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What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest secular fraternal societies, whose members are concerned with moral and spiritual values. Freemasons are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas, which follow ancient forms and use stonemason's customs and tools as allegorical guides. The essential qualification for admission is a belief in a Supreme Being. Freemasonry is open to men of any race or religion who can fulfill this essential qualification and are of good repute. Although it has a religious basis Freemasonry is neither a religion nor a substitute for religion. Freemasonry expects its members to follow their own faith. It has no theology or dogma and by forbidding the discussion of religion at its meetings prevents the development of any dogma. Nor is there a separate Masonic god. The use of honorifics, such as the Great Architect, is simply to enable men of different faiths to meet, offer prayers and address their God without differences of religion obtruding.
Freemasonry is not a secret society. Its aims, principles, constitutions and rules are available to the public and its members are at perfect liberty to acknowledge their membership. The only secrets in Freemasonry are the traditional modes of recognition.
A Freemason is taught that his prime duties are to his God, to the laws of the country in which he lives and works, and to his family. Any attempt to use his membership to promote his own or anyone else's business, professional or personal interests, and any attempt to shield a Freemason who has acted dishonorably or unlawfully, is contrary to the conditions on which he seeks admission.
By following the three Great principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth a Freemason hopes to show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others; to practice charity within the community both by charitable giving and voluntary efforts; and to strive to attain truth and high moral standards in his own life.
Masonry teaches that each person has a responsibility to make things better in the world. Most individuals won't be the ones to find a cure for cancer, or eliminate poverty, or help create world peace, but every man and woman and child can do something to help others and to make things a little better. Masonry is deeply involved with helping people -- it spends more than $1.4 million dollars every day in the United States, just to make life a little easier. And the great majority of that help goes to people who are not Masons. Some of these charities are vast projects, like the Crippled Children's Hospitals and Burns Institutes built by the Shriners. Also, Scottish Rite Masons maintain a nationwide network of over 100 Childhood Language Disorders Clinics, Centers, and Programs. Each helps children afflicted by such conditions as aphasia, dyslexia, stuttering, and related learning or speech disorders. Some services are less noticeable, like helping a widow pay her electric bill or buying coats and shoes for disadvantaged children. And there's just about anything you can think of in-between. But with projects large or small, the Masons of a lodge try to help make the world a better place. The lodge gives them a way to combine with others to do even more good.
The more casual answer would add that Freemasonry is a body of like-minded, responsible men, who in their own way, wish to progress as individuals and share a journey of personal development towards self-enlightenment which is often masked by the pace of life today. Freemasons will also enjoy the customs and theatrics and within the lodge which, in an appropriate context, are used to explain symbolic meaning. There is also good humor, spirit of friendship and the potential to visit other lodges in the US as well as abroad which all adds to the enjoyment. In between lodge meetings, many freemasons will try to find opportunities to put something back into the community at large. They will also appreciate that humility and the conduct by which they run their lives outside the lodge room is important.
Finally, they do not regard Freemasonry as a secret society, merely one that is private that would lose some of its special significance and meaning to newcomers should every aspect of lodge business become widely known or be taken out of context. These days though, even the briefest search on the internet will reveal all sorts of signs, signals or practices with trouser legs ascribed to Freemasonry, some true, others obvious fiction.Back to the top
How do I become a Freemason?
- You must obtain a "Petition for Degrees". This can be obtained from the Lodge Secretary.
- Two members in good standing will sign the bottom after you have filled out the Petition completely to show that they are "Recommending" you to the Lodge.
- The Petition should be turned in to the Lodge accompanied by the appropriate fees.
- The Petition will be read at a Stated Business Meeting and an Investigating Committee will contact you for an interview.
- The Committee will report back to the Lodge with their recommendations.
- Your Petition will be voted on and if elected, you will be contacted by the Lodge to inform you when you will initiated
Myths about Masonry.
Myth: Masons have secret meetings, what are they hiding?
Masonry has been described as an organization with secrets - but those secrets have been 'exposed' many times. Many books and documentaries have been produced on the "Secrets of Masonry". The 'secrets' of Masonry include signs, words, and modes of recognition but they're freely given to anyone who petitions and joins a Masonic lodge. They're used because the method of teaching Masonry involves allegories and symbolism, similar to the way operative masons were taught in centuries past.
Myth: Freemasonry is a Religion
Freemasonry specifies no specific religious belief but encourages its members to follow the beliefs of their own religion. Prayers in lodge may refer to the Grand Architect of the Universe, another name for God. Members are free to mentally insert the name they wish in its stead.
Myth: Masonry excludes Jesus
Nothing could be further from the truth and, in fact, the open Bible upon the altar of lodges is most often a King James Version despite the presence of Masons who are Muslims, Jews and other faiths. Each Mason realizes that the Bible is 'representative' of his own Holy Book - and each Mason recognizes that when the Chaplain offers a prayer aloud, it is certainly acceptable that he offer one of his own faith and manner in the privacy of his own devotion.
Myth: Freemasonry is a cult
The person joining Freemasonry retains freedom of religion, politics, friends and family association. A Mason can terminate his membership at any time. In fact, if he fails to pay his annual dues, his membership is terminated by the Masonic organization. No Mason is forced to remain a member should he wish to quit.
Myth: Masons perform their worship in Temples
The use of this word comes into Masonry from the fact that the symbols and history of the organization are, an example of the Mason's art, the building of King Solomon's Temple.
Myth: The Eye in the Pyramid is a Masonic symbol
The simple fact is that the eye in the pyramid is not now, nor has it ever been a Masonic symbol. While the 'Eye of Providence' is always prominent, it reminds a Mason that his words and deeds are being judged by God.
Myth: Masons must worship their "Master" instead of Jesus
The Master of a Lodge - who, when addressed, is given the honorific title of "Worshipful" - presides over the meeting of Masons. His duties in the functioning of a lodge are quite similar to that of the President of the local chapter/branch of any other organization. The term is one of respect and has nothing to do with 'worshipping' of an individual.
Myth: Masons take "Bloody Oaths"
Freemasonry is a three hundred year old organization founded on the principles of organizations which existed hundreds of years before that. It comes from a time when it was important to impress upon a new member the solemn and serious nature of the work he was undertaking. In addition, Freemasonry teaches its lessons through the use of allegory, whereby an example is explained or shown in a way which will impress upon the listener the point that words simply can't accomplish. And finally, Freemasonry's oaths are SYMBOLIC relative to penalties. The only penalties which can be imposed on a Mason are those of suspension, expulsion, or reprimand!Back to the top