Have you ever wondered where all this crazy secret conspiracy talk about the Illuminati, the Freemasons, the Jesuits, the New World Order and other such nonsense came from? I mean, it had to start somewhere, right? Most of the modern Illuminati belief was established after the second world war, but two men laid out the foundations of all of it long before that – French Jesuit priest Abbé Augustin Barruel (1741-1820 “Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism“, 1797) and Scottish physicist John Robison (1739-1805, “Proofs of a Conspiracy“, 1797 – a copy of which was kept in the John Adams Library).
The French revolution of the late 1700s kind of unravelled political networks and systems across Europe, and the the domino effect of chaos afterward caused much fear and panic amongst the populace. They didn’t like the feeling of insecurity that was created by their personal worlds being drastically and negatively influenced by factors almost entirely outside their control. That opened the door for crackpots like Barruel and Robison, and later Dillon to rush in and fill the void with grand views of secretive and sinister machinations at work behind the scenes, controlling everything in the world’s greatest puppet show bent on the completion of a high-stakes evil agenda – the ultimate destruction of Christianity. And who leads this conspiracy? Atheists, of course. You see, in addition to all the political upheaval resulting from the French Revolution, the French philosopher, deist and author Voltaire was busy articulately agitating the world of established religion.
Since it was the more influential book, the Robison book’s claims had been investigated by historians and factually dismissed as unfounded by the 1830s. It should have died right out, but Nietzsche had picked up where Voltaire had left off in turning the religious world upside-down. Preachers like Monsignor George F. Dillon, an Irish Catholic Doctor of Divinity, Apostolic Missionary to Australia and the author of the book featured in this article, took that as evidence that the writings of Barruel and Robison were correct, and regularly promoted conspiratorial theories on Masonry and atheism. In the mid-1880s he delivered several sermons outlining what he identified as a Masonic war against Christianity.
In this 1884 work, titled “War of Anti-Christ with the Church and Christian Civilization“, Dillon collects that series of lectures and sermons. As such, it is a real fire-and-brimstone-style tour de force of Freemasonry, the Illuminati, atheism, Cabalism, Jacobinism, Voltaire, the French Revolution, and more, and how Catholicism – Irish Catholicism, specifically – will save the world from it all.
Besides these writings being mostly hogwash, I wonder if Dillon ever realized the irony of his assertions tying freemasonry and atheism together. Freemason candidates must profess a belief in a supreme being in order to join the fraternity. Much of the conspiratorial speculation about Freemasons and their “true” nature are simply due to their secretive nature. Much of these “secrets” however, have been made public, and we know today that there is no sinister motive or conspiratorial agenda behind the group, their members, or their work.
Don’t take much of what you read in this book seriously. Its value today is in retrospective study of belief, and what happens with runaway mob-think driven by suspicion and fear. The staying power of these conspiracy theories today proves its value for research as an aspect of ourselves we do not understand very well at all.
I mentioned in the opening paragraph that these theories enjoyed a return to prominence again in the 1950s. That is thanks in a very large part to this particular book. It was at a time closely following the second world war, and again, it was a time of great political and personal upheaval in the world. Families once again were significantly and negatively impacted by events in other places, but there was another political force at work on the international political stage. In 1950 this book was repackaged by Father Denis Fahey who added a Preface, and re-titled the book, “Grand Orient Freemasonry Unmasked as the Secret Power Behind Communism“. Fahey used his new Preface to frame a more modern context for the 150-year old Christianity-destroying conspiracy theories, including the new “evil” of Communism. From this we saw the rebirth of the fear that drove the modern witch hunt that was McCarthyism in rooting out all the “Godless Commies”.