reach of the Internet, (blogs, Youtube, Google, etc.) as a vehicle to promote
Freemasonry and blunt/counter anti-Masonic attacks is a must tool for the
Fraternity in the new century.
its proper use, we must:
Be aware of the
techniques used by the media today
Be proactive in
putting our message forth
negative attacks as soon as they appear.
of the Internet has expanded dramatically in the last decade. With wider
bandwidth, data coding techniques and faster and more capable networks and
electronics, faster transmission of
data has been possible. Large data files can now be transmitted in seconds
especially using fiber optic systems. Consequently transmission of real live
pictures of events recorded by
amateurs as they happen is now possible to your computer. The broadcast news
media, no longer controls news events and information flow as they once did.
Individuals are now empowered to act as reporters, critics, generators of news
events and editorial writers, and they are doing it.
new found freedom is heady stuff. It can be used for good and for evil.
the existing good uses for Freemasonry. Web sites are in existence for most, if
not, all Grand Lodges. Those web sites usually have links that can access other
Grand Lodges. However, individual subordinate lodges are currently a mixed bag.
Some lodges have excellent sites, some are mediocre, but a large number do not
have a site at all. Some blogs exist but are hard to find. Some well-done videos
are available on youtube. At least one video blog exists which I have found 1.
The latter is well done. However, it is criticized a few blogs down.
access the textual pro-Masonic sites is best done by using Google with
Freemasonry as the search word. Similarly, to access the videos is best done by
going to youtube.com and using “Freemasonry” as the search word. I do not
give the sites themselves due to the ever-changing nature of the web sites.
Using the search word “anti-mason” can access the anti-Masonic sites.
Freemasonry search will also bring up quite a large number of anti-Masonic sites.
anti-Masonic sites fall into three categories; those sponsored and created by
Religious Fundamentalists, Conspiracy theorists, and the Ignorant.
Religious Fundamentalists can be of any organized religion 2.
Typically most of their attacks deal only with outward manifestations of the
Craft, such as rites, forms, rituals, or ceremonies. However some deal with the
factual, historical progression of the relationship between the two. There
usually is great discussion of the intent and purpose of the institutions. These
haters of Freemasonry are usually uninformed or else dictatorial in their
attitude. To achieve their purpose they distort, take things out of context, or
few years ago an evangelical minister used Pike’s “Morals and Dogma” to
show the evil of Freemasonry. What he wrote and Pike actually said were two
different things. He chose certain phrases, removed subsequent material and
coupled them with other material elsewhere in the document. When both documents
are placed side by side with the original Pike document lined through those
parts omitted, the distortion becomes evident. This is a favorite trick. Pick
out an obscure but famous document (which is bulky, not read by many) and
distort it to fit their view. In short they use a neurolinguistic-programming
trick to frame the argument and paint a mental picture of their distorted view.
as Freemasons need to reframe the debate by using the Internet blogs and video
techniques to present:
Our belief in God
Our belief in the brotherhood of man
Our love of freedom that permits freedom of discussion and thought.
should be noted that political dictatorships function the same way as
ecclesiastical ones. This is the main reason that dictatorships close down
lodges as they come to power. It is a fear of freedom being given to the masses,
which endangers their rule.
we turn to the Conspiracy Theorists. Although no doubt always present in
humankind, the modern conspiratist has been empowered by world events of the
last few decades. Given access to the Internet they have a venue to promote
their theories without much chance of being called on them. An example is the
book novel “The Divinci Code”3 which is nothing more than a well
crafted fictional novel, but with some juicy half truths sprinkled here and
there. The public, hungry for entertainment, but ignorant of Freemasonry and the
disputes with religion begins to believe the conspiracy theory.
has trained the public to look for information using “sound bites.” This is
a neurolinguistic technique called framing/reframing, 4 which uses
the subconscious mind (which accepts all information without discrimination) to
store data. Normally the conscious mind will filter the information stream.
However, in the video world people look for entertainment and their guard is
down. The result is that misinformation becomes resident in the subconscious
ready for recall when properly triggered. Thus when a conspiracy theorist
presents his video with “Divinci” overtones people listen, and believe.
video blog on youtube.com attacking the United Grand Lodge of England is
particularly clever this way. While the commentator is droning on about the
supposed conspiracy of Masonic World Domination the video shows the elegantly
clad Grand Lodge officers in full regalia entering their Lodge, close the doors
(with a bang of course) and place the Tyler’s guarding the entrance. As he
continues droning on the camera pans the outer face of the building pausing
momentarily at some object on the cornice (which is not readily identifiable)
but which he implies is an Illuminati symbol. The video continues in this vein
for a total of a half-hour.
people are lazy, do not have the time, or are not really interested in the topic,
but will remember the “sound bite,” headline, or video misrepresentation.
Thus the falsehood becomes “a fact” and difficult to counter.
counter this type of insidious propaganda, we as Masons must be proactive. If
the “Morgan Affair” of the 1820’s in the United States taught anything it
is that. Face your accusers down. Pennsylvania Grand Master George M. Dallas 5
and a number of masons, when called before the Pennsylvania legislature to be
questioned about Freemasonry, refused to be sworn, faced down their tormentors
and won the day. The situation had gotten to this stage because at the time
Grand Lodges decided to remain silent thinking the problem would go away on its
own. It didn’t until confronted.
today, Freemasonry cannot stand by and ignore these attacks by remaining silent.
now turn to ignorance. Unfortunately today few Americans have heard of
Freemasonry and fewer still know anything about the fraternity. The same is
probably true in other parts of the world.
anecdote from personal experience shows the problem. A few years ago I was
watching a local patriotic parade where the local Lodge was participating. A
little girl turned to her father and asked, “who are those men wearing aprons.”
Her father’s response was “ their sign says Masons, but I never heard of
them nor do I know who or what they are.”
wonder whose fault that was. The father was sincere in his ignorance, but it was
our fraternity’s fault that the public doesn’t know about us. If you drive
along a road anywhere in the United States, you will usually see a sign or set
of signs at the entrance to a town, announcing various organizations active in
that community. There usually is a sign with the square and compasses and the
inscription of the local lodge number or name. All Masons know what the sign
means, and if we wish, we can look up the Lodge for that town and visit. But
only we Masons know this. I am sure that at one time being associated with the
craft called for respect. Today I believe that respect has been lost. It has
been lost because the population at large doesn’t even know we exist. If the
public knows any thing good at all about us, they think we are a bunch of old
men belonging to a secret society.
Internet can be used to bring light to the public. The Internet is tailor made
for grass roots public education and participation. To do this effectively we
should frame our message to deliver positive “sound bites” about the Craft.
For example, a video on youtube showing Christmas presents being given to
children at a Shriner’s Hospital could show a prominent display of the square
and compasses as well as the Shriner emblem and a slogan such as “Mason’s
helping children.” Similarly putting such a video on local TV News broadcasts
would reach a large population. Both approaches should run concurrently. Video
blogs showing the good Masonry does while subtly reframing the anti-video
production can be effective.
all the Internet should be used as an educational tool for the brethren as well
as the public.
we need to educate our older members in the use of the computer and the
Internet. Second, the Worshipful Master of each subordinate lodge should assign
a computer savvy brother to establish a lodge Internet site; encourage access to
Lodges of research and their use by all members for educational purposes; have
free downloads (or nominal fee) of papers generated by those lodges.
Masters are valuable resources. They should be encouraged to continue their
Masonic work by participating in these Lodges and by being mentors for new
members at each step of the candidate’s advancement. This mentorship should
continue even after the candidate is raised to Master Mason.
a minimum, Lodge web sites should be a communication tool for use by the members
of the fraternity. As suggested above web sites should be created for each Lodge,
(It should have member’s e-mails for access with password protection.) and
should have as a minimum the following information:
Lodge name, district, and region
Latest news e.g. next stated meeting, (could replace current Mailed
notices thereby saving printing and mailing costs)
Master’s Page with message for the month,
Officers names and pictures
Brief history of the Lodge
Past Master page. Deceased Past Master page.
M.’s with Lodge identified if current lodge is a merged lodge. )
Events (could include pictures)
How to contact.
can be done with the Internet to help the Fraternity. Some small examples are
given here with the hope to prod the brethren into further thoughts on how to
use this valuable resource.
search word =Freemasonry, Video title: Freemasonry Today
P. “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, 1994, M. Evans & Co, New York, N.Y.
“The Da Vinci Code”, 2003, Doubleday
and Grinder, John “Reframing (Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the
Transformation of Meaning)”, 1982 Real People Press, Moab, Utah.
Huss, Wayne A.
“The Master Builders”, Volume III: Grand Master Biographies, 1989,
Winchell Co. of Philadelphia