If I become a Free Mason, will I be expected to change my religion?
No. The foundation of Freemasonry is the brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God. Only those who are truly religious can fully understand the meaning of “universal brotherhood”.
Except in a few jurisdictions around the world, only those who believe in a Supreme Being can be members of the Masonic Fraternity. There are no specific religions mentioned in Masonic ceremonies nor in Masonic prayers.
Freemasonry is not a church, a tabernacle, a mosque nor a synagogue, nor is it a substitute for any of them or for any religious observance.
Freemasonry is non-sectarian, which means it is not affiliated with nor restricted to any particular religious denomination. The form of a man’s belief is his own business. In fact, many active Masons are active religious laymen.
In the United States, most lodges use the Holy Bible, however, if you are of another religion, you may request that your sacred book (Torah, Veda, Koran, etc.) be placed beside the Bible during lodge meetings. Some lodges have several sacred books to accommodate the different religions of its members.
Lodges whose members are wholly of a specific religion may choose to use their sacred books only.
Are Freemasons satanic,attempting to create a New World Order (NWO), or take over the world?
No. In fact, let’s consider this at greater length. Entire countries and civilizations have come, gone and changed in the several hundred year period during which Freemasonry has existed.
If Freemasons were, in fact, attempting to take over the world, (having approximately 300+ years in which to accomplish such a feat), one could only come to the logical conclusion that these Masonic secrets are either tremendously well-kept (from both Freemasons and non-Freemasons) or… that after all this time, Freemasons aren’t very effective planners.
Is Freemasonry anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslin,….?
No. There is nothing anti-Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, etc. in Freemasonry, in its traditions, its rituals, or its beliefs. If anything, Freemasonry teaches to respect all religions and faiths.
Is Freemasonry a religion?
No. Freemasonry is not a religion by the definitions most people use. Religion, as the term is commonly used, implies several things: a plan for salvation or path by which one reaches the after-life; a theology which attempts to describe the nature of God; and the description of ways or practices by which a man or woman may seek to communicate with God. Freemasonry does none of those things. We offer no plan of salvation. With the exception of saying that He is a loving Father who desires only good for His children, we make no effort to describe the nature of God. And while we open and close our meetings with prayer, and we teach that no man should ever begin any important undertaking without first seeking the guidance of God, we never tell a man how he should pray or for what he should pray. Instead, we tell him that he must find the answers to these great questions in his own faith, in his church, synagogue, mosque or other house of worship. We urge men not to neglect their spiritual development and to be faithful in the practice of their religion.
Isn’t Freemasonry a “secret society”?
No. Secret societies are generally defined as organizations which are unknown to the public and whose existence is denied. The Bavarian Illuminati and the Mafia would be examples of secret societies.
Freemasonry, on the other hand, is well-known and proudly displays its existence. Masonic Temples are clearly marked as such, and many Lodges are listed in the yellow pages (usually under “Fraternal Orders”). Members often wear rings or tie-clips that identify themselves as Masons, and Masons often participate in community charity work. Finally, some Masonic functions are open to the public. In fact, it would be odd for a “Secret Society” to have a public website that shares contact information, addresses and a list of officers.
Freemasonry is not a secret society, but rather a society with a few secrets. These are mainly modes of recognition– the signals, grips, signs, and phrases by which Masons recognize each other. The actual degree rituals are considered secret as well, not because there is anything that would harm Freemasonry by their revelation, but rather because they are more meaningful if the candidate does not know what is going to go on during them beforehand (see question 9 of this section if that makes you nervous).
It should be pointed out that many other organizations have a similar class of secrets. College fraternities (a.k.a. “Greek letter organizations”) often have small secrets known only to their members, allowing them to travel from house to house and still be known.
I see titles like “Worshipful Master” and “Senior Deacon”– is this some kind of cult?
No. The titles are simply colorful, stylish, and full of ancient symbolism. No Mason worships the Master of the Lodge, nor does a Senior (or Junior) Deacon engage in religious actions, as a Deacon of a church might.
Isn’t Freemasonry just a place where businessmen make deals?
No. In fact, most Masons believe that to trade with a Brother Mason only because he is a Mason is un-Masonic. Even more importantly, anyone who attempts to join a Lodge solely for business reasons will not be given a petition.
Masons, however, are friends, and it is not surprising that many Masons do trade with Brothers. For one thing, they are dealing with people that are of good character and can be trusted, which is no small statement in the modern marketplace.
But Freemasonry is not a “place to network”. Yes, some men do view one of the benefits of membership as an additional source of customers or partners, but few would say that is the only reason they became Masons. The work involved in the degrees alone would make this a poor investment– better to join the Rotary Club or other business group.
Aren’t Masons racist/elitist?
Regarding racism: Freemasonry explicitly states the equality of men, regardless of race, creed, or color. But there are some Masons (as there are in all groups) who are prejudiced , and this is unfortunate, saddening, and unMasonic. However, it is not representative of Freemasonry as a whole, or representative of anything except a tiny minority of Masons. There are Masons of all ethnic backgrounds.
“Elitism” is harder to define. If you mean that Masons are highly selective in their membership, then yes, Masons are elitists. But just criteria is used: men of good character, of good report, who believe in God. Does the majority of the population fit that criteria? If you think not, then you could say that Masons are elitists.
The idea that Freemasonry is only open to the patrician class, the landed gentry, and the wealthy is incorrect. There are Masons of all economic backgrounds. Indeed, there are Lodges which are mostly or wholly made up of blue-collar workers due to local demographics.
Are Masons just a bunch of old men? Isn’t Freemasonry dying out?
As regards the United States:
There is no doubt that the population of Masons is aging. There was a huge increase in membership in almost all fraternal orders after World War II, including Freemasonry. This peaked at sometime in the late 50s. During the social turbulence and generational strains of the 60s and 70s, new membership fell off, with the result that by the 1980s, total membership was in sharp decline.
However, there are signs that membership has leveled out, or is gaining in some areas. In many lodges as with ours, there are a great number of 50-and-up members, and a number of 50-and-below members.
The overall point is that Masonic membership, when talking on a national scale, has probably hit a stable membership base, after a huge surge and then fall in membership.
What is a “Masonic Funeral”?
“Any member who was in good standing at the time of his death is entitled to a Masonic funeral if he or his family requests it. Such a request should be made to the Master of his Lodge who will make the necessary arrangements with the family, the mortuary, and the minister. A service is authorized by the jurisdiction in which you are located, and consists of participation at the mortuary, the beginning at the mortuary and the closing at the graveside, or graveside only. Pallbearers will be furnished at the request of the family. In general, the Lodge will do as much or as little as the nearest relative wishes it to do.” (From a pamphlet, “To the Lady and Family of a Mason”)
I hear Masons refer to an “apron”. What is that?
“During the ceremonies of his initiation, each Mason is presented with a white apron. It is, to him, an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason. It has, in all ages, been cherished by the rich, the poor, the high and the low. It is his for life. He will never receive another one and has, therefore, been cautioned to take it home and instructed in its care. While perfectly satisfactory for him to do so if he desires, he need not bring it to Lodge, as linen aprons are provided for his use at meetings.”(From a pamphlet, “To the Lady and Family of a Mason”)
Are there dues, fees, etc. associated with being a Mason?
Yes. Like all organizations, Lodges must be able to pay their light bills. There is a one-time fee for the three degrees of Freemasonry, as well as regular annual dues. For more information about dues feel free to contact us anytime.
Who is in charge of the Masons?
No one. Each Grand Lodge has its own jurisdiction and is the supreme authority within that jurisdiction. Obviously, many Grand Lodges have regular communication with each other, but official policy in one has no effect in another.
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is a fraternal order whose basic tenets are brotherly love, relief (philanthropy), and truth. We strive to enjoy the company of our brother Masons, assist them in times of personal trouble, and reinforce essential moral values. There is an old adage that Freemasonry “takes good men and makes them better”, which is our goal.
It has often been observed that men are the products of everything they come into contact with during their lifetime. Freemasonry offers a man an opportunity to come into regular, enjoyable contact with men of good character, thus reinforcing his own personal moral development. Of course, Freemasonry is also meant to be enjoyed by its membership, so the order should not be viewed simply as a philosophical club, but rather a vibrant fellowship of men who seek to enjoy each other’s company, a fraternity.
To maintain this fraternity, discussion of religion and politics within the Lodge is forbidden, as these subjects are those that have often divided men in the past. Masons cover the spectrum of both religious and political beliefs and encourages a man to be religious without advocating a particular religion, and to be active in his community without advocating a particular medium of political expression.
While there probably are some actual stone-workers who are Masons, Freemasonry does not teach is membership the literal techniques of stonework. Rather, it takes the actual “operative” work of Medieval Masons and uses it as an allegory for moral development. Thus, the symbols of Freemasonry are the common tools that were used by medieval stonemasons: the gavel, the rule, the compass, the square, the level, etc. Each of these has a symbolic meaning in Freemasonry. For example, Masons are said to meet “on the level”, meaning that all Masons are brothers, regardless of social status, personal wealth, or office within the Lodge or in the world at large. Similar symbolism exists for other tools.
Freemasonry is distinguished from other fraternal orders by its emphasis on moral character, its ornate rituals, and its long tradition and history, which dates back to at least the 17th century in modern form, the 14th century (c. 1350-1390) in the written evidence of its precursors, and back to the mists of antiquity in its origin. Freemasonry has a continuously documented paper history (i.e., Lodge to Lodge) since 1717, though historical analysis shows Freemasonry to be much older.
There are also a great many things that Freemasonry is NOT: a religion, a secret society, etc., and these will be covered later in this FAQ.
There are three degrees in Freemasonry. Other appendant bodies confer additional degrees, up to the 32nd (or the honorary 33rd) of the Scottish Rite, but in symbolic Freemasonry (or Symbolic Lodge Freemasonry) proper, there are only three. At the Symbolic Lodge, Masons receive the degrees of Entered Apprentice (first degree), Fellowcraft (second degree), and Master Mason (third degree). Promotion generally requires the mastery of a small body of memorized material, the contents of which varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions, only the signs, tokens, and grips of each degree must be learned; in others, a longer amount of material.
Of course, no Mason would ever look down upon a Brother simply because he was of a lower degree– the degrees do not exist to create a pecking order or to confer rank. Rather, they are a system of initiation that allows men to become familiar with the august and ancient history and principles of Freemasonry at a comfortable pace. Proceeding from Entered Apprentice to Master Mason in the US can take as little as three months, while in England, the degrees are spaced apart by a year’s interval.
Most Lodges have regular communications (meetings) once a month, that are also referred to as “business meetings”. In the US, these are typically only open to Master Masons. In England, these meetings are usually opened in the first degree, and Entered Apprentices may attend. Conferring of degrees is usually done at other meetings during the month.
While conferral of degrees and mundane business do take up a lot of a Lodge’s time, there are a host of other activities that Masons engage in within the fraternity. Charitable work is often done, in the form of fundraisers, community volunteer work, etc. And there are also a great many things done for the simple pleasure of company: monthly breakfasts or dinners, picnics, card/chess matches, lecturers on Masonic history, you name it. Freemasonry is a fraternity, and its membership seeks to have fun.
Local Masonic Lodges are organized under Grand Lodges. In the United States, each state has its own Grand Lodge, which is a peer with every other Grand Lodge. There is not “Grandest Lodge”– each Grand Lodge is supreme in its jurisdiction (e.g., in the US, in its state) but has no authority elsewhere. Of course, this does not mean that Freemasonry in New York is radically different than Freemasonry in Scotland or New Mexico. Masons are very traditional and the differences between Grand Lodges are usually minor.
The head of a Symbolic Lodge is given the title Worshipful Master. This, of course, does not imply that Masons worship him; it is merely a stylish title. Masonic Lodges can be found in many cities, of all sizes, around the world. There are presently approximately 5 million Masons, half of which are in the United States.
Where can I get more information?
There are many ways to receive information regarding Freemasonry and our Lodge. Firstly, feel free to check out this page from the Grand Lodge of New York Website which has more info. You may also drop us a line using our contact form and someone will contact you back.
What are the qualifications for becoming a member?
Membership in a Masonic Lodge is open to all men 21 years of age or older — regardless of race, color, or religion.
Our membership requirements are very clear:
- You must be of good character and reputation.
- You’ll have to provide evidence of living a positive life through references from at least one Mason and three other people.
- You must believe in a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul. This belief is not proscribed — rather, we encourage you to be steadfast in the faith of your choice.
When and where do you meet?
Paumanok-Port Washington Lodge meets every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month excluding July and August. We currently meet at the Polish American Civic Association of Port Washington, 5 Pulaski Place, Port Washington NY, 10050. Typically, the brothers enjoy a catered meal at 6:30 PM and then commence to the lodge room at 8:00 PM for the meeting.
How do I become a Mason?
A man wishing to become a Free Mason must of his own free will, ask to become a Free Mason.
Start the process by completing a petition (application) for membership. You can download the petition here (.pdf 204k) Please print in duplex fomat or 1 sheet with the form in one face and page two on the back. If you don’t know a Mason, don’t worry — the Brothers will be happy to meet with you for an informational session.
The next step is to submit your petition to our Lodge. The petition is read in a Lodge meeting and referred to a committee (usually composed of three members). This committee then interviews you — usually right in your home, so that your family can ask any questions that they may have.
After the interview, the committee reports its findings to the Lodge, and a secret ballot is taken. If the vote is favorable, you’ll be notified by mail and you’ll be given a date to start the degree program.
Why shouldn’t you become a Mason?
- If your goal is to make money by being a member
- If you are not interested in meeting people and making friends
- If you are looking for a religion – Masonry is not a religion, it only enhances your awareness of what your beliefs are.
- If you want to stay home and do absolutely nothing
Becoming a Freemason is a spiritual journey that takes a man on a path to make himself stronger and wiser, and what he does with those gifts to himself reflects upon him and the community around him. Just look at the various lists of notable men who are or have been Freemasons. You could be on that list someday, you just have to allow your full potential come to fruition.
Why do men become Masons?
“Men become Freemasons for many reasons, yet there is a common thread that you hear over and over again. It generally leads back to a relative, coworker, teacher, or friend who one has admired – a man whose conduct or philosophy stood out as especially kind, generous, or honorable.
There is a long list of well known men from various walks of life such as Wolfgang Mozart, Theodore Roosevelt, Dave Thomas, Lewis & Clark, Edward Jenner, Davy Crockett, John Hancock, Harry Houdini, Mel Blanc, Louis Armstrong, John Elway, Eddie Rickenbacker, George Marshall, Booker T. Washington, Oscar Wilde, and Mark Twain just to list a very small amount of the numerous notable men that have been and are Freemasons. You will be in good company with men like these!”*
So what’s in it for you…
- A world wide Fraternity
- Centuries of Tradition
- A Network of mutual Friendship and Aid
- Help for your Community
- College Scholarships
- Retirement Homes
- Spiritual Awareness*