No discussion of antiMasonry would be complete without an extensive
mention of Albert Pike. The flyleaf of a biography written by Mason Jim
Tresner describes him as "...a pioneer, a crusader for justice for Native
Americans, a practical joker, a reformer, a journalist, a philosopher, a
prominent Washington lawyer, and a Civil War general." For many
years, he was leader of the Scottish Rite in the southern United States
and he was the author ofMorals and Dogma published in 1871. The title
in and of itself has led to much confusion since those who are NOT
Masons will automatically assume this book sets forth 'dogma' for
Freemasonry. Nothing could be further from fact.
Let's clarify right at the outset: the vast majority of those who become
Masons have no idea whatsoever who Pike was. In fact, most Masons
throughout the world become members and will eventually die without
ever encountering either him or any of his works. In fact, of all the
Masons worldwide, it's likely that fewer than 2% will have ever even
SEEN (much less read) a copy of ANY of his hundreds of writings, most
of which have been relegated to the dustbin of history. Of the few who
But what are the facts about this book? For about 60 years, it was given as a memento to all who
joined the Southern United States jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, an appendant body of Freemasonry
(and NOT Freemasonry itself!). In the earliest printings, due to the cost of publishing books, there
was an instruction inside that it was to be returned to the Supreme Council in the case of death of
the owner. Of course, there was no way to enforce that and in a majority of cases, it was ignored. As
book publishing costs became less onerous, that request was dropped in later editions. Those who
find such a REQUEST nefarious (it was not an order and certainly impossible to enforce), ignore the
reality of the times.
We'd guess that of the few who actually begin reading this ponderous 850+ page tome, only a small
percentage actually finish it. Of those who do, the great majority admit that they could barely
understand it. (Lately, with the advent of various book comparison online venues, it would seem that
far more NONMasons have read the book than Masons!) Yet despite this, antiMasons assert that
Pike and his works exert significant influence over Freemasonry today. Let's be clear: the book was
NEVER given to all Masons and it has NEVER, EVER (not once, anywhere, anytime) been used as a
'textbook' or 'instruction' for Masons.
an extraordinarily prolific writer even for an age when prolific writing was the
norm. It was also fashioned in the style of Pike's time when public speaking
was a high art form and Pike was known far and wide for his skills in this
area.Morals and Dogma isnot a manifesto (i.e. public declaration of
principles, policies, or intentions) for Masonry or even for the Scottish Rite's
Southern Jurisdiction. It is, rather, an attempt by Pike to provide a
framework for understanding religions and philosophies of the past. Pike
believed that without knowing the history of a concept, one couldn't grasp
the concept itself and thus his lengthy explanations of various religious
beliefs, consistent with knowledge of those beliefs in the mid1800s.
Because of the writing style used by Pike, many of the explanations he seeks to provide are totally
lost on current day readers. Pike felt that unless one understood the complete background of a
philosophy, he could never expect to understand any part thereof. In consequence, he attempted to
put literally everything he'd read, learned, or 'knew' into his prodigious writings.
Grabbing quotes out of context (and this was, after all, a discussion of various world religions), it's
quite easy to find things which will make Pike sound just awful. In context and particularly when
one considers that this is one book by one writer Morals and Dogma simply has no relevance to the
actions and activity of Freemasonry.
As antiMasons continue to claim that this book 'rules' Freemasonry in some
unspecified way, they totally ignore this admonition. How can one assume
that Masons follow blindly everything else Pike 'taught' (he wasn't 'teaching'
but that's another discussion) but ignore the two sentences that start the
Today, some Masons will diminish Pike's importance so as to deflect the
charges of antiMasons. Sometimes too, we'll see the statement that Pike
never held an office in Freemasonry. For the record: Pike joined Freemasonry
in 1851 and in 1855 was the Master of his lodge. He also served his Grand
Lodge as the Chairman of the Committee on Masonic Law & Usage and for a
year was the Chairman of the Library Committee. While these are important
offices, they were at a jurisdictional level and NOT involving hundreds of
other Grand Lodges worldwide.
Certainly there is no doubt that he was among the most influential Masons
of his time. It must be also remembered that this was a time when
communications even with surrounding states was severely limited and
travel from place to place took days. Pike wrote Morals and Dogma some
eight years before Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first wireless
telephone message! Pike was a giant of his time who did extraordinary
things in his lifetime. He was, in fact, the ONLY Confederate soldier to be
honored in America's capitol: Washington, DC, where a huge statue of him
dominates a major intersection (Judiciary Square). See more about that
While Pike was an extraordinary man, his writings are mischaracterized and
the shadow he casts over Freemasonry today is, for all intents and purposes, inconsequential. His
philosophical writings have been misquoted and used completely out of context to the point that
today it is likely even he would not recognize them! Demonization is the name of the game that anti
And we suspect that precious few antiMasons have ever reallyread the book but are not at all hesitant about quoting passages they've found (or have been pointed toward). The index mentions every word that Pike used and thus when talking about the beliefs of this or that religion, there's surely a titillating word or two to be found. Taking quotes out of context is a cottage industry that has developed around this particular work.
For many years, the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States' Scottish Rite gave those
who received the 32nd Degree a copy of this book. It was a tribute to a man who had done so very
much for their organization. For many Masons who joined after World War I or around the Great
Depression in the US or during/after World War II, it might have been theonly book they owned
which related to Freemasonry! Hundreds of thousands of copies of this work were published and
given away. They have collected dust on bookshelves for decades ever since.
For those who sought to learn Masonry's supposed "secrets", this tome seemed to be a ready
reference. A cover with a 'Masonic' emblem; reference to "all" the degrees (so they thought), and a
book which had been in their house since they were old enough to remember. A phrase was plucked
from here and there and suddenly Masonry was an allencompassing satanic group in their mind.
Now bringing you back...
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