Freemasonry is easily one of the most pervasive international fellowships in world history. It is difficult to determine their actual origins. It is known that they began to organize possibly as far back as the days of Solomon’s Temple, but the establishment is a general subject of conjecture. The most prevalent condition that promotes this idea of organized criminal activity is the element of secrecy that is at the center of the operations of the lodges and the protectionism that is implemented by their hierarchy.
Adding to this perception has been their historical adversarial relationships with church groups in various countries of Europe, and even as far away as China, but their perceived ties to organized crime are largely the product of the fact that their membership rosters include many people from many various walks of life. Countless members have been governmental leaders in many nations and localities. If you add to this the fact that many lodges are located in small communities and the memberships often include well-known community leaders, the secretive nature of their agenda leads also to a wide veil of suspicion.
The American Freemasonry groups have been here since the beginning of the colonization period. The Founding Fathers of the United States were all Freemasons and many of the symbols that are associated with the nation are adopted from their fraternal symbols. The local masonic lodges with chapters in almost every community, big and small, initially provided a network that was similar to the “safety net” that governments attempt to provide today.
In all areas of North America, including Canada, they have been instrumental in the establishment of many charities and services, such as orphanages, which were beyond the financial scope of our governmental operations during the days when the American economy was still a barter-based provision system and there was no income tax structure. In small subsistence communities it was incumbent on the community to provide the humanitarian work that was a necessity for those who were socially victimized, for what ever reasons.
The mask of secrecy was a part of the operational code of the Freemasons even at that time in American history. They were basically driven by the idea of libertarianism and the ideas that were associated with crime were considerably different in those days. As we have progressed to the modern era, the component of secrecy and the iconic individuals who have been known to be integral members have helped to enhance this perception of a relationship to organized crime.
Evidence of this internal connection has been largely non-existent, given the large number of lodges across the entire country. There have been instances of suspected criminal activity that have been localized, but none have shown a systemic pattern arising from the operations of the Freemasons at large. Once again, the conditions of secrecy that they vigorously maintain fuel the suspicions continually.
The conventional missions of the Freemason organization are as strong today as they have ever been. The respect that is garnered from one lodge to the other, by members who may not know each other personally but maintain a loyal fraternal acceptance, lend credence to the goals and internalization of the group as a whole. It is a general consensus, at least in the United States, that membership into the order is highly desirable for many men as a statement of their individual community status and acceptance. They are “sponsored” through initiation and advancement through the various degrees of fraternal rank.
Regardless of circumstances that may surround any lodge or regional hall, there is still very little to suggest that Freemasonry is actually an organized criminal organization.