Freemasonry, whose date of origin is somewhere in the 16th or 17th century, purports to be (according to its adherents) a benign organization, albeit with a mystical element, which served for much of the 19th century to disseminate rationalist learning among its members in the days before public education: geometry, architecture, astronomy, and similar subjects. Its members aren't allowed to discuss politics or religion within the Lodge. As Brother Roscoe Pound, a Mason and current professor of jurisprudence at Harvard, puts it, "Every lodge ought to be a center of light from which men go forth filled with new ideas of social justice, cosmopolitan justice and internationality." All the same, Masons have been periodically accused of satanism, manipulation of global finance, and secret influence among the world's movers and shakers. Robert Anton Wilson, in Everything Is Under Control, reports that the P2 society in Italy, founded in the 1970s (purportedly as a subsect of the CIA's Gladio operation), which allegedly engineered the Bologna railway bombing in 1980 and financed itself by fraud and drug running, "recruited exclusively among third-degree members of the Grand Orient Lodge of Egyptian Freemasonry."
Mumia Abu-Jamal, the death row activist, reports in his column that the "CIA hid massive stockpiles of weapons and explosives throughout Italy. They amassed an army of 15,000 troops in something called Operation Gladio . . . to strike vital targets and overthrow the elected Italian government if they dared to vote against Washington's will."
Skull & Bones Society
Part Two: Opus HeydayThe success of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code excites interest in a secretive Catholic lay group—and further notes on the culture of conspiracism