Frequently Asked Questions
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Freemasonry, being established in the early 18th Century and with over 4 million members worldwide, is the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world, and while there is no one "official" definition as to what it is, Masonry is an organization comprised of men of all age groups, every profession, all religions and all social, economic and ethnic backgrounds who come together as equals to promote moral and spiritual values, self-improvement, and helping their communities with charitable endeavors, and whose goal is to make good men better and leave their communities in a better place than when they found it.
Not at all; but it is a society with secrets. A secret society is one that hides its existence and its members are unknown. Many Masons proudly display Masonic symbols on cars, clothing and jewelry announcing their membership, and the Square & Compass are one of the most recognizable symbols in today's world. Like most fraternal societies, however, there are certain secrets that only members are authorized to possess
The only way to start the path to becoming a Mason is to express your interest to an active Mason. Masonry does not recruit, and therefore it is the responsibility of the individual to communicate his desires, however you must:
-Be a man at least 18 years old(21 in some jurisdictions)
-Have resided in the state for at least 6 months(1 year in some jurisdictions)
-Request, and be willing to sign a Petition, stating your age, occupation and place of residence.
-Have a belief in a higher spiritual authority
-Be of good moral character
-Have a sincere determination to conduct yourself in a manner that will earn the respect and trust of others and possess a desire to help others through community service and universal benevolence.
-Have a favorable recommendation from at least 2 Brothers.
To Be One, Ask One...
While many, if not most Masonic Lodges around the world are similar in practice, not all are considered by Masonry to be legitimate or "regular", meaning not all can trace their history and lineage back to one of the four original Grand Lodges of England, Ireland or Scotland(there were two in England at one point). In the United States, there are only two groups of regular Masonic Lodges, the "Mainstream" Lodges and the "Prince Hall Affiliated" (P.H.A.) Lodges, both of which can be traced back to England through their Grand Lodges. There are, however, several other un-recognized or "spurious" groups of lodges around the U.S. that consider themselves Masons, with three of the most common being called "International" (I.F. & A.M.), "Modern Free & Accepted" (M.F. & A.M.) and "Prince Hall Origin" (P.H.O.) lodges. These groups originated randomly and independently in the United States and have no true lineage back to any of the original Grand Lodges and so are not recognized by Mainstream or Prince Hall(P.H.A.) Masonry.
Although you are free to petition a lodge of your choosing, historically men have chosen lodges based on if they know someone who is already a member and feel more comfortable joining that lodge, how close the lodge is to where they live, and/or based on the positive activities that they have witnessed a lodge perform in the community or read about on a lodge's website. Most Masons would also encourage to attend any public functions and ceremonies that a Lodge may have in order for you to see first hand what we do and ask questions, and so that the Brothers may have an opportunity to get to know you. A list of all the local Prince Hall Lodges in your area may be found on your state's Grand Lodge Website, which are all listed on our 'Links' page.
It may benefit you to research Masonry's history, purposes, beliefs and activities to determine whether Masonry may or may not be something upon which you wish to embark, and while the internet is one resource in the 'age of information', it is rarely accurate, and as such, there are parts of Masonry, even in the 'age of information', that can only truly be known to those who have been initiated into its fold.
Prince Hall is recognized as the Father of Black Masonry in the United States which began during the War of Independence, when Prince Hall and 14 other free black men were initiated into Lodge # 441, Irish Constitution, attached to the 38th Regiment of Foot, British Army Garrisoned at Castle Williams (now Fort Independence) Boston Harbor on March 6, 1775. For more information on who Prince Hall was, click here.
One's ethnicity has no bearing on membership into any lodge. Although Prince Hall Masonry is primarily composed of African-American members, this is due to the historical background of its existence. There are many non-blacks in Prince Hall lodges throughout the United States and the world.
No, Freemasonry is not a religion. 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.
No, Masonry is only open to men, but women are able to join our "sister" organization, the Order of the Eastern Star(OES), as well as several other female oriented groups or "houses" in the Masonic family.