Saturday, March 23, 2024

Anti-Mason Disinformation: Edmond Ronayne

"You must conceal all the crimes of your brother Masons, except murder and treason, and these only at your own option, and should you be summoned as a witness against a brother Mason be always sure to shield him. Prevaricate [falsify], don't tell the whole truth in his case, keep his secrets, forget the most important points. It may be perjury to do this, it is true, but you're keeping your obligations, and remember if you live up to your obligation strictly, you'll be free from sin. ‘That's the evidence I sight."

This is a quote often cited by anti-Masons in their condemnation of the Craft. It is from a publication called “The Handbook of Free Masonry” by Edmond Ronayne. As it carries such a name some people believe or at least infer that it must be a book approved and authorized by the whole of Freemasonry. However, had they done any basic research they would have seen that it was written by a former Freemason turned anti-Mason named Edmond Ronayne.

The 19th century witnessed a surge of anti-Masonic sentiment in the United States, fueled by conspiracy theories, suspicions of secret societies, and fears of undue influence within the government. Edmond Ronayne's journey from a member of the Masonic fraternity to one of its staunchest critics demonstrates the dangers of religious fanaticism and the need to guard the West. 

Born to a Catholic family on November 5, 1832, in Ireland, his family emigrated to North America. In 1851, he renounced Catholicism and became an Anglican. In 1858, he joined the Loyal Orange Order. In 1859, he left the Anglican Church which he saw as too “Romanist.” He left the Orange Order in 1860. He joined Harrington Lodge No. 49 in Quebec, but withdrew his membership when he moved to Wisconsin in 1865.

By 1870, he was living in Chicago with his family and affiliated with Keystone Lodge No.639 where he served as Secretary and was elected as Senior Warden the next year. At the end of 1872, he accepted election as Worshipful Master, but over the past year, he had felt disenfranchised because of local politics and the involvement of several Masons. His resentment to the fraternity grew as he felt the Grand Lodge misappropriated donations from American Masons as they used the funds to rebuild Lodges after the Chicago Fire of 1871 and Ronayne felt they should have used it to feed and clothe the needy. In late 1874, he finally renounced Freemasonry and left the fraternity. I’ve also read that he was expelled by the Grand Lodge of Illinois, but I’ve never been able to confirm this. 

He would later associate himself with the National Christian Association which saw organizations like Freemasonry as subversive, a competing religion, and a threat to their Christian values. This is the organization that built the statue honoring William Morgan in Batavia, NY.

Edmond Ronayne would publish three anti-Mason books: Handbook of Free Masonry (1876), The Master's Carpet; or Masonry and Baal-Worship Identical (1879), and Masonic Oaths Null and Void (1880). Modern anti-Masons often reference his “handbook” as if it is legitimate and sanctioned by Freemasonry. His second book claimed that the use of Hiram Abiff was really a secret way to worship Baal, Osiris, or Tammuz. His books, particularly the Preface, are examples of the argumentum ad verecundiam fallacy by his claim that as a Past Master, his word cannot be questioned when condemning Freemasonry. He also claims that his book reveals the real secrets of Freemasonry and that no other exposition has shown what he has published (he had quite the ego). He also traveled the country performing what he said was a Masonic ritual and giving lectures that were often sponsored by the National Christian Association.

Through his writings and activism, he helped shape public perceptions of Freemasonry during the late 19th century and, sadly, he is still referenced by anti-Masons today even though the information cited from his book is contrary to everything Masonry teaches.


1. American Anti-Masonry in 1880: Edmond Ronayne And the National Christian Association. (2011, August). Retrieved from Waller Mason Lodge No. 808: 

2. American Anti-Masonry in 1880: Edmond Ronayne and the National Christian Association. (2010, February 2). Retrieved from National Heritage Museum: 

3. Edmond Ronayne. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of British-Columbia & Yukon:

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