Saturday, April 07, 2007

Calif. Masonic museum displays anti-Masonic art and propaganda

The Grand Lodge of California opened the Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum in 1997 at the California Masonic Memorial Temple on California Street in San Francisco.

The museum contains over 8,000 titles and includes Masonic art and artifacts from California and around the world.

The Henry Wilson Coil Masonic Library and Museum seeks:
  • To tell the story of Freemasonry in California to Masons and to the general public.
  • To serve as a research source for both lay and professional Masonic scholars and researchers.
  • To assist Masons who seek to increase and develop their personal knowledge of Freemasonry.
From now until October 1, an exhibit of art and propaganda by anti-Masons will be on display.

The following is reprinted from the Masons of California website:
Confronting the Critics: A new exhibit

Submitted by: Allan L. Casalou

Chances are that most Masons today have never heard of William Morgan, but his mysterious disappearance in 1826 was a watershed event in American Freemasonry. The episode, commonly known as the "Morgan Affair" served as a galvanizing point for critics of the Craft and fueled a national political movement dedicated to banning Freemasonry.

Rather than ignoring the efforts of anti-Masonic activists, the Grand Lodge of California is hosting an exhibit of art and propaganda that opponents of Masonry, including those inspired by Morgan-related fervor, have created to sway public opinion against Masonic institutions. Some of the pieces, which will be shown at the Henry Wilson Coil Masonic Library & Museum in San Francisco from March 30th to October 1st, 2007, were created by individual artists who object to Masonry, while others were actually distributed by governments and political parties to promote official anti-Masonic policies.

"It may seem unusual to have this kind of art on display at the Grand Lodge, but Anti-Masonry is really an integral part of our history," says the library and museum curator Adam Kendall, who also serves as Fraternal Services Representative for the Grand Lodge."Whether we like it or not, there has always been strong opposition to Freemasonry and we shouldn't be afraid to confront it. In fact, I think we owe it to ourselves to try to understand what opponents are saying - and why they are saying it. In many ways, anti-Masonic rhetoric and art has been a major factor in how our identity has developed, and it is impossible to ignore the profound impact that our critics have had on the development of Masonry as we know it today. I think it's fair to say that we've simplified what we do as part of our effort to address the criticisms that have been leveled against Masons over the last few hundred years."

The exhibit will be open to the public April 2 through October 1, Monday and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursdays until 8:00 p.m. For more information, please contact Adam Kendall at 415-292-9137 or
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  1. If most Masons have never heard of Morgan, that's really scary and it further shows the need for getting rid of one day classes and give our members proper training...

  2. Indeed--all Masons need to know the Morgan affair if they're ever going to understand why Masonry in the US is the way it is.

    But thanks, WS, for this post--the timing is great because my husband is happens to be going to SF this week on business. He's excited to hear about the exhibit, and will try to check it out.

  3. We hope your husband will give us a full report on what he sees at the museum.

    — W.S.

  4. The exhibit itself is propaganda!

    From ""

    Propaganda is a type of message aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of people. Often, instead of impartially providing information, propaganda can be deliberately misleading, or using logical fallacies, which, while sometimes convincing, are not necessarily valid. Propaganda techniques include: patriotic flag-waving, glittering generalities, intentional vagueness, oversimplification of complex issues, rationalization, introducing unrelated red herring issues, using appealing, simple slogans, stereotyping, testimonials from authority figures or celebrities, unstated assumptions, and encouraging readers or viewers to "jump on the bandwagon" of a particular point of view.

    See the complete article for MUCH more information, including the history of the word, which originates from a group of Catholic Cardinals assigned to help "propagate" Christianity in newly discovered lands.

    One classical technique used in propaganda, is to point out the propaganda of a group with an opposing point of view. It's really an example of the old adage of the pot calling the kettle black, but just as the "anti-Masonic propaganda exhibit" shows, the goal is to do it in such a subtle way as to avoid the obvious implication.

    No matter how you try to slice and dice it, a Masonic organization pointing out "anti-Masonic propaganda" is an example of "pro-Masonic propaganda."

    It would be like the Republican Party sponsoring an exhibit of Democratic Party propaganda, or vice versa.

    Again, the exhibit itself is propaganda!

  5. Technically, then, all writing and other forms of communication are propaganda, though perhaps most people would only use that phrase to describe communication that promotes "the other side's" ideas.

    — W.S., propagandist

  6. Anonymous who thinks that the exhibit is pro-Masonic propaganda:

    If you can claim you know the intentions of the exhibit without actually seeing it, then you must be a very powerful and holy man!

    What is wrong with displaying fascinating art that was used to scapegoat people? If you see evil intentions in everything (as is pretty evident in your post)you must have a life of no fun. Sorry for you and sorry you won't be seeing the exhibit.

    I saw it and it was fascinating.


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