A CRITICAL REVIEW OF JACK HARRIS'
Invisible Cult in Our Midst
reviewed by Wayne E. Sirmon
February, 1988 Revised February, 1999
While I find this book riddled with half-truths and editorial comments which are blatantly misleading, I wish to limit this review
to only a few of the most obvious and damaging errors. Since Mr. Harris has cited several obscure references, which I feel may be
misquoted, taken out of context, or are themselves only opinions, my arguments in these cases may be less than complete. Still, I believe
that sufficient proof can be offered to indicate that this book is flawed to such a degree that it should not be used as a source of information
concerning the relationship between religion and the Masonic fraternity.
What is a Cult?
In the Preface, Mr. Harris states that his book will "expose this anti-Christian cult and its damnable heresies..." and "A cult
is defined as any group that embraces, teaches or practices religious doctrine contrary to the accepted and established truth of Biblical
Christianity." He does not define "Biblical Christianity" but
when this phrase is used, frequently it is an euphemism for an author’s particular set of Christian beliefs. Later (pages 29 & 41), he labels
the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and Christian Scientists as "Christian cults." Given his broad definition of "cult" I
wonder how he might label other Christian denominations who’s scriptural interpretations differ from his (e.g. Roman Catholic).
It appears that Mr. Harris believes that masonry is a narrow, cult religion rather than a universal fraternity. The effects of this
incorrect assumption first appear on page x. God is not
"worshipped" in the lodge room. We pray at the beginning of each meeting to ask
His blessing on our actions. The closing ceremonies include a benediction.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Harris gives proper credit (page 23) to the men who were instrumental in the development of
modern, symbolic masonry—James Anderson and John T. Desaguiliers. Both men were Christian
Albert Pike was a great force in American Masonry during the nineteenth century. His leadership allowed for the development
of the Scottish Rite into a major organization within the group of Masonic orders. On page 24, Mr. Harris state that Albert Pike was "a Brigadier
General in the Civil War. Later, he was tried for treason." The truth of
the matter is that he was a Confederate Brigadier
General who was excluded from President Johnson’s Amnesty Proclamation, because of rumors of
illegal treatment of Federal troops. Brigadier General Pike was placed in command of the Indian Country in October, 1861, and it had been rumored
that some of the Indians under Pike’s command had scalped Union Soldiers. On June 24, 1865, he petitioned for a presidential pardon and
on August 4, 1865, he submitted an affidavit pertaining to his military service and Indian relations. "The negative associations connected with
his name persisted, however, and, when added to his military rank and property holdings, served to delay his pardon" (Thompson, 1976, p. 43).
On April 23, 1866, President Johnson granted Albert Pike’s pardon.
The Knights Templar are attacked because, according to Mr. Harris (page 28), the original Knights Templar’s last Grand Master,
Jacques DeMolay (Jock Du Molay) was burned at the stake by Pope Leo in 1310. In May, 1310, fifty-four Knights Templar were burned
at the stake, but not DeMolay.
Nor was the pope named Leo. The Knights Templar were formed as the "Poor Soldiers in
Christ" and were given the official sanction of Pope Honorius II and the Church Council in January, 1128. The Order existed for 186 years.
Its fall was caused by Philip the IV, King of France. On September 14, 1307, he ordered the arrest of every Templar in France, and on
October 13, the knights were taken into custody. Philip urged other rulers to follow his example, but King Edward II of England did not
believe the charges, nor did the king of Portugal. James of Aragon promised to take action only if requested to do so by the Church
(Gould, V5, p.187).
Philip exerted great power over Pope Clement V, who had been a French Archbishop. Clement was the pontiff from June 5, 1305, to
April 20, 1314. He moved the papal court to Avignon, France, where it remained for seventy-one years. The New
Catholic Encyclopedia states that "In his relations with Philip, Clement at times acted firmly as the
defender of the rights of the Church, then appearing deplorably weak, the victim of sheer lassitude (he suffered from cancer). In the main, the King
dominated Clement by his strong personality." (Labande, 1967). Pope Clement originally opposed the action and on October 27, he suspended
the powers of the Inquisition in France. After Philip met with the Pope and his cardinals on May 26, 1308, the Pope withdrew his suspension of the
powers of the Inquisition in France. Twenty-five papal commissions were established to arrest, torture and kill members of the Order across Europe.
Modern historians have concluded that there is no external proof that any of the supposed confessions by the Knights Templars were extracted
except by the "alternative of pardon or burning, by torture, by the
threat of torture or by the indirect torture of prison and starvation" (Lea,
V3, p. 266, 1958).
On March 18, 1314, six and one-half years after the first arrest of the members of the Knights Templar, DeMolay and his four
preceptors were brought before a papal commission for the last time. Philip interrupted the proceedings and ordered that Jacques DeMolay
and Guy of Avergne be burned at the stake that very evening (Haywood, 1925). At sunset, the seventy year old Grand Master was
burned at the stake. He and the crusading Knights Templar were victims of a political power play. They were not guilty heretics who
were justly punished by a Christ-centered Church.
The Cable Tow is referred to several times (pages 31-32 & 97) as the measurement of "the distance from the shore that
Freemasonry will bury the mutilated body of someone who reveals its secrets." While this symbolic use is alluded to in one obligation,
Mr. Harris never makes reference to its meaning as a physical restraint which is soon replaced by the bond of "the obligation which binds
a man to his Mother Lodge and the gentle Craft" (Claudy, 1931, p. 41).
Mr. Harris attempts to connect the cable tow with the ancient mysteries of India by use of a quotation from "the well-known
Masonic author, Pierson." He uses the "high Masonic authority" of
Pierson to relate the Hindu Zennar and the Masonic cable tow. In a curious lack of
scholarship, Mr. Harris can cite only the title and author’s last name. In less than ten minutes of library research, I was able to discover that the
author was Azariah Theodore Crane Pierson (1815-1889). His entire publication record, as listed in the National
Union Catalog, consists of three 19 page booklets and one book, all of which were published during
the early 1860’s.
A Mason’s Love
Masonry is accused (page 58) of operating "on the principle of situation ethics. In its teachings on charity, it is obvious from its
rituals that Freemasonry strays from the true meaning of Biblical love which is outlined in I Corinthians 13." This statement is a great
injustice to a group of men who contributes over $2,000,000
per DAY to the support of charities which
range from the care of elderly masons, their widows and orphans to the support of the hospitals and
clinics of the Shrine and Scottish Rite, where unsurpassed medical care is provided to all of those in need, regardless of race or creed—absolutely free.
The Masonic ritual reminds us of our responsibility to care for the widow and orphan. But a
Mason’s charity (love) is to be universal. In the closing ceremony, the Master of the lodge reminds
each mason that "every human being has a claim upon your kind offices; do good unto all..." The lecture of the first degree states
"To soothe the unhappy, to sympathize with their misfortunes, to compassionate their miseries and to restore peace to their troubled
minds is the great aim we have in view." No one who has ever visited a Shrine Crippled Children’s Hospital can question the outreached
hand of love of these masons.
God and a Mason’s Reward
On page 79, Mr. Harris is critical of the lecture of the Master Mason degree, where we are told that "...justice will sooner or later
overtake us, and although our thoughts, words and actions may be hidden from the eyes of men, yet that All-Seeing Eye, whom the sun,
moon and stars obey ... pervades the inmost recesses of the human heart, and will reward us according to our merits." He takes offense at the use
of the phrase "All-Seeing Eye" in reference to God. Although he refers
to Albert Mackey’s explanation of it being a symbol of the omnipresence of God, he refuses to give this symbol any credence even though it is used in
II Chronicles 15:9 and Jeremiah 23:24. He then says "But Christians know it is the Person of Jesus Christ who will reward men according to their
faith." Perhaps Mr. Harris prefers not to read Matthew 16:27, where Jesus is recorded as saying "For the Son of man shall come in the glory
of His Father with his angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works." While the gift of salvation is provided through faith,
the idea of a heavenly reward based on works is a frequent topic (e.g. Romans 2:6, II Corinthians 5:10, Revelations 20:12-13 and 22:12).
God’s Presence in Everyday Life
The writings of Albert Pike offer far from simple reading. Many of his arguments are long and involved. Such is the case of the
quotation used on page 99. Within Pike’s discussion of the symbolism of the 13th Degree, he describes how man can observe the presence
of God in everyday life. He notes a "religion
of toil"—the feeling of a purpose of life.
and conscience which mirror divine justice. Books which
can be of a religious tendency when they touch "the heart with the beauty of virtue, and the excellence of an
upright life." He writes of a "religion
of society" when we "repose perfect confidence in the integrity of another... his integrity and
conscientiousness are the image of God to us." Friendship
points to God so that "when friends meet, and hands are warmly pressed, and
the eye kindles and the countenance is suffused with gladness, there is a religion between their hearts; and each loves and worships
the True and Good that is in the other." The Masonic lodge is a "temple
of religion" insomuch as "we greet each other gladly, are lenient to
other’s faults, regardful of each other’s feelings, ready to relieve each other’s wants." (Pike, pp. 212-214, 1871). It is through these things
that we see God in our world, as all of the "religions" referred to by
Pike point to God’s power and presence in the world.
The Fatherhood of God
Masons often refer to their fraternity as an organization based on "the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man." Mr. Harris
disputes this claim when he states that God "is not the father of all mankind" (page 131). He suggests that while God is the creator of all
men, He is "Father" only to Christians. In its discussion of God in
the New Testament, The Interpreter’s
Dictionary of the Bible answers the question of the universality of the Fatherhood of God by saying
that "it has the potentiality of becoming universal. If man’s response to the fatherhood of God is limited, God’s redemptive seeking after
man knows no bounds." (Buttrick, 1962, V. II, p. 434). God is the Father of all mankind and He is ready and waiting to receive all who
will recognize Him for what He always has been—"Our Father, who art in heaven..."
Mr. Harris’ "Authorities"
My efforts to obtain copies of Mr. Harris’ references were for the most part unsuccessful. Even though I consider myself well-read
in Masonic literature, I did not recognize the majority of the
"well-known Masonic authorities." After searching the National
Union Catalog of Pre-1956 Imprints, I
discovered the following information about some of the sources of Mr. Harris’ "facts."
J. D. Buck has 20 citations, including five Masonic, five psychology, three dealing with homeopathy (A system of medical
practice which tried to cure patients by giving them potions which produced the same physical symptoms as the disease for which they
sought a cure.), and four dealing with theosophy, including Why
I am a Theosophist. (Theosophy is a modern
movement originating in the U.S. in 1875 and following chiefly Buddhist and Brahmanic theories
especially of pantheistic evolution and reincarnation). I can not help but wonder if Buck’s quotations (pages 101-103) are drawn from other than
Only three of Dr. R. Swinburne Clymer’s 77 citations are Masonic in nature. Among his other books are The
Son of God which carries the following notation, "the mystical teachings of the masters, giving a
short sketch of the early life of Jesus and His training by the Essenean Order, and an interpretation of some of His teachings, in harmony with the
fundamental principles of the Temple of Illumination known as the ‘Christic interpretation’." I doubt if Dr. Clymer’s writings represent even a
tiny fraction of Masonic thought concerning the relationship between Masonry and religion.
Perhaps it is futile to argue the question of whether or not freemasonry is a religion. Many prominent Masons have offered
defenses and yet the confusion and dissension continues. In 1970, at the request of the Missouri Lodge of Research, Rev. Forrest D.
Haggard, D.D., compiled the book The
Clergy and the Craft. In this book, the various facets of the issue are presented in detail. Indeed,
in the Entered Apprentice degree we have been cautioned that "neither are you to suffer your zeal for the institution to lead you into argument
with those who, through ignorance, may ridicule it."
What is most distressing about Freemasonry:
The Invisible Cult In Our Midst is neither its weak
arguments nor its presentations of opinions as facts. Mr. Harris has produced a work with too many
errors, misquotes and evidences of poor scholarship to warrant serious consideration by anyone who might be concerned with the interplay
of the Masonic fraternity and the Christian religion.
Buttrick, George A., Ed. (1962). The
Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Claudy, Carl H. (1931). Introduction
to Freemasonry. Washington, DC: the Temple Publishers.
Gould, Robert F., Ed. (1911). A
Library of Freemasonry. John C. Yorston Publishers.
Haggard, Forrest D. (1970). The Clergy
and the Craft. Missouri Lodge of Research.
Harris, Jack (1968). Freemasonry: The
Invisible Cult In Our Midst. Chattanooga, TN: Global Publishers.
Haywood, H. L. (1925). A Story of the
Life and Times of Jacques DeMolay. Kansas City, MO: Order of
Labande, (1967). Clement V. In New
Catholic Encyclopedia. (V. III, p 929-30). New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.
Lea, Henry Charles (1958). A History
of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages in 3 Volumes. New York: Russell
and Russell Publishers.
Pike, Albert (1878). Morals and Dogma.
New York: H. Macoy Publishing Company.
Thompson, George H. (1976). Arkansas
and Reconstruction. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press.
Wayne E. Sirmon is a Past Master and Past Secretary of J. H. McCormick
Lodge, No. 874 F. & A. M., Mobile, Alabama. He is a member of the
Mobile Valley Scottish Rite (32° KCCH), Mobile Chapter, Council, and
Commandery of the York Rite, Associate Regent and Past Governor of the
York Rite College and Past Sovereign of the Red Cross of Constantine.
Other memberships include National Sojourners, Grotto, Shrine, DeMolay
International, Philalethes Society, and the Lodges of Research of Texas,
Southern California, and Missouri. He is currently serving as Chairman of
the Masonic Education and Public Relations Committee of the Alabama Grand
Lodge. He holds as B.S.Ed. and a M.A.Ed. with additional graduate studies
from the University of North Carolina. Please address any correspondence
to him at email@example.com
Masonicinfo Note: This book appears
with a cover and frontspiece which says, simply, "Freemasonry". The
foreword, however, refers to the book as described above. Just a bit more
obfuscation to sell more copies to unsuspecting Masons perhaps?
You can read more about the author, Jack Harris, right here!