Believe it or not, it has to do with its origins in Biblical literature and the infamous Leo Taxil Hoax.
To properly tell the story, we need to start with a French tabloid journalist Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pages. Unwilling to write all that, he adopted the pen name Leo Taxil and used his writings to lash out at the Catholic Church for which he had little love. In late 19th century Europe, the Freemasons were treated with a great deal of animosity because the countries’ elites pinned the responsibility for the American Revolutionary War and the French Revolution on the elite gentlemen’s club that evolved from a stone masons union which often worked on churches financed by the Knights Templar. Some popes said that the Masons were Satanic because they didn’t care for the authority of the Vatican and leaned towards Deism.
Taxil decided to play a trick on the Catholic animosity towards the Freemasons and concocted the character of a woman named Diana Vaughan in a book about Satanism. Vaughan was supposedly involved with the Masons to such an extent that she knew many of their innermost secrets. She met incarnate demons summoned by Masons during their black masses. She saw a secret factory in the arctic where anti-Church and pro-Satan propaganda was being printed for all the world to see. The lodge masters talked to her about their plan to unite the world under a “pure Luciferian doctrine.” As bizarre and outlandish as those claims were, the Pope Leo XIII gave them credence and promoted them as warnings about Satanists in the midst of good, God-fearing people.
Before writing the book, Taxil underwent a public conversion to Catholicism and swore to repair the damage to the faith he did with the tabloids about popes and their indulgences he had written prior. His books were seen as a genuine investigative work. With the existing disdain for everything Masonic, people wanted to believe. Knowingly or not, Taxil’s Devil in the Nineteenth Century played on two lines of Revelations 13 from which the concept of the anti-Christ arose.
13:7 – And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them:
and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
13:8 – And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Finally, Taxil assembled an audience of thousands including high church officials to introduce Diana Vaughan to the world. Instead he alone came up to the stage and announced that he’s taken all who were gathered for a ride, sharing his amazement that so many people could fall for claims this wild and thanking the church for giving him so much promotion and credibility. With that, he bowed and left the stunned audience.
But his hoax didn’t die. In fundamentalist religious circles, it still remains seen as proof that there are nefarious groups who want to unite the world and summon Satan to rule over all of humanity. As new clubs and societies were created for wealthy and influential people to meet, talk in private and share ideas, they were lumped with the Freemasons and their agenda was immediately assumed to be sinister. This is a part of why many archconservatives fear a New World Order. Conspiracy theorists of recent times have taken this fear and spun it to include governments they didn’t trust, corporations they didn’t like and alien rumors by which they were fascinated.