Frequently Asked Questions
There is a lot of misinformation out there about Freemasonry. In fact, there is more incorrect information out there than correct. That is just the nature of a society with secrets. Our hope is that this page clarifies some of your most basic questions. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact us.
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry, sometimes just called Masonry, is the word's oldest and largest Fraternity. It aims to promote Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love among its members -- men from every race, religion, opinion, and background -- who are brought together as Brothers to develop and strengthen the bonds of friendship. There are more than 3 million members meeting in nearly every free country in the world. Freemasonry proposes to "make good men better" by teaching -- with metaphors taken from geometry and architecture -- about building values based on great universal truths. And of course, charity and community service is fundamental to Freemasonry and something we actively take part in.
What are the requirements to become a Mason?
Although exact membership requirements may vary slightly from country to country and state to state, generally anyone meeting the following primary requirements may petition a Lodge (also called a “Blue Lodge”) for membership:
1) You are an adult male, at least 18 years of age, of good character and recommended by a Mason.
2) You believe in a Supreme Being -- no atheist can become a Mason -- but we are not concerned with theological distinctions or your particular religious beliefs.
3) You are interested in becoming a Mason because you hold a favorable opinion of our institution; and, your decision to apply is based on your own "free will and accord." No one will compel you to join.
What if I don't know a Mason who can recommend me?
It is quite possible you know a Mason but you just don't realize it. If your father, uncles, or grandfathers aren't Masons, they probably know someone who is. You might also want to ask around your workplace or school, church, or gym -- anywhere that you find a group of men, you might find a Mason. Masons tend to be very proud of their association with the Fraternity. If an individual is unable to find a mason to provide a recommendation, contact your local Lodge for further guidance.
Where did Freemasonry come from?
Part of the mystique of Freemasonry can be attributed to speculation about its roots. Over the years, historians have never been able to conclusively determine exactly when, where, how, and why Freemasonry was formed. The order is thought to have arisen from the English and Scottish guilds of practicing stonemasons and cathedral builders in the Middle Ages. 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. The formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717 marks the beginning of the Modern (or "Speculative") era of Freemasonry, when members were no longer limited to actual working stonemasons. These "Accepted" Masons 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.
What are the benefits of becoming a Mason?
There are numerous benefits to being a Mason, but they tend to be personal, and quite varied. The benefits can only be truly discovered by becoming a member. But we can try and give you an idea. Without question you will have the opportunity to experience camaraderie and fellowship with a group of men across the boundaries of age, race, religion, culture, location, and opinion. This is a fundamental concept to the Fraternity. Many find great value and knowledge in our ritual ceremony -- it uses symbolism and metaphors to encourage and remind us to appreciate principles, ethics, and morality, and to live our lives accordingly. Others find great satisfaction in our charitable efforts, community service, and the support we provide our members and their families. Finally, for those who take on leadership positions within their lodge, they have the chance to develop or further very practical management skills.
Is Masonry a Religion?
Masonry is not a religion. But because it is open to all men who believe in a Supreme Being, it is one of the few platforms where men of all faiths -- Christians (including Catholics), Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, and men of every other faith, can come together. Religion, though, is not discussed at Masonic meetings. Although Lodges open and close with a prayer and Masonry teaches morality, it is not a church or a religion. Masonry does not have a theology or a dogma, it does not offer sacraments, and it does not offer the promise of salvation.
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. Benjamin Franklin once said, "The great secret of Freemasonry is that there is no secret at all." But some say the one great secret of Freemasonry... is finding out who YOU really are.
Why does Masonry use symbols?
Symbols allow people to communicate quickly. When you see a red light, you know what it means. When you see a circle with a line through it, you know it means "no." In fact, using symbols is probably the oldest method of communication and teaching. Masons use symbols for the same reasons. Certain symbols, mostly selected from the art of architecture, stand for certain ethics and principles of the organization. The "Square and Compass" is the most widely known symbol of Masonry. In one way, this symbol is the trademark for the fraternity. When you see it on a building, you know that Masons meet there.
Who is the head of the Masons?
No one. Each Grand Lodge has its own jurisdiction and is the supreme authority within that jurisdiction. Obviously, many Grand Lodges have regular communication with each other, but official policy in one has no effect in another.
Are there any subjects not discussed in a lodge?
The two cardinal rules not to talk about in lodge are religion and politics, as Freemasonry is concerned specifically with neither. This is an odd paradox in that fundamentally it promotes the individual connection to the divine, but it admonishes us to not promote one belief system over another. Other topics such as work, family, business or other interests are openly talked about and should be amongst brothers as it builds our fraternal bonds. There “should be” no safer place to discuss these things, our triumphs and the tragedy as it is always amongst brothers with whom you build these bonds. You can, if you have specific leanings, find others of a like mind and engage in interesting discussions building friendships that will last lifetimes. Like any organization of people, you will find a wide variety of interests and ideas all within one lodge. It does seem like there is a paradox there, but in reality, that is the harmonious balance. The reason for not allowing politics or religion to be discussed is the ideal, does it happen? Absolutely. Should it? No. The practice of Freemasonry does promote and teach a sort of ecumenical philosophy of tolerance, which is the over arching idea. It does not imply one system of politics or religion is right or wrong.