The Real or Illusionary Threat
of a Secret Worldwide Conspiracy
by G. Richard Fisher
“For thus the Lord spoke to me with a mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, ‘You are not to say, “It is a conspiracy!” in regard to all that this people call a conspiracy. And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear. And He shall be your dread’” (Isaiah 8:11-13).
Some who have never heard the term Illuminati may wonder, “What in the world is it?” The literal definition of the word Illuminati means “the enlightened ones.” It has been a term designating various groups since the mid-1700s. In this century some parts of the fundamental, evangelical and Charismatic Church have become interested in, and occasionally obsessed with, the Illuminati idea.
It is best to speak of the Illuminati as an idea because there are dozens of conflicting theories as to just whom the group is and what it is doing today. People who become heavily involved in the elusive pursuit of the Illuminati seem to fall under a deep persuasion of an “imminent takeover” and a “secret worldwide conspiracy” underlying everything happening today. Of course, the predetermined dates come and go and the takeover never takes!
Sometimes in the scheme presented there is an attempt to match the Antichrist to a specific person or movement. In short, the Illuminati has been credited with everything from the triggering of the French and American revolutions, being the brains behind communism, controlling all the banks and money of the world, to plotting to take over the world at any moment.
Not everyone holding and promoting such ideas is viewed as a fringe extremist or cult member. Some have gain prominence and esteem within Christian camps. For example, televangelist-turned-politician, Pat Robertson, writes in his book, The New World Order, that the Illuminati is about to install the new world order. All in all, it is folklore and myth that just refuses to die.
Brooks Alexander, of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, comments on the real lack of documentation for the worldwide conspiracy theory:
“Rumor and speculation fill the gaps between scanty data. A net of suggestive (but inconclusive) circumstances can be extended as far as the mind can throw it. ... Some theorists are serious and qualified scholars, but they had to struggle uphill to establish credibility in a field dominated by cranks, extremists, and hidden agendas. Conspiracy enthusiasts have taken spectacular leaps to get ‘behind the scenes.’”1
The Illuminati idea or concept was kept alive in the 1920s by no less than Henry Ford (with a hateful anti-Semitic thrust). In the three following decades it was perpetuated by certain men like Gerald Winrod and Myron Fagin. However, the premise did not become popular and widely accepted until the 1960s generation with the rising rejection of the government and authority and especially the widespread distribution of John Birch Society materials and the literature of the anti-Zionist Liberty Lobby. This really created a mainstreaming of the Illuminati mirage and an accepting of an illusive, all-seeing “big brother.” The details of the takeover now were secondary, even meaningless, and only the idea seemed to matter.
Some years ago, the Illuminati was blamed for the energy crisis and the Watergate affair of the 1970s. They are described as being a secret underground, worshiping the devil, and have been variously traced back to the Knights Templar, gnostic cults, and Egyptian sun worshipers.
Though no two students of Illuminology agree totally on the details (and there is room for much speculation), one generally finds in the current Illuminati literature of the anti-Semitic far right, the idea of international communism and international banking interacting with Masonry, witchcraft and Satanism. Even the fall of communism does not dampen the commitment of true “believers.” They insist that international communism will rise again or just take on a new and more insidious form.
There are even some weirder strains that link the illusive Illuminati with alien beings from outer space. With the anniversary and resurrection of the claimed Roswell, New Mexico sighting and the Mars probes, UFOs are enjoying a renewed life lately and expectations will only heighten.
There are huge and growing bibliographies of just the UFO strain of conspiracy literature. The twists are endless with everything from visitations to abductions thrown in. Science fiction runs rampant. One can now browse the Internet and find hundreds and hundreds of UFO sites. Schwa (a Website) is set up to inform us about alien conspiracy theories and also to sell alien detector cards and defense kits.
The first real historical link claimed that can be established with any certainty is to the Bavarian Illuminati. On May 1, 1776, in Bavaria, Dr. Adam Weishaupt, a professor of canon law at Ingolstadt University and a former Jesuit, formed a secret society called the Order of the Illuminati within the Masonic Lodges of Germany. It was actually a secret society within a secret society.
In 1785, the Bavarian Illuminati was penetrated, broken and suppressed by the government for plotting to overthrow the kings of Europe. This scenario is agreed upon by all historians. The weakest link in the chain for the Illuminologist, however, is the first few links. It is alleged that the Rothschilds funded Weishaupt. It is a matter of historical record that the Rothschilds did not establish a banking firm until about 1800 which is after the demise of the original Illuminati.2 Rothschilds were ghetto hawkers until then. The Rothschild-link is nonexistent here as well as later.
A claim is made that Edmond Rothschild funded Zionism (in the strain of Illuminati theory that is anti-Semitic and claims a Jewish world takeover). Rothschild did fund early settlers in Israel, but would have nothing to do with the father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl and early political Zionists. This can be proved from the diaries of Herzl and the massive evidence at Herzl Archive in Jerusalem.3 The other broken Rothschild-link is the claim that Adolf Hitler was funded by the Rothschilds.4
The house of Rothschild Banking Firm was liquidated in Germany in 1901. Their remaining properties in Germany and Austria were confiscated by Hitler in the ‘30s, and the family escaped with only their lives. A few family members jailed by Hitler were bargained for and bought back at great cost.
Everything prior to Weishaupt and the Bavarian Illuminati is a matter of heated speculation, mythology and controversy, with no real historical documentation.
Another document, sometimes referred to in the anti-Semitic strain of Illuminology is The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.5 This mythological piece, originating in Europe in the 1800s, tells of a secret meeting in a graveyard with Satan and twelve Elders of Zion. This purely straight fiction originated from the pen of Hermann Goedsch, a Prussian postal worker, in 1868. In his novel, Biarritz, there was a chapter, “In the Jewish Cemetery in Prague,” telling of the devil’s meeting and the imminent sensational Jewish takeover.
This eventually evolved into a document called the Rabbi’s Speech. In Russia and Germany it was accepted as fact and stimulated persecutions and pogroms. In 1920, it took the name The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Millions of copies were circulated in the 1930s and 1940s, and it was compulsory reading in German schools.6 So much for the Jewish world conspiracy.
Another primary source constantly quoted and misquoted, used and abused, is John Robison’s Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All Religions and Governments of Europe, Carried on in the Secret Meetings of the Freemasons, Illuminati and Reading Societies. The book, first published in 1795, is presently called simply Proofs of a Conspiracy. It is interesting to read Robison and see what he is actually saying and not saying. One wonders if many who refer to him have truly read him.
Robison, a Scottish mathematician, reproduces the Weishaupt secrets. He, himself a Mason, reveals that Bavarian and German Masonry had been corrupted by Weishaupt. Robison does not mention Rothschild or a Jewish connection. His point is that the Masonry of Great Britain can stay pure by taking heed to the lessons of the Weishaupt affair and through “religion” and Parliament. Secret world takeovers must be imposed on and read into Robison’s writings.
It is hard to see how one can get communism, American banking, or a Jewish takeover from anything Robison says. It’s like trying to get oranges from an apple tree simply because it’s a tree. But such is the historical inconsistency and lack of proof presented. The Americanist Classics admits in its republishing of Robison’s book that there are no documented historical links from Robison to communism (Illuminati to them), but perhaps an ideological link.
Now it is time to look at some historical identifications of the Illuminati. Often they are based on source material from Nesta Webster. Webster, who died in 1960, was a British mystic who believed in reincarnation, fascism and a Jewish world takeover. Her life has been examined and her theories debunked by Richard Gilman in Behind World Revolution — The Strange Career of Nesta Webster. Yet she is used as a resource by Pat Robertson and others which shows how deeply they have thought about their ideas. Webster wove a fabric of truth and falsehood around her sympathy to Hitler’s ideas.
This article cannot even attempt to deal with the many nuances and differences that exist in each of the Illuminati theories. The difficulty exists because the Illuminati is variously identified and the contenders change with each passing year. However, many of the following speculations are covered and discussed in Neal Wilgus’s book, The Illuminoids — Secret Societies and Political Paranoia.
1. French sociologist Jacques Ellul said the Illuminati was founded in the eleventh century by disciples of Joachim of Floris. It was vanquished in 1507.
2. National Review has stated Joachim’s followers still exist.
3. French cabalist Eliphas Levi claimed the Illuminati was founded by Zoroaster in Persia and introduced to Europe by the Knights Templar in the twelfth century.
4. Levi also states in his History of Magic that the Holy Vehn (medieval Catholic version of the Ku Klux Klan) was the enforcer for the Illuminati.
5. Arkin Darual, in History of Secret Societies, identifies Hassan Sabbah as the founder of the Illuminati in 1092.
6. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Illuminati was founded by Adam Weishaupt in 1776 and suppressed by the Bavarian government in 1785.
7. Magazines in the 1970s, such as Teenset and others, suggested that the Illuminati controlled the rock music business and were responsible for masterminding all the assassinations of recent decades.
8. American Opinion magazine said that American Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) was the current manifestation of the one-world conspiracy. The CFR is a top contender in much of the conspiracy literature.
9. A Chicago newspaper, in 1968, pinpointed then Mayor Daley as a member of the Illuminati and said George Washington and Weishaupt were the same man.
10. In 1969, East Village Other magazine named Richard Nixon, Aga Khan, Lord Omar, and Kennedy assassination theorist Mark Lane (perhaps meant to be a joke) as members of the organization.
11. The eye in the pyramid on the back of the one-dollar bill was given to Thomas Jefferson by a mysterious man in black, who disappeared. The founding fathers, not knowing what it meant, used it anyway. It is presumed to be the seal of the Illuminati! In our bicentennial year we unwittingly celebrated the birth of Illuminati. This view is promoted by Jack Chick of Chick Publications, especially in The Crusaders series of Christian comic books. The United States Department of the Treasury in Washington, D.C., provides the explanation of the symbols on our money in a booklet: they identify the eye as the eye of God.
12. John Robison, eighteenth-century Mason previously mentioned, warned against the Bavarian Illuminati influence on Masonry.
13. Nesta Webster, in World Revolution, claimed the Illuminati controls all socialist, communist, and anarchist groups.
14. According to High I.Q. Bulletin, the Illuminati are invaders from the planet Venus.
15. In Cosmic Trigger — The Final Secret of the Illuminati, science fiction writer Robert Anton Wilson suggests that there may be E.S.P. contacts from Sirius. Wilson further speculates that these extraterrestrial contacts use human minds as receivers (interstellar neurogenetics) and may account for the origin of the idea of the Illuminati.
16. It was from the Vril Society that Hitler learned his occultism, according to Libertarian American. This is the political front for the Illuminati, which has as its aim, not Russian socialism, but Christian socialism.
17. The John Birch Society first mentioned the Illuminati in 1962. Their particular twist is that it is a combination of world bankers, CFR, communism, and a Jewish-Rothschild connection. The Illuminati is known as the “insiders.” The most popular treatment of the Birch line was in the 1971 publication, None Dare Call It Conspiracy. Its author, Gary Allen, gave the “takeover” year as 1976 in that book.
18. According to the Los Angeles Free Press, the Theosophical Society has been named as the chief front for the Illuminati.
19. Others suggest the John Birch Society.
20. The purely Jewish takeover was promoted by Gerald Winrod in the 1920s and 1930s. In his publication, The Hidden Hand, he promoted The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and saw the Jews as the cause of the depression. The Super Government, the world bank and the “apostate Jews” (“the hidden hand”) were about to take over.7
21. In the Bulletin to Restore the Constitution, from Fort Collins, Colorado, we find the Illuminati made up of Fabianism, round table, communism, Bilderbergers, CFR, Rotary, Elks, Y.M.C.A., and B’nai B’rith.
22. Golden Dawn is yet another hot suspect. Allister Crowley originated this Satanic cult in England after the turn of the century. Calling himself Antichrist, he practiced vile rituals interlaced with immorality. Secrecy was maintained only to escape prosecution from the government. Crowley had nothing to do with plots or takeovers or politics. His cult was perpetuated in England by Margaret Murry and in America by George Gardiner in the 1950s as the “Wicca” cult of witchcraft.8
23. The late Alberto Rivera put forth a purely Vatican conspiracy in alleged autobiographical works published by Chick Publications.
24. Sufi writer Adries Shah says the Illuminati are sufis (Moslem offshoots).
25. John Todd’s view is a combination of a few others with his own embellishments. His scenarios are still being promoted in Chick Publications’ Crusaders comicbook series. According to Todd, the Illuminati is definitely a CFR-Masonic conspiracy with witchcraft and Mafia thrown in. Jimmy Carter was selected to be the Antichrist by the Rothschild Tribunal. Todd added a twist to the paranoia of Myron Fagin. Charles Manson was to be released in 1979 and led other released prisoners in “Helter Skelter” to kill Christians. We were to arm ourselves and stockpile food and water. There is absolutely no Jewish connection, Todd said. The rock music industry, and also the film industry, were all involved. His takeover was predicted for October 1979.9
26. None of the above! Numbers 1-25 are all wrong! The Illuminati spawned the above to confuse everyone and keep themselves hidden. No one can and ever will know who they are.
Added to all this, hopeless confusion is the current strain of Christian conspiratorialists. Jack Van Impe, Charles Taylor, John Hagee, Peter and Paul Lalonde, Larry Burkett, Pat Robertson and the lunacy of Texe Marrs, perpetuate the Christian spin on the Illuminati.10
The Bible talks about apostasy and tells us what to do about it. In the mind of the conspiratorialist it is much more complicated and sinister as noted in a recent issue of Religion in Politics:
“The fear of a hidden conspiracy directed against Western Civilization, Christianity, and the ‘American free enterprise system’ is a recurring theme which runs through and permeates the entire Right-Wing matrix. Its being peddled by leaders in the New Right to Americans desperate for an easily understood reason as to why their European, Christian-based culture has seemingly been stripped from them by ‘secular humanists’ and replaced by what is perceived to be an ‘amoral’ multiculturism with which few of them can easily relate. It’s most extreme expression has taken the form of the Illuminati Myth; its most moderate version is the ‘Secular-Humanist Conspiracy.’ The first version names the Jews and the Freemasons as the principal villains; the second names the liberal establishment. In both instances, Communism and Socialism are the tools through which the hidden cabal (i.e., the Jews and the Freemasons in the one instance, the secular-humanists in the other) hopes to achieve its goal of world domination. In reality, the second version is nothing more than a sanitized and less offensive version of the first — one which has been ‘cleaned up’ to suit the sensibilities of moderate conservatives.”11
The Church fights its war on many fronts with religions, cults, materialism, new age thought, mysticism and emotionalism, humanism, abortion, mounting lack of concern for any authority as well as addictions that dominate the lives of people. The feet in Daniel’s image were a mixture of iron and clay that would not mingle (Daniel 2:43). Satan is happy to work through chaos and division and really does not need a centralized, simplistic earth organization to further his agenda. The feet of iron and clay (a mixed, divided world scene) are only remedied by the falling of the great stone, which is God’s Kingdom on earth as the ultimate answer (Daniel 2:33-35, 44-45).
Doubtless there may be more theories than those mentioned as to the identity of the illusive Illuminati, and the combinations could be endless depending on the creativity of the writer. Of the above identifications of the Illuminati, some mentioned were cultic or occultic groups.
It’s easy to see that many of the Illuminati contenders are not linked in any way historically, philosophically or actually. The only common denominator is the idea of an Illuminati. After all, for some two hundred years the Illuminati has been portrayed as possessing all of the resources necessary for a takeover, yet no marshaling has ever occurred. There cannot be an all powerful group as is claimed for whatever exists seems sterile, ineffective, inefficient and lacking know how to get the job done.
The imminent takeover theme has been played and replayed since 1776. The Mormons, the British, and the Japanese as well, all have been candidates at different periods and were suspected as the masterminds and fulcrum of the takeover. It appears that we usually see what we want to see. No doubt those who write articles like this one will be seen as part of the Illuminati’s grand scheme!
Satan can and is using this hopeless activity of Illuminati-spotting and Antichrist-naming as another divisive ploy to get the Church off the track. He has promoted the idea of an Illuminati to promote division, fear and hysteria. Its fruits are disruption, division, elitism, withdrawal from the world, confusion, and a denial of the sovereignty of God. When combined with the witchcraft nuance, it lapses into a fierce dualism.
To see sin and corruption in all governments and systems is truly different from seeing all history as a conspiracy. To look for the coming of Christ delivers one from the pessimism of seeing all of life heading toward takeover and destruction. First Timothy 2:1-3 still holds true today. We can see politicians affected by the power of prayer.
Yes, there are small conspiracies here, there and everywhere. The plotting of the death of Jesus was a conspiracy. One huge dominant worldwide conspiracy is hard to imagine in the face of all the ethnic divisions, racial divisions, religious divisions, cultic divisions, political divisions, and so forth. Indeed, the feet are an impossible mix of iron and clay that cannot mingle into one.
To look at all of history through conspiratorial glasses is simplistic reductionism. That is to say that it ignores the diversity and complexity in the world and reduces everything to humans just working out their nefarious plans worldwide. Putting history in this simple box leaves out God, His plan, His power, His will, and His Word.
But one might object and say, “Doesn’t the Bible speak of a takeover by the Antichrist?” Yes, but nowhere in the Bible is this presented as a secret approximating the Illuminati idea. Even if it were, to try to stockpile guns and food to avert it (as some conspiratorialists have), would be like trying to stop Judas from that which was the preordained plan of God.
The exact scenario of the future is something that good Christians have debated for centuries. We can debate it but should not divide over it. But again most of the above Illuminati ideas (which are speculation akin to science fiction) are not even close to a biblical framework or philosophy anyhow. It would be foolhardy even if one took a literal futuristic view of the brief reign of the Antichrist to say exactly when and how it would all play out.
Whatever one’s view of prophecy (which we can debate without dividing over), the facile naming of the Antichrist by some has brought ridicule and shame to the Church of Christ. If God wanted the Church to have the name of the Antichrist, He would have given it in Scripture. Think of how some in the Church throughout history have named various Caesars, various popes, Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, Henry Kissinger, Jimmy Carter, and other presidents and world leaders as the Antichrist. Why do we have to repeat the obvious mistakes of the past and bring reproach on our testimony?12
The theories which disperse Illuminati ideas are both confusing and undocumented.13 Paul’s words to Timothy remain relevant today:
“I wanted you to do this so that you could order certain persons to stop inventing new doctrines and to leave hoary old myths and interminable genealogies alone. Such things lead men to speculation rather than to ordered living which results from faith in God. ... You will be doing your duty as Christ’s minister if you remind your church members of these things, and you will show yourself as one who owes his strength to the truth of the faith he has absorbed and the sound teaching he has followed. But steer clear of all these stupid Godless fictions. ... If anyone tries to teach some doctrinal novelty which is not compatible with sound teaching (which we base on Christ’s own words and which leads to Christ-like living), then he is a conceited idiot. His mind is a morbid jumble of disputation and argument. ... Oh Timothy, guard most carefully your divine commission. Avoid the Godless mixture of contradictory notions which is falsely known as ‘knowledge’ — some have followed it and lost their faith” (1 Timothy 1:3-4; 4:6-7; 6:3-4, 20, Phillips).
The Church should be prepared for millennial madness, date setting and the resurfacing of Illuminati ideas and Illuminati mania as we approach A.D. 2000. The simple fact of a four to six year discrepancy in our calender means that we have already passed into the next millennium (it is, in fact, 2001 or 2003). This is something of which most are totally unaware.
We have a choice — the illusion of an
elusive Illuminati with its dozens of contradictory notions and theories or the
reality of the Word of God.
1. Spiritual Counterfeits Project Newsletter, Jan.-Feb.
1984, pg. 6.
2. See further, The Rothschilds, by Fredrich Morton.
3. See further, Herzl, by Amos Elon.
4. On the funding of Hitler, see James and Suzanne Pool, Who Funded Hitler? (New York: The Dial Press, 1978).
5. See The Quarterly Journal, Vol. 11, No. 2, “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion: Codebook for World Takeover or Anti-Semitic Nonsense?”, pp. 4, 8.
6. See further, Warrant for Genocide by Norman Cohen.
7. See further, Strong’s Organized Anti-Semitism in America.
8. See further, Man, Myth and Magic by Richard Cavendish.
9. For an updated report on John Todd, see The Quarterly Journal, Vol. 14, No. 2, “Comic Book Hero to Convict,” pp. 4, 8-10. See also the older summary reports on Todd in Spiritual Counterfeits Project Newsletter, (P.O. Box 4308, Berkeley, CA 94704), September 1978; Christianity Today, Feb. 2, 1979; and Moody Monthly, April 1979.
10. For specific details, see Gregory Camp, Selling Fear. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1997, pp. 169-231, 255-259.
11. Religion in Politics, June 15, 1997, pg. 59.
12. See The Coming Antichrist by Walter Price; Armageddon Now by Dwight Wilson; and Conspiracy, the Fear of Subversion in American History by Richard O. Curry and Thomas M. Brown.
13. Two works that investigate the Illuminati idea are: The Politics of Unreason by Seymour Lipset and Early Raab and The Illuminoids by Neal Wilgus.
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