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Secret society

From Academic Kids

A secret society is a social organization that requires its members to conceal certain activities—such as rites of initiation or club ceremonies—from outsiders. Members may be required to conceal or deny their membership, and are often sworn to hold the society's secrets by an oath. The term "secret society" is often used to describe fraternal organizations (e.g. Freemasonry) that may have secret ceremonies, but is also commonly applied to organizations ranging from the common and innocuous (collegiate fraternities) to mythical organizations described in conspiracy theories as immensely powerful, with self-serving financial or political agendas, global reach, and often satanic beliefs.

Historically, secret societies are often the subject of suspicion and speculation from non-members, and as such have aroused nervousness from outsiders since at least the time of the ancient Greeks. For this reason, secret societies are illegal in several countries. In the European Union, Poland has made the ban a part of its constitution. Article 13 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland states:

"Political parties and other organizations whose programmes are based upon totalitarian methods and the modes of activity of nazism, fascism and communism, as well as those whose programmes 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."

Some secret organizations exploit secrecy as a means to further political or criminal agendas, including such historical examples as the Know Nothing party in the United States, and the Mafia, respectively.

Many student societies established on university campuses [1] (http://mill-valley.freemasonry.biz/marin_greek_letters.htm) have been considered secret societies. Some collegiate secret societies are the Flat Hat Club (1750) and Phi Beta Kappa (1776), both founded at William & Mary. The most famous member of the FHC was Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States. In correspondence, Jefferson noted that the Flat Hat Club served "no useful object." Others are the Order of the Bull's Blood (1834) at Rutgers University and the Bishop James Madison Society (1812) at The College of William & Mary. The most famous collegiate secret society is the Skull and Bones (1832) at Yale University.


Contents

List of Secret Societies

Business, International or Non-Governmental Organizations

While not self-styled as secret societies, these groups qualify through a quantitative denotative interpretation.

Student Societies

Fraternal Organizations

Criminal Organizations

Historical Secret Societies

Revolutionary or Underground Organizations

Alleged secret societies

In Works of Fiction and Popular Culture

eo:Sekreta societo fr:Société secrète nl:Lijst van geheime genootschappen

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