Freemasonry is often misunderstood, especially with so many wild stories and conspiracy theories on the internet. Its roots actually lie in the traditions and ceremonies of the medieval stonemasons who built our cathedrals and castles and some of these rituals are still celebrated today.
Below are some answers to frequently asked questions to demonstrate how popular we are and how we fit into today’s society.
The principles of Freemansonry are integrity, fairness, and kindness, and members are encouraged to put family and community first before all else. It offers the opportunity of meeting a wide variety of people in a very sociable environment.
The secret handshake and secret greeting are used primarily as a means of recognition and identification and are still used today.
Whilst there are many principles of freemasonry, the main three princles that every member agrees to abide by when they join a lodge are:
- Brotherly love – meaning love, kindness and respect for all people, not just for fellow members.
- Relief – ensuring that other members of the wider community, as well as the freemasonry community, are cared for. This includes the giving and performing of charity and charitable actions.
- Truth – Freemasons are encouraged to be honest and truthful in all areas of life and to meet high moral standards.
There are many benefits from membership and different people join for different reasons.
Camaraderie is an important benefit and many members forge lifelong friendships that are never broken. Some join for the purpose of giving back to the community and some for being involved with charitable work through donations or contribution of their time.
The ritual ceremony also has a lot to offer in terms of exploring moral standards and lessons that can guide a person through life.
Freemasonry is absolutely not a religion nor does it pertain to be, and nor does it aim to rival any religion. One of the requirements of membership is that a person believes in a Supreme Being but every member is free and encouraged to follow their own belief.
Discussion on religion is prohibited and one of the beneficial features of Lodge meetings is that it offers a place for men to meet and talk freely, bringing together people of many different faiths and religions.
There are certain criteria that must be met to determine eligibility but these are relatively simple and most people that wish to join the Freemasons find that they are able to do so.
Lodge requirements may differ but it is generally accepted that you be male, aged 21 (18 in some circumstances), believe in a Supreme Being, and you must want to join of your own free will.
There are no financial requirements except that you can reasonably afford to pay the Lodge fees.
Typically, a person is proposed by an existing member that they know well but this needs to be seconded by another member. It is not however necessary that you know another member and you can simply ask a Lodge member.
People of good standing and with a genuine interest in joining the group will usually find that members are open and welcoming with many Lodges holding open days to encourage new membership.
Freemasonry is misunderstood by some elements of some faiths but on the whole it is accepted by the major religions.
Potential members must believe in a Supreme Being but the discussion of religion is prohibited at Lodge meetings, and we do not consider ourselves a religion or replacement for religion in any way.
Members are actively encouraged to pursue their own faith, and the Roman Catholic Church currently allows Freemasonry membership among its followers.
Typically and historically speaking, those countries with a free and open government, that operate a fair democratic system of rule, do not prohibit membership of the Freemasons and it is arguably no coincidence that the countries that are most likely to oppose our formation are those with dictatorial leadership.
Freemasonry exists in countries all around the world and we are fortunate enough to live in a country where membership is permitted.
Lodge meetings are a major part of membership but this is far from the only activity that members undertake. One of the founding principles of the Freemasons is to be an active and beneficial member of the wider community and charitable work is a major part of the group for a lot of our members. Sporting activities, fundraising days, walks, hikes and many other activities are arranged by each Lodge, and there are some local and national events that bring Lodges together. Dances, formal and informal events are also arranged which not only welcome members but their wives and families too.
Lodge meetings are usually conducted once a month and there are two basic parts. The first part of the meeting is concerned with the business element including discussion of minutes from the last meeting, welcoming new members, etc. The Secretary reads out any correspondence, the Treasurer provides a financial update, and the Almoner advises of any members that are sick and unable to attend, while the Charity Steward provides an update on charitable activities and donations. A ceremony may be held for any candidate that reaches the next degree, and the meeting is rounded off with a meal, which is called a Social Board.
Although wives and family members are welcomed and encouraged to attend certain social functions, including dinners and formal dances, the Lodge meetings are reserved solely for men.
A separate and independent body of female Freemasons who follow similar principles and have similar meetings does exist, although they are not considered a part of the United Lodge. However, the two groups do meet socially and may also partake in events together and there is certainly no animosity between the groups.
One of the great myths surrounding Freemasonry and one of the reasons that some people scorn membership of the group, is because they believe that members give preference to other members for things like promotions and job applications.
Not only is this not the case, but any member that is found to have given preference in such a way may be penalised, and may even be forced to leave the Freemasons.
The regalia worn by members during Lodge members has historical significance and it is an important part of our tradition that we continue today.
The primary purpose of our attire, like in many cases where a uniform is worn, is to show rank and to allow other members to be able to quickly and easily recognise the rank of the wearer without having to ask.
Another area where myths tend to outweigh fact is in the financial requirements for membership. People from all walks of life can and are members of the Freemasons. There are no minimum earning requirements and no preference is given to those with the highest salary.
It is necessary to pay lodge fees in the same way that you would pay membership fees for virtually any group or society membership.
You may also need to buy regalia as you progress through the degrees.
Although charity is an important part of what we do, the Freemasons encourage members to look after family and private financial matters first, members are only encouraged to donate what they can reasonably afford.
If you have any further questions about Freemasonry please don’t hesitate to ask by contacting us.