The first question that is usually asked by a non-Mason is "What is freemasonry?" There are many definitions of the word, but none are complete since the organization embraces a wide scope of activity. A very short definition provided by this website is: “Freemasonry is a fraternal organization, religious in character, based on the principle of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man which does charitable work in the community through its members. In addition, its teachings and ceremonies seek to make good men better and thereby make the world a better place in which to live.”
Freemasonry is a "voluntary" society in that no one is invited to become a member. Unlike college fraternities and other organizations, Freemasonry never solicits anyone to become a member. As a matter of fact, it is a violation of Masonic law for a member to invite anyone to join. A prospective member must truly come of his own free will and accord.
Freemasonry is not a religion. Sometimes outsiders claim that Freemasonry is a religion. Most Freemasons do belong to an established Church. Freemasonry is religious in that one cannot become a Freemason unless he believes in God, but there is no religious test applied to the prospective member, nor is he required or asked to subscribe to any religious tenet or dogma. It is forbidden to discuss religion or politics in the Lodge.
Freemasonry is not a “secret society.” A secret society is one that keeps its existence in secret, and whose members do not make known their affiliation with the group. Freemasonry is not a secret society because it does not hide its existence, and members do not hide their membership. On the contrary, the organization meets in buildings located in public, announces its meetings in newspapers and magazines, engraves the words "Masonic Temple" on many of its buildings, publishes periodicals, and has homes for orphans and the aged.
The degrees of Freemasonry consist of ceremonies of a strictly serious nature, which teach basic moral truths in an impressive and solemn manner. When the degrees are completed, the new member is provided a ritual that contains a philosophy of rite that provides the new member with something on which to build a hope that is eternal.
Freemasons are proud to proclaim to the world that we are a serious organization of mature men and woman. An organization that instills a love of God, teaches charity in its broadest sense, and shows each member how to live a better life.
Non-Masons sometimes wonder at the close bond that exists between Freemasons. There is a simple explanation: Masons are bound together by the deep and abiding knowledge that each of them, during the ceremonies of the degrees, has accepted certain high ethical standards of conduct. These standards ensure a bond of faith and confidence.
Thousands of books have been published on the subject of Freemasonry. The matters discussed in this website are just a few of the things about the organization, but it contains enough to information to show that Freemasonry is one of the great organizations of the world and a steadying influence in a faltering civilization.
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