DONALD TRUMP A FREEMASON?
Reports on social media, YouTube and the internet are arguing that President Donald Trump has sentiments with 33 degree Freemasons, an honorary degree bestowed upon a Scottish Rite Freemason who has done good works for the fraternity.
In unpacking the rumours, it is important to analyse the background, the accusation, the source and especially the spiritual significance and the spiritual response.
Ironically, and perhaps intentionally, it is impossible to prove any rumours if the origin is based on a ‘secret society’. We often proclaim that “knowledge is power” and perhaps that is why rumours of this nature are so appealing. It suggests a certain amount of power, saying “I have the inside scoop” with an understanding that nobody can prove me wrong. To be frank, there are probably no rational or satisfactory answers to any questions relating to Freemasons because of the secrecy that surrounds the movement. It is easy to accuse anybody that appears mysterious, and everybody that we find suspicious, of being a Freemason, and it is equally difficult to prove the opposite.
So, accusations relating to any secret organisation will always be based on theories, assumptions or conspiracies. There are rumours that claim to find Freemason symbolism everywhere, including in political and religious leaders (like George Washington, George Bush and Billy Graham), classical art, popular media and media figures like Walt Disney, church buildings, religious texts, corporate logos (including the Oreo cookie brand) and on ordinary currencies like the US dollar. Rumours refer to such symbols as emblems of secretive, all-powerful organisations — call it Freemasonry, the Order of Solomon’s Temple (aka the Knights Templar), the Illuminati or the New World Order — that have supposedly conspired behind the scenes to rule every nation on the planet for centuries.
One of the main websites behind the Trump rumour/conspiracy is Renegade Tribune . Their article starts with the following statement:
“Donald Trump is apparently a Freemason. After watching the video below , one can see that the ‘Donald’ has a penchant for flashing Masonic hand gestures. Notice, especially, the hand-shake with Sean Hannity at the very end of this work. He has been caught doing this too many times for it to be an accident. This and other circumstantial evidence makes it clear that he is a Mason.”
Then the article continues with the following: “Now that we have established that he is a Mason, we need to ask ‘What kind is he?’”
The two words used in the opening paragraph should already warn readers that what follows is based on assumptions without any factual evidence. The words “apparently”, “circumstantial evidence” and “established” are, in essense, contradictory and point to content that should not be trusted. The truth of the matter is that nothing has been established except the fact that Donald Trump makes excessive use of hand gestures, like many people do. “Circumstantial evidence” (in the words of Renegade Tribune) is simply not good enough for accusations of this nature and this magnitude.
Further proof is the words of Todd E. Creason, founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog (and the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754, where he currently serves as Secretary). Creason states on his blog that “the truth of the matter is, Donald Trump is NOT a Freemason”. 
This might be seen as ‘part of the secrecy’ or an ‘attempt to mislead the public’, but Freemasons are generally very proud of publishing the names of members who achieve high positions. If Donald Trump was a Freemason, it would be very well known, and the lodge he belonged to (and Freemasons in general) would be very proud to announce his membership or, at the least, to not openly deny it.
NOTE: There are public records of previous US presidents and high-ranking businessmen who were Freemasons . For this reason, it is understandable that some people assumed that Donald Trump is one as well. However, there were many US presidents who were not Freemasons, so the assumption should not be automatic, and as mentioned above, there are no legitimate records indicating Mr Trump’s involvement.
We do not know who first paused to ponder the hand gestures of President Trump, but the claim of the Freemason connection on these grounds is highly unreasonable. If the way that Mr Trump holds his hands during interviews identifies him as a Freemason, then many people who make use of similar hand gestures will ‘qualify’ to be a Freemason as well.
All the sources that feature articles or videos on this topic are, without exception, conspiracy-based websites with no substantial evidence. The story does not register anywhere on mainstream media, but only as a ‘shared’ item that bounced from person to person and website to website without any legitimacy.
As Christians, we need to ask some rational, journalistic questions: “Was the first ‘reporter’ someone who interviewed Donald Trump or who personally witnessed Mr Trump in close relation to Freemason activities, or is the article based on assumptions and second-hand information? Are the images portrayed of any relevance, or simply the product of the imagination of someone with a specific agenda?”
THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE
John J. Edwards III describes gossip in The Wall Street Journal as follows: “It’s the greasy fast food of conversation, cheap, easy and bursting with uncomplicated appeal.”
Unverified rumours or theories always result in gossip and eventually slander, which is taken as a serious offence by God and is completely unbiblical. Before spreading unverified information, and even when sharing factual information, first identify the type of gossip it might be. Jenn Johns outlined different types of gossip (quoted below in blue, with some additions from the INcontext team relevant to the Freemason claims about Mr Trump ):
IS IT SLANDER?
This is defined as spreading rumours or lies about a person to cause damage intentionally, like the rumour about Mr Trump. The Bible mentions slander countless times in lists like this one: “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).
James 4:11 tells it straight: “Brothers, do not slander one another.”
IS IT DISHING?
“Dishin’ the dirt” basically means sharing the “juicy info” you learned about someone. Maybe the intent is good and the motivation is warning someone but by keeping the gossip alive, it continues to spread and taint the image of the person it’s about. This is dangerous and unbiblical.
Proverbs 20:19 tells us that a gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.
James 5:9 says, “Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!”
IS IT A RUMOUR?
You hear something, and it’s not good, and it’s also not confirmed as true. But you tell someone or ask someone else about it to get more info. The rumour mill turns and turns and the gossip spreads.
Proverbs 13:3 says, “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”
IS IT BACKBITING?
It’s a flavour of gossip that involves speaking spiteful or slanderous words about another who is not present and can do nothing in defence. It’s secretive, and the Bible actually mentions it by name in Proverbs 25:23: “The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.”
Also: “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbour, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure” (Psalm 101:5).
IS IT PLANTING SEEDS?
The Bible tells us we reap what we sow. With that in mind, this type of gossip is said in such a way to make the listener question or assume something about the character of a person.
James 3:5 tells us, “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
A warning from the Bible from Proverbs 16:28: “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”
IS IT WHISPERED INNUENDO?
These subtle insinuations can mislead others into thinking wrong thoughts, especially if the conclusions are based on gossipy hunches.
Proverbs 26:20 tells us, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.”
And a warning from the Bible: “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:3).
IS IT GOT-THIS-ALL-WRONG GOSSIP?
You admit you probably got it wrong, but spread it anyway, because it’s still touching on some points that could be true. Or would sound exciting if true. Either way, it usually starts out like this: I probably got this all wrong, but apparently…
This is one of the most common types of gossip. We think we’re just passing on the latest news. Could it hurt someone? Meh. Maybe. But if we don’t even know the person, does it matter?
James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who know the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”
THE SPIRITUAL RESPONSE
What then should we share? Ask yourself the three questions explained by Elizabeth Foss (quoted in blue): 
IS IT TRUE?
This means we stop before passing along hearsay or gossip. It also means that we hold a grand story up to the exaggeration test. This is also the filter that says we won’t listen to gossip, nor will we pass it along. Unless we know something to be absolutely true, it does not get by this filter.
Exodus 23:1 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.”
IS IT KIND?
In his classic, Spiritual Conferences, Father Frederick William Faber writes:
“Devout people are, as a class, the least kind of all classes. This is a scandalous thing to say; but the scandal of the fact is so much greater than the scandal of acknowledging it, that I will brave this for the sake of a greater good. Religious people are an unkindly lot. Men may be charitable, yet not kind; merciful, yet not kind; self-denying, yet not kind. If they would add a little common kindness to their uncommon graces, they would convert 10 where they now only abate the prejudices of one. There is a sort of spiritual selfishness in devotion, which is rather to be regretted than condemned. Kindness, as a grace, is certainly not sufficiently cultivated, while the self-gravitating, self-contemplating, self-inspecting parts of the spiritual life are cultivated too exclusively.”
It is too easy to use TRUTH as an excuse to be unkind and even hateful. If Mr Trump is found to be a Freemason, then that should force us to our knees to pray for him, not on our toes to expose him.
IS IT NECESSARY?
Does this need to be said? As our communications lurch forward at reckless speed and it becomes commonplace to tweet, share and blog every time we suspect someone of secret activities, we have to be intentionally taught the value of silence. Without quiet, we cannot hear. Without quiet, there is no white space; there are no boundaries. Does what I’m going to share contribute to the holiness and happiness of our community? In a big, busy family, quiet is a valuable thing.
It’s a simple three-fold filter: true, kind and necessary. The people who use it are happier, and the people who live with the people who use it are cradled in grace-filled communication.
Psalm 15:1-3 “LORD, who may dwell in Your sacred tent? Who may live on Your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbour, and casts no slur on others…”
 http://freemasoninformation.com/masonic-education/famous/united-states-masonic-presidents/; http://www.businessinsider.com/the-most-influential-freemasons-2014-3?op=1/#sse-jackson–harmony-lodge-no-88-chicago-1987-17