Book Review: Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry?

Is it True What They Say About Freemasonry? by Art de Hoyos and S. Brent Morris is a scholarly rebuttal of John Ankerberg, Ron Carlson, Reverend Jess Jackson, Leo Taxil, James Dayton Shaw and other vocal detractors of Freemasonry.

False allegations that have been levied against Freemasonry over the years tend to fall into one of two categories: either Freemasonry is alleged to be anti-Christian, or Freemasonry is alleged to be devil worship.

The main problem with this book is that by now most of the detractors themselves seem irrelevant, their voices that were loudest in the late 20th century — or in one case the late 19th? The specific refutation of their false claims on a point-by-point basis almost seems like a meaningless exercise.

Case in point: hardly anyone remembers who Leo Taxil is anymore, yet the Luciferian Masonic Lodge Taxil invented as a hoax however has taken on a life of its own. Refuting Taxil accomplishes very little since no one recalls him: what’s needed is some way to banish the negative image he created from the collective imagination. Unfortunately de Hoyos and Morris offer very little insight on how this might be done.

Refuting the Anti-Christian Allegation: James Dayton Shaw

James Dayton Shaw, now known as Reverend Jim Shaw, accuses Freemasonry of being anti-Christian.

In 1988 Shaw published a book called The Deadly Deception, which purported to be a true account of his experiences as a member of the Masonic brotherhood. Shaw alleged that he rose high in the Freemasonic hierarchy, serving as the Master of both a Blue Lodge and an all Scottish Rite and attaining the 33rd degree, and that this made him privy to Masonic secrets which ordinary Masons might not even know.

Shaw’s melodramatic account of his initiation into the 33rd degree is still cited by many attempting to prove the point that Freemasonry is fundamentally antithetical to Christianity, and widely quoted on conspiracy and “Illuminati” websites across the Internet.

Though De Hoyos and Morris do a good job of debunking Shaw, proving that he lied about his experiences, to this very day, many religious Christians take Shaw’s assertions at face value.

Refuting the Devil Worship Allegations: Leo Taxil

Leo Taxil was a French journalist who lived in the latter part of the 19th century and became famous for writing a series of rabidly anti-Catholic books at a time when religion was still taken very seriously.

In the 1890s Taxil wrote a series of pamphlets denouncing Freemasonry that culminated with his alleged discovery of the confessions of one Diana Vaughan, a member of a Masonic order dedicated to the worship of Satan. The Catholic priesthood were delighted with the opportunity to denounce Freemasonry, provided by Taxil’s revelations. As it turned out the confessions were part of an elaborate hoax designed to demonstrate to the world how very gullible the Catholic priesthood was. Unfortunately the hoax was too sophisticated for many to understand, and to this day Taxil’s pamphlets are brandished by many as “proof” that Freemasons are devil worshippers.

Taxil’s full confession can be found in one of the appendices to Is it True What They Say About Freemasonry? Its language is dated, its translation indifferent and though it serves as a scholarly rebuttal, it is no antidote for negative archetypes that have become embedded in the collecive imagination.

In the end, the problem with Is it True What They Say About Freemasonry? is its defensive stance. The best way of dealing with negative allegations is not to legitimatize them through a detailed refutation but to ignore them altogether and focus on sending out a positive message.