“I just cleaned 3 satanic club houses and nobody could do anything,” Ben Kohlman posted on Facebook on Tuesday morning.
Kohlman, 42, has been charged with arson in one of the three blazes, and is expected to face similar charges in the attacks on the other two buildings, the Vancouver Sun reported. And although police have not announced a motive in the arsons, Kohlman’s Facebook page contains anti-Freemason attacks that he shared from conspiracy pages, particularly pages about flat earth theory.
The incident wouldn’t even be the first time in recent years that a flat earther attempted to burn down a Masonic lodge. An Australian flat earth convention went off the rails in 2018 when an organizer was accused of the same crime.
Flat earthers believe—wrongly—that the planet is shaped like a disk and that malevolent figures are trying to trick people into believing they live on a globe. But the conspiracy movement has not reached a consensus about who, exactly, is behind the nefarious plot. While some flat earthers blame the government or invoke anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, others falsely accuse the Freemasons (a fraternal society) of concealing the earth’s true shape.
Conspiracy theories about groups like Freemasons are not without consequence. The group has been falsely accused of secretive schemes, leading to Freemasons’ persecution by the Nazi regime, during which fascists linked the fraternity to Judaism in order to allege a “Jewish-Masonic” plot.
Mark Sargent, a prominent flat earther who does not advocate arson, told The Daily Beast that Freemasons had attracted some flat earthers’ attention because the group had the reputation of being a secret society, while still maintaining a public presence.
“A large section of Flat Earth members are grounded in the general conspiracy world, which means they are always aware of different societies that have been accused of keeping world secrets,” Sargent told The Daily Beast via email. “I feel bad for the Masons because they are by far the most public of the secret societies. The lodges in the U.S., for example are usually large, stone, easy to spot buildings, and are in just about every town you can think of.”
Also easy to spot were the three buildings around Vancouver, all of which burned in the early hours of March 30. Although no one was injured, one building was completely destroyed. Approximately 40 minutes after the last fire, Kohlman wrote his Facebook post bragging about “cleaning satanic club houses,” CTV News first reported.
It was unclear on Thursday whether Kohlman, who was arrested in Burnaby, has a lawyer.