Conspiracy theorists need theorize no more. In pages from a fiction novel brought to life, the strangest twists in popular folklore have been winding through our government corridors. In this case I wouldn't blame you for being tempted to run it by Snopes.
Fabled as a secret society, Freemasons see themselves as an esoteric fraternity; an ancient brotherhood of initiates who are voted into membership for the purpose of sharing enlightenment through the use of exclusive teachings.
They are not a religious group and yet elevated status can be obtained through invitation to the various esteemed Rites and the legendary Knights Templar. That full proper title is The United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St. John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta.
It is argued they find their roots in an historical Christian militia, which once upon a time nearly bankrupted the Vatican. Despite an effort to distance themselves from politics and religion in modern times, Scandinavian branches to this day will only permit entry of fellow Christian worshippers. Women remain forbidden although there's good news for slaves and the disabled -- who may have overcome discrimination after a thousand years of human rights progression.
On the Grand Lodge of Canada website, they continue to affirm this illusive aura with statements like the following:
"Freemasonry is a fraternal association of men of good and high ideals but it is not a public association. "Private" is a more appropriate description than "secret" and as with many organizations, certain information is reserved for members only."
So why then is an exclusive group collecting our children's DNA, with support of police and the government across the USA and Canada?
You know them as MasoniChip, or perhaps you've been led to believe it was a state and provincial endeavor intended to protect your little ones. They set up fairs, forge partnerships with law enforcement and even strive to distribute their services through North American public school systems.
In Massachusetts this Freemason program was promoted by CBS News from the steps of the official State House and included their police dog, coincidentally named Mason. Reporters only failed to mention the private nod to those promoting him or that government had little to do with it.
What is MasoniChip you ask? It begins on the surface as a child identification project, in case your loved ones are ever to be horrendously abducted. Parents are familiar with at-home kits to record their kids' vital information, for protection against the greatest of all fears to be inflicted on a family. Normally height, weight, hair and eye colour are recorded, along with a set of fingerprints and hopefully a current photograph. It's just the good folks at your local Masonic Lodge saw fit to take things further.
With advances in technology, they began to offer digital fingerprints, digital imaging, digital video, dental impressions and DNA mouth swabs. This data processing is managed by their proprietary software that's designed to be compatible with local and national law enforcement. This is after all, a campaign created by police in the brotherhood regardless of its private funding.
A great distinction is made to ensure governments are nothing more than their supporters. Freemasons assert ownership of this project as an integral part of their mission statement:
"We the Freemasons are the sole "sponsor" of the Masonic Safety Identification initiatives as developed in our various Masonic Grand Lodge Jurisdictions. As such we schedule the Events and coordinate the equipment, materials and volunteers necessary to conduct events. All groups and individuals are welcome to work alongside, but they are not referred as sponsors but listed and involved as "supporters", "supporting partners", "corporate partners", "in collaboration with", or "in cooperation with."
They claim their services are superior to what a parent could accomplish at home, by recording the children's data personally and providing their own "health care professionals" to collect their DNA samples.
These are either hired hands who answer to the Freemasons or members of the fraternity whose history and credentials are protected by the organization. There is no way to guarantee what happens behind closed doors and although they claim to delete sensitive information (the Canadian website states "No information is ever stored by the MasoniChIP program"), any computer savvy person knows that clicking an "x" isn't permanent unless you format the entire system.
Parents are asked to trust an intriguing, private fraternity; to ensure that quality standards are met and family privacy is legally respected without any kind of oversight. Because Freemasons fund 100 per cent of the initiative, there is no opportunity to discuss issues regarding data ownership or how they feel about those technicalities in the privacy of their meetings.
Every Masonic Lodge may "jump on the bandwagon" and choose to run the program differently. None are managed at the national level by an exact set of principles. The only thing they share is an internet portal, where everyone claims to expunge the information that was painstakingly collected.
Let us then consider the function of a DNA sample. If a child goes missing will police swab every glass and rock they come across for a match to find the trail? In the video for Massachusetts they claimed it would help Mason pick up a scent, but in all reality the clothes a child was last wearing will provide stronger notes and this can't be the intended purpose. DNA has nothing to do with scent and its only use can be harnessed once a child has been located.
With somber scrutiny and if further tragedy struck, authorities would match remains with parental samples for definitive confirmation. It is the parents' DNA that could aid in matching the unnamed, but only accredited laboratories are permitted to conduct the process. Whether a parent or child, collecting DNA cannot occur at an open park event, run by stranger volunteers and become admissible to the national database. The FBI continually quotes the DNA Identification Act of 1994 in establishing these requirements to be included within CODIS.
It is with great sadness for grieving families that we must note the Freemason project is not supported by government DNA databases. Although the superficial identifiers are surely helpful and Freemasons contribute to charitable acts in their communities, the most controversial component of the MasoniChip undertaking is not recognized for the purpose they advertise and state to parents.
Furthermore, a simple hair sample from children is all that was needed and in the United States only five of these cases are permitted per month, per licenced agency. (Downloadable from the FBI here.)
In Canada the situation is even more colluded, as the federal government won't consent to a missing persons DNA database whatsoever. They cite privacy law and cost concerns as a barrier to its establishment; so the 50,000 families that already participated have shared their biometric markers with Freemasons for apparently no good reason. It is therefore peculiar the Masonic Grand Lodge of Canada would make bold claims to be working with Canadian law enforcement agencies to gain the trust of parents.
All in all they've registered 1.5 million children to date. The push is on to document as many possible, as keenly demonstrated by the event schedule for Ontario. From community halls to grocery stores, fairground booths, libraries and even chartered banks, the private fraternity will be on hand to collect everything about your children whether it's relevant or not.
When it comes to the little people we'd do anything to protect them, but perhaps their families might give sober second thought to what exactly they're signing in a contract with Freemasons. This DNA collection program is planned to be extended to the disabled community and seniors, but who benefits when it's inadmissible to a certified registry of any sort?
And why is the face of government through public schools or police through public events, being placed on an effort from private organizations to mislead parents? Sharing one's fingerprints and biometrics is a serious decision. For public safety we must insist that brokers of such events become transparent and regulated.