From screen shot of 'Masonic Fraternal Police Department' Web site (original URL: story isn’t particularly religious or metaphysical in nature. I only bring it up because I’d studied medieval history and it piqued my interest. The Los Angeles Times reports that California officials have arrested several people who claimed to have run a “Masonic” police force (WebCite cached article):

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Roosevelt Johnson thought it was odd when three people — two of them dressed in police uniforms he didn’t recognize — strolled into the Santa Clarita station in February.

One man introduced himself as chief of the Masonic Fraternal Police Department and told Johnson this was a courtesy call to let him know the agency was setting up shop in the area.

They met for 45 minutes, Johnson said, but he was left confused and suspicious — so much so that he immediately ordered deputies to pull station surveillance video so they would have images of the visitors. He also assigned detectives to check them out.

“It was an odd meeting,” the captain recalled. “It just raised my suspicion level.”

This week, the three people were charged with impersonating police officers. They are David Henry, who told Johnson he was the police chief, Tonette Hayes and Brandon Kiel, an aide to state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris.

It turns out Henry, Hayes and Kiel had allegedly introduced themselves to police agencies across the state, though it is unclear why. A website claiming to represent their force cites connections to the Knights Templars that they say go back 3,000 years. The site also said that the department had jurisdiction in 33 states and Mexico.

“When asked what is the difference between the Masonic Fraternal Police Department and other police departments, the answer is simple for us. We were here first!” the website said.

This story is incredible and bizarre. I’m not sure how these folks thought they were actually going to convince other police departments they were legitimate. As an aide to California’s Attorney General, Kiel certainly must have known they had zero legal basis for their claims. Perhaps this odd cadre figured they were well-connected enough to avoid any meaningful scrutiny? But if so, did they actually think other law enforcement jurisdictions would just allow them to move in and do whatever the hell they wanted? It seems unimaginably ludicrous.

In any event, this story brings up a lot of misconceptions about Freemasonry. First — although there’s been some speculation to this effect — there is no documented historical link between the order of Knights Templars and Freemasonry. The former were disbanded in the early 14th century; the latter didn’t emerge in the historical record until the early 18th. That’s a span of about 400 years between them, with no demonstrable link to join them together. What historical evidence there is of their origin, points to the Freemasons as having emerged from medieval stonemason guilds, not from putative hidden survivors of the Templar purge.

Also, as the L.A. Times explains in an ancillary story (cached), the Templar order was not founded in 1,100 BCE; it was founded in 1,118 CE. Did someone misread the Templars’ actual founding date as BCE instead of CE … ? Woops!

Also, stories of the Templars being involved with the Holy Grail — i.e. the cup Jesus and his apostles supposedly drank from during the Last Supper — are likewise mere legends having no known historical basis (beginning with the fact that there’s no evidence the cup from the Last Supper was preserved by anyone). The Knights Templars have been the subject of legend since their heyday in the 12th and 13th centuries. They were both praised (for their military prowess, and their protection of pilgrims) and denigrated (for their secretive nature and tendency to go their own way). The order’s suppression, accompanied as it was by reams of vicious and fantastic propaganda by King Philip IV of France, only compounded the legends and tales that went around about the Templars. So it’s natural a lot of stories were told about them.

The appearance that they were a “secret society” certainly makes it possible to say pretty much anything one wants to about the Templars, and have it seem plausible (because their records are “secret,” you see, there’s no proof of anything about them). Unfortunately for this presumption, even “secret societies” tend to leave historical tracks, which can be followed.

I took a brief look at this outfit’s Web site; the mentions of “bloodlines” and the group’s claimed ancientness make it seem as though someone was reading too much Dan Brown. It’s just ridiculous, laughable bullshit. Every bit of it. I have no idea what angle these people were going after, but this is some truly weird shit. I plan to keep an eye on this case, as it develops.

Photo credit: Cropped from screen shot of Masonic Fraternal Police Department Web site.

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