What is Freemansonry? 

Freemasonry (or simply, Masonry) is a fraternal order whose basic tenets are brotherly love, relief (philanthropy), and truth. We strive to enjoy the company of our brother Masons, assist them in times of personal trouble, and reinforce essential moral values. There is an old adage that Masonry "takes good men and makes them better", which is our goal.

It has often been observed that men are the products of everything they come into contact with during their lifetime. Masonry offers a man an opportunity to come into regular, enjoyable contact with men of good character, thus reinforcing his own personal moral development. Of course, Masonry is also meant to be enjoyed by its membership, so the order should not be viewed simply as a philosophical club, but rather a vibrant fellowship of men who seek to enjoy each other's company, a fraternity.

To maintain this fraternity, discussion of religion and politics within the Lodge is forbidden, as these subjects are those that have often divided men in the past. Masons cover the spectrum of both religious and political beliefs and encourages a man to be religious without advocating a particular religion, and to be active in his community without advocating a particular medium of political expression.

While there probably are some actual stone-workers who are Masons, Masonry does not teach is membership the literal techniques of stonework. Rather, it takes the actual "operative" work of Medieval Masons and uses it as an allegory for moral development. Thus, the symbols of Masonry are the common tools that were used by medieval stonemasons: the gavel, the rule, the compass, the square, the level, etc. Each of these has a symbolic meaning in Masonry. For example, Masons are said to meet "on the level", meaning that all Masons are brothers, regardless of social status, personal wealth, or office within the Lodge or in the world at large. Similar symbolism exists for other tools.

Masonry is distinguished from other fraternal orders by its emphasis on moral character, its ornate rituals, and its long tradition and history, which dates back to at least the 17th century in modern form, the 14th century (c. 1350-1390) in the written evidence of its precursors, and back to the mists of antiquity in its origin. Masonry has a continuously documented paper history (i.e., Lodge to Lodge) since 1717, though historical analysis shows Masonry to be much older.

There are also a great many things that Masonry is NOT: a religion, a secret society, etc., and these will be covered later in this FAQ.

There are three degrees in Masonry. Other appendant bodies confer additional degrees, up to the 32nd (or the honorary 33rd) of the Scottish Rite, but in symbolic Masonry (or Blue Lodge Masonry) proper, there are only three. At the Blue Lodge, Masons receive the degrees of Entered Apprentice (first degree), Fellowcraft (second degree), and Master Mason (third degree). Promotion generally requires the mastery of a small body of memorized material, the contents of which varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions, only the signs, tokens, and grips of each degree must be learned; in others, a longer amount of material.

Of course, no Mason would ever look down upon a Brother simply because he was of a lower degree-- the degrees do not exist to create a pecking order or to confer rank. Rather, they are a system of initiation that allows men to become familiar with the august and ancient history and principles of Masonry at a comfortable pace. Proceeding from Entered Apprentice to Master Mason in the US can take as little as three months, while in England, the degrees are spaced apart by a year's interval.

Most Lodges have regular communications (meetings) once a month, that are also referred to as "business meetings". In the US, these are typically only open to Master Masons. In England, these meetings are usually opened in the first degree, and EAs may attend). Conferring of degrees is usually done at other meetings during the month.

While conferral of degrees and mundane business do take up a lot of a Lodge's time, there are a host of other activities that Masons engage in within the fraternity. Charitable work is often done, in the form of fundraisers, community volunteer work, etc. And there are also a great many things done for the simple pleasure of company: monthly breakfasts or dinners, picnics, card/chess matches, lecturers on Masonic history, you name it. Masonry is a fraternity, and its membership seeks to have fun.

Local Masonic Lodges are organized under Grand Lodges. In the United States, each state has its own Grand Lodge, which is a peer with every other Grand Lodge. There is not "Grandest Lodge"-- each Grand Lodge is supreme in its jurisdiction (e.g., in the US, in its state) but has no authority elsewhere. Of course, this does not mean that Masonry in New York is radically different than Masonry in Scotland or New Mexico. Masons are very traditional and the differences between Grand Lodges are usually minor.

The head of a Lodge is given the title Worshipful Master. This, of course, does not imply that Masons worship him; it is merely a stylish title. Masonic Lodges can be found in many cities, of all sizes, around the world. There are presently approximately 5 million Masons, half of which are in the United States

The Fraternity of Freemasonry is the oldest, largest and most widely-known fraternal organization in the world. Freemasonry is found throughout the civilized world even in oppressed countries where it is not allowed to exist openly. Volumes have been written about Freemasonry, yet to many people it remains a mystery.

Freemasonry tends to men to be strictly obedient to its precepts. Through its fundamental belief in the Brotherhood of Man and the immortality of human soul, it seeks to make a good man a ëbetter man.í It is an organization formed and existing on the basic tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief of the distressed and Truth in all things. These tenets are ethical principles acceptable to good men everywhere. It teaches the universality of man, regardless of race, creed or nationality. It teaches tolerance of all mankind.

Freemasonry traces its antecedents to the associations of operative craftsmen, the builders of Gothic cathedrals, which history records were introduced into England as early as 674 A.D. and flourished during the Middle Ages.

Due to their professional knowledge and skills, master craftsmen were accorded special privileges, including that of traveling and working in foreign countries freely to employ their craft. In order to protect their associations from intrusion by outsiders, these craftsmen developed secret means of identification and recognition ñ the secrets of the guilds.

Between the 17th and early 18th centuries as cathedral building came to an end, guilds of stonemasons began to accept as members other good men not directly connected with the builders craft, terming them Speculative of Accepted Masons. Gradually, Lodges came to be composed almost entirely of Free and Accepted Masons, and from these groups the Freemasonry of today had its origin.

A Masonic Creed
Freemasonry teaches the universal principle of unselfish friendship and promotes those moral precepts which are in keeping with all great faiths. In pursuing this doctrine; the following though not exclusive, is considered to be basic:

Masonic Beliefs:
ï  Mankind was created by one God.
ï  This one God is the author of all life.
ï  God ës existence is revealed to man through faith and the Book of Holy Scriptures.
ï  The Book of Holy Scriptures is the Ultimate Authority or Great Light of Freemasonry.
ï  The soul of Man is Immortal.
ï  Manís commitment to Divine Providence determines his destiny.
ï  Manís reverence for God is best exemplified by his actions toward his fellow man.

Considering the universality of Freemasonry, it teachings cannot be defined by any single statement or established profile. The following is considered to be representative of its fundamental precepts and constitutes basic:

Masonic Teachings

Manís first duty to is to love and revere God, implore His aid in all laudable undertakings and seek His guidance through prayer, embrace and practice the tenets of religion, extend charity and sympathy to all mankind, shield and support the widow and orphan, defend virtue, respect the aged, honor and bonds of friendship, protect the helpless, lift up the oppressed, comfort the downcast, restore dignity to the rejected, respect the laws of government, promote morality and add to the common stock of knowledge and understanding.

To be One is 2ASK1
2B1 Ask1
-To be One, Ask One-- Among millions of Masons, for hundreds of years, it was not lawful to invite a friend to apply for membership. Our code of conduct prevented it. Thus, no faithful Mason could invite you to join. Hence, to be one, you have to ask one. You must first ask yourself if you're suitably prepared to enter the gentle craft of Masonry to become a brother in the world's most exclusive fraternal order. Few men are intellectually or spiritually prepared to understand or appreciate even the most apparent meanings of Masonry. Do you reflect on the nature of man's purpose in life and will you make obligations to God, your family, and yourself?

--- If such ethical and moral questions hold little interest for you, then you will gain little benefit from the teachings of the Craft. But if you seek a more meaningful quality of life and the spirit of charity and good fellowship which flow from it then Freemasonry has much to offer. We want the world to know what we believe, how we act, and what we do and, then, should you become a Mason, we want you to be proud of our Fraternity and to participate in our work. Only those who desire membership because of their favorable impression of us should seek a petition to join. What We Ask of You? Any man who is twenty-one years of age or older and of good moral character, who comes well recommended, and who believes in a Supreme Being and in the immortality of the soul may petition to become a Freemason

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