(Excerpted from United Symbolism of America by Robert R. Hieronimus, Ph.D.)
There were many Freemasons among our Founding Fathers, but there is very little evidence that any symbols chosen as icons to represent America were influenced by their Masonry. Most theories on the Internet assume that the similarities between some Masonic symbolism and those that represent America prove a Masonic influence. Just a little documentary digging, however, will discount this assumption. Why are there today so many people willing to make this leap in conclusion? I believe that is based on ….
The fear about our nation’s symbols basically boils down to an irrational fear of secret societies, and in particular, the Freemasons. Keep in mind that most of the criticism of Freemasonry is based on insinuation and jumps to conclusion, as only a minute handful of its critics over the centuries have joined a lodge or done any true primary research into what Freemasons do and teach in their ceremonies. In 1971 I decided to do just that, and as an active Co-Mason for several years, I can attest to the sincerity of this group. The Freemasons are what they say they are: a community service organization founded on principles of brotherhood and altruism and tolerance. Personally, I was drawn more to the Co-Masonry branch of the order which allows for female membership, believing as I do, that equal rights for both sexes, particularly in the search for truth and the performance of rituals, provides balance in all things.
It is the Freemasons’ insistence on secrecy and their penchant for elaborate and unusual play-acting rituals that trigger such suspicion and fear in the ill informed. For hundreds of years Freemasons have been accused of being anti-Christian. For the most part this is because one of the main tenets of Freemasonry is the practice of religious tolerance, and they have adopted the use of universal terms and rituals to express their concept of the Creator. This practice makes all members from all faiths welcome and comfortable in dedicating themselves to their common bond of serving their fellow man and community. Fundamentalist-conspiratorialists say these altruistic statements and philanthropic activities are merely a “front” calculated to conceal from us their true intentions that include world domination, mind control of the masses, and the eradication of Christianity. They believe that around the time of the American Revolution, the Freemasons were infiltrated by the infamous Bavarian secret society called the Illuminati, and that since then, the Masons have served as the cover organization for men of power to control the rest of humanity. I am not about to deny the existence of covert groups of powerful men who meet for shadowy purposes of mind control of the masses. Unfortunately, I believe that really does happen. However, I am wholeheartedly of the belief that this is not being done through the auspices of the modern Freemasons.
Nor can I believe that the Founding Fathers in question, like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson as prime examples, who did not worship in the fundamental Christian fashions, had anything but religious freedom and tolerance for all in their plans for this country. Of course, none of our founders was perfect. Jefferson owned slaves and Franklin was a philanderer, but I think their biographers and the general consensus agree that overall they served to the best of their abilities to create a nation where freedom was the overarching theme. At the same time, we should also acknowledge that not all Freemasons are perfect either. In any large group of people over several hundreds of years, odds are a few will not live up to the society’s expectations. But most of the outrageous and scandalous crimes you will hear attributed to “Freemasons” are outright hoaxes, as we discuss further in Chapter Eight. Weighed against the enormous good the Freemasons do and have always done in contributing services and funds to the community and charities, the few members who have done bad deeds should not be indicative overall of this organization of do-gooders.