Is Masonry a religion? Masonry is a fraternity, not a religion. Masonry acknowledges the existence of God, but Masonry does not tell a person which religion he should practice or how he should practice it. That is a function of his house of worship, not his fraternity.
Sometimes people confuse Masonry with a religion because we call some Masonic buildings "temples." But we use the word in the same sense that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called the Supreme Court a "Temple of Justice." Neither Masonry nor the Supreme Court is a religion just because its members meet in a "temple." Most California lodges now refer to their buildings as Masonic centers. Why is Masonry so secretive?
It really isn't secretive, although it sometimes has that reputation. Masons certainly don't make a secret of the fact that we are members of the fraternity. We wear rings, lapel pins, and tie clasps with Masonic emblems like the Square and Compass. Masonic buildings are clearly marked, and are usually listed in the phone book. Lodge activities are not secret - events are often listed in the newspapers, especially in smaller towns. But there are two traditional categories of secrets. First are the ways in which a man can identify himself as a Mason: grips and passwords. This is the same for any fraternity. Second are Masonic ceremonies, which are private (for members only) but are not secret.
Why does Masonry use symbols? Everyone uses symbols every day because it allows us to communicate quickly. When you see a red light, you know what it means. When you see a circle with a line through it, you know it means "no." In fact, using symbols is probably the oldest method of communication and teaching.
Masons use symbols for the same reasons. Certain symbols, mostly selected from the art of architecture, stand for certain ethics and principles of the organization. The "Square and Compass" is the most widely known symbol of Masonry. In one way, this symbol is the trademarkfor the fraternity. When you see it on a building, you know that Masons meet there.
The Lost Symbol novel by Dan Brown
What is the truth versus fiction regarding Masons found in the popular novel "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown? The September 15, 2009 release of Dan Brown’s fictional novel “The Lost Symbol,” set in Washington, D.C. and centered around Freemasonry, has created a surge of interest in Masonry – and whether the fraternity’s most popular myths hail from fact or fiction.
Myths aside, Brown’s depiction of Freemasonry seems rooted in a positive view of the fraternity’s fundamental tenets.
"I have enormous respect for the Masons," Brown told The Associated Press during a recent interview. "In the most fundamental terms, with different cultures killing each other over whose version of God is correct, here is a worldwide organization that essentially says, `We don't care what you call God, or what you think about God, only that you believe in a god and let's all stand together as brothers and look in the same direction.'"
How Can I Become a Mason? It's easier to become a Mason than most people think. There are four main qualifications for membership: 1. You must be at least the minimum age. 2. You must believe in a supreme being. 3. You must be known as a man of good character. 4. You must join of your own free will and accord.
The Minimum Age In California, you must be 18 years old to join. In most areas of the United States, the minimum age is only 18 or 19. There is a national trend to drop the older requirement of 21 years. A chart of various Grand Lodge age policies can be found at: www.bessel.org/age.htm
If you are located outside California you can find your local age requirements there.
A Belief in a Supreme Being Masonry is open to members of every religion who can honestly say, "Yes" when asked if they believe in some kind of Supreme Being. No atheist can become a Mason. However, beyond this singular restriction, the fraternity does not pry into your individual faith. Masonry insists on toleration -- on the right of each person to think for himself in religious, social and political matters. Are you willing to allow others the same right to their beliefs that you insist on yourself? Our rulebook for the consideration of applicants is clear: "Freemasonry is opposed to no man's religion."
To illustrate, a Bible is on the altar in every meeting of our lodges, because most of the brethren in the United States are from one of the many religions drawn from that great scripture. However, when you take the degrees of Masonry in California, you have the right to have your own religion's sacred writing on the altar. An index of various religions, which might be represented in a lodge of Masons, can be found at: www.bessel.org/religion.htm
A Man of Good Character
When you apply for a job, the employer asks for professional references. When you apply to Freemasonry, we ask for character references. Masonry only accepts male candidates who are generally known to be good people. This is important for maintaining the integrity of our society, which frowns on petty politics and dishonest behavior. Masonry doesn't expect perfection from any man... but we have a responsibility to keep watch over the door to ensure that quality applicants find themselves welcomed into a lodge, which is comprised of men of similar caliber. The fact is, most men pass this test with flying colors. Masonry is not concerned with and does not discriminate based on ethnicity, nationality, class, or political views.
You Must Join of your Own Free Will and Accord One of the customs of the fraternity is that a man must join of his own free will. Masonry does not solicit members or conduct membership "drives” to supplement its membership roster.
A man desiring to become a Mason may request a petition from a friend who is a Mason, and he must be recommended to the Lodge by two Masons and pass a ballot of Lodge members.
Though Masonry does not permit direct or open membership solicitation, most jurisdictions have no objection to an approach being made to a man that is considered a suitable candidate for Freemasonry.
The potential candidate should then be left to make his own decision and come of his own free will and accord.
The bottom line: if you want to join our fraternity, please ask a Mason for a membership petition. He will be more than happy to obtain one for you. For more information on Freemasonry, please write, phone or email us:
Temple Lodge No. 14 of Free and Accepted Masons 669 Broadway Sonoma, California 95476 Lodge Phone: (707) 996-2450 Master of the Lodge: Rodney Beck Phone: (707) 938-9340 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org