What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry aims to promote Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love among its members. It is, by definition, a fraternity; comprised of men from every race, religion, opinion, and background who are brought together as Brothers to develop and strengthen the bonds of friendship.
With over 3 million members, Freemasons belong to the largest and oldest fraternal organization in the world. Freemasonry proposes to “make good men better” by teaching – with metaphors from geometry and architecture – about building values based on great universal truths.
Is Masonry a secret society?
No. It is sometimes said that Freemasonry is a “society with secrets, not a secret society.” In point of fact, however, any purported Masonic “secrets” were made public several centuries ago in London newspapers, and today can be found in the Library of Congress, on the Internet, and in many books on the subject. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “The great secret of Freemasonry is that there is no secret at all.”
Where did Freemasonry come from?
Part of the mystique of Freemasonry can be attributed to speculation about its roots. Despite many theories, researchers have been unable to conclusively determine exactly when, where, how, and why Freemasonry originated.
The order is thought to have arisen from the English and Scottish guilds of practicing stonemasons and cathedral builders in the Middle Ages, but certain Masonic documents actually trace the sciences of geometry and masonry to the time of ancient Egypt, and some historians say that Masonry has its real roots in antiquity, even before great civilizations arose.
The formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717 marks the beginning of the Modern (or “Speculative”) era of Freemasonry, when membership was no longer limited to actual working stonemasons. These “Accepted” Masons eventually adopted more enlightened philosophies, and turned what was a tradesmen’s organization into a fraternity for moral edification, intellectual recitation, benevolent service, and gentlemanly socialization.
Where can I get more information about the Freemasons?
The best way to get information is to talk to a Mason. You may have some of the same questions as those below – so take a look at the FAQ’s.
If you want more historical information, Mark Tabbert’s book, American Freemasons, is a good place to start. More lighthearted, yet accurate and thorough, is Freemasons for Dummies by Christopher Hodapp. Still another excellent resource is the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Freemasonry by S. Brent Morris.
All three of these books are available in your local library or bookstore, or you may find them at online stores like Amazon and Chapter.
How do I become a Freemason?
Ask! Because Masons have not traditionally recruited members and do not hold public meetings, there has long been confusion about how to join the Fraternity. Should I wait to be asked? Does someone ask me, or do I need to ask them?
Today, because of widespread interest in the Fraternity – along with the breadth of both information and misinformation found on the Internet – the content on this site was assembled to help men understand the membership process.
Most men still begin the process of becoming a Mason by simply asking-just as Washington, Franklin, Hancock, Revere and most every Mason from the past to the present day has done.
Membership is open to men of every race, religion, culture, and income level. The basic requirements for membership are listed here.
Men usually seek out a Lodge near their home or workplace or ask a Mason they know to recommend a Lodge to them. Masonry is not for everyone, however. It does not purport to reform bad men, only to provide a lifelong opportunity for good men to improve themselves and the world around them.
The Masonic Fraternity seeks only men of good character as members. In fact, Masonic Lodges are required to review every applicant’s moral and social character, and members must be unanimously balloted upon in a Lodge by all members present (and yes, the centuries-old “blackball” voting system is still in use).
Can Freemasonry actually make me a better person?
No organization can guarantee to make anyone better, but the timeless values and important truths that are taught as part of the Masonic tradition have proven to inspire, challenge, and develop moral, social and leadership qualities in men. The best known American Mason, George Washington, personifies the application of the Fraternity’s character-building principles in one’s life.
Perhaps one of the things that has kept Masonry a strong and vital organization for so long is the fact that the Fraternity proposed only to “make good men better,” not to make bad men good. This distinction is critical in that from its earliest days the Craft wisely refrained from involving itself in rehabilitation programs, which more appropriately gave remained the purview of both religion and the criminal justice system.
Today, good men from every walk of life are striving to improve themselves in Masonic Lodges the world over. If you would like to become part of this honorable tradition, we welcome your interest.
Is there a difference between Masons and Freemasons?
The names are interchangeable. The term Freemason is often used today in public to differentiate the fraternity from actual operative stonemasons, and is said to more accurately describe the enlightened “freethinking” of the membership.
Is Freemasonry a charity?
Not in the traditional sense. Masonic principles do however teach the value of relief or charity, and Freemasons donate thousands of hours of volunteer time and more than $2 million PER DAY, of which more than 70 percent goes to assist the general public.
Among the Masons’ good works are the Shriners Hospitals for Children with two dozen sites throughout North America; well over 200 Scottish Rite Learning Centers helping children with dyslexia, speech and hearing disorders; the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, which funds treatment and surgery for children and adults with vision disorders; and the Grottoes of North American Humanitarian Foundation, which provides dental care for special needs children.
There are numerous other worthy causes and groups that local Lodges contribute to and support in their communities, either independently or in conjunction with the Grand Lodge. In addition, Masons are, collectively, one of the largest groups of blood donors in the Province of British Columbia and Yukon.
Why aren’t there any famous women who are Masons?
Freemasonry is, by definition, a fraternity that aims to promote Brotherly Love and Friendship among its members. It is a worldwide organization that draws together men from every country, race, religion, ethnicity, opinion, and background, and helps cultivate and promote better relationships and bonds of friendships among them.
Freemasonry doesn’t focus on Friendship and Brotherly Love because it believes that only relations between men are important, or that relations between men and women are unimportant, but because hope for peace and harmony in the world is improved when men can put aside their differences and come together as friends.
Masons also appreciate and value relations with women. We sponsor and participate in Masonic related organizations such as the Order of Eastern Star, whose members include women, as well as a female youth organizations: the International Order of Job’s Daughters.
Just because the “secrets” have been made public doesn’t mean everyone knows the mystery of Masonry! In fact, much of the appeal of the Craft is that the great truths revealed in Masonic ritual can take years to understand. Like the building of any great structure, the powerful metaphors and symbols of Masonry are used to build character – one principle at a time.