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About Freemasonry

Portrait of Harry Truman as Grand Master of Missouri Who are Freemasons?
Freemasons (also known as Masons) belong to the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world. Today, there are more than two million Freemasons in North America alone. Masons represent virtually every occupation and profession, yet within the Fraternity, all meet as equals. Masons come from diverse political ideologies, yet meet as friends. Masons come from varied religious beliefs and creeds, yet all believe in one God.

Many of America's early patriots were Freemasons. Thirteen signers of the Constitution and fourteen Presidents of the United States, including George Washington and Franklin Roosevelt.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Freemasonry is how so many men, from so many different walks of life, can meet together in peace, always conducting their affairs in harmony and friendship and calling each other "Brother."

What is the purpose of Freemasonry?
Freemasonry (or Masonry) is dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. It uses the tools and implements of ancient architectural craftsmen symbolically in a system of instruction designed to build character and moral values in its members. Its singular purpose is to make good men better. Its bonds of friendship, compassion, and brotherly love have survived even the most divisive political, military, and religious conflicts through the centuries. Freemasonry is a fraternity which encourages its members to practice the faith of their personal acceptance. Masonry teaches that each person, through self-improvement and helping others, has an obligation to make a difference for good in the world.

Where did Freemasonry begin?
No one knows just how old Freemasonry is because the actual origins have been lost in time. Some scholars believe Masonry arose from the guilds of stonemasons who built the majestic castles and cathedrals of the middle ages. While others speculate its heritage is derived from the "Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem", otherwise known as the Knights Templar. What is known, is that in 1717 Masonry created a formal organization when four Lodges in London joined in forming England's first Grand Lodge. By 1731, when Benjamin Franklin joined the Fraternity, there were already several Lodges in the American Colonies.

Today, Masonic Lodges are found in almost every community throughout North America, and in large cities there are usually several Lodges. A Mason can travel to almost any country in the world and find a Masonic Lodge where he will be welcomed as a "Brother."

What do Freemasons do?
The Masonic experience encourages members to become better men, better husbands, better fathers, and better citizens. The fraternal bonds formed in the Lodge help build lifelong friendships among men with similar goals and values.

Beyond its focus on individual development and growth, Masonry is deeply involved in helping people. The Freemasons of North America contribute over two million dollars a day to charitable causes. This philanthropy represents an unparalleled example of the humanitarian commitment of this great and honorable Fraternity. Much of that assistance goes to people who are not Masons. Some of these charities are vast projects. The Shrine Masons (Shriners) operate the largest network of hospitals for burned and orthopedically impaired children in the country, and there is never a fee for treatment. The Scottish Rite Masons maintain a nationwide network of over 150 Childhood Language Disorder Clinics, Centers, and Programs.

Many other Masonic organizations sponsor a variety of philanthropies, including scholarship programs for children, and perform public service activities in their communities. Masons also enjoy the fellowship of each other and their families in social and recreational activities.

Is Freemasonry a religion?
No. While it is a requirement that each member believe in a Supreme Being, it is not important how one expresses that very personal belief. Further, there is no dogmatic system in Freemasonry. However, confusion about the secular nature of Freemasonry has been a common misconception for many years. Most likely, this misconception is due to the Holy Book that sits on the altar in the middle of a Masonic lodge. This Holy Book does not have to be Christian, like the Bible, rather it can be any Holy Book that is important to the members of the lodge. In the U.S. where the population is mostly Christian, the Holy Book most often used in Lodges is the King James Version of the Bible.

Is Freemasonry a secret society?
Absolutely not, the Scottish Rite and other forms of Freemasonry operate very much in the open with many events open to the public. There are "modes of recognition" (passwords and handshakes) that represent a Mason's ability to keep a promise.

What are some of the Masonic principles?
  • Faith must be the center of our lives
  • All men and women are the children of God
  • No one has the right to tell another person what he or she must think or believe
  • Each person has a responsibility to be a good citizen, obeying the law
  • It is important to work to make the world a better place for all
  • Honor and integrity are keys to a meaningful life

What is a Masonic Lodge?
The word "Lodge" means both a group of Masons meeting together as well as the room or building in which they meet. Masonic buildings are sometimes called "temples" because the original meaning of the term was a "place of knowledge" and Masonry encourages the advancement of knowledge.

Masonic Lodges usually meet once or twice a month to conduct regular business, vote upon petitions for membership, and bring new Masons into the Fraternity through three ceremonies called degrees. In the Lodge room Masons share in a variety of programs. Here the bonds of friendship and fellowship are formed and strengthened.

Who can qualify to join?
Applicants must be men of good character who believe in a Supreme Being. To become a Mason one must petition a particular Lodge. The Master of the Lodge appoints a committee to visit the applicant prior to the Lodge members balloting upon his petition. Additionally, there are several appendent and concordant groups within the Masonic Family that welcome women and youth.

Men of character and integrity join the Masons
Most are men who go about their jobs and professions with no hint they are Freemasons except for the way they lead their lives. Many are readily recognizable by name, face, or accomplishment. George Washington and thirteen other Presidents, eight Vice Presidents and forty-two Justices of the Supreme Court have been Masons.

Some notable Masons through history
R. Eddy
Arnold
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Singer
Roy C.
Acuff
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Singer
Edwin E.
Aldrin, Jr.
About Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr.
Astronaut
William J.
Basie
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Jazz Pianist
Irving
Berlin
About Irving Berlin
Composer
Ernest
Borgnine
About Ernest Borgnine
Actor
 
Omar N.
Bradley
About Omar N. Bradley
General
Richard E.
Byrd
About Richard E. Byrd
Admiral
DeWitt
Clinton
About DeWitt Clinton
Governor
George M.
Cohan
About George M. Cohan
Entertainer
David
Crockett
About David Crockett
Frontiersman
Norm
Crosby
About Norm Crosby
Comedian
 
Cecil B.
deMille
About Cecil B. deMille
Film Director
William H.
Dempsey
About William H. Dempsey
Boxer
John G.
Diefenbaker
About John G. Diefenbaker
Prime Minster
James H.
Doolittle
About James H. Doolittle
General
Edward K.
Ellington
About Edward K. Ellington
Bandleader
John A.
Elway, Jr.
About John A. Elway, Jr.
Football Player
 
Sir Alexander
Fleming
About Sir Alexander Fleming
Biologist
Gerald R.
Ford, Jr.
About Gerald R. Ford, Jr.
President
Henry
Ford
About Henry Ford
Business Magnate
Benjamin
Franklin
About Benjamin Franklin
Polymath
W. Clark
Gable
About W. Clark Gable
Actor
Benjamin A.
Gilman
About Benjamin A. Gilman
Congressman
 
John H.
Glenn, Jr.
About John H. Glenn, Jr.
Astronaut
Arthur M.
Godfrey
About Arthur M. Godfrey
Broadcaster
Barry M.
Goldwater
About Barry M. Goldwater
Senator
John
Hancock
About John Hancock
Statesman
Samuel
Houston
About Samuel Houston
Statesman
Hubert H.
Humphrey
About Hubert H. Humphrey
Vice President
 
Burl I.I.
Ives
About Burl I.I. Ives
Actor
Andrew
Jackson
About Andrew Jackson
President
Al
Jolson
About Al Jolson
Singer
John Paul
Jones
About John Paul Jones
Sailor
Jack F.
Kemp
About Jack F. Kemp
Congressman
J. Rudyard
Kipling
About J. Rudyard Kipling
Writer
 
Marquis de
Lafayette
About Marquis de Lafayette
General
Fiorello H.
LaGuardia
About Fiorello H. LaGuardia
Mayor
Charles A.
Lindbergh
About Charles A. Lindbergh
Aviator
Douglas
MacArthur
About Douglas MacArthur
General
George C.
Marshall
About George C.Marshall
General
Thurgood
Marshall
About Thurgood Marshall
SC Justice
 
Charles H.
Mayo
About Charles H. Mayo
Physician
James
Monroe
About James Monroe
President
Marion M.
Morrison
About John Wayne
Actor
Wolfgang A.
Mozart
About Wolfgang A. Mozart
Composer
Audie L.
Murphy
About Audie L. Murphy
Soldier
Shaquille R.
O'Neal
About Shaquille R. O'Neal
Basketball Player
 
Arnold D.
Palmer
About Arnold D. Palmer
Golfer
Norman V.
Peale
About Norman V. Peale
Minister
James C.
Penny
About James C. Penny
Businessman
John
Pershing
About John Pershing
General
W. Branch
Rickey
About W. Branch Rickey
Baseball Executive
William P.A.
Rogers
About William P.A. Rogers
Actor
 
Theodore
Roosevelt
About Theodore Roosevelt
President
Franklin D.
Roosevelt
About Franklin D. Roosevelt
President
David
Sarnoff
About David Sarnoff
Businessman
Richard B.
Skelton
About Richard B. Skelton
Comedian
John Philip
Sousa
About John Philip Sousa
Composer
Danny
Thomas
About Danny Thomas
Comedian
 
David R.
Thomas
About David R. Thomas
Businessman
Harry S.
Truman
About Harry S. Truman
President
Booker T.
Washington
About Booker T. Washington
Civil Rights Leader
George
Washington
About George Washington
President
Thomas J.
Watson
About Thomas J. Watson
Businessman
Ehrich
Weiss
About Harry Houdini
Performer

So who are the Masons?
Masons are men of good character who strive to improve themselves and make the world a better place. They belong to the oldest and most honorable fraternity known to man. If you think you may be interested in becoming a member, you can begin by contacting a Lodge in your area or speaking to a Mason.