No secret society list would be complete without it, the Freemasons, a venerable institution that traces its origins back to the 13th century as a trade guild of stonemasons. Their influence has waned throughout the years but they remain one of the most famous fraternal organizations in the world, with an estimated membership of 5 million. The Masons have always been shrouded in secrecy, though less so now than before, and in political controversy and intrigue. They have been accused of corruption, satanism, scandal and political interference. It’s not surprising since they counted amongst their ranks influential people such as Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, James Buchanan, Bob Dole, Henry Ford, Ben Franklin, George Washington and many more. Polemics aside, what is true is that the Masons were created to be a brotherhood whose members share certain key philosophical ideas, among them a belief in a supreme being. They place emphasis on moral uprightness and have become known for their charitable work and community service.