1.) 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 more than 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
2.) Where did Freemasonry come from?
Part of the mystique of Freemasonry can be attributed to speculation
about its roots. Over the years, researchers have never been able to
conclusively determine exactly when, where, how, and why Freemasonry
was born. 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. The
formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717 could mark the
beginning of the Modern (or Speculative) era of Freemasonry, when
members were no longer limited to actual working stonemasons. These
Accepted Masons eventually adopted more enlightened philosophies, and
turned what was a tradesmens organization into a fraternity for moral
edification, intellectual recitation, benevolent service, and
3.) 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.
4.) How do I become a Freemason?
Because Masons have not traditionally recruited members, and do not
hold public meetings, there has long been confusion about how to join
the Fraternity. Does someone ask you? Do you ask? Today, because of
widespread interest in the Fraternity along with the plethora of both
information and misinformation found on the Internet the following
information was put together on how men can join: Most men can become
a Mason by simply asking like Washington, Franklin, Sir John A. and
most every Mason from the past to the present day. Membership is open
to men of every race, religion, culture, and level of income. The
requirements for membership are that you be over the age of 21,
believe in a Supreme Being, and can be found to be of good character.
The belief in a Supreme Being is said to be a requirement that is
needed to take certain oaths, otherwise no obligation would be binding
upon you. Generally, men seek out a Lodge near their home or
workplace, or ask someone they know who is a Mason to recommend a
Lodge to them. Not all men can become Masons, however. Masonry does
not purport to make bad men good, only good men better. Only men of
good character are accepted into the Fraternity. Masonic lodges review
every applicants moral character and the centuries-old blackball
system is still in place; members must be voted in by a 100% vote of
Lodge members present.
5.) Where can I get more information about the Freemasons?
The best way to get information is to talk to a Mason - either in
person or online. You may have some of the same questions as those
below - so take a look at the FAQs. 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. Both books published in 2005 and
are available in your local bookstore, or you may find them at online
stores like Amazon and Borders. You can also Request Information
online through this web site.
6.) 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.
7.) Why is there so much interest in Masonry today?
Over the last four centuries, Freemasonry seems to have flourished
during times of great enlightenment and change. It is no coincidence
that Freemasonry rose to prominence during the Age of Enlightenment in
both Europe and America - where a new generation believed it could
discover ways to gain personal improvement, bring order to society,
and understand the whole universe. This statement is perhaps even
stronger today than it was in the 18th century. Today, men seek out
Masonry for the same reasons - to better themselves and improve
society in the company of like-minded Brothers. As we learn more about
how our physical world works, there's also new interest in those
things we don't understand - especially things bound around tradition
or that have a more mystical nature. Also, books like The Da Vinci
Code and movies like "National Treasure" have brought up
both new interest and renewed speculation about the nature of the
Fraternity. Though these books and movies are a product more of a
vivid imagination than fact, the real history of Masonry is perhaps
the best story of all - one learned only by Asking - and becoming a
8.) Can Freemasonry actually prepare me to be a greater man?
No organization can guarantee to make anyone great, but the powerful
values and important truths that are taught as part of the Masonic
tradition has proven to inspire, challenge, and develop leadership in
men. Benjamin Franklin may have said it best, describing the
Fraternity as a place to "prepare himself." 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 early days the Fraternity took itself out of
the "rehabilitation" game -- which became the purvey of both
religion and the criminal justice system. Today, men are preparing
themselves for greatness in Lodges the world over. If you think
there's greatness in you, we invite your interest.
9.) What about secret handshakes, ritual, and passwords?
Freemasonry, often called the "Craft" by its members, is
founded on metaphors of architecture. Following the practice of the
ancient stonemason guilds, Freemasons use special handshakes, words,
and symbols to not only to identify each other, but to help, as
William Preston said in 1772, "imprint upon the memory wise and
serious truths." Although every new Freemason takes an oath - and
vows to keep secret the metaphors of Masonry - the metaphors are only
used to help Masons become better men; and there's certainly no secret
surrounding what it takes to be good and true.
10.) What is a Grand Lodge?
Grand Lodges were formed - first in England and Ireland, and later in
America, to help standardize ritual, traditions, and customs among
various Lodges. The first Grand Lodge in America was formed in
Massachusetts in 1733. Today there is a Grand Lodge in every state -
and virtually every country in the world. There is no
"central" Grand Lodge, though Grand Lodges also meet to help
facilitate unity and uphold tradition within the Craft.
11.) What is Masonic "Ritual"?
The nature of Masonic ritual is both complex and beautiful.
"Ritual" is actually a recitation of certain tenets and
truths that have been passed down for generations - mostly from mouth
to ear. This "Ritual" takes the form of lectures and theater
in the Lodge, and is used to teach new Masons the value of truth and
the necessity of helping those in need. Not everyone will want to
learn the ancient ritual - as it takes great time and study - but
those Masons who chose to learn it are rewarded with the satisfaction
of upholding a powerful tradition and helping their fellow
brothersfurther their Masonic understanding.
12.) I've seen secret Masonic "codebooks" What do they
The nature of Masonic teachings and initiation is deeply rooted in the
oral tradition. In most Lodges, these rituals are never written out -
but are passed on "mouth to ear," from one Masonic
generation to the next. What may be thought to be codebooks are
actually Masonic "ciphers". These ciphers are not in
"code" at all, but provide merely hints of the spoken word
to refresh one's memory. A Masonic cipher cannot be
"broken," - as there is no code to break.
13.) I heard certain religions cannot become Masons, is that true?
Freemasonry has always welcomed members of any faith. Today, there are
many members of every faith who are Masons.
14.) Is Masonry a Religion?
Masonry is not a religion. But it is one of the few platforms where
men of every religion can come together. And although Lodges open and
close with a prayer and Masonry teaches morality, it is not a church
or a religion. Masonry is open to all men who believe in a Supreme
Being. But because of the necessity to take oaths, no atheist can
become a Mason.
15.) 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 and the Order
of Rainbow for Girls, whose members include women and girls
16.) Is Freemasonry a Charity?
No. Masonic principles teach the value of relief - or charity - and
Freemasons give more than $3 million A DAY, of which more than 70% of
these donations support the general public. Among their works are the
Shriners Hospitals for Children with 22 sites throughout North
America, including a burn center in Boston and an orthopedic facility
in Springfield; almost 225 Learning Centers helping children with
dyslexia and speech and hearing disorders; the Masonic Youth Child
Identification Program (MYCHIP), and the Masonic Angel Foundation,
providing modest assistance to children and adults in local
communities who do not fit the criteria for usual social-services.
Most recently, the Masonic Service Association of North America
entered into an agreement with the USO to participate in Operation
Phone Home: a campaign to provide United States Military Service
Personnel serving overseas with prepaid international phone calling
cards. There are numerous other worthy causes and groups that local
Lodges contribute to and help in their communities. Around the world
there are hundreds of other organizations helped directly or
indirectly by Freemasonry.
Masonry accepts men from every race, color, creed, nationality, and
See our contact
us page for more information and how to contact a Mason.