What is
Masonry?
Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest secular fraternal societies, whose members are concerned with moral
and spiritual values. They are taught its precepts by a series of ritual dramas, which follow ancient forms and
use stonemason's customs and tools as allegorical guides. The essential qualification for admission is a belief
in a Supreme Being. Freemasonry is open to men of any race or religion who can fulfill this essential
qualification and are of good repute. Although it has a religious basis Freemasonry is neither a religion in itself
nor a substitute for religion. It expects its members to follow their own faith. It has no theology or dogma and by
forbidding the discussion of religion at its meetings prevents the development of any dogma. Nor is there a
separate Masonic god. The use of honorifics, such as the Great Architect, is simply to enable men of different
faiths to meet together, offer prayers and address their God without differences of religion obtruding. To the
Christian the Great Architect is his God; to the Jew, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim etc. he is the God of his particular
religion.
Freemasonry is not a secret society. Its aims, principles, constitutions and rules are available to the public and
its members are at perfect liberty to acknowledge their membership. The only secrets in Freemasonry are the
traditional modes of recognition.
A Freemason is taught that his prime duties are to his God, to the laws of the country in which he lives and
works, and to his family. Any attempt to use his membership to promote his own or anyone else's business,
professional or personal interests, and any attempt to shield a Freemason who has acted dishonorably or
unlawfully, is contrary to the conditions on which he seeks admission.
By following the three Great principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth a Freemason hopes to show
tolerance and respect for the opinions of others; to practice charity within the community as a whole both by
charitable giving and voluntary efforts; and to strive to attain truth and high moral standards in his own life.
Masonry teaches that each person has a responsibility to make things better in the world. Most individuals
won't be the ones to find a cure for cancer, or eliminate poverty, or help create world peace, but every man
and woman and child can do something to help others and to make things a little better. Masonry is deeply
involved with helping people -- it spends more than $1.4 million dollars every day in the United States, just to
make life a little easier. And the great majority of that help goes to people who are not Masons. Some of these
charities are vast projects, like the Crippled Children's Hospitals and Burns Institutes built by the Shriners.
Also, Scottish Rite Masons maintain a nationwide network of over 100 Childhood Language Disorders Clinics,
Centers, and Programs. Each helps children afflicted by such conditions as aphasia, dyslexia, stuttering, and
related learning or speech disorders. Some services are less noticeable, like helping a widow pay her electric
bill or buying coats and shoes for disadvantaged children. And there's just about anything you can think of
in-between. But with projects large or small, the Masons of a lodge try to help make the world a better place.
The lodge gives them a way to combine with others to do even more good.
The more casual answer would add that Freemasonry is a body of like-minded, responsible men, who in their
own way, wish to progress as individuals and share a journey of personal development towards self
enlightenment which is often masked by the pace of life today.
Freemasons will also enjoy the customs and theatrics and within the lodge which, in an appropriate context,
are used to explain symbolic meaning. There is also good humour, spirit of friendship and a dinner afterwards
(which is known as the Festive Board) and the potential to visit other lodges in the US as well as abroad which
all adds to the enjoyment.
In between lodge meetings, many freemasons will try to find opportunities to put something back into the
community at large. They will also appreciate that humility and the conduct by which they run their lives outside
the lodge room is important. Finally, they do not regard Freemasonry as a secret society, merely one that is
private that would loose some of its special significance and meaning to newcomers should every aspect of
lodge business become widely known or be taken out of context. These days though, even the briefest search
on the internet will reveal all sorts of signs, signals or practices with trouser legs ascribed to Freemasonry,
some true, others obvious fiction