What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that simply seeks to improve men so that they may, in turn, improve society around them. It makes good men better. But it does not tell them how to do it, nor does it give them political, commercial or religious instructions.
Freemasonry is the oldest, largest and most widely recognized fraternal organization in the world. Current worldwide membership totals 3.6 million members, 1.6 million of which are in North America.
As a fraternal organization, Freemasonry unites men of good character who, though of different religious, ethnic, or social backgrounds, share a belief in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind.
The traditions of Freemasonry are founded upon the building of King Solomon's Temple, and its fraternal ceremonies use the working tools of the stonemasons to symbolize moral lessons and truths. For example, Masons are reminded at Lodge to "meet upon the level of equality, act by the plumb of uprightness, and part upon the square of virtue."
Like most organizations, one will get out of Freemasonry what he is able to put into it. However, membership in Freemasonry is not meant in any way to interfere with an individual's commitment to his faith, family, or occupation. Freemasonry is not and never can be a replacement for these important institutions, but rather it is a positive environment that reminds every Mason of his duty to God, his community, his family and himself.
Freemasonry provides opportunities for sincere, honest, forthright men who believe in God and desire to contribute to the improvement of their communities and themselves. Through our Masonic Fraternalism, we reaffirm our dedication and unity to become involved citizens who have a strong desire to preserve the values that have made and continue to make America great.
Basic Requirements to Join a Masonic Lodge
The qualifications to become a Freemason vary from one jurisdiction to another, but some basic qualifications are common to all regular Masonic lodges:
- You must be a man, of honor and honesty.
- You must believe in a Supreme Being.
- You must be joining of your own free will.
- You must be of lawful age. Which here in Ohio is at least 19.
- You must come recommended by at least two existing Freemasons from the lodge you’re petitioning.
- Masonry doesn’t care about your or social position or worldly wealth.
If you are interested and do not know a Mason or where your local lodge is feel free to contact us and we would be more then willing to help you find the contact information you need.
Is Freemasonry a religion?
No, Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for your religion, Masons who treat it as such are mistaken. Freemasonry strongly encourages its members to belong to an established religion, although that is not a requirement for membership (only that a candidate profess a belief in a Supreme Being). Masonry is a fraternal organization that encourages morality and charity and studies philosophy. Actually religion is not to even be discussed at Masonic meetings. Freemasonry offers no sacraments nor does it claim to lead to salvation by any definition.
Freemasonry believes that men of all faiths can dwell together in peace. Freemasonry requires its members to believe in God but will not dictate those beliefs except that they coincide with the teachings of Freemasonry. The teachings of Freemasonry are built on the virtues of Faith, Hope, Charity, Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. The "search for light" found in Freemasonry is a reference to a quest for knowledge, not salvation.
If you are looking for religion you need to be looking for a church not a fraternity of Brothers.
What happens at a lodge meeting?
Meetings are begun with ceremony. Then basically two things occur. Business and/or ritual degree work. Degrees may be conferred on the same night as a business meeting or depending on the will of the lodge on a separate evening/day.
The business of the lodge is often quite mundane, for example voting to pay bills. Other business might include anything which any local club or group would encounter. There are votes to admit new members, there are suggestions from the officers and/or the members about activities to hold and things to do and there are reports on events that have occurred. In addition, there is a Treasurer's Report and the reading of the minutes of the preceding meeting by the Secretary along with any correspondence which he might have. The Secretary and Master will report on any word they've received regarding the sickness or distress of a member or his family. Other officers and members might add information as well.
In addition to the above, there are times when a meeting might consist partially or entirely ritual work. Performing the degree, during which a candidate receives further advancement in Freemasonry. First Degree “Entered Apprentice”, Second Degree “Fellowcraft”, and Third Degree “Master Mason”.
There may be a meal, full or snacks, served either before or after the meeting.
Why do you call God - The Great Architect of the Universe ?
Keep in mind we are not a religion nor do we discriminate against personal religious beliefs. We have Brothers all around the world with different religious beliefs.
Our organization/fraternity of Freemasonry has no set "God" one must believe in. Upon petitioning for membership it is a requirement to profess a belief in a Supreme Being. They are not required or requested to elaborate any further on their beliefs except to make a positive affirmation that they have such a belief.
The term "Great Architect of the Universe" (or "Grand Architect of the Universe") is used to permit a more generic term, to the Supreme Being of all present. All Masons understand this concept and when prayers are offered in their lodge, they understand that regardless of the person speaking the words or the manner of prayer of others present, the prayer is addressed only to their own belief of the Supreme Being.
This allows us all to pray together as Brothers without religious confrontation.
I have heard bad rumors are they true?
The lodge goat
Freemasons do not ride a goat in their lodges. It's a joke, perpetrated often by Masons themselves on nervous initiates.
The Masonic bible
Masons have been accused of using their own Satanic bible in their ceremonies, this stems from a custom of many lodges to present a Master Mason with a commemorative Bible upon completing the 3rd Degree Ceremony. This bible is usually the 1611 translation of the King James version and has additional pages to record the Master Mason’s raising date and has spaces for the Lodge Officers to sign.
Masonic meeting is not an act of worship. A lodge is not a church. And Freemasonry is not a religion. Freemasons use prayers to open and close their meetings, but so do Congress and Parliament. The misconception is that Masonic meetings are some sort of bizarre, secret worship service, offered up to a pagan god. Or goddess. Or goat. Or Satan himself.
At any rate, NO we do NOT worship Satan.
Freemasonry is a cult
That depends on what is meant by "cult." By some definitions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are cults. By another definition, golfing, bowling, and surfing the Internet are cults. But in the usual use of the term, referring to a group that separates itself from society and its members from their non-member friends, demands slavish obedience from its adherents, engages in brainwashing techniques, confiscates their resources, and sees itself in opposition to established society, absolutely not!
Quite the opposite, in fact: Masonry does not recruit members, does not compel attendance at any of its meetings, charges modest dues and fees (some little changed from sixty years ago, when the dollar was worth a lot more), encourages community service and participation in civic and religious organizations, and allows any member to quit (dimit) at any time (providing he has no outstanding financial obligations; otherwise, he is liable to be suspended, but in either case, he would no longer be a member). It is easier to get out of Masonry than it is to get into it!
What about "blood oaths" and hideous penalties of the degrees?
It is true that Masons must take solemn obligations (or oaths) on a Bible or other book sacred to the faith of the individual candidate, but so do Supreme Court justices, the President of the United States, police officers, courtroom witnesses, and even Boy Scouts.
The obligations are to be faithful to the principles of Masonry, and their very nature and seriousness implies that there should be penalties. However, the language of these obligations makes it clear that the penalties are not actually inflicted by the Lodge or any body of Masonry but are expressions of how disgraced and contemptible one should feel for violating such an obligation. In some jurisdictions, the candidate is told that the penalties are of "ancient origin and symbolic only." Later degrees make this even more apparent, even if the actual information is not specifically addressed to the candidate. But the true penalties for violation of the laws of Masonry are three only: Admonition (or reprimand), suspension, or expulsion. Stories about Masons being maimed or murdered for violation of their oaths are just that: fiction. Not one single instance can be documented, despite the many attempts by the enemies of Masonry to promote this slander.
Taking over the world
I am not at liberty to discuss this.
All joking aside, Freemasons are forbidden to discuss politics in the Lodge, which makes it particularly hard to plot a world takeover plan and with millions of men in nearly every country in the world in the Craft, how would it be kept a secret?. So all in all if the Freemasons were planning to take over the world we are really not very good at it. Freemasonry does not now, nor has it ever aspired to be a world-dominating empire.
What are the Real Secrets of Freemasonry?
Making Good Men Better
Freemasonry: The Craft
For centuries, millions of men of every race, color, creed, and political persuasion throughout the world have found in the Symbolic Lodges of Freemasonry the light to guide their search for answers to eternal questions: What is the meaning of life? The nature of God and man?
Freemasonry is a system of morality, veiled in allegory, illustrated by symbols. Not a religion but religious in character, it is a philosophy of ethical conduct which imparts moral and social virtues and fosters brotherly love. Its tenets have endured since man turned the first pages of civilization. They embody the understanding by which man can transcend ordinary experience and build "a house not made with hands" in harmony with the Great Architect of the universe.
Yet Freemasonry can never conflict with a man's relationship to God or fellow man. Sectarian religious or partisan political discussion in a lodge is strictly prohibited. Every Mason stands equal among his brothers, regardless of walk of life, and none is turned away for financial need.
The purpose of the Ancient Craft of Freemasonry is to unfold a message where "truth abides in fullness", invoking greater understanding of the inward life and a spirit of fellowship in which every Mason can also lead a better outward life.
Brotherhood At Work
Freemasonry has been characterized as a fraternity devoted to high ideals and admirable benevolence. Community service and charitable work are, in fact, principal Masonic activities.
Easily the best-known is the world's largest single charitable institution, the Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children and Burns Institutes, which are located throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
Other Masonic bodies support their own statewide and national foundations for research, teaching, and treatment for rehabilitation services for children with learning or speech disorders, cancer, visual problems, and need of dental restoration.
Masons everywhere assist distressed brother Masons and their families. They also sponsor or support local projects ranging from the recognition of the achievements of others to scholarship programs. Masons serve as community volunteers and quietly extend help for countless thousands - from providing a child with shoes to assisting the handicapped.
Altogether, the budgets for these community services exceed two million dollars per day, which Masons support without regard to the Masonic affiliation of their recipients. With this spirit of working together to serve mankind, brotherhood works well, indeed.
A Progressive Science
Once raised to the "sublime degree" of Master Mason in his "Blue" Lodge, a Freemason steps onto a broad vista of opportunity for fellowship and advancement.
First, concordant bodies of the York Rite and the Scottish Rite offer ritual instruction for advanced degrees. Every Shriner is a Mason first...as are members of other Masonic groups, each serving a particular need or interest.
Advancement through these concordant bodies not only invites participation in this Masonic network, but also promotes a more comprehensive understanding of its sacramental system of ceremonies, doctrines, and symbols.
A statewide Grand organization governs every Masonic body, and all but the Blue Lodge have national governing councils as well. These offer further opportunity for growth and responsibility.
No Mason is required to advance beyond his Blue Lodge or participate actively in its ritual or business affairs, but those who do so find personal fulfillment in the rewards of public speaking, teaching, community work, and even music and the dramatic arts.
Whether their commitments are to Masonic ritual, study or organizational and charitable work, most active Masons simply speak of the camaraderie among trusted friends and a satisfying sense of purpose.
Though its heritage in antiquity is unmistakable, modern speculative Freemasonry was founded more recently upon the structure, ceremonies, and symbolism of the lodge of operative or working freemen stonemasons, who built the magnificent Medieval Gothic structures throughout much of Europe and England.
Dated in 1390 A.D., the Regius Poem details the charter of a lodge operating in the 900s A.D. "Masonry" then meant architecture and encompassed most of the arts and sciences. Because lodges held knowledge as competitive secrets, only trusted, capable companions were instructed in the craft - and then only by degrees, orally and through symbols, because of widespread illiteracy.
In the late Renaissance, lodges of Freemasons began to accept as speculative masons those educated men who were attracted by the elegance of Masonic traditions for philosophic expression. In time they were passed into the inner circles.
Thus, the framers of speculative Freemasonry began to describe a code of conduct through the symbolic nature of architecture and the stonemason's craft. Signaling modern speculative Freemasonry, the first Grand Lodge was chartered in 1717. Constituent Symbolic Lodges were soon established throughout the world.
The first Lodge in the Colonies was chartered in Boston in 1733, and the first Lodge in New Jersey, St. Johns #1, was chartered on July 3, 1787.
A Family Affair
The Blue Lodge is the bedrock of the Masonic Family, yet there are several appendant organizations which a Mason's family members can join to share many more of their common interests and activities.
Family-oriented activities include a range of social and entertainment programs, family outings, and community service projects, as well as numerous occasions for statewide or regional travel.
Among the appendant groups for adults, both men and women may be welcome as members, but women typically hold the principal offices. These groups include, among others, the Order of the Eastern Star, Order of Amaranth, and Order of the Golden Chain.
Groups for young people build self-esteem and prepare them for citizenship through successful experience with responsibility and leadership. Masonic youth groups include the Order of Rainbow for Girls, and the Order of DeMolay for young men.
With many opportunities for growth and friendship, these family-centered groups typically develop active social calendars, so that the "Masonic family" truly is a family affair.
Among millions of Masons, not one was lawfully invited to apply for membership. Our code of conduct prevents it. Thus, no faithful Mason can invite you. Any Mason can obtain a Petition for the Degrees of Freemasonry for you, but you must ask for it - and for good reason.
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 more apparent meanings of Masonry.
Do you reflect on the nature of man's existence and your 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 you to know what we believe, how we act, and what we do...and, then, should you become a Mason, to be proud to be our Brother and to participate in our work. Only those who desire membership because of their favorable impression of us should seek a petition.
That's why you must "ask yourself".
STILL WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Freemasonry teaches the great lessons of life - the importance of honor and integrity, of being a person on whom others can rely, of being both trusting and trustworthy, of realizing that you have a spiritual nature as well as a physical nature, of importance of self-control, of knowing how to keep confidential what others tell you so they that may "open up" without fear.
Freemasons have a responsibility to make things better in the world. Over $2 million dollars are spent every day by Masons to help others in need.
Freemasonry lets men associate with other men of honor and integrity who believe that things like honesty, compassion, love, trust and knowledge are important.
Freemasonry is kindness in the home, honesty in business, courtesy in society, fairness in work, concern for the unfortunate, resistance toward evil, help for the weak, forgiveness for the penitent, love for one another and God.
If you are searching for meaning, depth, and focus to life; searching for a philosophy and ethic that will help you to live a better life; searching for growth and self-improvement, we would encourage you to learn all you can about Niles McKinley Lodge #794 and Freemasonry.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE INVOLVED IN FREEMASONRY OR ARE INTERESTED IN BECOMING A MASON,
PLEASE CONTACT US SO WE CAN DISCUSS THE FRATERNITY WITH YOU.