23 Most Powerful Secret Societies

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Source: Shaun C. Williams / Flickr

1. Ancient Order of Hibernians
> Founded: 1836
> Mission: Protecting Catholic churches from anti-Catholic forces
> Well-known members: John F. Kennedy, Fulton Sheen, Pat O’Brien

The AOH is the oldest Irish Catholic fraternal organization in the United States and was established to shield Catholics from bigotry in the U.S. in the 19th century. The organization, whose members include John F. Kennedy, traces its roots to secret societies created in Ireland more than 300 years ago to protect Catholics from British oppression.

Source: Chas Weidner Photo. / Wikimedia Commons

2. Ancient Order of United Workmen
> Founded: 1868
> Mission: Providing financial protection for working class people
> Well-known members: N/A

The Ancient Order of United Workmen was formed as the Industrial Revolution was changing the lives of the working class. The fraternal organization was created to provide financial assistance to working people, such as cash for burial services, and resolving differences arising between labor and its employer.

Source: Michiel1972 / Wikimedia Commons

3. Bilderberg Group
> Founded: 1954
> Mission: Create “an aristocracy of purpose,” Atlantic Ocean alliance
> Well-known members: Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Prince Charles

The Bilderberg Group was formed to create dialogue among political leaders, academics, and industry executives. Its explicit purpose is to ensure cooperation and harmonious relationships between North America and Europe. Participants in the meetings are free to use information gleaned from the event, but the identity of speakers and participants remains secret.

Source: Jack London / Wikimedia Commons

4. Bohemian Club
> Founded: 1872
> Mission: To escape uncivilized interests
> Well-known members: Presidents, musicians, oil barons

The Bohemian Club is a group of the rich and the powerful who meet at the famous Bohemian Grove in late July. The grove is located in northern California, and members stay in tents and cabins and informally discuss the issues of the day. Because of the many powerful people who meet there, it’s rumored that the retreat is where the elite go to decide the direction of the U.S. However, it is likely just a place to relax and drink.

Source: Paul Lacroix / Wikimedia Commons

5. Freemasonry
> Founded: 1717
> Mission: Fraternal friendship
> Well-known members: George Washington, Richard Pryor, Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire, Harry Houdini

Since its founding, freemasonry has been shrouded in mystery and mystique. Its members, who number 3.6 million worldwide, have been accused of seeking a world order. Those claims have never been founded on any evidence, and freemasons say on their website that “freemasonry is not and never can be a replacement” for faith, family, and occupation.