I-Team: Inside the Nevada Freemasons

Published 10/08 2010 01:03PM

Updated 10/08 2010 03:33PM

LAS VEGAS -- For the first time in more than a century, The Nevada Masons are opening their doors to the public. The world's oldest fraternal organization has in recent years been the subject of Hollywood thrillers and best-selling novels. But its true mysteries, say its members, will be revealed for the first time this weekend.

In the Hollywood movie, National Treasure, Benjamin Franklin Gates aka Nicholas Cage deciphers ancient riddles on a quest to find priceless artifacts hidden by a secret society.

The Freemasons, in the movie, are a powerful fraternity with members like the hero's namesake, Benjamin Franklin.

Presidents, astronauts? Yes. Entertainers? Many, many entertainers. According to Grand Master Carl "Bud" Banks, the fiction in National Treasure, in some respects, reflects the history of the organization.

"A lot of mystery, a lot of intrigue was established, creating a lot of interest. Well boy, there's got to be more to this and for that reason, it did create a lot of interest in people wanting to know more about freemasonry," said Banks.

To reveal the mysteries of the medieval brotherhood, Nevada's Masonic temples will open their doors to the public for the first time in 145 years. Banks gave the I-Team a personal tour a few days early.

"When we come into the lodge room, we all sit. Like we would in the theatre, with the exception of the officers who are already at their stations."

The fraternity's symbology and ritual have long been fodder for conspiracy theorists. Yet with the enthusiasm of a teacher, Banks explains the meaning behind its many symbols like the square and compass. The tools of its founders framing a "G" for geometry and for God. Freemasons require a belief in a supreme being but not in any particular religion.

"We have no secrets. The secrets that we do have are not secrets, they're modes of recognition by which we can know one man from another as a mason. But our life is an open bible. And if you don't believe it, go to the Internet," he said.

At its core, the Freemasons are a civic organization devoted to charity, fraternal friendship and personal growth. More than 4,000 strong in Nevada, 4 million worldwide, Banks points out its treasures are its members.

The Freemasons will host their open house Saturday, Oct. 9. from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. You can click here for more information.

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