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Focus December 2001

Jack the Ripper - From Hell (Aftermath)

The movie From Hell opened in theaters on Oct. 19, 2001. It was the number one movie that weekend (although, in fairness, it was never a "hit"), dropped to number 3 the 2nd week, number 7 the 3rd week, and then dropped out of sight. Reviews were mixed but mostly unfavorable. Freemasonry was rarely mentioned and then only as "the movie raises the tired old plot of royalty in a conspiracy with the Freemasons." The Masonic Information Center, together with other Masonic sources, was interviewed by Entertainment Weekly. Some typical responses follow:

Entertainment Weekly:

Reel Story The Ripper murders were covered up by a shadow conspiracy of Masons protecting their own. Reality Check That theory is based on Stephen Knight's 1977 book "Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution" and popularized in the 1979 film "Murder by Decree." "There's no evidence for it at all" avers Donald Rumbelow, former London police sergeant and preeminent Ripperologist.

Casebook: Jack the Ripper - From Hell: Fact or Fiction?

Casebook is a web site dedicated to the Jack the Ripper case. Address is: casebook.org/dissertations. Here is the web site's lead comment:

"From Hell is based on a graphic novel of the same title, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. That, in turn, is based largely on the royal conspiracy theory detailed in Stephen Knight's, Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution. It's a good story, but unfortunately it is not an historically accurate one. Knight's book is riddled with errors and fabrications, and so, by default, is From Hell".

THE HUNT FOR JACK THE RIPPER

In May, 2000 (almost a year and a half prior to the movie), William Rubenstein wrote an article for the magazine History Today. His comment about the involvement of Freemasonry in the "Ripper" case is:

"As for the Freemason link, over the past 250 years tens of thousands of Englishmen have been Freemasons in hundreds of lodges, without any Masonic "ritual murders" being reported. The 'Masonic link' is of like ilk to the 'Popish Plot' and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and belongs in the same dustbin".

(The Hunt for Jack the Ripper, History Today, May 2000, Pg. 14)

Washington Post Highlights Freemasonry

On Sunday, Nov. 25, 2001, in the Washington Post Magazine, Peter Carlson wrote a very lengthy article about the Freemasons. The article was well done, and as a follow-up Peter Carlson answered e-mail questions on Monday, Nov. 26. An extremely interesting exchange followed, including this question and response about Masons being Anti-Catholic.

Washington, DC: Hello there: I have been told by parents, priests, etc. that the Masons are Anti-Catholic. My mom told me stories of the Masons in her community not allowing Catholics to join. Could you address this please? I have always wondered how true this is. Thank you.

Peter Carlson: Good question. I, too, was raised Catholic and heard from the nuns that Masons were evil anti-Catholics. For the record, the Masons do accept Catholics and there are many Catholic Masons. However, the church has an official policy, reiterated over several centuries, of excommunicating Masons. I believe the reason stems from the days when Freemasonry was one of the few non-church-controlled organizations in Europe and was filled with freethinkers who didn't follow church dogma. The original encyclical against Freemasonry-I forget which Pope issued it-was also a diatribe against public (that is, non-church) education. In short, I believe the church was always more anti-Masonic than the Masons were anti-church.

The Freemasons

A book by that title, written by Jasper Ridley, was released in England in 1999. The first U.S. edition appeared in 2001. Mr. Ridley has written a most credible history of our fraternity. He quotes extensively from Anderson's Constitutions and in the section concerning religion he concludes:

"This opened the Freemasons' lodges to anyone who believed in God, or the 'Great Architect of the Universe' as He is called in Anderson's Constitutions. Roman Catholics were not excluded. They could not be MPs, army officers, or hold any public position in the state; but they would be welcome in a Freemasons' lodge. Jews were also welcome, though they were at first a little reluctant to join. Jews had been admitted, perhaps as early as 1724, and certainly by 1732."

(Source: The Freemasons by Jasper Ridley, Arcade Publishing, Inc. Pg. 40)

European Court

The Grand Secretary reported: A case was brought to the European Court by a Grand Lodge with which we are not in amity, the Grand Orient of Italy. One of the local government authorities in Italy, in a region called the Marches, had proclaimed that anyone wishing to be employed by them had to declare he was not a Freemason, and this was taken to the European Court after it had gone through the Italian Courts. The Italian Government objected claiming that the Grand Orient of Italy had no standing to bring such a case on behalf of its members. The court ruled not only that as an Association registered with the State, the Grand Orient of Italy had standing, but that the law of the Province of the Marches had effectively prevented its employees from being Freemasons, and is therefore in breach of article eleven of the European Convention which guarantees the right of lawful associations. The Court fined the Italian Government ten million liras.

(Source: Grand Lodge News, UGLE, Sept. 2001)

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