Freemasons: Your questions answered (2024)

The Freemasons, an international organisation often shrouded in mystery, is undergoing a rebrand. But what is this society and what exactly do Freemasons do?

Conspiracy theories and controversy have dogged the Freemasons throughout their existence, fuelled by their secretive image, but for some they are just a gentleman's club devoted to charitable giving.

Nigel Brown, grand secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England has answered a selection of readers' questions.

Anwar Nawab in Virginia, US, writes: Can people of other races besides Caucasian apply and become members too?

Nigel Brown: Any man over the age of 21 (or 18 in the case of University Lodges) can apply to join the Freemasons, regardless of race, colour, religion, political views or social or economic standing. It should also be noted that Freemasonry is a non-religious and non-political organisation, and discussion of politics and religion are forbidden at lodge meetings.

Mohammed Kayani tweets: How can one become a member?

Nigel Brown: Members can be recommended, or they can put themselves forward. There is detailed information about becoming a Freemason on the United Grand Lodge of England's website, external. If individuals don't know anyone who is a member, they can either contact a Masonic Office in their area, or contact the United Grand Lodge of England via the website.

Nasiru Saadu in Abuja, Nigeria, emails: What does the one-eyed symbol on their flags signify?

Nigel Brown: The symbol you are referring to is known as the All Seeing Eye. It is a reminder of the existence of a higher being.

Amanda Luxton in Southend-on-Sea emails: Do magistrates have to declare their membership to the Masons, as well as other judges within the Ministry of Justice?

Nigel Brown: No, none of them do and we are also working hard in other professions to stamp out discrimination. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2007 that in a modern democratic society it was discriminatory to single out Freemasons from the many voluntary organisations an individual can belong to and require them to register their membership with their employers.

Ana Milena Gongora in Colombia writes: Which conspiracy theory do Freemasons feel most annoyed about or consider the most awkward?

Nigel Brown: All conspiracy theories annoy us as they are just that - conspiracy with no truth or grounding. Part of the reason for our current activity is to dispel all the myths and conspiracy theories attached to Freemasonry.

Geoff Sandham in Oxford emails: What is the point of being a Mason? Is it fun - like going to the pub with a group of friends or does it serve the individual in a wider context?

and Igen in Warri, Nigeria, writes: What are the benefits for members who intend to join the society?

Nigel Brown: There are many different reasons why people join the Freemasons - one of the main reasons is camaraderie. Many friendships made through Freemasonry endure for life, and lodge dinners which follow our formal meetings offer members the opportunity to enjoy each others' company in a more relaxed and informal environment.

Other reasons put forward during the research for The Future of Freemasonry report include a sense of belonging and structure - which are not always easy to find in today's fragmented society - and a desire to help other people by getting involved in the local community.

Most importantly of all though, Freemasonry is all about enjoyment - if members didn't enjoy Freemasonry they would not remain part of the organisation in the way that they do.

Susan Moon in Tyne and Wear asks: If the top cop was a Freemason, would he "stretch" the rules if another Freemason broke the law?

Nigel Brown: Absolutely not - networking within Freemasonry and trying to use it for personal gain is completely forbidden.

Rachel in London asks: Is Freemasonry compatible with humanism?

Nigel Brown: The prime qualification for admission into Freemasonry is a belief in a supreme being. Having some form of religious belief is the one thing that all Freemasons have in common, whatever their backgrounds might be. As humanists do not believe in any form of higher power they cannot fulfil that prime qualification.

Michael Lashford-Spinks in Gloucestershire asks: I am a retired carver, is Freemasonry linked to craft trades?

Nigel Brown: Organised Freemasonry, as we understand it today, began with the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717 - hence our tercentenary celebrations in 2017. While not directly linked, we have taken a lot of our symbolism from stonemasonry. As with stonemasonry, Freemasonry is about moving from level to level as you gain further knowledge and experience, starting with being an apprentice.

Freemasons: Your questions answered (2024)

FAQs

Do masons believe in God? ›

Freemasonry has always been religious in character, though it subscribes to no particular orthodoxy. To become a Freemason, the applicant has to be an adult male and must believe in the existence of a supreme being and in the immortality of the soul.

What is the Freemasons goal? ›

Building good people. Freemasons are focused on building themselves as people of integrity, and membership provides the structure to help achieve that goal. Being a Freemason gives members a sense of purpose, supporting and guiding them on their journey through life.

What presidents are Freemason? ›

Poster depicting portraits of the Masonic Presidents of the United States of America, as follows: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren G.

How do Masons say hello? ›

Freemasons greet one another with a variety of handshakes, all based on one's rank within the organization. “There is a handshake for each degree: Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master, i.e., the first three degrees and also in the higher degrees,” says Révauger.

Was Jesus a mason? ›

Jesus, scholars say, was a mason. He worked in stone, not wood. Instead of saws and nails he handled squares and compasses, chisels and hammers. And he would have been built, himself, like a block of granite.

Can a baptist be a mason? ›

In fact, I discovered numerous Baptist leaders down through the years have been freemasons, some of these men being well known, especially in the Southern Baptist world.

What does the G stand for on Masonic symbol? ›

The Masonic Letter 'G' is a letter that represents God and Geometry. It is a reminder to every Freemason that every act they carry out is done in the presence of God, the Master Architect of the Universe.

What is the purpose of Freemasons today? ›

Affirmation of a belief in a higher being is still a requirement to join Masonic lodges, though they are largely secular institutions that serve social networking purposes and often serve as charitable donors.

What are the three points in Freemasonry? ›

Leader (typography), may be represented with three dots or ellipses. In Free Masonry, as an abbreviation. Freemasons use ∴ as an abbreviation sign, for example as in "W∴M∴" standing for Worshipful Master; "the L∴", the Lodge.

What do Masons say at the end of a prayer? ›

"So mote it be" is a ritual phrase used by the Freemasons, in Rosicrucianism, and more recently by Neopagans, meaning "so may it be", "so it is required", or "so must it be", and may be said after the person giving the prayer says 'Amen'.

Who belongs to the Masons? ›

Celebrity Freemasons Throughout History

Founding fathers like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Aaron Burr, and other leaders of the American Revolution. Other U.S. presidents including Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Gerald Ford. Civil rights activists like Booker T.

Which founding fathers were Masons? ›

Although American elites initially joined the Freemasons to keep pace with genteel English behavior, the fraternity contributed to the spread of the ideas and ideals behind the American Revolution. During the revolutionary era, Masons of note included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Otis, and Paul Revere.

How do you respond to a Masonic toast? ›

Thank you Brother [name] for proposing the toast to the visitors, and to you the brethren of [name] Lodge for the way you received it.

What is the prayer for Masonic meeting? ›

Teach us to know and serve Thee aright Bless us and prosper us in all our laudable undertakings, and grant that our conduct may tend to Thy glory, to the advancement of Freemasonry, and finally to our own salvation in that blessed kingdom where Thy children shall find rest. AMEN.

What is Masonic fire? ›

The gestures and clapping which follow some Masonic toasts are called 'masonic fire' or 'firing'. It is a very ancient custom and is sometimes performed in a Lodge with a 'firing glass' which has a toughened base and is banged on the table.

Can you be a Mason if you don't believe in God? ›

Whilst it is recognized that Masonry is not atheistic (Masons aligned with the United Grand Lodge of England are asked if they believe in God or another supreme being before joining and only accept candidates that do), its use of the expression Supreme Architect of the Universe—a term attributed to the Protestant ...

Are Catholics forbidden to be Masons? ›

The Catholic Church first prohibited Catholics from membership in Masonic organizations and other secret societies in 1738. Since then, at least eleven popes have made pronouncements about the incompatibility of Catholic doctrines and Freemasonry.

What is Freemason God? ›

Non-Masonic authors have alleged that "Jahbulon" is a Masonic name for God, and even the name of a unique "Masonic god", despite Freemasonry's official claim that "There is no separate Masonic God," nor a separate proper name for a deity in any branch of Freemasonry.

What are the values of the Freemasons? ›

The values of Freemasonry are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness.

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