Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I get more information about the Freemasons?
The best way to get information is to talk to a Mason. He will answer your questions and provide you with additional information; and, if you would like, find a convenient time to meet, introduce you to some other members, and tour their building. You may have some of the same questions as those below - so take a look at the FAQ's.
What are the requirements to become a Mason?
Anyone meeting the following primary requirements may petition a lodge for membership:
- You are an adult male (18 or older) of good character and recommended by a Mason.
- You believe in a Supreme Being - but we are not concerned with theological distinctions or your particular religious beliefs.
- You are interested in becoming a Mason because you hold a favorable opinion of our institution; and, your decision to apply is based on your own "free will and accord" - no one compelled you to join.
How do I become a Freemason? Ask!
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? But if you meet the requirements above, it is really quite simple:
Most men can become a Mason by simply asking. Each Lodge manages the membership process for its candidates. In general, men seek out a Lodge near their home or work, or they ask a Mason to recommend a Lodge to them. Once you've found a lodge you would like to join, let them know of your interest and they will provide you with a petition.
if you are unanimously elected by the members of a lodge, joining the Fraternity involves going through three "degrees": Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. Every man accepted into the Fraternity goes through the degrees, thereby making each an equal to the others in the lodge.
What if I don't know a Mason who can recommend me?
It is quite possible you know a Mason but you just don't realize it. If your father, uncles, or grandfathers aren't Masons, they probably know someone who is. You might also want to ask around your workplace or school, church, or gym - anywhere that you find a group of men, you might find a Mason. They might very well be looking forward to the opportunity to speak with you; more importantly, they would be honored to sponsor you for membership.
If you don't know anyone who is a Mason and you are a complete stranger to all of the members of the lodge, you are going to want to take some time getting to know them. But they are going to want to take some time getting to know you too. Once you are ready to ask, a member of the lodge will sign your petition.
What are the time commitments of being a Mason?
Becoming a Mason takes at least three years from the time you complete your petition until you have finished your degrees. Until you begin taking your degrees though, very little is asked of you. Once the degree work begins you will need to attend your lodge's periodic meeting.
Like many things, you get out of Freemasonry what you choose to put into it; although we also recognize and understand the need for a balance between your family, work or school, and other interests and commitments.
There is a one-time initiation fee set by each lodge and annual dues, which also differ from lodge-to-lodge.
Where did Freemasonry come from?
Part of the mystique of Freemasonry can be attributed to speculation about its roots. Over the years, historians 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. 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 marks the beginning of the Modern (or "Speculative") era of Freemasonry, when members were no longer limited to actual working stonemasons. These "Accepted" Masons adopted more enlightened philosophies, and turned what was a tradesmen's organization into a fraternity for moral edification, intellectual recitation, benevolent service, and gentlemanly socialization.
What are the benefits of becoming a Mason?
There are numerous benefits to being a Mason, but they tend to be personal and they are also quite varied. And they can only be truly discovered by becoming a member. But to try and give you an idea: without question the opportunity to experience camaraderie and fellowship with a group of men across the boundaries of age, race, religion, culture, and opinion is a fundamental to the Fraternity; many find great value and knowledge in our ritual ceremony that uses symbolism and metaphors to encourage and remind us to appreciate principles, ethics, and morality, and to live our lives accordingly; others find great satisfaction in our charitable efforts, community service, and the support we provide our members and their families; finally, for those who take on leadership positions within their lodge, they develop or further very practical management skills.
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."
What is Masonic "ritual?"
The nature of Masonic ritual is both complex and beautiful. "Ritual" is a formal ceremony of initiation which recites 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 true friendship, the benefits of knowledge, and the necessity of helping those in need.
It speaks to the power and impact our ritual has on men's hearts and minds because it has stood the test of time for more than 300 years. Although our world has changed dramatically during that time, our ritual is virtually the same.
Is Masonry a Religion?
No. Masonry is not a religion. But it is one of the few platforms where men of all faiths - Christians, including Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and men of every other faith - can come together because it is open to all men who believe in a Supreme Being.
Religion is not discussed at Masonic meetings. Masonry does not have a theology or dogma, it does not offer sacraments, and it does not offer the promise of salvation.
Is Freemasonry a charity?
No. Masonic principles teach the value of relief - or charity - and Freemasons may give donations to support numerous worthy causes and groups locally and around the world.