Frequently Asked Questions About Freemasonry
What is Freemasonry?
is the world’s largest fraternal and charitable organization. It teaches
moral lessons and self-knowledge through participation in a progression
of allegorical rituals.
Freemasonry a "secret society?"
We are not,
but lodge meetings, like those of many other groups, are private and
open only to members. The rules and aims of Freemasonry are available to
the public. Meeting places are known and in many areas are used by the
local community for activities other than Freemasonry. Members are
encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry.
What are the
"secrets of Freemasonry?"
in Freemasonry are the traditional modes of recognition which are not
used indiscriminately, but solely as a test of membership, e.g. when
visiting a Lodge where you are not known.
What happens at a lodge meeting?
is in two parts. As in any association there is a certain amount of
administrative procedure – minutes of last meeting, proposing and
balloting for new members, discussing and voting on financial matters,
election of officers, news and correspondence. Then there are the
ceremonies for admitting new Masons and the annual installation of the
Master and appointment of officers. The three ceremonies for admitting a
new Mason are in two parts - a slight dramatic instruction in the
principles and lessons taught in the Craft followed by a lecture in
which the candidate's various duties are spelled out.
Isn’t ritual out of place in a modern
ritual is a shared experience which binds the members together. Its use
of drama, allegory and symbolism impresses the principles and teachings
more firmly in the mind of each candidate than if they were simply
passed on to him in matter-of-fact modern language.
Freemasons take oaths?
make solemn promises concerning their conduct in Lodge and in society.
Each member also promises to keep confidential the traditional methods
of proving that he is a Freemason which he would use when visiting a
lodge where he is not known. Freemasons do not swear allegiances to each
other or to Freemasonry. Freemasons promise to support others in times
of need, but only if that support does not conflict with their duties to
God, the law, their family or with their responsibilities as a Citizen.
Why do your obligations contain
longer do. When Masonic ritual was developing in the late 1600s and
1700s it was quite common for legal and civil oaths to include physical
penalties and Freemasonry simply followed the practice of the times. In
Freemasonry, however, the physical penalties were always symbolic and
were never carried out. After long discussion, they were removed from
the promises in 1986.
expected to prefer fellow Masons at the expense of others in giving
jobs, promotions, contracts and the like?
not. That would be a misuse of membership and subject to Masonic
discipline. On his entry into Freemasonry each candidate states
unequivocally that he expects no material gain from his membership. At
various stages during the three ceremonies of his admission and when he
is presented with a certificate from Grand Lodge that the admission
ceremonies have been completed, he is forcefully reminded that attempts
to gain preferment or material gain for himself or others is a misuse of
membership which will not be tolerated. The Book of Constitutions, which
every candidate receives, contains strict rules governing abuse of
membership which can result in penalties varying from temporary
suspension to expulsion.
true that Freemasons only look after each other?
No. From its
earliest days, Freemasonry has been involved in charitable activities.
Since its inception, Freemasonry has provided support not only for
widows and orphans of Freemasons but also for many others within the
community. Whilst some Masonic charities cater specifically but not
exclusively for Masons or their dependents, others make significant
grants to non- Masonic organizations. On a local level, lodges give
substantial support to local causes.
Is Freemasonry a
religion or a rival to religion?
not. Freemasonry requires a belief in God and its principles are common
to many of the world's great religions. Freemasonry does not try to
replace religion or substitute for it. Every candidate is exhorted to
practice his religion and to regard its holy book as the unerring
standard of truth. Freemasonry does not instruct its members in what
their religious beliefs should be, nor does it offer sacraments.
Freemasonry deals in relations between men; religion deals in a man's
relationship with his God.
Why do Masons call it the VSL and not
majority of Freemasons the Volume of the Sacred Law is the Bible. There
are many in Freemasonry, however, who are not Christian and to them the
Bible is not their sacred book and they will make their promises on the
book which is regarded as sacred to their religion. The Bible will
always be present in an English lodge but as the organization welcomes
men of many different faiths, it is called the Volume of the Sacred Law.
Thus, when the Volume of the Sacred Law is referred to in ceremonies, to
a non-Christian it will be the holy book of his religion and to a
Christian it will be the Bible.
Why do Masons refer to God the Great
Architect of the Universe?
embraces all men who believe in God. Its membership includes Christians,
Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Parsees and others. The use of
descriptions such as the "Great Architect" prevents disharmony. The
Great Architect is not a specific Masonic god or an attempt to combine
all gods into one. Thus, men of differing religions pray together
without offence being given to any of them.
some churches like Freemasonry?
elements within certain churches who misunderstand Freemasonry and
confuse secular rituals with religious liturgy. Although the Methodist
Conference and the General Synod of the Anglican Church have
occasionally criticised Freemasonry, in both Churches there are many
Masons and indeed others who are dismayed that the Churches should
attack Freemasonry, an organization which has always encouraged its
members to be active in their own religion.
Why will Freemasonry not accept Roman
Catholics as members?
It does. The
prime qualification for admission into Freemasonry has always been a
belief in God. How that belief is expressed is entirely up to the
Isn’t Freemasonry just another
political pressure group?
not. Whilst individual Freemasons will have their own views on politics
and state policy, Freemasonry as a body will never express a view on
either. The discussion of politics at Masonic meetings has always been
Masonic groups that are involved in politics?
groups in other countries who call themselves Freemasons and who involve
themselves in political matters. They are not recognized or countenanced
by the United Grand Lodge of England and other regular Grand Lodges who
follow the basic principles of Freemasonry and ban the discussion of
politics and religion at their meetings.
Is Freemasonry an international
Only in the
sense that Freemasonry exists throughout the free world. Each Grand
Lodge is sovereign and independent from all others, and whilst following
the same basic principles, it may have differing ways of passing them
on. There is no national or international governing body for
What is the
relationship between Freemasonry and groups like the Rotary Club, Odd
Fellows and Lions Club?
are numerous fraternal orders and Friendly Societies whose rituals,
regalia and organization are similar in some respects to Freemasonry's.
They have no formal or informal connections with Freemasonry.
women become Masons?
Traditionally, Freemasonry has been restricted to men. The early
stonemasons were all male, and when Freemasonry was organising, the
position of women in society was different from today. If women wish to
become involved in Freemasonry, there are separate organizations, such
as Eastern Star, True Kindred and others that are open to them being
Why do Masons wear regalia?
regalia is historical and symbolic and, like a uniform, serves to
indicate to members where they ranking the organization.
How and where did Freemasonry
It is not
known, but it is well documented that the first recorded initiation in
England was that of Sir Robert Moray (one of the outstanding Scots of
the seventeenth century) on 20th May 1641. This took place in a Scottish
Lodge just outside of Newcastle upon Tyne when the Scots Army was laying
siege to Newcastle upon Tyne. A meeting of the Lodge of Edinburgh, St.
Mary's Chapel took place and Sir Robert Moray was initiated. The
earliest recorded making of a Freemason in an English Lodge is that of
Elias Ashmole in 1646. Organised Freemasonry began with the founding of
the Grand Lodge of England on 24 June 1717, the first Grand Lodge in the
world. Ireland followed in 1725 and Scotland in 1736. All the regular
Grand Lodges in the world trace themselves back to one or more of the
Grand Lodges in the British Isles.
two main theories of origin. According to one, the operative stonemasons
who built the great cathedrals and castles had lodges in which they
discussed trade affairs. They had simple initiation ceremonies and, as
there were no City and Guilds certificates, dues cards or trade union
membership cards, they adopted secret signs and words to demonstrate
that they were trained masons when they moved from site to site. In the
1600s, these operative lodges began to accept non-operatives as
“gentlemen masons”. Gradually these non-operatives took over the lodges
and turned them from operative to ‘free and accepted’ or ‘speculative’
lodges. The other theory is that in the late 1500s and early 1600s,
there was a group which was interested in the promotion of religious and
political tolerance in an age of great intolerance when differences of
opinion on matters of religion and politics were to lead to bloody civil
war. In forming Freemasonry, they were trying to make better men and
build a better world. As the means of teaching in those days was by
allegory and symbolism, they took the idea of building as the central
allegory on which to form their system. The main source of allegory was
the Bible, the contents of which were known to everyone even if they
could not read, and the only building described in detail in the Bible
was King Solomon’s Temple, which became the basis of the ritual. The old
trade guilds provided them with their basis administration of a Master,
Wardens, Treasurer and Secretary, and the operative mason’s tools
provided them with a wealth of symbols with which to illustrate the
moral teachings of Freemasonry.
How many degrees are there in
Freemasonry consists of the three "Craft" degrees; Entered Apprentice,
Fellow Craft and Master Mason. There are many other Masonic degrees and
Orders which are called "additional" because they add to the basis of
the Blue Lodge degrees. They are not basic to Freemasonry but add to it
by further expounding and illustrating the principles stated in the
Craft degrees. Some of these additional degrees are numerically superior
to the third degree but this does not affect the fact that they are
additional to and not in anyway superior to or higher than the Craft.
The ranks that these additional degrees carry have no standing with the
Blue Lodge degrees and no degree is considered "higher" or holds higher
rank or standing than that of a Master Mason.
How can I become a Mason?
Additional information on joining Shawnee Lodge 54
can be found by clicking the