One of the world’s biggest hoaxers was Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Poges, who was born in Marseilles, France, in 1854.
After a period of writing pornography, followed by making a paltry living at composing anti-Catholic tracts, he turned on the Freemasons.
Unlike the Church, here was a group he could write almost anything about and get away with it, because he believed the Masons would not fight back.
His ultimate goal was to create a hoax so ridiculous that it would make Catholics who believed in it look foolish.
Under the name of ‘Leo Taxil’ he invented an elaborate and completely fictitious, super-secret order of Freemasonry called the Palladium, which supposedly conducted sexual orgies, performed ritual murders, and worshipped a demon called Baphomet.
Not one word of his anti-Masonic rant was true.
There was no Masonic religion. No killings. No sexual orgies.
To his delight,Taxil became the darling of the Catholic Church. After claiming he was a good Catholic concerned only to maintain the Church and expose wickedness, Taxil was granted an audience with Pope Leo XII.
Two bishops believed the things Taxil wrote, and told their flocks that everything about Freemasonry must be satanic.
On 19 April 1897, Taxil rented the auditorium of the Paris Geographic Society and filled the hall with people curious to hear his latest revelations. When he spoke, Taxil dropped a bombshell.
Everything he had written, he said, had been carefully-designed and intended to humiliate the Catholic Church.
Taxil had made a lot of money with his books and had managed to thumb his nose at both the Freemasons and the Church.
He retired a wealthy man, and died in 1907.
Unfortunately, once lies are started, they are hard to expunge. Despite a 32-page confession written by Taxil and printed in the newspapers, there were people who preferred to believe his hoaxes. Some of his lies about Freemasonry, continue to be repeated today by people who should know better.