Who is a Freemason...
I am a Mason, and -
- I believe in the power, wisdom and goodness of the Almighty God.
- I believe in my country, my fellow man, and myself.
- I believe we are here in our various roles for a purpose and not by chance.
- I believe that Masonry has been in existence through the ages for a purpose, and that it will remain a strong force for good as far into the future as man will go, and I have confidence in the future.
- I believe that the teachings of Masonry parallel those found in the Great Book of Life so closely that no conflict between the two can exist.
- I believe Masonry can be as good as its members want it to be, and that we will all be better men and our fraternity, our country, and our world will be better for our having passed this way.
- I believe we have the opportunity as Masons and as men of good will to move to new heights in every area of life as we study and act our high principle of brotherly love, relief and truth.
Freemasonry is not a secret society. But just as any organization has its trade secrets and unique ways of communicating. Freemasonry is a society with some secrets. They are maintained for the sake of tradition today, not so much for actual recognition. They consist mostly of fraternal handshakes and greetings. Freemasonry is *not* a religion. However, every Mason professes a belief in a monotheistic deity -- whether he is a Christian, Jew, Moslem, or Hindu. Religion and politics, which can be divisive subjects, are never discussed within a Masonic Lodge. Freemasonry takes a good man by the hand and makes him better. You are cordially invited to submit a petition and join us.
What are the Degrees?
Once his application is approved, the Candidate for Freemasonry will participate in a ceremony called the "Degree of Entered Apprentice", or "First Degree". He will be assured that nothing will befall him that has not been experienced by all who have gone before. He will reaffirm his declarations and then be Entered into the Lodge and made an Apprentice Mason in "due and ancient form". He will learn that he is required never to divulge the Secrets of Masonry to any person "under the canopy of Heaven". He will receive a white Lambskin Apron, the badge of a Mason. He will be introduced to the working tools of a Mason. He will receive preliminary instruction on the nature of his new association and an important lesson in Masonic Charity. He will be assigned to a Candidate's Coach, who will meet with him as often as it takes to teach him the question-and-answer summary of the Degree. When his Coach is satisfied with his command of the Work, he may be asked to demonstrate his proficiency to the Master or before the Lodge. If done well enough, he will receive the Second Degree.
The "Degree of Fellowcraft", or "Second Degree", is widely regarded as the most poetic and instructive of the Masonic degrees. In it, the Apprentice is Passed to the Degree of Fellowcraft Mason in due and ancient form. He learns many of the more expressive symbols of his Craft and hears references to the philosophical basis for his conduct as a Mason. He will learn that he is obliged to "aid and assist all distressed, worthy Brother Fellowcraft Masons, whithersoever dispersed". His knowledge of the working tools of Masonry will be increased. The importance of the study of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, especially of Geometry, is emphasized. The Precious Jewels of a Fellowcraft will be presented to him and he will thenceforth be entitled to receive the Wages of a Fellowcraft. He will again meet with a Coach to learn the summary of the Work and will pass a Proficiency examination.
In the "Degree of Master Mason", the famous "Third Degree", the Fellowcraft will be Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in due and ancient form. He will receive further explanations of his specific duties to his Brethren and his instruction in the working tools of a Mason will be completed. He will participate in a brief traditional reenactment designed to impress upon him the virtue of Fidelity. Upon completing this Degree, the Brother is a fully qualified Master Mason, entitled to all the rights and privileges of that Degree. He is entitled to "travel in foreign countries, work, and receive Master Masons' wages". Among us, there is no higher rank than that of Master Mason. Masonry teaches men -
- to practice charity and benevolence
- to protect chastity
- to respect the ties of blood and friendship
- to adopt the principles and revere the ordinances of religion
- to assist the feeble
- to guide the blind
- to raise up the downtrodden
- to shelter the orphan
- to guard the altar
- to support the government
- to inculcate morality
- to promote learning
- to love man
- to fear God
- to implore His mercy
- to hope for happiness
The following is the text of a leaflet published in 1984 by the United Grand Lodge of England. It is a good summary of most of the questions men ask about Freemasonry.
Introduction Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest secular fraternal societies. This leaflet is intended to explain Freemasonry as it is practiced under the United Grand Lodge of England, which administers Lodges of Freemasons in England and Wales and in many places overseas. The explanation may correct some misconceptions. Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas, which follow ancient forms and use stonemasons' customs and tools as allegorical guides.
The Essential Qualification for Membership The essential qualification for admission into and continuing membership in regular Freemasonry is a belief in a Supreme Being. Membership is open to men of any race or religion who can fulfill this essential qualification and are of good repute.
Freemasonry and Religion Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. Its essential qualification opens it to men of many religions and it expects them to continue to follow their own faith. It does not allow religion to be discussed at its meetings.
The Three Great Principles For many years, Freemasons have followed three great principles: Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in life.
Brotherly Love Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow creatures.
Relief Freemasons are taught to practice charity, and to care, not only for their own, but also for the community as a whole, both by charitable giving, and by voluntary efforts and works as individuals.
Truth Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives.
Charity From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been concerned with the care of orphans, the sick and the aged. This work continues today. In addition, large sums are given to national and local charities.
Society Freemasonry demands from its members a respect for the law of the country in which a man works and lives. Its principles do not in any way conflict with its members' duties as citizens, but should strengthen them in fulfilling their private and public responsibilities. The use by a Freemason of his membership to promote his own or anyone else's business, professional or personal interests is condemned, and is contrary to the conditions on which he sought admission to Freemasonry. His duty as a citizen must always prevail over any obligation to other Freemasons, and any attempt to shield a Freemason who has acted dishonorably or unlawfully is contrary to this prime duty.
Secrecy The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with its traditional modes of recognition. It is not a secret society, since all members are free to acknowledge their membership and will do so in response to inquiries for respectable reasons. Its constitutions and rules are available to the public. There is no secret about any of its aims and principles. Like many other societies, it regards some of its internal affairs as private matters for its members.
Politics Freemasonry is non-political, and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings is forbidden.
Other Masonic Bodies Freemasonry is practiced under many independent Grand Lodges with standards similar to those set by the United Grand Lodge of England. There are some Grand Lodges and other apparently Masonic bodies which do not meet these standards, e.g., which do not require a belief in a Supreme Being, or which allow or encourage their members to participate in political matters. These Grand Lodges and bodies are not recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England as being Masonically regular, and Masonic contact with them is forbidden.
Conclusion A Freemason is encouraged to do his duty first to God (by whatever name he is known) through his faith and religious practice; and then, without detriment to his family and those dependent on him, to his neighbor through charity and service. None of these ideas is exclusively Masonic, but all should be universally acceptable. Freemasons are expected to follow them.