It's quite true that no good Anti-Mason discussion can take place without a lengthy diabribe on General Pike. If you'll pardon my pun.. I'll just shed some "light" on this matter.
Albert Pike was a Confederate General, and the leader of the Southron Juristiction of the Scott-Rite Freemasons. He was in control therefore, of approximately 20% of all masons in the US at the time of the War of Southron Independence.
Calling Pike an educated man is rather like calling Marx a Socialist. He was just educated. He was consumed by learning and teaching. He was a devout trinitarian christian (ya think Davis appointed atheists?) who writes extensively about his faith in the very book most often used to damn him, and freemasonry in general; Morals and Dogma.
Pike's area of academic interest was religious history. Which at the time, was not studied. While you can get a PHD in such studies at every Ivy League university today, such was not the case in 1850. Knowledge of such things was largely considered heresy. Pike correctly believed that ancient faiths affected modern ones. He asserted that Muhammed was influenced by the Jews he met on trading caravans, and that Moses was influenced by his egyptian family. Reason dictates this.
But lets get down to brass tacks. None of you have read the whole of Morals and Dogma. You've read what others have said about it. What others have said about it, tends to focus on the famous "Lucifer Quote".
Time to hurt some feelings.
You know that King James Version of the Bible on your desk? It's flawed. Seriously flawed.
The word "lucifer" which appears in Isaiah is a latin word which literally means, "Morning Star". The story in which it appears is about the fall of an angel from Heaven, but about the fall of an ancient babylonian king. This is why other versions do not use the word "lucifer" at all.
Pike was well aware of this. Reading the quote in context... and by that I mean the sentence before, and the sentence after, the meaning becomes quite clear. Pike was making fun of the KJV, and the fundementalists who preach its perfection. He was using the word "lucifer" in the scholarly sense.
In fact, this KJV mistake was central to Pike, and other masons of the time, as it exposed the fundamentalists. It became a bit of an inside joke, where they continually used the word "lucifer" in the correct way... The Morning Star. They used it interchangably with intellectualism.
And of course... before I forget... maybe I should also point out the most important part of Morals and Dogma; the preface.
In preparing this work, the Grand Commander [Pike] has been about equally Author and Compiler; since he has extracted quite half its contents from the works of the best writers and most philosophic or eloquent thinkers. Perhaps it would have been better and more acceptable if he had extracted more and written less.
The teachings of these readings are not sacramental, so far as they go beyond the realm of Morality into those other domains of Thought and Truth. The ancient and accepted Scottish Rite uses the word "Dogma" in its true sense, of doctrine, or teaching; and is not dogmatic in the odious sense of that term.
Everyone is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound.
General Pike was a deeply educated man, and a prolific writer at a time when prolific writing was the norm. He was given to a ponderous style. He was a practical joker, and had a strange sense of humor and wit.
He was also however, a devout warrior for Christ, and the Southron cause. He was not perfect. He was not the central figure in Freemasonry even in his prime. He was an important figure, but he was never the Pope of Freemasonry, as some would have you believe.