In the Dark: Vatican Opens the Door on Secret Societies Inside Every Church

In the Dark: Vatican Opens the Door on Secret Societies Inside Every Church November 17, 2023

Secret Societies” are clandestine groups with actions and identities kept completely behind a veil. Yet, is it possible for secret societies to be “Christian” or Christ-like in its nature?

A Christian secret society seems oxymoronic in nature because to be Christian in nature is to live out loud and in front of the world. How else can the Gospel spread around the world? From evangelical to denominational believers, anything done in the dark is something that risks being exposed in the light.

And, it was The Vatican and Pope Francis that set off this conversation.

(Somewhere, a believer baptized in the Holy Ghost is feeling guilty about shouting “Amen!” to everything before this statement.)

Secret Societies Should Rebuild Their Foundations

Freemasonry and other Secret Societies in the Church is frowned upon by Pope Francis.

Making headlines around the world, The Vatican and Pope Francis confirmed a ban on its 1.3 billion parishioners being active in Freemasonry. The Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith, a department inside The Vatican, responded to a Filipino Bishop gravely concerned over the rise of Freemasonry in his country.

Although there are only 600,000 Freemasons today, that edict was delivered to approximately 18% of the world’s population. The interesting thing is this galvanized focus isn’t a recent one–the roots of this conversation go back to 1738. That was the early constructs of the Spanish Inquisition. Since then, 11 different Pontiffs have fired shots against secret societies, in particular, Freemasons.

What’s the big deal? Secrets.

Now no one lights a lamp and then covers it with a container [to hide it], or puts it under a bed; instead, he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come out into the open.

(Luke 8:16-17 AMP)

Most people have secrets. Some of those secrets create guilt because they’re sinful in nature. Infidelity, theft, avarice, or covetousness–those are minor skeletons of what many Christians have tucked away in their closets. But “nothing hidden” is what God’s Word puts on blast. These secret societies are a microcosm of Christendom as a whole.

What’s the use anyway? It’s cool that you know something others don’t or you have a fancy jacket that is for members only. (Shout out to the ’80s babies who understood that finely crafted reference.) It’s different to keep a secret that will help not spill any tea, but if you must keep that secret due to fear of retribution, is that a secret Jesus is happy you’re keeping? 

The Secret is Out–Maybe You Should Be Too

Catholic Church, Latin Mass, Secret Societies
Credit: Vatican Files via Agustin / Marcarian

It’s not like The Vatican cracked the Da Vinci code or anything. There have always been surreptitious organizations in the world, and many of them have connected to the Church (not just of the Catholic persuasion).

The sad thing about being in most of these fraternal soirees is their history. What do they stand upon? Because if it’s not the Word of God, they have no place in the Church or your life.

From Skull and Bones to Quill and Dagger, Shriners to Seven Society, or Knights Templar to the KKK (yes, they count), a secret is a secret and a sin is a sin. So, how would you know if one of the Secret Societies printing your membership card (or someone you know) is the good or bad kind, the God or not-god kind?

Here are three bonafide signs to alert you about secret societies:

masonic temples keep people in secret. does jesus like that.
A look inside the Masonic Temple of Saint John, New Brunswick, CN (Credit: Julia Pierce via CBC)

Think about it. When Jesus walked among us, He brought all things to light. When God sent His Spirit to minister to man, darkness fled. See the trend?

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

(1 John 1:5 KJV)

What good is salvation if you can’t tell anyone about the changes God made in your life? Why bother asking someone to your church if no one was invited in the first place? What happens when you turn on a lamp during the day? Not much.

Do that in the same room at night and every crevice on every wall is illuminated. That’s the power of light. Imagine what God can do with His light in a room of darkness. Well, if you belong to one of these secret societies, you’ll never know. You’re not invited.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

(Matthew 5:14 ESV)

Why can’t it be hidden? The street lamps work. Too bad it seems they don’t pay the light bill in a Masonic or Elks Lodge.

What is the symbolism of secret societies
Source: Shutterstock/REX

The symbolism of secret societies is difficult to decipher because of vague rhetoric and inaccurate presumptions about what their real purpose is for the public. What do they know? What do they think? And does it really matter? Because if it did, they would consider what the Church thought about their clandestine affairs.

Many of those aforementioned hush-hush groups in this post believe what they do connects to another similar act — guarding the veil of the Holy of Holies.

Why? Because you have matching shirts and have some fetching secret handshake? That’s the literal presence of God on one hand. On the other? The literal presence of a few dozen gomers smelling like Ben-Gay and Old Spice cologne.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

(Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV)

Here’s the thing: When the High Priest sauntered into the temple and entered the presence of the Holy Spirit, there were no painstaking rituals to perform, incantations to recite, or a covenant to establish.

The Law of Moses is present for all to read, so naturally, a High Priest would worship God and inform his people according to those precepts.

Although some symbols are literal and others figurative, the only symbol that matters to the Church is one made of two timbers held together by iron stakes and a Savior.


This is the scary one — oaths. It doesn’t sound like a big thing. People take oaths all the time and lie constantly. You know, if you watch Law and Order. Yet, when you consider the Word of God, an oath is essential for belief in God and connection to His plan for your life.

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.’
But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.”

(Matthew 5:33-37 NIV)

oath of office still isn't as important as a covenant with God
Source: Shutterstock/REX

God is our Father, who art in Heaven. So, like any good relationship with your Daddy, if you tell him you’re going to do something–do it. 

The very word oath is a Middle English/Old Saxon term meaning “a judicial swearing, solemn appeal (to deity, sacred relics), in witness of truth or a promise.” That’s not like “Did you read the Terms and Conditions.” This is serious stuff, and secret societies pummel their members to take oaths–sometimes, blood oaths–and make their allegiance to the assemblage first and foremost.

Reading the small print is what gets you in the graces of God in the first place. We grow to understand the majesty of Jesus, but first, we learn why He was crowned in the first place. An oath is a covenant, and the most powerful one of those is what happened when “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV).

Admit it, the term “secret societies” is incendiary on its own. Why add fuel to whatever fire you’re avoiding by worshipping Christ? Any society that wants to remain in the shadows only has the potential to get darker. Churches are the same way. Staying in the light means staying with the Lord.

Think of being with Jesus as living with the town gossip. Eventually, the world is going to know what you did anyway. You don’t need a handshake to tell you that.

About Shawn Paul Wood
Shawn Paul Wood is an award-winning copywriter, storyteller, and best-selling ghostwriter of several faith-based books who has worked for some of the most admirable brands in their respective industries for more than 20 years. As Founder of Woodworks Communications with a doctorate in Theology, he leads teams of content strategists and marketing professionals to expand the brands and audiences of corporate leaders, serial entrepreneurs, and respected ministers of the Gospel. Prior to working with global communications agencies, he was a media relations director and communications executive for noted leaders, such as Abide, D/FW International Airport, UNCF, Mannatech, Christians United for Israel, Avocados from Mexico, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, Darden, and Bishop T.D. Jakes. His purpose is to help others develop self-discovery through stories and the written word to proclaim the Word to the world. For more information or help, visit You can read more about the author here.

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