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Frequently Asked Questions about Masonry

 

Who are the Masons?

Masons (also known as Freemasons) belong to the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world. Today, there are more than two million Freemasons in North America. Masons represent virtually every occupation and profession, yet within the Fraternity, all meet as equals. Masons come from diverse political ideologies, yet meet as friends. Masons come from varied religious beliefs and creeds, yet all believe in one God.

Many of North America's early patriots were Freemasons. Thirteen signers of the Constitution and fourteen Presidents of the United States, including George Washington, were Masons. In Canada, the Father of the Confederation, Sir John A. MacDonald, was a Mason, as were other early Canadian and American leaders.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Freemasonry is how so many men, from so many different walks of life, can meet together in peace, always conducting their affairs in harmony and friendship and calling each other "Brother."

What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry (or Masonry) is dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. It uses the tools and implements of ancient architectural craftsmen symbolically in a system of instruction designed to build character and moral values in its members. Its singular purpose is to make good men better. Its bonds of friendship, compassion, and brotherly love have survived even the most divisive political, military, and religious conflicts through the centuries. Freemasonry is a fraternity which encourages its members to practice the faith of their personal acceptance. Masonry teaches that each person, through self-improvement and helping others, has an obligation to make a difference for good in the world.

Freemasonry is the oldest Fraternal organization in existence. Written records about the Order date back to 1390, and the traditions of Masonry are even older. The Grand Lodge of Virginia is the oldest independent body in the United States. A roster of Masonic membership during the early years of our country reads like a study in American history. It is led by George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Chief Justice John Marshall, Edmund Randolph, and a host of signers of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Since those early years of our country's history, Masonic membership has continued to include many famous Americans, including United States Presidents, Congressmen, State Governors and other well known men in leadership positions. The Masonic Fraternity includes men from all walks of life; professionals, tradesmen and laborers.

Freemasonry is a charitable organization. Masonic organizations in North America collectively contribute well over two million dollars every day to charities throughout North America.

What do Freemasons Do?

The Masonic experience encourages members to become better men, better husbands, better fathers, and better citizens. The fraternal bonds formed in the Lodge help build lifelong friendships among men with similar goals and values.

Beyond its focus on individual development and growth, Masonry is deeply involved in helping people. The Freemasons of North America contribute over two million dollars a day to charitable causes. This philanthropy represents an unparalleled example of the humanitarian commitment of this great and honorable Fraternity. Much of that assistance goes to people who are not Masons. Some of these charities are vast projects. The Shrine Masons (Shriners) operate the largest network of hospitals for burned and orthopedically impaired children in the country, and there is never a fee for treatment. The Scottish Rite Masons maintain a nationwide network of over 150 Childhood Language Disorder Clinics, Centers, and Programs.

Many other Masonic organizations sponsor a variety of philanthropies, including scholarship programs for children, and perform public service activities in their communities. Masons also enjoy the fellowship of each other and their families in social and recreational activities.

Freemasonry is not:

Freemasonry is not a religion. It does not promise salvation. But, while not a religion, Freemasonry is religious in the sense that Masons revere God, and urge every man to attend the Church or Synagogue of his choice. We learn that our strength is to be found in our God, no matter how we may view Him.

Freemasonry is not a secret society as some would accuse. Masons proudly wear the ancient insignia of Freemasonry, the Square and Compass, publicly. The location of our Masonic Lodges is known and our membership rosters are printed. We do keep secret our modes of recognition and the ceremonies of initiation to prevent imposition by impostors.

In sum, Freemasonry teaches the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God, marvelling at the Divine order of the universe. It brings together men of all creeds and teaches the many aspects of the Great and Golden Rule common to all Faiths.

Freemasonry is:

... A band of brothers linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection, forged link by link through the binding effect of a shared experience in the great lessons taught in the Craft degrees.

... Not wedded to any one religion, though it requires of its members a belief in God and the Holy Bible always remains open on the altars of its Lodges. It expects of a member devotion to the religion of his choice, believing, above all, that the path to salvation is better left to one's personal conscience rather than to the rigid imposition of another's beliefs.

... Nevertheless frequently called the "handmaiden of the Church," for the principles which it seeks to inculcate in the individual are common to all the great religious faiths. The Fraternity, by its teachings and examples, seeks to make of every brother one who is more amenable to the dictates of his religion, whatever it may be. Thus, it unites in the Brotherhood of Man Christian, Jew, Moslem, and Buddhist, who set aside their differences in seeking to serve God and their brethren.

... Charitable. Freemasons in North America give over two million dollars each day to charities in and out of the Fraternity. To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent on all of us. From the great Crippled Children's Hospitals and Burn Centers to the Orphanages and Masonic Homes of our various States, from the Knight Templar Eye Foundation to the specialized charities of the Scottish Rite and Royal Arch Masons, Freemasons freely give of their earnings to help others escape the bonds of poverty, loneliness and despair.

... All of the above and more. It is truly a system of morality, veiled in allegory and teaching men by symbols to better themselves in their religious bodies, their communities, and their families. It gathers under its umbrella men of all faiths, all nations, and all classes without distinction - save that noble distinction, "of who can best work and best agree."

Because we steadfastly adhere to these principles, we have lasted through the ages, despite the tyrannical attacks of despotic governments and narrow-minded sectarians. As one of us, may you always proudly bear the badge of a Free and Accepted Mason!