Common questions about our fraternity
Freemasonry cannot be defined in a few sentences or pat answers. One of the most common definitions is that it is a system of morality, veiled in allegory (or a story) and illustrated by symbols. This is true, but Freemasonry is more than that. While it is certainly a course of moral instruction that uses both allegories and symbols to teach its lessons, Freemasonry is also an organized society of men, a fraternity. It uses symbols derived from operative stone masonry and architecture but not exclusively. Much of its symbolism is also taken from Biblical sources, especially the stories surrounding the building of King Solomon’s Temple. Great stress is placed upon the development of moral and ethical virtues and the building of character, with Truth being the guiding principle of our lives. Thus, Brotherhood and charity are natural outcomes which further define what we are. In other words, we are using proven methods to enhance the lives and spirits of our members in a tangible way.
There are also aspects of Freemasonry that enrich our lives and spirits in an intangible way. This part of Freemasonry is harder to define but is just as real. There is something very profound about Freemasonry. It seems to speak to a hidden part of oneself that responds with a deep reverence and respect. The deeper one takes his studies of the rites and symbols of Freemasonry, the richer his Masonic life becomes.
Qualifications for Membership?
Application for membership is open to men who:
- Have been an Ohio resident for at least six months
- Are at least 19 years old
- Have a belief in a Supreme Being
- Live a good moral and social life
- Do not advocate the overthrow of the government
- Can read and write English
- Are recommended by two members of the Lodge they wish to join. (If you do not know two members of a Lodge, the secretary of the Lodge to which you are applying can arrange a meeting with two members of the Lodge for you.)
To Be One, Ask One… (2B1ask1) The traditional way of joining Freemasonry is to ask someone who is already a member. If you know someone who’s a member, let him know that you’re interested in joining, and tell him you’d like to petition for membership. He should direct you to the appropriate venue to issue your petition; you’ll have to answer some questions about why you want to become a member.
What are Masons about?
One of its most basic purposes is to make good men even better. We try to place emphasis on the individual man by strengthening his character, improving his moral and spiritual outlook, and broadening his mental horizons. We try to impress upon the minds of our members the principles of personal responsibility and morality, encouraging each member to practice in his daily life the lessons taught through symbolic ceremonies in the Lodge. One of the universal doctrines of Freemasonry is the belief in the “Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God”. The importance of this belief is established by each Mason as he practices the three principle tenets of Freemasonry: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
Freemasonry is also the custodian of a tradition of initiation. It is the duty of every Freemason to preserve and perpetuate this tradition for future ages. This is a heavy responsibility and should give pause to any who would seek to make changes in the body of the Craft, except those with the highest motives and deepest understanding of the principles involved.
Is Freemasonry a Secret Society?
The answer is no. A secret society is one in which the membership is concealed, the meeting places are kept secret, and knowledge of its organization and principles is unknown to the public. True, we have a few secrets in Freemasonry: a part of our ritual, our modes of recognition and the business of the Lodge. Portions of our ritual have been handed down within Freemasonry for centuries and form a part of our tradition. However, our purposes, ideals and principles may be learned by anyone who inquires. There are numerous books on these subjects available to the public. All printed Masonic information, with the exception of our esoteric work, may be freely discussed in public. As Masons, we wear lapel pins and other Masonic jewelry, march in parades with our distinctive aprons, advertise the time and place of our meetings and openly sponsor charities. We can hardly be called a secret society. We do prefer to keep our rites confidential, because keeping them sacred and solemn can only enhance their initiatory value.
It should also be mentioned that the true secrets of Freemasonry are contained within the repository of the faithful breast and cannot be revealed to those who are not duly and truly prepared to receive them.
More information can be found at the Grand Lodge site.
Is Freemasonry a Religion?
Again, the answer is no. Because of the nature of the teachings of Freemasonry, we require our Candidates to acknowledge a belief in the existence and perfection of God. Otherwise, the ceremonies would be meaningless. However, there is no requirement that one belong to a particular religion or a particular church. That choice is a personal decision. It is the opinion of our Order that membership in our Fraternity will only enhance a man’s experience in whatever religious community he chooses to belong. An atheist cannot become a Mason, because he cannot express a belief in a Supreme Being.