OrthodoxReflections--The Greek Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church have many, many longstanding disagreements. As a catechumen, many of us learned whole lists of Roman Catholic practices and teachings that we Orthodox find unacceptable. But despite almost 1,000 years of constant disagreement on everything from the Eucharist to Ecclesiology, the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics emphatically agree that Freemasonry is a dangerous religious cult.
The Greek Orthodox Church (in Greece, not Constantinople as we shall see) officially condemned Freemasonry first in 1933, and then repeated that condemnation in 2014. The Roman Pope Clement XII first forbade Roman Catholics from membership in the Masons in 1738. Since then, the Roman Catholic Church has condemned Freemasonry 21 times by name. ROCOR also condemned Freemasonry in 1932.
As Americans and Canadians, this can be hard to fathom. We are used to thinking of Freemasons, if we think of them at all, as a men’s social club that does charitable work around the community. We see “conspiracy theory” documentaries about them from time-to-time pop up on TV, of course, but hardly anyone seems to take them seriously. Regardless of our mental image of Shriners in small cars and funny hats helping needy kids, very sober-minded and holy men (on the Orthodox side anyway) consider Freemasonry a serious problem.
Why? Several very important reasons.
First and foremost, Freemasonry is an occult religion hiding in plain sight. For a concise description of this, we can borrow from a Roman Catholic source (Please note: Some Roman Catholic sources are used in this article because, despite their many other errors, Catholic writers are very knowledgeable when writing about Freemasonry):
Freemasonry displays all the elements of religion, and as such it becomes a rival to the religion of the Gospel. It includes temples and altars, prayers, a moral code, worship, vestments, feast days, the promise of reward or punishment in the afterlife, a hierarchy, and initiation and burial rites.
The Greek Church’s condemnation of Freemasonry included the following conclusions:
Freemasonry is not simply a philanthropic union or a philosophical school but constitutes a mystagogical system which reminds us of the ancient heathen mystery-religions and cults—from which it descends and is their continuation and regeneration.
Such a link between Freemasonry and the ancient idolatrous mysteries is also manifested by all that is enacted and performed at the initiations.
Thus Freemasonry is, as granted, a mystery-religion, quite different, separate, and alien to the Christian faith.
Freemasonry rejects Orthodox creeds and dogma, and in place offers a competing neo-gnostic, mystery cult which comes complete with its own Theology, rituals and symbols (icons). Much of this occult symbolism and Theology has “crossed over” into other movements and into popular culture, giving the Masonic religion a much wider influence than mere numbers of Freemasons would indicate possible.
Second, Freemasonry tends to attract some of the most intelligent and successful members of any society. In his book The Greek Police Problem (1970), Brigadier Drempelas described how embedded Freemasons were at the top-levels of Greek Society:
To Masonry belong very many intellectuals, politicians, judges, high-ranking state officials, army officers, moneymen, all wealthy Greek Americans and Hierarchs or theologians. The Lodge of Athens up to the year 1963 had as its Grand Master the University Rector, who was also professor at a Theological Faculty…
The situation has been much the same elsewhere in the world. Studies of Freemasons in the United States have found, overall, that they are disproportionately drawn from the upper social-economic classes. Fourteen Presidents of the United States have been Freemasons, including George Washington. If you peruse the list of notable Freemasons on Wikipedia, you will note billionaires, artists, politicians, doctors, scientists, judges, U.S. Supreme Court justices, writers – really men from all over the globe and from almost every conceivable field of human activity.
Putting aside “conspiracy theories” or the like, it is shocking and troubling that so many powerful men, past and present, have been influenced by a religion that our Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church officially declares is “quite different, separate, and alien to the Christian faith.”
Third, these powerful men have not been content to sit around their lodges and discuss the role of Lucifer, the light bearer, in human social evolution. Freemasonry has a strong inclination towards changing the world, and existing governments (particularly monarchs) tend to get in the way. The role of political Freemasonry in carrying out the February 1917 Revolution in Russia is well-researched. Interestingly, the Communists banned Freemasonry as an unacceptable rival to power after taking control of the country later that year. Freemasonry also played a significant role in other conflicts such as the Greek War of Independence, the French Revolution, and the American Revolution.
Freemasonry is always subversive to the existing religious and social order, which is why it provided many of the political and military leaders of the American Revolution. The Masonic religion, in fact, was essential in preparing the societal groundwork for rebellion long before 1776:
The role of Freemasonry and individual Masons prior to and through the American Revolution was that of the destruction of the traditional social and political order based on an authoritarian philosophy and characterized by inequality and privilege. Speaking generally, in the ancient regime the church and state mutually supported each other in maintaining their respective places of predominance and privilege. Liberalism and liberals, which included Freemasonry and Masons, were declared to be traitorous by the state, and heretical and atheistic by the Church…
… probably no other institution was so widely distributed in the colonies as Freemasonry. Differences in religion, government, and economy, difficulties in transportation and communication, and a spirit of localism and individualism existed from north to south from east to west in varying degrees, but the basic principles of Freemasonry were identical in the approximately one hundred colonial lodges established by 1775, not excepting the colonial governments, had so many leaders of the people in thought or in action from the local community level, as were contained in the ranks of Masonry.
The religion of Freemasonry, and its ideal of brotherhood, helped both motivate and unify the many individual Masons such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, and Paul Revere who were at the center of the American Revolution. After the Revolution, Freemasonry played a very public and prominent role in shaping the ideas and the symbolism of the new nation:
On September 18, 1793, President George Washington, dressed in his Masonic apron, leveled the cornerstone of the United States Capitol with the traditional Masonic ceremony. Historian Stephen Bullock in his book Revolutionary Brotherhood carefully notes the historic and symbolic significance of that ceremony. The Masonic brethren, dressed in their fraternal regalia, had assembled in grand procession, and were formed for that occasion as representative of Freemasonry’s new-found place of honor in an independent American society. At that moment, the occasion of the laying of the new Republic’s foundations, Freemasons assumed the mantles “high priests” of that “first temple dedicated to the sovereignty of the people,” and they “helped form the symbolic foundations of what the Great Seal called ‘the new order for the ages’.”
One might wonder, then, if the anti-Christian influence of Freemasonry accounts for some of our stranger national art and architecture in the city of Washington D.C. For example, the fresco of George Washington in the U.S. Capitol building in which the first president ascends to Heaven the way we Orthodox depict Jesus doing:
The Apotheosis of Washington depicts George Washington sitting amongst the heavens in an exalted manner, or in literal terms, ascending and becoming a god (apotheosis). Washington, the first U.S. president and commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, is allegorically represented, surrounded by figures from classical mythology. Washington is draped in purple, a royal color, with a rainbow arch at his feet, flanked by the goddess Victoria (draped in green, using a horn) to his left and the Goddess of Liberty to his right.
It is somewhat bizarre for a “Christian” nation to consecrate and decorate its public buildings in such a fashion. One must wonder at the long-term effect of the Masonic religion on the United States, given its influence on so many men of prominence and on so many public spaces. Could the current cultural and social decline America is experiencing be related to that influence?
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, Freemasonry created the ecumenical movement that threatens our own Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. For the Greek Church, participation in the ecumenical movement began with Freemasons infiltrating the Church during the end of the 19th Century. In his article, Some preliminary notes on the influence of Freemasonry on early Greek Ecumenism, Scholar and Monk Seraphim (Zissis) details how multiple Greek Patriarchs of Constantinople, Greek bishops, and Greek Theologians were secret Freemasons who promoted the early ecumenical movement. These included Patriarch Joachim III, who first named the Roman Catholics and Protestants “churches” from an Orthodox point of view, and Patriarch Meletios IV (Metaxakis), whose innovations included adopting the new calendar to align with the other “churches” and a keen interest in the Anglican “Church” at a time when sources indicate as many as ¾’s of Anglican clergy were with the Masons.
Freemasons treat unifying the various “Churches” as an essential project, and to that end, dogma that separates one body from another must be eliminated at best or at least downplayed as “optional.” Manley Palmer Hall (1901-1990), magician, Luciferian, and Freemason wrote:
The true Mason is not creed-bound. He realizes with the divine illumination of his lodge that as a Mason his religion must be universal: Christ, Buddha, or Mohammed, the name means little, for he recognizes only the light and not the bearer. He worships at every shrine, bows before every altar, whether in temple, mosque, or cathedral, realizing with his truer understanding the oneness of all Spiritual Truth. All true Masons know that the only heathen are those who, having great ideals, do not live up to them. They know that all religions are one story told in many ways for peoples whose ideals differ but whose great purpose is in harmony with Masonic ideals
The reader will probably recognize in those ideas the kind of “universalist” notions espoused by many ecumenical thinkers of today (“Many paths to God,” “God wills diversity of religion,” “All Churches are essentially the same,” “God will save everyone”). The severe danger of this blasphemous thinking was articulated by Saint Nikolaj Velimirovic in 1930:
The Great Church of Constantinople noted in its own List some heresies by their name, like Uniatism, Chiliasm etc., but the Masonic danger outmatches all other dangers and, unfortunately, numerous intellectuals are affiliated with it. This is the new Arianism; and before us stands a great struggle, which we have to undertake fearlessly in the name of God. The greatest threat to Christianity in the world is not Bolshevism or something else, but Masonry, because it is an enemy [both] external and internal. We say that the Christian religion is the Religion, the sole religion, and that Orthodoxy the only true one; but they [Freemasons] renounce the Gospel and Christ, putting Him on a level with Moses, Buddha, Mohammed
If everything in all religions is true, then nothing is. If all religions can be made one, then so can all governments and all societies.
Besides infiltrating the Holy Orthodox Church, the adherents of the Masonic religion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mostly under the guise of fostering Christian cooperation for worthy charitable purposes, was busy laying the ground work for the modern ecumenical movement by organizing meetings and organizations such as the Y.M.C.A., the Parliament of Religions, the World Council of Churches, and more. Masons said all the right things and seemed to be at the forefront of “humanitarianism” as they infiltrated throughout religious and civic organizations.
As one Catholic writer described it:
This “religion” is only apparently tolerant. In fact, it is [an] utmost demanding and intolerant [religion]. The Freemasons say about themselves that they would be the “initiated,” the “perfect” and the “illuminated” people. And the remaining humanity is for them profane, imperfect, and darkened. Historians recognized in Freemasonry the seed of political totalitarianism (e.g. A. Cobban, Historia de las Civilizaciones, quoteted in: A. Bárcena, Iglesia y Masonería, Madrid 2016, 71). The confusion and the deceit of it consists in the fact that Freemasonry praises itself with attractive names and definitions, like “philanthropy,” “humanism,” “intellectuality,” “tolerance,” and at the same time, Freemasonry masks itself with these names.
One of our biggest problems, as Orthodox Christians, is that we believe our cultural enemies are “secular” or “atheists.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Whether they recognize it or not, the enemies of the One True God are profoundly religious. Whether called “Freemasonry” or “Scientism” or “Antiracism” or “Wicca” or “Antifascism” or “Progressivism” or by any other name, their faith is deep and their god is both demanding of sacrifice and profoundly intolerant. The way for these new faiths was paved through Freemasonry rejecting supernatural Divine Revelation, without which man lies naked before raw power. The Freemason Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote: “The life of a human being is not only a gift of nature, but a conditioned gift by the state” (The Social Contract II, 5).
The truth is, that like the Masonic religion that prepared the way, the god of all those religious fanatics, whether they recognize it or not, is Satan.
As one Catholic writer explained:
In the first grades of Freemasonry, there is venerated an uncertain and nebulous divinity as the “Great Architect of the Universe,” who in the higher and then in the highest grades becomes more and more concrete; in the higher grades this uncertain divinity is identified as the Lucifer, as Satan, as the good god, the adversary of God; and the true God is here the “bad God.”
Satan, of course, is the original conspirator against God. He has never ceased his activity. He has never given up. His disciples follow him in wishing to transform this world into their vision of a utopia. Far from trying to create Hell, they are trying to create a Heaven right here on Earth in the form of a new order they control. They believe they are the heroes of this story, and those of us clinging to destructive fables such as Orthodoxy are the villains. Their “god” represents progress, while ours represents the Dark Ages. Key to creating this new order is first and foremost, destroying the old:
Political and social anarchism is a phenomenon which mostly embodies the spirit of Freemasonry, since one of their key principles is “ordo ab chao” [“order out of chaos”]. This means that one must first create a chaos and then build a new, other order, an order created by men.
One could add to that “create religious anarchism” as fostered by the ecumenical movement. Those who support ecumenical dialogue and organizations say that participation is good for the Orthodox Church. It provides a way for us to witness to the world. But aside from its suspicious beginning in the Greek Church under Masonic influence, the ecumenical movement seems less about witnessing to the Truth of the Orthodox Church and more about making her conform to the world and to other faiths. Academics and hierarchs with ecumenical ties are calling for and even implementing innovations that betray and weaken the Orthodox Faith. Innovations frequently cause Faithful to fall away, often lead to schisms, and always weaken the witness of the Faith. Instead of resisting Satan and his plans for this world, a weakened and disunited Church either retreats or, even worse, actively cooperates in her own enslavement by promoting the Satanic Order under various, seemingly innocent guises such as “charity,” “public health,” “science,” “fighting poverty,” “antiracism,” etc.
The ecumenical movement is Satan’s effort to destroy the Church from within. Rather than being the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the ecumenical movement makes her simply one among many religious bodies dedicated to Jesus Christ. Freemasonry and similar movements have been tools used by Satan to accomplish her reduction in status. Without the preservation of God’s full self-revelation through her holy dogma, the Church is powerless against the world. There is a reason why the Church Fathers fought so vigorously to defend the Orthodox teachings of the Church. If who Christ is does not matter, then how can Christ himself matter? How can the Church stand for truth if she no longer even knows what the truth is?
We can’t really say how, in today’s world, the activities of Freemasonry overlap with other forces such as political movements (Marxism, BLM, antifa, Chinese Communist Party, radical environmentalism), secret societies (Bohemian Grove, Bilderbergers), foundations / think tanks (Rockefeller, Ford, Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission), global organizations (UN, EU, IMF, WHO), occult religions (New Age, Wicca, Satanism, Neo Paganism) and activist billionaires (Soros, Gates, Koch, Buffet). What we can say is that Freemasonry was the “grand daddy” of all this, and many of its occult ideas have been “mainstreamed,” even within some quarters of the Orthodox Church. As churches are closed by governments to combat a relatively mild virus, our societies are descending into chaos, authoritarianism, and satanism. All around us are images of the demonic, particularly featuring sexualized children. What would once have been considered an affront to all decency, now masquerades as mere entertainment as we meekly go about our business of trying to survive a government-induced economic catastrophe. All the while, we hear that the “new normal” will allow us to “build back better.”
Meanwhile, many “Orthodox” Theologians collaborate with the Heterodox extolling confusion and immorality.
Abbot Tryphon, one priest who is standing for truth at this difficult hour, has made clear:
Is this not a moment in the history of the Church that demands her priests and bishops stand firmly in the face of the demonic powers that would enslave us all with a secular-marxist future devoid of God?
Not since the earliest days of Christianity have we seen a period where the need for spiritual leadership willing to face martyrdom rather than succumb to the evil powers that would take us all down into the pit of darkness, as we are seeing now.
As Faithful Orthodox Christians, we may not be able to do much about many of the problems in this world. But one thing we can do is refuse to support any ecumenical movements within Orthodoxy. Do not attend the conferences, donate to the organizations, or buy the books. We can refuse to participate in the errors of hierarchs, theologians, and academics who are harming the faith through participation in ecumenism. And we can pray earnestly and fervently for our Church in these troubled times.
Orthodox Reflections Editorial Collaboration – Writers adding to this article are from multiple countries and local Orthodox Churches