Mention the name 'Salem' to some people and the first reaction might be the town Salem, of which we write more about at the bottom of this page.
But the Salem Cross has nothing to do with that town; rather it is a decoration used in Freemasonry.
The Salem Cross
Freemason symbols are ubiquitous in their jewellery: cufflinks, rings, tie-pins, lapel pins, and so on. Many of the designs stem from symbols of the Templar Knights (those ever-fashionable standard-bearers of conspiracy theory).
Royal Order of the Red Branch of Eri
Letter heading of the Scottish Rite Freemasons, 33rd Degree
Like the three-barred Papal Cross, the Salem Cross signifies the ultimate rank of the bearer.
It has been adopted by the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, and also Grand Masters of the modern Knights Templar. (See also the Masonic Cross and Crown)
Other triple-barred crosses
Whilst we're here, for the benefit of those who came to this page looking for a bit more about Salem town; it's in Massachusetts, northeast United States.
Initially, the town was known as Naumkeag. Governance of the district changed hands amicably (from Roger Conant to John Endicott in 1632) and the town was renamed 'Salem' in recognition of this peaceful takeover. The Hebrew for 'peace' is shalom and 'Salem' also forms part of the name 'Jerusalem'.
It was not always at peace, however. In the late 17th century, for political, social and religious reasons several people were executed for witchcraft. Today, many feel the present tourism capitalizing on those events trivializes the tragedy of the Salem witch trials.
This leads to the question: In the future, will similarly themed tourist centres be opened in places like southern Nigeria? In the Nigerian Delta today, witch hunters burn, mutilate and execute young children who are accused of being witches and blamed for the economic plight of villagers. See Child's Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN)