(CBS News) The Square and Compasses are among the traditional tools of stonemasons. They also form the symbol of a group that has been misunderstood and even maligned for many centuries. This morning, Mo Rocca takes us inside:
It’s the world’s most well-known secret society. Rich with symbols and ritual, it’s the source of legends . . . parodies . . . and conspiracy theories.
Welcome to the world of Freemasonry.
True or false? The Masons are a secret society. “No. That’s false,” said UCLA history professor Margaret Jacob, one of the world’s leading experts on Freemasonry.
True or false? Freemasonry is a religion. No, said Jacob.
True or false? Masons were behind the American Revolution. “False, false, false,” she said.
“Okay, but what about on the dollar bill? The eye and pyramid?” asked Rocca.
“Oh, yeah, the eye, yeah,” said Jacob. “Everybody says it’s Masonic. In fact, it’s commonplace in the 18th century, that particular set of symbols.”
True! Freemasons laid the cornerstone of America — well, at least some of its most iconic structures, like the National Cathedral in Washington and the Statue of Liberty.