What is a Freemason?

If you see a man who quietly and modestly moves in the sphere of his life; who, without blemish, fulfils his duty as a man, a subject, a husband and a father; who is pious without hypocrisy, benevolent without ostentation, and aids his fellowman without self-interest; whose heart beats warm for friendship, whose serene mind is open for licensed pleasures, who in vicissitudes does not despair, nor in fortune will be presumptuous, and who will be resolute in the hour of danger; The man who is free from superstition and free from infidelity; who in nature sees the finger of the Eternal Master; who feels and adores the higher destination of man; to whom faith, hope and charity are not mere words without any meaning; to whom property, nay even life, is not too dear for the protection of innocence and virtue, and for the defense of truth; The man who towards himself is a severe judge, but who is tolerant with the debilities of his neighbour; who endeavours to oppose errors without arrogance, and to promote intelligence without impatience; who properly understands how to estimate and employ his means; who honours virtue though it may be in the most humble garment, and who does not favour vice though it be clad in purple; and who administers justice to merit whether dwelling in palaces or cottage.

The man who, without courting applause, is loved by all noble-minded men, respected by his superiors and revered by his subordinates; the man who never proclaims what he has done, can do, or will do, but where need is will lay hold with dispassionate courage, circumspect resolution, indefatigable exertion and a rare power of mind, and who will not cease until he has accomplished his work, and then, without pretension, will retire into the multitude because he did the good act, not for himself, but for the cause of good!

If you, my Brethren meet such a man, you will see the personification of brotherly love, relief and truth; and you will have found the ideal of a Freemason.

— “The History of Freemasonry” by Otto Klotz, March 15, 1868.

Facts about Freemasonry

Who are the Freemasons?

Freemasons belong to the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world. Today, there are more than 4 million Freemasons in North America. Freemasons represent virtually every occupation and profession, yet within the Fraternity, all meet as equals. Masons come from diverse political ideologies, yet meet as friends. Freemasons come from varied religious beliefs and creeds, yet all believe in one God.

Many of North America’s early patriots were Freemasons. Thirteen signers of the Constitution and fourteen Presidents of the United States, including George Washington, were Freemasons. In Canada, the Father of the Confederation, Sir John A. MacDonald, was a Freemason, as were other early Canadian and American leaders.

What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry 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. Freemasonry teaches that each person, through self-improvement and helping others, has an obligation to make a difference for good in the world.

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 Masonic Lodge help build lifelong friendships among men with similar goals and values.

Beyond its focus on individual development and growth, Freemasonry 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.

Who can qualify to become a Freemason?

Applicants must be men of good character who believe in a Supreme Being. To become a Freemason one must petition a Masonic Lodge. The Master of the Masonic Lodge appoints a committee to visit the applicant prior to the Lodge balloting upon his petition.

Freemasonry is a fraternity, not a religion.

As a fraternal association dedicated to making good men better, Freemasonry respects the religious beliefs of all its members. Freemasonry has no theology and does not teach any method of salvation. In particular it does not claim that good works gain or guarantee salvation.

Freemasons are united in their desire to be of service to mankind.

While Freemasonry supports homes for members and their spouses, most Masonic services, including Shrine medical and burn centers, are available to all citizens. In 1990, American Masonic philanthropy totaled more than $525 million, of which 58% went to the general public.

Freemasonry is an open, not secretive, society.

Masonic meetings are announced publicly, Masonic buildings are marked clearly and are listed in phone directories, and Masons proudly wear jewelry identifying their membership. Freemasonry inherited a tradition of trade secrets from the cathedral-building guilds of medieval Europe. The only “secrets” still belonging to modern Masonry are traditional passwords, signs of recognition, and dramatic presentations of moral lessons.

Freemasonry is open to all men of good character who believe in God.

Freemasonry does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or social class.

The Masonic family of organizations is open to all.

Freemasonry admits only men, but many Masonic-related organizations, such as the Eastern Star, Amaranth, Job’s Daughters, Rainbow for Girls and DeMolay for Boys, offer ample opportunities for women and youth.

Freemasonry does not require improper oaths.

The solemn promises taken in Freemasonry are no different than the oaths taken in court or on entering the armed services. The much discussed “penalties,” judicial remnants from an earlier age, are symbolic, not literal. They refer only to the pain any honest man should feel at the thought of violating his word.

Freemasonry teaches individual improvement through study.

Freemasonry encourages study, including literature by the great writers of ancient times. Freemasonry does not sanction the views of these authors but offers them for each individual’s reflection and evaluation.

Freemasonry teaches in steps.

Masons learn through a series of lessons. These “degrees” of insight move from basic to more complex concepts. This no more hides the nature of Freemasonry from novice members than does having a student understand fractions before calculus.

Freemasonry is practiced worldwide.

There are approximately 4.5 million Masons in the United States and nearly 8 million throughout the world.

Freemasonry has no single spokesman.

Freemasonry is made up of many individuals in numerous organizations, all subordinate to the Grand Lodge within their jurisdiction (i.e. state). None of these members or organizations can speak for Freemasonry; that is the responsibility of each Grand Lodge within its jurisdiction. No Masonic body nor author, however respected, can usurp the authority of a Grand Lodge.

Freemasonry is made up of many organizations.

Masonry has many groups, each with a special social, educational, or philanthropic focus. A man becomes a Mason in his local Lodge. Then he joins any of the following “Appendant Bodies” : the Scottish Rite, York Rite (which includes the Royal Arch and Knights Templar), Shriners, Grottoes, Tall Cedars, etc.