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A secret society is a club or an organization whose activities, events, inner functioning, or membership are concealed from non-members. The society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence. The term usually excludes covert groups, such as intelligence agencies or guerrilla warfare insurgencies, that hide their activities and memberships but maintain a public presence.
The exact qualifications for labeling a group a secret society are disputed, but definitions generally rely on the degree to which the organization insists on secrecy, and might involve the retention and transmission of secret knowledge, the denial about membership or knowledge of the group, the creation of personal bonds between members of the organization, and the use of secret rites or rituals which solidify members of the group.
Anthropologically and historically, secret societies have been deeply interlinked with the concept of the Männerbund, the all-male "warrior-band" or "warrior-society" of pre-modern cultures (see H. Schurtz, Alterklassen und Männerbünde, Berlin, 1902; A. Van Gennep, The Rites of Passage, Chicago, 1960).
A purported "family tree of secret societies" has been proposed, although it may not be comprehensive.
Alan Axelrod, author of the International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Fraternal Orders,defines a secret society as an organization that:
Historian Richard B. Spenceof the University of Idaho offered a similar three-pronged definition:
Spence also proposes a sub-category of "Elite Secret Societies" (composed of high-income or socially influential people), and notes that secret societies have a frequent if not universal tendency towards factionalism, infighting and claiming origins older than can be reliably documented. Spence's definition includes groups traditionally thought of as secret societies (Freemasons and Rosicrucians) and other groups not so traditionally classified such as certain organized crime cabals (Mafia), religious groups (Order of Assassins and Thelema) and political movements (Bolsheviks and Black Dragon Society).
David V. Barrett, author of Secret Societies: From the Ancient and Arcane to the Modern and Clandestine, has used alternative terms to define what qualifies a secret society. He defined it as any group that possesses the following characteristics:
Barrett goes on to say that "a further characteristic common to most of them is the practice of rituals which non-members are not permitted to observe, or even to know the existence of." Barrett's definition would rule out many organizations called secret societies; graded teaching is usually not part of the American college fraternities, the Carbonari, or the 19th-century Know Nothings.[ citation needed ]
Historian Jasper Ridley argues that Freemasonry is, "the world's most powerful secret Society."
Because some secret societies have political aims, they are illegal in several countries. Italy (Constitution of Italy, Section 2, Articles 13–28) and Poland,for example, ban secret political parties and political organizations in their constitutions.
Many student societies established on university campuses in the United States have been considered secret societies. Perhaps one of the most famous secret collegiate societies is Skull and Bones at Yale University.The influence of undergraduate secret societies at colleges such as Harvard College, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, the University of Chicago, the University of Virginia, Georgetown University, New York University, and Wellesley College has been publicly acknowledged, if anonymously and circumspectly, since the 19th century.
British Universities, too, have a long history of secret societies or quasi-secret societies, such as The Pitt Club at Cambridge University,Bullingdon Club at Oxford University, and the 16' Club at St David's College. Another British secret society is the Cambridge Apostles, founded as an essay and debating society in 1820. Not all British Universities host solely academic secret societies, for both The Night Climbers of Cambridge and The Night Climbers of Oxford require both brains and brawn.
In France, Vandermonde is the secret society of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers.
Notable examples in Canada include Episkopon at the University of Toronto's Trinity College, and the Society of Thoth at the University of British Columbia.[ citation needed ]
Secret societies are disallowed in a few colleges. The Virginia Military Institute has rules that no cadet may join a secret society,and secret societies have been banned at Oberlin College from 1847 to the present, and at Princeton University since the beginning of the 20th century.
Confraternities in Nigeria are secret-society like student groups within higher education. The exact death toll of confraternity activities is unclear. One estimate in 2002 was that 250 people had been killed in campus cult-related murders in the previous decade,while the Exam Ethics Project lobby group estimated that 115 students and teachers had been killed between 1993 and 2003.
The Mandatory Monday Association is thought to operate out of a variety of Australian universities including the Australian Defence Force Academy. The Association has numerous chapters that meet only on Mondays to discuss business and carry out rituals.
The only secret society abolished and then legalized is that of the philomaths [ disambiguation needed ]; it is now[ when? ] a legitimate academic association founded on a strict selection of its members.
While their existence had been speculated for years, internet-based secret societies first became known to the public in 2012 when the secret society known as Cicada 3301 began recruiting from the public via internet-based puzzles.The goals of the society remain unknown, but it is believed that they are involved in cryptography.
Many Christian Churches forbid their members from joining secret societies. For example, ¶41 of the General Rules contained in Discipline of the Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection teaches:
Further, by abstaining from membership in secret societies. We will on no account tolerate our ministers and members joining or holding fellowship with secret societies, as, in the judgment of The Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection (Original Allegheny Conference), it is inconsistent with our duties to God to hold such relations.
"Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing" (John 18:20). "Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not" (Matt. 24:26).
"But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation" (Jas. 5:12).
Also see Lev. 5:4, 5; Isa. 29:15; Matt. 5:34–36; John 3:19, 20; 2 Cor. 4:1, 2; 6:14–18; Eph. 5:11, 12; 1 John 4:2, 3.
The Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) is a consortium of 13 liberal arts colleges located in the states around the Great Lakes. The 13 schools are located in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana. It was chartered in the state of Michigan and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 1962. The consortium extended its first offer of membership in 46 years to Allegheny College in 2008.
The Carbonari was an informal network of secret revolutionary societies active in Italy from about 1800 to 1831. The Italian Carbonari may have further influenced other revolutionary groups in France, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Brazil and Uruguay. Although their goals often had a patriotic and liberal basis, they lacked a clear immediate political agenda. They were a focus for those unhappy with the repressive political situation in Italy following 1815, especially in the south of the Italian Peninsula. Members of the Carbonari, and those influenced by them, took part in important events in the process of Italian unification, especially the failed Revolution of 1820, and in the further development of Italian nationalism. The chief purpose was to defeat tyranny and to establish constitutional government. In the north of Italy other groups, such as the Adelfia and the Filadelfia, were associate organizations.
Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) is a private liberal arts university in Delaware, Ohio. It was founded in 1842 by Methodist leaders and Central Ohio residents as a nonsectarian institution, and is a member of the Ohio Five – a consortium of Ohio liberal arts colleges. Ohio Wesleyan has always admitted students irrespective of religion or race and maintained that the university "is forever to be conducted on the most liberal principles."
A Commons Club is a type of social organization whose membership is "open" rather than selective based on personal introduction and invitation. It may also refer to the lodge or other meeting facility associated with such a club and used for its activities. Usually, Commons Club refers to a type of men's social organization which flourished at institutions of higher education in North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Delta Tau Delta (ΔΤΔ), commonly known as Delt or DTD, is a United States-based international Greek letter college fraternity. Delta Tau Delta was founded in 1858 at Bethany College, Bethany, Virginia,. It currently has around 140 student chapters nationwide, as well as few regional alumni groups. Its national philanthropic partner is the diabetes research organization JDRF.
The P.E.O. Sisterhood is a U.S.-based international women's organization of about 230,000 members, with a primary focus on providing educational opportunities for female students worldwide. The Sisterhood is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, with chapters throughout the United States and Canada. Among other projects, it owns and supports Cottey College, an independent college for women in Nevada, Missouri.
The conservative holiness movement is a loosely defined group of conservative Christian denominations with the majority tracing their origin back to Methodist roots and the teachings of John Wesley, and a minority being Quakers (Friends) that emphasize the doctrine of George Fox, as well as River Brethren who emerged out of the Radical Pietist revival. This movement became distinct from other Holiness bodies in the mid-20th century amid disagreements over modesty in dress, entertainment, and other "old holiness standards" reflective of the related emphases on the Wesleyan–Arminian doctrine of outward holiness or the Quaker teaching on the testimony of simplicity or the River Brethren teaching on nonconformity to the world, depending on the denomination.
While many Christian denominations take no stance on or openly acknowledge and allow Freemasonry, some are outwardly opposed to it, and either discourage or outright prohibit their members from joining the fraternity.
Founded by Adam Weishaupt in Bavaria in 1776, the Illuminati have been referred to in popular culture, in books and comics, television and films, and games. A number of novelists, playwrights and composers are alleged to have been Illuminati members and to have reflected this in their work. Early conspiracy theories surrounding the Illuminati have inspired various creative works, and continue to do so.
The Illuminati is a name given to several groups, both real and fictitious. Historically, the name usually refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on 1 May 1776 in Bavaria, today part of Germany. The society's goals were to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life, and abuses of state power. "The order of the day," they wrote in their general statutes, "is to put an end to the machinations of the purveyors of injustice, to control them without dominating them." The Illuminati—along with Freemasonry and other secret societies—were outlawed through edict by Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria with the encouragement of the Catholic Church, in 1784, 1785, 1787, and 1790. In the following several years, the group was vilified by conservative and religious critics who claimed that they continued underground and were responsible for the French Revolution.
The Mystical Seven is a society founded in 1837 at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. There are two separate groups. Members are called Mystics.
The North American fraternity and sorority system began with students who wanted to meet secretly, usually for discussions and debates not thought appropriate by the faculty of their schools. Today they are used as social, professional, and honorary groups that promote varied combinations of community service, leadership, and academic achievement.
A fraternity or fraternal organization is an organization, society, club or fraternal order traditionally of men associated together for various religious or secular aims. Fraternity in the Western concept developed in the Christian context, notably with the religious orders in the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. The concept was eventually further extended with medieval confraternities and guilds. In the early modern era, these were followed by fraternal orders such as freemasons and odd fellows, along with gentlemen's clubs, student fraternities, and fraternal service organizations. Members are occasionally referred to as a brother or – usually in religious context – Frater or Friar.
The Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection (AWMC), originally the Wesleyan Methodist Church , and also known as the Wesleyan Methodist Church (WMC), is a Methodist denomination within the conservative holiness movement primarily based in the United States, with missions in Peru, Ghana, and Haiti.
The shadow government is a family of conspiracy theories based on the notion that real and actual political power resides not with publicly elected representatives but with private individuals who are exercising power behind the scenes, beyond the scrutiny of democratic institutions. According to this belief, the official elected government is subservient to the shadow government, which is the true executive power.
The history of Methodism in the United States dates back to the mid-18th century with the ministries of early Methodist preachers such as Laurence Coughlan and Robert Strawbridge. Following the American Revolution most of the Anglican clergy who had been in America came back to England. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, sent Thomas Coke to America where he and Francis Asbury founded the Methodist Episcopal Church, which was to later establish itself as the largest denomination in America during the 19th century.
The Bible Methodist Connection of Churches is a Methodist denomination within the conservative holiness movement.
Fraternities and sororities, or Greek letter organizations (GLOs), also collectively referred to as "Greek life", are social organizations at colleges and universities. A form of the social fraternity, they are prominent in the United States and Canada. Similar organizations exist in other countries as well, including the Studentenverbindungen of German-speaking countries or the Goliardia in Italy.
Teetotalism is the practice or promotion of complete personal abstinence from alcoholic beverages. A person who practises teetotalism is called a teetotaler or is simply said to be teetotal. The teetotalism movement was first started in Preston, England, in the early 19th century. The Preston Temperance Society was founded in 1833 by Joseph Livesey, who was to become a leader of the temperance movement and the author of The Pledge: "We agree to abstain from all liquors of an intoxicating quality whether ale, porter, wine or ardent spirits, except as medicine." Today, a number of temperance organizations exist that promote teetotalism as a virtue.
Article 13: Political parties and other organizations whose programs are based upon totalitarian methods and the modes of activity of nazism, fascism and communism, as well as those whose programs or activities sanction racial or national hatred, the application of violence for the purpose of obtaining power or to influence the State policy, or provide for the secrecy of their own structure or membership, shall be prohibited.
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