Freemasonry – just who are the Freemasons?
That’s not a surprising question. Even though Freemasons are members of the largest and oldest fraternity in the world, MASONS or FREEMASONRY, and even though almost everyone has a father or grandfather or uncle who was a Mason, many people aren’t quite certain just who Masons are or what freemasonry is about.
The answer is simple. Freemasons are members of a fraternity known as Freemasonry or Masonry. A fraternity is a group of men (just as a sorority is a group of women) who join together because:
- There are things they want to do in the world.
- There are things they want to do “inside their own minds.”
- They enjoy being together with men they like and respect.
Freemasons are a unique institution that has been a major part of community life in Scotland for nearly three hundred years. It is Scotland’s largest and oldest fraternity, and one that continues to be an important part of many men’s personal lives and growth.
The fraternity of masons are an organization of men bound together with a philosophy of moral standards, mutual understanding and brotherhood in which all men are on a level and equal.
Freemasonry and Religion
Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. The one essential qualification means that Freemasonry is open to men of many religions and it expects and encourages them to continue to follow their own faith. It is not permitted for Freemasons to discuss religion at Masonic meetings.
What are the requirements?
The person who wants to join Freemasonry must be a man (it’s a fraternity), sound in body and mind, who believes in God or a higher being, is at least the minimum age required by Masonry, and has a good reputation. (Incidentally, the “sound in body” requirement — which comes from the stonemasons of the Middle Ages — doesn’t mean that a physically challenged man cannot be a Mason; many are).
Those are the only “formal” requirements. But there are others, not so formal. He should believe in helping others. He should believe there is more to life than pleasure and money. He should be willing to respect the opinions of others. And he should want to grow and develop as a human being.
How does a man become a Freemason?
Some men are surprised that no one has ever asked them to become a Mason. They may even feel that the Masons in their town don’t think they are “good enough” to join. But it doesn’t work that way. For hundreds of years, Masons have been forbidden to ask others to join the fraternity. We can talk to friends about Freemasonry. We can tell them about what Freemasonry does. We can tell them why we enjoy it. But we can’t ask, much less pressure, anyone to join.
There’s a good reason for that. It isn’t that we’re trying to be exclusive. But becoming a Mason is a very serious thing. Joining Freemasonry is making a permanent life commitment to live in certain ways. We’ve listed most of them above — to live with honor and integrity, to be willing to share with and care about others, to trust each other, and to place ultimate trust in God. No one should be “talked into” making such a decision.
So, when a man decides he wants to be a Freemasonry Mason, he asks a Mason for a petition or application. He fills it out and gives it to the Mason, and that Mason takes it to the local lodge. The Master of the lodge will appoint a committee to meet with the man, find out a little about him and why he wants to become a member of the Masons, tell him about Freemasonry, and answer his questions. The committee reports to the lodge, and the lodge votes on the petition. If the vote is affirmative — and it usually is — the lodge will contact the man to set the date for the Entered Apprentice Degree. When the person has completed all three degrees, he is a Master Mason and a full member of the Freemasonry fraternity.
If you have any questions or want to know more please feel free to contact us.