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en•chant...1. To cast under a spell; bewitch.
en•chanter... One that enchants; a sorcerer or magician.

--The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

The Internet may be the most exciting invention of the 20th century. It has enabled an amazing increase in communication and information transfer. Researchers now think nothing of browsing the catalog of the Sorbonne before checking a reference at the British Museum. One of the first, least structured, and most enjoyable features of the Internet is the newsgroup or bulletin board. These discussion sessions cover wildly-ranging topics from theology to chocolate, and from music to Freemasonry.

Participants in a discussion post messages (a few lines or scores of pages). These can be in response to earlier postings or they can start now discussion "threads." Part of the charm (and bane) of newsgroups is their almost total lack of structure. Anyone can talk about anything with almost any language. The groups tend to be self-policing, but a wilder, freer forum is hard to imagine. One of the more popular newsgroups devoted to discussions of Freemasonry is alt.freemasonry.

With this freedom, unfortunately, comes the opportunity for misuse and abuse. Internet technology allows users to mask their identities, so they can anonymously post outlandish, vulgar, blasphemous, and misleading messages all without fear of repercussion. Nearly all Freemasons posting to newsgroups identify themselves and their lodges; nearly all anti-Masons use pseudonyms and false addresses. A visitor in 1995 or 1996 to alt.freemasonry could find the puerile ravings of such bravely anonymous participants as "Plutonium," "Don," "Tweety," or "Enchanter!" or Mr. Ken Mitchell writing as "Joken." (20a) It is hard to motivate people, but we think the intent of these posters is twofold: spread vicious lies about Freemasonry and disrupt any civil discourse on the craft. It is useless to try to address every irrational argument of unidentified cowards; their minds are made up and closed. However, it may be instructive to look at one series of such messages.

Several postings ("Masonry FAQ [Frequently Asked Questions]: Blasted to Bits," "Secrets and Secrecy," and others, all by the bravely pseudonymous Enchanter!) to several newsgroups attempted to portray the Masonic fraternity as an "evil force which is permeating every corner of our society." The documents are filled with misunderstandings, misstatements, and deceptive half-truths.

The Difficulty of Dialog

Enchanter! has established an interesting logical system in which he conducts his inquisition. It enables him to accept any "evidence" that suits him, and ignore what doesn't. Non-Masons who question him are dismissed for not being "real 33rd degree Masons."

    May I ask you Mr. Billman, what degree Mason are you? If you are less than a 33rd degree Mason, does it not make sense that I should accept the opinions of a real 33rd Mason [Albert Pike] over yours on this subject?

Then any response from a Mason is similarly dismissed because the author defines them to be unreliable.

    You obviously are a Mason, and therefore have taken vows to uphold certain secrets, even if it means telling lies.

Meaningful, civil discourse is difficult after these premises are established.

The Fundamental Misunderstanding

The first and most fundamental misunderstanding of the document is that the Scottish Rite Supreme Councils and "real 33rd Degree Masons" somehow control Freemasonry. The author seems fixated on 33rd Degree Masons and quotes their writings religiously. As an example of the confusion, the original posting said, "Masonry is a two-faced preditor [sic], just as the Masonic icon of the two-headed eagle indicates." The author later acknowledged that the eagle is a symbol of the Scottish Rite, and not of Freemasonry, but the basic confusion of control persists throughout.

A 33rd Degree Mason does not necessarily have more knowledge or speak more authoritatively than other Masons. One might as well assume that Eagle Scouts know more about Scouting policy and history than anyone else or that a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of a University is a more reliable source for university plans and policy than a dean. Scouting does not work this way; universities do not work this way; and Freemasonry does not work this way.

The author asks, "Is the author of the FAQ a 33rd degree Mason?" "If not, then it would seems to me that Pike stands as a better authority on issues such as the Occult Sciences and Lucifer." Following this logic, Bishop John Spong of the Episcopal Church should be a better authority on issues of Christian doctrine than most other Christians. He was ordained in direct apostolic succession from Jesus Christ. In his book Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism he has speculated that the "thorn in the flesh" of St. Paul (II Corinthians 12:7) may have been that he was a homosexual. Does this mean St. Paul was a homosexual? Does Bishop Spong speak for all Christians? Does he speak for all Episcopalians? Does this mean the members of Bishop Spong's dioceses must believe this? Anyone believing any of this understands neither Protestant Christianity nor the politics of the Episcopal Church. The author similarly misunderstands Freemasonry.

The Source of Accurate Information

Every Grand Lodge in the United States publishes annual Transactions or Proceedings which detail the motions, debates, and business conducted at their meetings. Grand Lodges print and widely distribute hundreds of copies of their proceedings. These are not secret and can be read at the Grand Lodges or in the larger Masonic libraries. Annual transactions are the source for accurate, official actions of any Grand Lodge. A further source of information is the annual proceedings of the Conference of Grand Masters of North America.

There are scores of Lodges devoted to studying the history of Freemasonry. The oldest such "Research Lodge" is Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 in London, founded in 1886. Its annual transactions, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, are an abundance of carefully researched historical papers on Freemasonry. American Masonic research organizations with extensive publications include the American Lodge of Research (New York), the Missouri Lodge of Research, Iowa Research Lodge No. 2, the Ohio Chapter of Research (Royal Arch Masons--part of the "York Rite"), the Philalethes Society, and the Scottish Rite Research Society.

In short, there is a wealth of readily available information on the activities of virtually every American Masonic organization. Much of it is boring (e.g., debates on how Lodge meeting notices should be mailed), but it is publicly available to anyone who wants to do genuine research on the actual, not imagined, activities of Freemasonry. Similarly there are thousands of papers (poorly- and well-written) on the history, philosophy, and origins of Freemasonry, all available to anyone willing to take the effort to read them.

Deficient Research

Albert Pike is the favorite "whipping boy" of modern anti-Masons, and Enchanter! is no exception. Pike is usually first portrayed as the central, guiding force behind Freemasonry, and then he is vilified. Pike was a circumloquacious Victorian writer whose style (to my taste at least) was better suited for a century ago. (Certainly he never read Strunk & White!)

In one place in Morals and Dogma, Pike refers to Jesus as "the mysterious founder of the Christian Church." Enchanter! quotes this passages and then uses it to launch an ad hominem attack on Pike.

    Notice how Pike avoids even writing the name of Christ, and would rather substitute a cumbersome phrase in its place.

The statement is a non sequitur; Pike's writing style has nothing to do with Masonry. More than this, the accusation is wrong; it betrays tissue-thin research. Pike had a vast vocabulary, but did not hesitate to use "Jesus," "Jesus Christ," or "Christ."

On its face was inscribed the word [Ichthus], a fish, the initials of which represented the Greek words, [Iesous CHristos THeou HYios Soter]; Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour. [Morals and Dogma, p. 547]

    The person of Jesus having disappeared, there was seen in His place a cross of Light over which a celestial voice pronounced these words: "The cross of Light is called The Word, Christ, The Gate, Joy, The Bread, The Sun, The Resurrection, Jesus, The Father, The Spirit, Life, Truth, and Grace." [Morals and Dogma, p. 567]

    Paul of Samosta taught that Jesus Christ was the Son of Joseph and Mary. [Morals and Dogma, p. 564]

    According to the Church, Christ was of the same nature as God. [Morals and Dogma, p. 565]

    None can deny that Christ taught a lofty morality. "Love one another: forgive those that despitefully use you and persecute you." [Morals and Dogma, p. 540.

    Jesus of Nazareth, the "Son of man," is the expounder of the new Law of Love. He called to Him the humble, the poor the Pariahs of the world. [Morals and Dogma, p. 309]

A Source Misunderstood

Enchanter! readily accepts and repeats negative information about Masonry without understanding the source. For example, he says:

In 'Scottish Rite Masonry Illustrated' (Vol. II, p. 259) we find that the candidate, after a bizarre and somber ceremony involving coffins and skulls, hears these words voiced by the Grand Master.

A quotation then follows in which the candidate is told he will have "to obey, without reserve, all that you will be commanded to do." This sounds ominous, but it has no bearing on any legitimate Masonic body, because the author has not checked his sources. The book in question is an exposure of the rituals of "Cerneauism," a Masonic movement in the nineteenth century that violently opposed legitimate Scottish Rite Masonry in the United States. Whatever similarities may exist between Cerneau and Scottish Rite rituals are objects of curiosity and a source of Masonic research papers.

Numerous references to the Cerneau Supreme Council occur throughout the book. Confusing Cerneauism with regular Scottish Rite Masonry is like confusing the Church of Christ with the Church of Christ, Scientist. Their names are alike and their orders of worship are superficially similar, but they are fundamentally different denominations. It is shallow research to accept Blanchard's book without question. It is incompetent to confuse the Cerneau Supreme Council with regular Scottish Rite Masonry. It is irresponsible to accuse Scottish Rite Masons on the basis of an irrelevant book (the reader will find more information on Scotch Rite Masonry Illustrated in the section "Jonathan Blanchard and the Scottish Rite" in our chapter on John Ankerberg and John Weldon).


Figure 6. Title page of Scotch Rite Masonry Illustrated, with historical sketch and analysis by Jonathan Blanchard. This virulently anti-Masonic book is an exposure of Cerneauism, an illegitimate pseudo-Masonic organization.

Unsubstantiated Allegations

Enchanter! Makes several wild charges about a global conspiracy which involved Freemasonry in some vague, unspecified way. Among many other things he talks about:

    the sheer numbers of Masons involved in global reorganization....

    the ranks of the many Christians and God-loving people who got out of Masonry because they did not like the secrets revealed at the higher levels.

    A small percentage of the US population are involved in freemasonry, yet in the US government (especially the secretive intelligence agencies like the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc.) there is a very high number of freemasons.

    this evil force which is permeating every corner of our society.

If true, these allegations can be supported objective research. There is no need to sit by idly when the public record can be checked to substantiate these claims. Any reader easily should be able to confirm Enchanter!'s statements, if only he will share his information. All we need to know is the name of the Mason, a reference to his membership, and his position.

If Freemasonry is "permeating every corner of our society," then it should be simple to give a dozen verifiable examples.

If so many Masons are "involved in global reorganization," then it should be simple to name a score of them.

If so many "many Christians and God-loving people" have left "Masonry because they did not like the secrets revealed at the higher levels," then we should be able to read the witness of their experiences.

If the US government and its intelligence agencies have a very high number of freemasons, then there is no problem in giving a few dozen names.

A Secret Book

The author quotes extracts from the preface of Morals and Dogma, and then says, "Clearly this book is or was some sort of a secret." Again, the facts show otherwise. Below is the quote from Enchanter! with the words left out indicated by being struck out.

    The following work has been prepared by authority of the Supreme Council of the Thirty-Third Degree, for the southern jurisdiction of the United States, by the Grand Commander.

    As the cost of the work consists entirely in the printing and binding, it will be furnished at a price as moderate as possible. No individual will receive pecuniary profit from it, except the agents for its sale. It has been copyrighted, to prevent its republication elsewhere. Whatever profits may accrue from it will be devoted to purposes of charity.

    It not being intended for the world at large, the author [Pike] has felt at liberty to make, from all accessible sources, a Compendium of the Morals and Dogma of the Rite, to re-mould sentences, change and add to words and phrases, combine them with his own, and use them as if they were his own. He claims, therefore, little of the merit of authorship, and has not cared to distinguish his own from that which he has taken from other sources, being quite willing that every portion of the book, in turn, may be regarded as borrowed from some old and better writer.

In reading the full words of the preface, several points are clear.

    Morals and Dogma was never intended to serve all of Freemasonry--just the Supreme Council, 33°, S.J. (It was, in fact, rejected and ignored by the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.)

    The book was copyrighted because of Pike's concern that it be sold at the lowest possible cost and that all profits go to charity.

    Because he was not writing for a general public, Pike didn't worry about citing all of his sources as he normally did.

Far from proving that Morals and Dogma is a "secret book," the full preface shows: 1) it was produced at cost for Scottish Rite Masons; 2) no individual was to profit from its sale or resale; 3) Pike used an informal reference style because the book was intended for his Brethren only. No restrictions have ever been placed on storing, reading, or loaning the book. Consider these statistics from the 1992 Transactions of the Supreme Council. In 1907 (the first year membership figures are summarized in the Transactions) there were 33,000 Scottish Rite Masons in the Southern Jurisdiction; in 1950 there were 374,000. In those 43 years, ignoring deaths and resignations, 341,000 Masons joined and received a copy of Morals and Dogma, with no restriction on who could read it. This seems like a singularly odd way to manage a "secret book."

Selective Quotations

Enchanter! makes several quotes from Morals and Dogma, after first falsely claiming it is among "the writings held sacred within the Lodges." Morals and Dogma was published and distributed by the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite in the U.S. (A little over 20% of American Masons have chosen to join the Scottish Rite in the S.J., and slightly less are in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction--60% of American Masons are not in the Scottish Rite.) Morals and Dogma has no role in Blue Lodges, it is not used in the N.M.J., it has not been distributed in the S.J. since ca. 1971, and it has never, ever been held "sacred" by any Masonic group.

The first quote from Morals and Dogma is preceded by Enchanter!'s inflammatory introductory comment, "If you read this through, I'm sure you will agree with me: it's a perversion of the Christian teachings, riddled with magic(k) and occultism."

    Ialdabaoth, to become independent of his mother [Spirit], and to pass for the Supreme Being, made the world, and man, in his own image.... They [Christos and Wisdom] restored Jesus to life and gave Him an ethereal body, in which He remained eighteen months on earth, and receiving from Wisdom the perfect knowledge, communicated it to a small number of His apostles. [Morals and Dogma pp. 563­564]

The passage is indeed found in Morals and Dogma, but it is a description of the beliefs of the Ophites, a Gnostic sect condemned by Irenaeus (ca.115-ca.202), Bishop of Lyons, in his book Against Heresies. The paragraph from which this quote is taken begins, "The Ophites commenced their system with a Supreme Being, long unknown to the Human race." The Ophites believed that Ialdabaoth was the son of Sophia the Mother, and that he sealed off the heavens above him to prevent those below from discovering anything above him.(21) The chapter from which Enchanter! quotes is an overview of early religious beliefs, none of which are "recommended" to Freemasons. On page 564 alone Pike provides six brief summaries of bygone beliefs.

    Tatian adopted the theory of Emanation, of Eons.

    The Elxaites adopted the Seven Spirits of the Gnostics.

    The opinion of the Doketes as to the human nature of Jesus.

    Noetus termed the Son the first Utterance of the Father.

    Paul of Samosta taught that Jesus Christ was the Son.

    Arius called the Saviour the first of creatures.

All of this is descriptive, with nothing more prescriptive for Scottish Rite Masons than a college course on comparative religion or mythology would be (with noteworthy inconsistency Enchanter! fails to see that his own pseudonym could also lead to charges of "magic(k) and occultism"). Enchanter! earlier quoted two sentences from Pike's introduction to Morals and Dogma. Had he posted a little more of the introduction, Pike's intent would have been clear. First and foremost, neither Pike nor the Scottish Rite have ever, or could ever, require its members to believe anything in the book. This is clear to all Masons and to anyone who reads the introduction.

Every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound. It is only required of him that he shall weigh what is taught, and give it fair hearing and unprejudiced judgment. [Morals and Dogma, preface, p. iv.]

Further, Pike's motives in describing early religious ideas are clear from his introduction. Anyone bothering to read the introduction knows this.

Of course, the ancient theosophic and philosophic speculations are not embodied as part of the doctrines of the Rite; but because it is of interest and profit to know what the Ancient Intellect thought upon these subjects, and because nothing so conclusively proves the radical difference between our human and the animal nature, as the capacity of the human mind to entertain such speculations in regard to itself the Deity. [Morals and Dogma, preface, p. iv.]

This sort of selective quotation out of context is scattered throughout Enchanter!'s postings.

To prevent the light of escaping at once, the Demons forbade Adam to eat the fruit.

    Satan created and governs the visible world [Morals and Dogma pp. 566­567] "One of the most twisted variations of Genesis I have ever heard."

The first quote is from a paragraph that begins, "Manes, founder of the Sect of the Manicheans." The second quote follows, "With the Priscillianists there were two principles." It's not surprising that they seem "twisted variations," as they were declared heresies centuries ago. Pike is describing "ancient theosophic and philosophic speculations," just as he explained in his introduction. Just after the last quote above, Pike says, "Such were some of the ancient notions concerning the Deity; and taken in connection with what has been detailed in the preceding Degrees, this Lecture affords you a true picture of the ancient speculations." [Morals and Dogma, p. 568]


Enchanter! appears to have a vendetta against Freemasonry and is willing to go to great lengths to defame the organization and its members. He removed Pike's explanatory material to Morals and Dogma, ignored his introduction, took his words out of context, and tried to pass them off as something from "writings held sacred within the Lodges." Enchanter! is not fair to Pike, he is not honest about Masonry, he ignores the organization and structure of the fraternity, and he insults the intelligence of his readers.

It is not clear to us whether he has done his own research or whether he has relied on some other anti-Masonic text. Thus we cannot decide if he is naively incompetent researcher or a maliciously deliberate liar. We leave that decision to the objective reader.


20a. In previous editions of this work we were unclear regarding Mr. Mitchell's identity. We have since learned that he now publicly identifies himself. We acknowledge his correction and thank him for calling this oversight to our attention.

21. Jack Finegan, Myth & Mystery: An Introduction to the Pagan Religions of the Biblical World (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Book House, 1989), pp. 233-35.

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