The Freemasons are known to be very secretive and according to some people, almost cult-like. Cult is a very subjective word of course.
There are many stories about how the Freemasons came to be, but the 2 main stories are:
1. In 1118 A.D., in order to protect Christian pilgrims traveling from a port in Israel to Jerusalem, monks took up arms and formed the order known as the Knights Templar. According to legend, they had found treasure of enormous value in King Solomon’s temple. This made them so rich, that their intentions and existence became highly suspect and many people envied them… They acted as bankers, and even lent the then King of France, King Philip IV, money which gradually put him in a lot of debt.
In 1307, to free himself from the debts, Philip IV had the Knights Templar arrested under the charge of heresy. Some of them escaped, some of them were tortured, burnt and murdered, and even the Master of the Templars was burnt at the stake. Those that escaped are said to have formed a secret society now known as the Freemasons.
2. During the 5th – 15th century, masons were stone workers who were hired to build castles and cathedrals by kings and the churches of England, Scotland and France. There were two types of masons: those who worked with ordinary stone and those who worked with softer stone and carved intricate designs. The first group were called the “rough masons” and the latter called the “freestone masons”, “free masons”… or “Freemasons”.
The “Freemasons” had the skills which only some people had, and just like professions such as accountants today, they set up a guild. There, they discussed their work and kept their working tools. To keep it private from the “rough masons”, they had secret handshakes, code words etc.
In the 1700s, the Freemasons evolved from a guild to a society of like-minded men (women were not allowed into the Freemasons, with the exception of one lady in 1712).
These men got together to talk about everything except for politics and religion. Freemason lodges (like clubs) were set up in England, Ireland, Scotland and Italy… and only Freemasons were allowed in.
During this period of time, they also went over to America where they set up more lodges.
In 1731, Benjamin Franklin joined the Philadelphia lodge. Three years later, he received the highest degree and became the Master of the lodge. In 1752, George Washington was initiated as a Freemason too.
Anyone of any religious background can be initiated as a Freemason, but they have to believe in a universal Supreme Being (some form of God), to be morally sound and to be of certain financial status (although not necessarily rich).
There are many levels (degrees) within the Freemason order, and the higher you are, the more exposed and the more secrets you will know within Freemasonry. They believe in the brotherhood (where people stick together), and they all practice philanthropy, abide by the laws of the country in which they live in and are generally the “elite” of society.
They still have their secret handshakes, hand symbols, passwords etc…
Those who have read about the Freemasons and the Illuminati would have also heard about the New World Order. It is believed that Freemasons are slowly trying to establish a New World Order, where there are no boundaries separating countries with many different governments, and instead having just one central government for the world.