemasons, Belfast man and longtime member Brian McBride (79) told the Irish News why religion is no barrier for new members. For many, the image of the Freemasons is shrouded in mystery, a boys’ club with secret handshakes who conspire to secure each other jobs. Brian first joined in 1988, and now serves as Secretary for Sir George Clark Memorial Lodge 669. It is one of dozens of Belfast lodges housed in Freemason’s Hall in the city centre, a building covered in masonic symbols that most shoppers walking towards Victoria Square probably don’t even notice. On Monday, a letter from the Vatican’s doctrinal office read… read more:
Rob Davis, Crisis, Disaster and Risk Specialist and SARAID Team Leader gave a fascinating talk to Connaught Freemasons during the evening of Wednesday, 15th November. Based in Yate, SARAID. is a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) and Registered Charity comprised of Search and Resue Volunteers, each of whom has specific professional skills and are available to be immediately deployed every day of the year to natural disasters anywhere in the world. It is the only UK voluntary team to be officially classified by the United Nations (UN) and abides by its rules and regulations. The team takes with them more than… read more:
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In 1887 a mysterious castle-like building was constructed on Pacific Avenue, at the head of Walnut Street. The building’s architect was the popular Charles Wellington Davis, who had designed Santa Cruz landmarks like Knight’s Opera House and F.A. Hihn’s Mansion (which would became City Hall). But in this bizarre castle, Davis was guided by Dr. Oscar L. Gordon, grand master of the Santa Cruz Masonic Lodge in 1885-1886, and now grand architect pro tem. Gordon laid out the interior spaces and encoded Masonic history in the building’s facade. The style was termed “Crusader Gothic.” It was topped with a central “watch tower,” behind two onion-shaped headers, with two Islamic-style bay windows on the second floor. On Saturday, March 26, 1887, Masons gathered at the narrow-gauge depot on Union Street, to greet visiting Masons and Knights from Watsonville, Gilroy, Hollister, San Jose, Salinas, Monterey, and other places. They formed a parade, led by read more:
Guisborough Freemasons came together at the Freemason’s Hall in Chaloner Street, Guisborough, to make 13 donations to various charities. All the donations came from the bequest of a deceased member of the Zetland Lodge, Alec Smith, who donated his whole estate to provide charitable donations from the lodge each year. The evening was presided over by the lodge master, Barry Dawson, and the director of ceremonies was Andy Hill. Thirteen charities from Guisborough and east Cleveland benefitted from the evening. Each charity was nominated by two members of the lodge and… read more:
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Local Freemasons from Northampton have been giving their time in service to help this year’s Royal British Legion (RBL) Poppy Appeal in the run up to both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. Throughout the UK, thousands of Poppy Collectors do such an amazing job in the period leading to this important weekend, but more help is always needed and this year Bob Smith, a member of The Lodge of United Services in the area, arranged with… read more:
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Poor petty traders, street vendors, and self-employed who cannot afford to buy tools, or implements to discharge their professional responsibilities may apply before November 18. The 9th leg of Freemasons’ Gift-a-livelihood’ has been announced inviting talented, hardworking, poor but who lack the right tools for the job, to apply. Poor petty traders, street vendors, and self-employed who cannot afford to buy tools, or implements to discharge their professional responsibilities may apply before November 18. The beneficiaries need to share on WhatsApp No.9848042020 their photograph, Aadhaar Card, name, address, mobile number, name and… read more:
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A charity that supports people who are victims of domestic abuse will be able to help more than 80 children thanks to Berkshire Freemasons. The group has donated £60,000 to Berkshire Women’s Aid (BWA) for the project which will help youngsters who have experienced, witnessed or suffered as a result of domestic abuse in their family homes. The funding supports BWA’s Expect Respect project which provides group and individual support to children and young people, helping them understand… read more:
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A £500 donation has been made to provide a warm space for people during winter. The Freemasons of Grantham’s Sir Isaac Newton Lodge have made the donation to help St John’s Church in Spitalgate provide a warm space where parishioners and visitors can get a hot drink and something to eat during the winter. The money was handed over to associate priest Rev Clay Roundtree, by lodge almoner… read more:
The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has called for a national response to combat growing Masonic membership in the Philippines in a note published Wednesday. The note, signed by the dicastery’s prefect Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández and Pope Francis, said it is “necessary to put in place a coordinated strategy among the individual bishops” of the Philippines to address “very significant” masonic membership and sympathy in the country. The DDF note also identified “a large number of sympathizers and associates who are personally convinced that there is no opposition between membership in the Catholic Church and in Masonic Lodges.” In response… read more:
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