I recently gave an interview to a journalist for the Economist in regards to some background information he needed for an article he was writing on a recent backlash to Freemasonry in West Africa. The article, which can be seen here, discussed a public protest against local Freemasons in Senegal, the protestors then turning their attention to Rihanna, who was in the region to attend a conference on education. Rihanna was accused of being part of the Illuminati by religious groups there, and the protesters saw a link between a meeting of the Freemasons and the conference that was occurring at the same time. It seemed to be the creation of one of those common public misunderstandings of Freemasonry, the public seeing visions of the New World Order and the Illuminati, which in turn reminded me of the recent media backlash against Freemasonry closer to home in the UK, with The Guardian leading the way. The Guardian had got its facts wrong in regards to supposed lodges meeting in secret in the Palace of Westminster and there were other articles that followed in the same newspaper that revealed a misunderstanding of Freemasonry and the way the organisation works.
At the same time I’ve recently been seeing more Illuminati groups emerge on social media. It has certainly become common for ‘Illuminati’ groups to emerge on the internet, and in return for a fee, fame and fortune is promised. These groups tap into the desire for instant fame and are sold as an access to celebrity, these Illuminati Orders being sold as just another gateway for people eager to escape into a world of the rich and powerful. And just a few days ago it was reported in the British press that former Canadian defence minister Paul Hellyer believed the Illuminati to be in control of the world, an article in The Guardian discussing this can be found here.
The common thread here is a misunderstanding of Freemasonry by the general public and the media, and how it clashes with conspiracy theories within a landscape of political division. These Illuminati groups are always linked to the rich and powerful, the elite who are planning new schemes in the shadows, and the way that Freemasonry is caught up in this idea by the public and the media can be seen in The Guardian article, wrongly putting forward how lodges meet in the Palace of Westminster – the centre of power in the UK. What is needed is for Freemasonry to educate outside the lodges and it’s good to see the United Grand Lodge of England go on the offensive in regards to the recent articles in The Guardian, putting the story straight. One positive result of this media attention is that enquiries concerning membership has risen, so maybe the public perceptions are changing after all.