Skulls, triangle-shaped hand signs sometimes depicting the all-seeing eye of Egyptian god Horus and other symbolic gestures which many conspiracy theorists interpret as occult imagery, have been showing up in the music videos and artwork of prominent Christian artists such as Toby Mac, Lecrae and Andy Mineo, and fans are concerned that they might be affiliated with a secret society popularly known as the Illuminati — a shadow group they believe runs the world behind closed doors.
Lecrae triggered a frenzy online among Christian fans last month when he posed the triangular hand sign in KB's "Sideways" music video that resembled Jay Z's infamous Roc gesture. Conspiracy theorists such as YouTube's The Vigilant Christian say this is a Freemason and occult hand signal and some fans say Lecrae has connections to the dark side.
"Why is Lecrae throwing that kinda symbolism???? @ 2:32. This is no coincidence anymore [because] he did the same thing in his album 'Anomaly,'" said Bax Storm in the YouTube comments section for "Sideways." "All these symbols are believed to be of satanism which they are. I'm not hating on Lecrae. I'm just concerned."
"I think it's time to start questioning [Reach Records and Lecrae] even though they have Christian lyrics here and there," said user Kevin Smith. "This one's revealing of the wolf in sheep's clothing."
Lecrae, however, laughed off the accusations in a recent Rapzilla interview.
"We're always laughing because [we wonder what fans] are going to find in this [video] to think it's Illuminati. I was thinking [I was representing a] steeple [with my hands]," said Lecrae in an interview. "But I guess triangles represent secret society. So I've got to talk to my kids because they've been doing a lot of geometry lately. I wonder if the teachers are inducting them into some kind of Illuminati activity."
The rapper also addressed the use of the symbols in a 2014 interview with CP Voice.
"[Symbols] either represent something or they don't. What they represent is really in the heart and the mind and the eye of each individual beholder. So where as in one country [I can hold up the peace sign] and that means peace, but in another country this is a derogatory symbol. So for me, when I see art, I see art and if it doesn't have a meaning it doesn't. I don't take it to mean some kind of cultish symbol. And maybe that was the creator's intention, but that doesn't have any weigh-in on my life," he said. "I believe the Earth is the Lord's and everything there in. God made everything. It's ours for the taking to use however we want to use it as long as it honors him."
Mineo and Toby Mac came under similar criticism for depicting the all-seeing eye on the artwork for their albums "Neverland" and "Eye On It." The criticism forced a response from Mineo's label Reach Records which justified the use of the questionable symbols with Scripture.
"The drawing of an eye, a skill, etc. are all good things that God is ultimately responsible for designing and are not made evil because of their association to evil," Reach Records noted in January 2014 statement. "The world's perversion of these things does not overcome the good intent of God's craftsmanship. They work off of borrowed capital and should not have the final say on the things God has made."
Mark Dice, a Christian Internet personality with 350,000 YouTube subscribers and author of "Illuminati in the Music Industry" said the accusations against Toby Mac aren't new.
"I've certainly heard the allegations about Toby Mac being affiliated with [the Illuminati] simply because of the artwork on his album 'Eye on It,' but this is just an example of how out of control this whole Illuminati in pop culture thing has gotten," Dice told CP on Friday.
"The Bible says to judge people by their fruits, and most of the fruit from most mainstream artists is rotten and covered with maggots. Just because an artist uses a triangle or an eye in their artwork or music video doesn't mean they've sold their soul to the devil or are working with the Illuminati."
Dice said, however, that Lecrae's use of the triangular hand sign "signifies allegiance to the secret society."
The society, he says, uses rap artists to promote hedonistic and materialistic lifestyles and represents "ultimate power."
"The more wealthy and powerful the artists appear to the audience, the more the general public are going to put them on a pedestal and see them as virtually divine," said Dice.
Despite the speculation about the Illuminati group, however, there is no concrete evidence that the group even exists.
Brent Morris, director of communications at the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, told CP that conspiracy theorists like Dice have interpreted the image of the all-seeing eye on the U.S. dollar as the eye of the ancient Egyptian god Horus, but it is an inaccurate interpretation.
"[The Eye of Horus], that's not what the designers called it, and that's not what the State Department calls it, that's what ignorant people call it. The proceedings of the Continental Congress where they debated the design of the dollar bill is public information," said Morris.
"Now, you can assume the people that described it were lying; you can assume that the people wrote it down were lying. But what they said and what was written down — it's the Eye of Providence. [Its meaning is in the book of] Proverbs. The eye of God is on the wicked and the just. God is overlooking all of our actions," he said.
Morris further explained that the Freemasons do use secret signs and passwords to identify each other, but they are primarily used in Masonic Lodge meetings.
"It looks like, as near as we can tell from history, sometime back in the 1600s the Guild of Freemasons needed to develop a way for their members to identify themselves," he continued.
"Because if you were a baker, a brewer or a miller you'd spend your entire working career in one village and never have to leave. If you're a Mason, when they finished building the church or extension of the town hall or bridge, there's not any Mason work left for you," he continued.
"You've got to move to another job site. And so the trade guilds, particularly in Great Britain, seemed to develop [these] secret passwords where I would show up at the job site, you'd be the master Mason at the job site and I'd go up and whisper the secret password in your ear and you'd know I was a member of the guild," he added.
Morris also clarified the meaning of the Masonic Square and Compasses which many conspiracy theorists believe the hand signal used by Jay Z represents.
"The square reminds us to square our actions by the square of virtue. The compass teaches us to circumscribe our passions. The G in the middle stands for geometry and God," he said.