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Knights of Columbus

Knights of Columbus


Sometimes, those seeking to encourage hatred and dissent try to ferment trouble between groups whom they think are, or should be, ‘natural enemies’. This tactic sometimes garners interest but in the end, is always revealed as a hate tactic. Such have been the attempts at pitting the honorable Catholic religious fraternity, the Knights of Columbus, against Freemasonry.

The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic Family Fraternal Service Organization. Founded in 1882, there are now nearly 11,000 councils and nearly 1.6 million members plus their families – approximately 4.5 million people total – many of whom are actively involved in volunteer service programs for the Catholic Church, their communities, their families, young people, and one another.

Source: Knights of Columbus Internet Site

A bogus Knights of Columbus oath was circulated in the early 1900s as an anti-Catholic tactic designed to inflame Protestants and others. Although branded by a US Congressional Committee in 1913 as a fake used by American bigots, the bogus oath was used against Democratic candidate Alfred E. Smith in the 1928 presidential campaign and again against John F. Kennedy in 1960 in the West Virginia Democratic primary.

This oath resurfaces from time to time to be used by – strangely enough – individuals whose hatred for the Catholic Church seems exceeded only by their hatred for Freemasonry. The fake oath reads:

“I do promise and declare that I will, when opportunity presents, make and wage relentless war, secretly and openly, against all heretics, Protestants and Masons, as I am directed to do, to extirpate them from the face of the whole earth; and that I will spare neither age, sex, nor condition, and that I will hang, burn, waste, boil, flay, strangle, and bury alive those infamous heretics; rip up the stomachs and wombs of their women, and crush their infants’ heads against the walls in order to annihilate their execrable race….”

The Knights of Columbus organization has a proud history. There are many Masons who are also involved members of the KofC and it is not unusual for KofC Councils and Masonic Lodges to share an annual ‘Fellowship Breakfast’ or other activities in the interests of fraternalism.

Source: They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes and Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions by Paul F. Boller, Jr. and John George, Oxford University Press, 1989.


(This is an extract of the Congressional Record of the House of Representatives dated February 15, 1913, where the oath is entered as purported to be of the Knights of Columbus).

“I, …………, now in the presence of Almighty God, the blessed Virgin Mary, the blessed St. John the Baptist, the Holy Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, and all the saints, sacred host of heaven, and to you, my Ghostly Father, the superior general of the Society of Jesus rounded by St. Ignatius Loyola, in the pontification of Paul the III and continued to the present, do by the womb at the Virgin, the matrix of God, and the rod of Jesus Christ, declare and swear that His Holiness the Pope, is Christ’s vice regent and is the true and only head of the Catholic or Universal Church throughout the earth; and that by virtue of the keys of binding and loosing given His Holiness by my Savior, Jesus Christ, he hath power to depose heretical kings, princes, States, Commonwealths, and Governments and they may be safely destroyed. Therefore to the utmost of ray power I will defend this doctrine and His Holiness’s right and custom against all usurpers of the heretical or Protestant authority whatever, especially the Lutheran Church of Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway and the now pretended authority and Churches of England and Scotland, and the branches of same now established in Ireland and on the Continent of America and elsewhere, and all adherents in regard that they may be usurped and heretical, opposing the sacred Mother Church of Rome.”

“I do now denounce and disown any allegiance as due to any heretical king, prince, or State, named Protestant or Liberals, or obedience to any of their laws, magistrates, or officers.”

“I do further declare that the doctrine of the Churches of England and Scotland, of the Calvinists, Huguenots, and others of the name of Protestants or Masons to be damnable, and they themselves to be damned who will not forsake the same.”

“I do further declare that I will help assist, and advise all or any of His Holiness’s agents, in any place where I should be, in Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Ireland, or America, or in any other kingdom or territory I shall come to and do my utmost to extirpate the heretical Protestant or Masonic doctrines and to destroy all their pretended powers, legal or otherwise.”

“I do further promise and declare that, notwithstanding I am dispensed with to assume any religion heretical for the propagation of the Mother Church’s interest to keep secret and private all her agents’ counsels from time to time, as they intrust me and not divulge, directly or indirectly, by word, writing, or circumstances whatever but to execute all that should be proposed, given in charge or discovered unto me by you my Ghostly Father, or any of this sacred order.”

“I do further promise and declare that I will have no opinion or will of my own or any mental reservation whatsoever, even as a corpse or cadaver (perinde ac cadaver), but will unhesitatingly obey each and every command that I may receive from my superiors in the militia of the Pope and of Jesus Christ.”

“That I will go to any part of the world whithersoever I may be sent, to the frozen regions north, jungles of India, to the centers of civilization of Europe, or to the wild haunts of the barbarous savages of America without murmuring or repining, and will be submissive in all things whatsoever is communicated to me.”

“I do further promise and declare that I will, when opportunity presents, make and wage relentless war, secretly and openly against all heretics, Protestants and Masons, as I am directed to do to extirpate them from the face of the whole earth; and that I will spare neither age, sex, or condition, and that will hang, bum, waste, boil, flay, strangle, and bury alive these infamous heretics; rip up the stomachs and wombs of their women, and  crush their infants’ heads against the wails in order to annihilate their execrable race. That when the same can not be done openly, I will secretly use the poisonous cup, the strangulation cord, the steel of the poniard, or the leaden bullet, regardless of the honor, rank, dignity, or authority of the persons, whatever may be their condition in life, either public or private, as I at any time may be directed so to do by any agents of the Pope or superior of the Brotherhood of the Holy Father of the Society of Jesus.”

“In confirmation of which I hereby dedicate my life, soul, and all corporal powers, and with the dagger which I now receive I will subscribe my name written in my blood in testimony thereof; and should I prove false or weaken in my determination, may my brethren and fellow soldiers of the militia of the Pope cut off my hands and feet and my throat from ear to ear, my belly opened and sulphur burned therein with all the punishment that can be inflicted upon me on earth and my soul shall be tortured by demons in eternal hell forever.”

“That I will in voting always vote for K. of C, in preference to a Protestant, especially a Mason,  and that I will leave my party so to do; that if two Catholics are on the ticket I willsatisfy myself which is the better supporter of Mother Church and vote accordingly.”

“That I will not deal with or employ a Protestant if in my power to deal with or employ a Catholic. That I will place Catholic girls in Protestant families that a weekly report may be made of the inner movements of the heretics.”

“That I will provide myself with arms and ammunition that I may be in readiness when the word is passed, or I am commanded to defend the church either as an individual or with the militia of the Pope.”

“All of which I, …………, do swear by the blessed Trinity and blessed sacrament which I am now to receive to perform and on part to keep this, my oath.”

“In testimony hereof, I take this most holy and blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist and witness the same further with my name written with the point of this dagger dipped in my own blood and seal in the face of this holy sacrament.”

On the Knights of Columbus oath:


Passed from hand to hand under tables, slipped under doors, sent anonymously through the mails, an old and notorious piece of anti-Catholic propaganda turned up last week in scattered cities and towns, mostly in the South. Part of a spreading anti-Catholic campaign against Presidential Candidate John F. Kennedy, the document purports to be the oath of the Knights of Columbus, a 1-million member-fraternal order of Roman Catholic men (Kennedy is a member). Sample quote from one version of the fake oath: “I do further promise and declare that I will, when opportunity presents, wage relentless war, secretly and openly, against all heretics, Protestants, and Masons, as I am directed to do, to extirpate them from the face of the whole earth.”  This fraud, like the bogus Protocols of the Elders of Zion used against the Jews, has been spread by bigots for almost half a century. It first turned up in a congressional election in 1912 in a lunatic-fringe tract mailed from Aurora, Mo. The following year, a congressional committee investigating unfair election practices condemned the oath as a fabrication. At that time, the false oath was read into the Congressional Record, a fact that present day bigots cite to lend it an air of authenticity. Ku Klux Klanners circulated it against Al Smith in 1928. It turned up again last spring during the West Virginia primary battle between Jack Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. A scattering of clergymen have recently quoted it in sermons, and it has been printed in newsletters of Southern Baptist Churches in Rainelle, W. Va.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Greensboro, N.C.; and Knoxville, Tenn. One clergyman of the Nazarene Baptist Church, W. L. King, who quoted the oath and refused to retract when its fraud was pointed out to him, last week was charged with criminal libel in the magistrate’s court at West View, Pa.  Full text of the actual “obligation” taken by members of the Knights of Columbus’ top Fourth Degree: I swear to support the Constitution of the United States. I pledge myself, as a Catholic citizen and a Knight of Columbus, fully to enlighten myself upon my duties as a citizen and conscientiously perform them entirely in the interest of my country, regardless of all personal consequences. I pledge myself to do all in my power to preserve the integrity and purity of the ballot and to promote respect for law and order. I promise to practice my religion consistently and faithfully, and to so conduct myself in public affairs and in the exercise of public virtue as to reflect nothing but credit upon our Holy Church, to the end that She may flourish and our country prosper to the greater honor and glory of God. (Time magazine, August 29, 1960, p.15)

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