The article below will detail the following:
- The influence of Scottish Rite American Freemasonry on public policy concerning religion, and the Lodge’s purported goodwill and friendliness toward Christianity
- The background of one of the Scottish Rite’s most prominent philosophical and theological authorities in America, Albert Pike
- Pike’s denial of Jesus as the Messiah and the redemptive character of His death on the Cross
- Pike’s animosity toward Christianity and the Catholic Church
- Masonry’s plan to secularize society and public education
(LifeSiteNews) — The influence of Scottish Rite American Freemasonry on the nation’s government and public policies is a seldom pulled thread when the history of the country’s politics and laws is told. Perhaps this is intended, the better to augment the Lodge’s hold on those very laws and policies. However, it is an influence worth acknowledging if the Christian roots of the culture, morals, and laws of the United States, which are increasingly coming under attack, would be safeguarded, preserved, and restored.
The fact is that for nearly half a century beginning in the 1940s, the Supreme Court of the United States was held by a Masonic majority. This dominance of the Freemasons on the nation’s high court allowed them to hand down landmark rulings that severely curtailed the free exercise of religion, the public recognition of God in society, and the teaching of Christian truths in schools. These rulings contributed in no small way to the secularization of public life and the rise of a strong anti-religious, anti-Christian sentiment in the nation.
Such effects, however, should not surprise the candid American looking back at the pages of history. Scottish Rite American Freemasonry was imbued with anti-Christian sentiment and goals from the beginning, and its principal authority, Albert Pike, was deeply anti-Christian.
As is the case in general with Freemasonry, especially today, the Scottish Rite does not present itself as anti-Christian; in fact, to the naïve inquirer, it might seem positively Christian in its principles and mission. The Scottish Rite Creed states, “Human progress is our cause, liberty of thought our supreme wish, freedom of conscience our mission, and the guarantee of equal rights to all people everywhere our ultimate goal.” In an even more Christian-sounding declaration, its Mission Statement reads: “It is the mission of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, SJ [Southern Jurisdiction], to improve its members and enhance the communities in which they live by teaching and emulating the principles of Brotherly Love, Tolerance, Charity, and Truth, while actively embracing high social, moral, and spiritual values, including fellowship, compassion, and dedication to God, family, and country.”
In the section on Freemasonry in the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, written by Fr. Hermann Gruber, S.J., after extensive research, the following is stated:
Many Anglo-American Freemasons are wont to protest strongly against all charges accusing Freemasonry of interfering with political or religious affairs or of hostility to the Church or disloyalty to the public authorities. They even praise Freemasonry as ‘one of the strongest bulwarks of religions’ ’the handmaid of religion’ and the ‘handmaid of the church.’ ’There is nothing in the nature of the Society.’ says the ‘Royal Craftsman.’ New York, ‘that necessitates the renunciation of a single sentence of any creed, the discontinuance of any religious customs or the obliteration of a dogma of belief. No one is asked to deny the Bible, to change his Church relations or to be less attentive to the teaching of his spiritual instructors and counsellors.’ ’Masonry indeed contains the pith of Christianity.’ ‘It is a great mistake to suppose it an enemy of the Church.’ ‘It does not offer itself as a substitute of that divinely ordained institution.’ ‘It offers itself as an adjunct, as an ally, as a helper in the great work of the regeneration of the race, of the uplifting of man.’ Hence, ‘we deny the right of the Romish Church to exclude from its communion those of its flock who have assumed the responsibility of the Order of Freemasonry.’
Indeed, even in recent years, members of Freemasonry have called for the Catholic Church to lift its penalty of excommunication for Catholics who join the Lodge. However, a closer look reveals how unchristian is the “human progress” for which the Masons work, and how contrary to an authentically Christian culture are the principles upon which Scottish Rite American Freemasonry is founded.
What, then, is the position of Scottish Rite Freemasonry regarding Christianity, its dogmatic truths, and the Church?
The “Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite” of American Freemasonry was founded in 1801 in South Carolina and was based on the French Scottish Rite established in Paris in 1758. The American version would continue the French legacy of fighting for the natural rights of man against the “despotism” of both Church and State. These enemies of Freemasonry would come to be symbolized by the papal tiara and the royal crown in Masonic ceremonies and writings.
Prominent among the figures of Scottish Rite American Freemasonry, Albert Pike, born in 1809, served as president of the Arkansas State Council of the anti-Catholic American Party while a young adult and would go on to instill among the Masons his animosity toward Catholicism. Pike authored what came to be a kind of handbook of Masonic philosophy and religious teachings called Morals and Dogmas, published in 1871.
In many instances of anti-Catholic sentiment, Pike equated the papacy with oppression of human freedom and deemed it one of the principle hindrances to social and political progress. Vowing to use all at his disposal to advance the progress held in check by Catholicism, Pike wrote, “with tongue and pen, with all our open and secret influences, with the purse, and if need be, with the sword, we will advance the cause of human progress and labor to enfranchise human thought, to give freedom to the human conscience (above all from papal ‘usurpations’) and equal rights to the people everywhere. Wherever a nation struggles to gain or regain its freedom, wherever the human mind asserts its independence and the people demand their inalienable rights, there shall go our warmest sympathies.”
Pike’s animosity toward Catholicism went deeper, however, than bitterness toward the papacy. He denied that Jesus was the Christ and utterly stripped His death of all salvific value. Following his stead, Scottish Rite American Masonry would come to blasphemously mock the Cross and reinterpret it according to its neo-pagan, naturalistic symbolism.
Pike’s rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and other fundamental Christian truths
As Paul Fisher details in Behind the Lodge Door, and as Pike’s Morals and Dogmas attest, Masonry’s philosophical and theological “truths” are drawn from a wide range of pagan as well as Judeo-Christian sources — “from the Zend-Avesta and the Vendas, from Plato and Pythagoras, from India, Persia, Phoenicia, Greece, Egypt and the Holy Books of the Jews … These doctrines are the religion and philosophy of Masonry.”
Regarding the person of Jesus, Pike expressly denied several fundamental statements of any truly Christian creed, most fundamentally that Jesus is the Messiah. “We do not admit that the Messiah was born in Bethlehem,” Pike declared. Rather, for him, Jesus is no different from the figure of Krishna, the Hindu redeemer, who was alleged to have been born of a virgin, performed miracles, died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and handed on doctrines to his disciples. Again, against the historicity of the Gospel accounts, upon which rests the truth of all Christian preaching, Pike wrote that the “facts recounted in the Gospels ‘are but allegories,’” and that a true knowledge of Jesus is attained only by the enlightened Mason, a teaching strikingly akin to the Gnosticism of the early centuries of the Church.
Regarding another fundamental truth of Christianity — that eternal life in heaven is reserved for the just — Pike castigated those who hope in a happiness in the world to come. Such men, he held, not only fail to make this world better but are positive enemies to political and social reform and are, therefore, enemies to the common good of society.
He wrote, “The present is Masonry’s scene of action — man is on earth to live, to enjoy. He is not in this world to hanker after another. The unseen can not hold a higher place in our affections than the seen.” Only those “who have a deep affection for this world will work for its amelioration,” he claimed.
For Pike, those who take up a life of prayer and consecration to God are the most deserving of condemnation. “Those given most decidedly to spiritual contemplation, and make religion rule their life are most apathetic toward improving this world’s systems,” he wrote. “They are conservators of evil and hostile to political and social reform.”
Given the denial of some of the basic truths of Christianity by the foremost authority of Scottish Rite American Freemasonry, Albert Pike, Gruber assessed the claim that Masonry and Christianity are reconcilable in the following way. He wrote, “Though such protestations seem to be sincere and to reveal even a praiseworthy desire in their authors not to conflict with religion and the Church, they are contradicted by notorious facts.” He went on:
Between ‘Masonry’ and ‘Christian’ or ‘Catholic’ religion, conceived as they really are: between ‘unsectarian’ Freemasonry and ‘dogmatic, orthodox’ Christianity or Catholicism, there is a radical opposition. It is vain to say: though Masonry is officially ‘unsectarian,’ it does not prevent individual Masons from being ‘sectarian’ in their non-Masonic relations; for in its official ‘unsectarianism’ Freemasonry necessarily combats all that Christianity contains beyond the ‘universal religion in which all men agree,’ consequently all that is characteristic of the Christian and Catholic religion. These characteristic features Freemasonry combats not only as superfluous and merely subjective, but also as spurious additions disfiguring the objective universal truth, which it professes. To ignore Christ and Christianity, is practically to reject them as unessential framework.
Gruber then detailed the various ways in which what might appear to be Christian symbolism, or at least symbolism compatible with Christian faith, in fact was interpreted by Masonry in a wholly naturalistic and political way, deeply opposed to a Christian understanding of redemption, the Cross, and the Church. He wrote:
From the political point of view Pike with many other Anglo-American Scotch Masons interprets all Masonic symbolism in the sense of a systematic struggle against every kind of political and religious ‘despotism.‘ Hiram, Christ, Molay are regarded only as representatives of ‘Humanity‘ the ‘Apostles of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.‘ The Cross (a double or quadruple square) is ‘no specific Christian symbol,‘‘to all of us it is an emblem of Nature and of Eternal life; whether of them only let each say for himself.‘ The Cross X (Christ) was the Sign of the Creative Wisdom or Logos, the Son of God. Mithraism signed its soldiers on the forehead with a cross, etc. I.N.R.I., the inscription on the Cross is, Masonically read: ‘Igne Natura Renovatur Integra‘ [The whole of nature is renewed by fire]. The regeneration of nature by the influence of the sun symbolizes the spiritual regeneration of mankind by the sacred fire (truth and love) of Masonry, as a purely naturalistic institution. Christ dying on Calvary is for Masonry ‘the greatest among the apostles of Humanity, braving Roman despotism and the fanaticism and bigotry of the priesthood.‘ Under the symbol of the Cross, ‘the legions of freedom shall march to victory.‘
Regarding the Masonic interpretation of the Cross, not only is Christ’s death stripped of its supernaturally redemptive merit, making the very inscription of Pilate — Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews, Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum — blasphemously and mockingly reduced to a philosophical statement about the regeneration of the world by fire, but the very person of Christ is made into a mere political figure whose death is a protest against the “despotism” of the oppressive Roman empire. Were any Christian to explain Christ and His death in this way, one would rightly wonder whether the man worships Christ as God and believes His death takes away sins.
In a similar way the ceremony for entry to the degree for Knight of the Rose Crucis is detailed by a witness to the rite of initiation in a Lodge in France, Abbe Augusten de Barruel. The Abbe’s testimony is recounted in Behind the Lodge Door.
The ornaments of the Lodge in that degree recall to the candidate ‘the solemn Mystery of Mount Calvary.’
The Lodge room was draped inblack with an altar prominently displayed, above which were three crosses. The middle one bore the inscription: ‘I.N.R.I.’
‘The brethren in sacerdotal vestments are seated on the ground in the most profound silence, resting their heads on their arms to represent their grief,’ Barruel wrote.
But, he said, it was ‘not the death of the Son of God, who died victim for our sins, that was the cause of their affliction.’ Rather, it was Christ’s Crucifixion and the establishment of Christianity which moved the brethren to mourn the loss of ‘the word, that is [their] pretended natural Religion …,’ which dates from that sacred day.
Far from the mourning of the contrite and humble heart expressed in the Act of Contrition over the fact that man’s sins have “crucified my loving Savior Jesus Christ,” the Masons lament the fact that His death ushered in the age of Christianity the world over. Few things could be more diametrically opposed to the love of the Christian soul for Christ given in return for the surpassingly great love Christ showed for souls in dying on the Cross. None express the motive for this return of love for the Savior better than St. Paul: “The life I now live in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God, who love me and gave himself up for me.” (Gal 2:20)
Pike’s animosity toward the Catholic Church
Consonant with the reinterpretation of Christian symbolism, the meaning of Christ’s death on the Cross, and the person of Christ, Masonry has little tolerance for the Catholic Church, whose insistence on acceptance of the dogmas and morals she teaches by the authority of her divine founder runs afoul of Masonic claims to the same universal authority.
Detailing Masonry’s attacks on the Catholic Church, Gruber writes, “But Freemasonry goes farther and attacks Catholicism openly.”
The ‘Voice’ (Chicago), for instance, in an article which begins: ‘There is nothing in the Catholic religion which is adverse to Masonry,’ continues,’for the truth is, that masonry embodies that religion in which all men agree. This is as true as that all veritable religion, wherever found, is in substance the same. Neither is it in the power of any man or body of men to make it otherwise. Doctrines and forms of observance conformable to piety, imposed by spiritual overseers, may be as various as the courses of wind; and like the latter may war with each other upon the face of the whole earth, but they are not religion.
Bigotry and zeal, the assumptions of the priestcraft, with all its countless inventions to magnify and impress the world … are ever the mainsprings of strife, hatred and revenge, which defame and banish religion and its inseparable virtues, and work unspeakable mischief, wherever mankind are found upon the earth.
Popery and priestcraft are so allied, that they may be called the same; the truth being, that the former is nothing more nor less than a special case of the latter, being a particular form of a vicious principle, which itself is but the offspring of the conceit of self-sufficiency and the lust of dominion.
Nothing which can be named, is more repugnant to the spirit of masonry, nothing to be more carefully guarded against, and this has been always well understood by all skillful masters, and it must in truth be said, that such is the wisdom of the lessons, i.e. of masonic instruction in Lodges, etc.’
“All veritable religion, wherever found, is in substance the same.” “Popery and priestcraft are so allied, that they may be called the same… the former… a particular form of a vicious principle, which is itself but the offspring of the conceit of self-sufficiency and the lust of dominion. Nothing which can be named, is more repugnant to the spirit of masonry.” So say the Masons.
If Jesus Christ is not the Son of God — as Christians confess and Masons deny — then neither does the Church He founded have any real claim to divine authority, and rightly do the Masons rebel at its seeming grasp for power over the souls of men as “but the offspring of the conceit of self-sufficiency and the lust of dominion.”
Masonry’s antagonism toward Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, enters into the very décor of every Masonic Lodge. As Fisher observes in Behind the Lodge Door, “the alternating black and white squares on the Lodge floor Pike noted, serve to remind all Masons of that conflict. Those alternating blocks symbolize, he said, the ‘warfare of Michael and Satan; between light and darkness; freedom and despotism; religious liberty and the arbitrary dogmas of a Church that thinks for its votaries, and whose Pontiff claims to be infallible, and the decretals of its Councils to constitute gospel.’”
Defaming the Catholic Church as the ruthless persecutor and enemy of mankind, Pike wrote, “By what right . . . does the savage, merciless, persecuting animal endeavor to delude itself that it is not an animal?”
Again, Pike saw the Catholic papacy and monarchy as essentially two prongs of the same despotic oppression of men. The Masonic “liberty” envisioned by him would mean nothing less than the subjection of both to the control of Freemasonry: “The Papacy and rival monarchies . . . are sold and bought in these days, become corrupt, and tomorrow, perhaps, will destroy each other. All that will become the heritage of the Temple: the world will soon come to us for its Sovereigns and Pontiffs. We shall constitute the equilibrium of the universe, and be rulers over the masters of he world.” In Pike’s vision, a free mankind would entail a social and political world order wholly dictated by the Masons.
Nor did Pike limit himself to opposing the Catholic Church in the United States. As the Grand Commander of the Mother Supreme Council of the World in Charleston, South Carolina, he took every opportunity to stir up an anti-clerical spirit in his fellow Masons. In a letter dated Dec. 28, 1886, Pike exhorted the Italian Grand Commander, Timoteo Riboli, close friend and ally of Garibaldi, to do all that he could to unite and muster Italian Freemasonry against the Pope and the Vatican in Rome. In that letter his bitter animosity toward the Catholic Church boiled over into vitriolic hatred. Deeming the Church to be the utmost enemy of human liberty, he wrote:
The Papacy … has been for a thousand years the torturer and curse of Humanity, the most shameless imposture, in its pretense to spiritual power of all ages. With its robes wet and reeking with the blood of half a million of human beings, with the grateful odor of roasted human flesh always in its nostrils, it is exulting over the prospect of renewed dominion. It has sent all over the world its anathemas against Constitutional government and the right of men to freedom of thought and conscience…
In [the] presence of this spiritual ‘Cobra di capello,’ this deadly, treacherous, murderous enemy, the most formidable power in the world, the unity of Italian Masonry is of absolute and supreme necessity; and to this paramount and omnipotent necessity all minor considerations ought to yield; dissensions and disunion, in [the] presence of this enemy of the human race are criminal.
Pushing for Italian Freemasons to cast aside all differences in order to unite in exerting all their efforts to either overthrow or subject to their own control the Papacy, Pike declared, “There must be no unyielding, uncompromising insistence upon particular opinions, theories, prejudices, professions: but, on the contrary, mutual concessions and harmonious co-operation. The Freemasonry of the world will rejoice to see accomplished and consummated the Unity of the Italian Freemasonry.”
Masonry’s efforts against the Church’s public influence in the U.S.
To return to the United States, where Pike’s anti-Christian prejudice would ultimately make real political and social inroads, the Scottish Rite American Freemasons saw that the future of the country lay in the education of the nation’s upcoming generation. So they turned their attention to education. Their goal, in the words of Gruber, was nothing less than “the universal social republic, in which, after the overthrow of every kind of spiritual and political tyranny, of ‘theocratical’ and dynastical powers and class privileges, reigns the greatest possible individual liberty and social and economical equality conformably to French Masonic ideals.”
To deprive the Church and Christianity of its public influence and presence, Scottish Rite American Freemasonry sought two things: an absolute “wall of separation” between Church and State, intended to exclude Christianity from influencing legislation and public policy, and an absolute separation of Church and public school, intended to exclude the Church from influencing the minds and hearts of the young. To achieve the latter, the Masons sought and finally obtained in the 1940s a majority on the Supreme Court, allowing Pike-inspired Masonic Justices to hand down several landmark rulings against the funding of religious schools in the 1947 Everson case, the recitation of public prayer in schools in the 1962 Engel case, and the reading of the bible in schools in the 1963 Schempp case. They also established the federal Department of Education to implement a secular, anti-Christian curriculum on public schools throughout the nation, dubbing their anti-Christian animosity and bias “unsectarian.”
As Gruber notes, these were the means that Masonry considered “indispensable and an infallibly sure way to the final establishment of the universal social republic and of the pretended world peace, as they fancy them, and of the glorious era of human solidarity and of unsurpassable human happiness in the reign of liberty and justice.”
Against all claims to the contrary, it should be abundantly clear that both Scottish Rite American Freemasonry and its foremost dogmatic and moral authority, Albert Pike, were and are deeply anti-Christian in their doctrine, goals, rituals, and perceptions of the world and human life. These anti-Christian sentiments have become entrenched in large parts of American society today. As a way to merely begin addressing the damage done to America by Scottish Rite Freemasonry, we must first acknowledge Masonry for what it is and tear away the façade of Christian brotherhood beneath which lurks a deep and bitter hatred of Christ and His Church.