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France: Where Freemasons Are Still Feared

America’s masons are as likely to meet one another at a barbecue as a masonic temple. But in France, the lodges still inspire countless conspiracy theories—and magazine covers.
France: Where Freemasons Are Still Feared
Illustration by Noah MacMillan

Magazines and newspapers all have stories they run in one form or another, year in, year out. The details may differ, but the stories are largely the same everywhere, striking universal chords of sex, health, and money. A few of these perennials, however, don’t travel. They drill deep into one country’s psyche while everyone else scratches their head and says, “Huh?”

In France, the story that keeps coming back is about Freemasons. It’s everywhere. Most big French magazines run at least one big Freemason cover a year. Books dissect the “state within a state,” to borrow from a recent title. Blogs abound.