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- Freemasonry – Founded in: England 1717. Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest fraternal organizations. While it requires its members to profess belief in a supreme being, it does not promote any specific religious practice or dogma. Since its establishment, Freemasonry has been at the center of numerous conspiracy theories, often attributed to its secretive nature and the significant influence of many of its members.
- Illuminati – Founded in: Germany 1776. The Illuminati were a society of intellectuals who wished to break free from church rule and state interference, promoting the freedoms of speech and equality. Each member pledged commitment to a synchronicity of purpose without ulterior motives. After its dissolution, it has been attributed as an omnipotent organization controlling world events, thanks to various works of fiction and conspiracy theories.
- Skull and Bones – Founded in: United States 1832. Skull and Bones is an undergraduate senior secret student society at Yale University. Its membership roster includes some prominent figures, such as former Presidents, William Howard Taft and George W. Bush. It is famously known for its rituals, secrecy and the potential influence of its members.
- The Knights Templar – Founded in: France 1119. The Knights Templar was a medieval Christian military order aimed at protecting Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land following the First Crusade. The organization was hugely powerful and wealthy, but ultimately disbanded by the Pope in 1312 amidst rumors of secret rituals.
- The Bilderberg Group – Founded in: Netherlands 1954. The Bilderberg Group is an annual meeting of around 150 of the world’s most influential figures, including politicians, business leaders, academics, and more. This secretive meeting is closed off to the public and press, which has led to many conspiracy theories regarding its intentions.
- Rosicrucian Order – Founded in: Germany 1614. Rosicrucianism made an appearance in the early 17th century and sparked considerable interest among Europeans. Said to be engaged in the study of ancient mystical, philosophical, and religious doctrines, the society’s main goals are to promote peace, personal study and spiritual growth.
- Opus Dei – Founded in: Spain 1928. Opus Dei, or “Work of God”, is a personal prelature within the Roman Catholic Church. It has been endorsed by many Catholic leaders but criticized by others due to allegations of secretive practices and encouraging acts of mortification.
- The Order of the Dragon – Founded in: Hungary 1408. This monarchical chivalric order was formed to protect the interests of Catholicism and to fight against the Ottoman Empire. Members, which include famous Wallachian ruler Vlad the Impaler, were committed to maintaining the faith and crusading against its enemies.