What I Would Like My Friends To Know About Freemasonry
Why have I not been asked to join? Unlike the members of other fraternal organizations, Masons are forbidden to solicit anyone to become a member.
How does one become a mason? Many men live a lifetime and never know they must ask for admission to the world’s oldest, most purposeful and greatest fraternity. They do not realize that they will not be invited. They must come in of their own free will and accord, without persuasion. They must ask a Mason for a petition.
The prescribed requirements for membership in Tennessee are: being a man, at least 21 years of age, having a belief in a Supreme being and in the immortality of the soul, being capable of reading and writing, being of good moral character, having been a resident of the county in which he resides for at least one year preceding the presentation of his petition, and being recommended by two Master Mason members of the Lodge to which he desires to apply.
What is Freemasonry? It is a fraternal society based on certain moral and religious doctrines; Love, Relief and Truth, Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice, and the religious doctrines comprising a belief in a Supreme being and the immortality of the soul.
Freemasonry might also be defined as a charitable, benevolent, educational, religious society with a purpose to teach by ritual and symbolism the building of good character.
It is charitable in that its income is not expended for private gain, but is devoted to the improvement and promotion of happiness and the well being of mankind.
It is benevolent in that it teaches unselfish concern for the welfare of others as a duty, and exemplifies it by the relief of poor and distressed brethren and their needy widows and orphans. Masonry is not an insurance or benefit society.
It is educational in that it teaches by prescribed ceremonials a system of morality and brotherhood based on Sacred Law. It emphasizes the duty of man to be curious about the world; to develop his intellect and skill; to be just; self-control; to be earnest and sincere. Freemasonry’s Lodges, Temples and Libraries are aids to this end.
It is Religious in that it teaches belief in one God, a belief prerequisite for membership, though without dogma or creed, for Freemasonry is not concerned with creeds or theology, Every Lodge must have an altar and on it, when the Lodge is in session, a volume of the Sacred Law.
Freemasonry is social in that it fosters the natural friendliness and a true spirit of brotherly love and affection that should take place in the lives of men associated and united for noble purposes.
While a belief in a Supreme Being is the primary mandatory requisite to membership, Masonry does not require membership in any church as a condition of membership. Conversely, membership in a church is no restriction to masonry. There is nothing in our requirements to prevent a Roman catholic, a Mohammedan, a Buddhist, a Latter Day Saint (Mormon), a protestant or a member of any religious sect having a belief in one Supreme Being, or of any race from becoming a Mason, and we have within our membership adherents to each of these religious groups. Discussion of sectarian religion is prohibited in the Lodge in order to keep peace and harmony, but Masonry encourages its members to take an active part in the churches of their choice.
Discussion in the Lodge of political matters or candidates is also prohibited for the same reason, but as individuals we have the right, outside the Lodge, to engage in political affairs. Indeed, civic duty encourages the individual Mason to actively participate in community affairs.
While we do not boast of our relief we can certainly say that the arm of Masonry reaches around the world in alleviating distress of our brethren, their widows and orphans. Such relief is not part of a beneficial aid society but truly charity in the largest sense. In this Grand Jurisdiction there are charitable projects of which we are very proud, namely our Widows’ and Orphans’ Home Fund and the Educational Assistance program. On a national level we all talk proudly of the philanthropies of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite and the Shrine.
Many people do not fully understand our support of the public schools. We are proud of our founding and continued support of the public schools. A Mason, DeWitt Clinton, an outstanding statesman who was governor of New York, was largely instrumental in establishing free public schools because of our belief that to have a strong America we must have an enlightened and knowledgeable citizenry.
It should be clear that we are not a secret society but rather a society possessing certain secrets. We do not hide our membership. We wear pins, rings and emblems of the Masonic Fraternity. We do not meet secretly, Our Temples are listed, they usually bear the Lodge name, and the emblem of Freemasonry is generally displayed as we hold our meetings.
The doors of Freemasonry are open to all men who seek harmony with their fellow creatures, who feel the need for self improvement, and wish to participate in the adventure of making this world a more congenial place in which to live.
In a world where strife and derision are common and moral values so easily set aside, every Mason has at his immediate disposal the strength of the institution’s precepts and the encouragement and support of his fellow members to persevere. As it has been proclaimed by many, it is not possible for a good Mason not to be a good man. What a great feeling to be a part of a way of life in which each member is not content with his present state but ever striving for self improvement, and with every member, regardless of location, cheering him on.
Do Not Hesitate to ask a Masonic friend for more information.
Taken from the handbook..