Frequently asked questions about Freemasonry.

What is Freemasonry?

Masonry, as mentioned before, is many things to many people.
Many years ago, in England, it was defined as “a system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols.” It is a course of moral instruction using both allegories and symbols to teach its lessons.
The legends and myths of the old stone cutters and masons, many of them involved in building the great cathedrals of Europe, have been woven into an interesting and effective way to portray moral truths.
In Masonry, the old tools and ways of the craftsmen are used to help dramatically portray those moral truths. For example, the 24-inch gauge and the common gavel. Just as the ruler is used to measure distance, the modem Mason uses it as a reminder to manage one of his most precious resources: time. And, as the gavel is used to shape stones, so it is also the symbol for the necessity of all of us to work to perfect ourselves.
One modern definition is: “Freemasonry is an organized society of men, symbolically applying the principle of Operative Masonry and architecture to the science and art of character building.” In other words, Masonry uses ageless methods and lessons to make each of us a better person.
Freemasonry is a multicultural organization. Members of all races and faiths are welcome to join. It requires that its members should believe in a single deity and no man can become a Mason unless he does so. He will be required to take certain obligations with his hand upon his own religion’s sacred book.
Freemasonry offers no pecuniary advantage or reward nor does it require its members to support one another in business or employment. The organization does have charities for those Freemasons and their families who were once self-supporting but through misfortune are now unable to do so. It also has charities which support causes unconnected with Masonry.
No one should join Freemasonry unless he can afford to pay the expenses involved without affecting his ability to support his family. These expenses include the joining fee, the annual dues and a donation to charity measured on what the individual member can afford.

What happens at a lodge meeting?

The meeting, which like those of other groups, are open only to members, is normally in two parts.

First, there are normal administrative procedures such as:

• Minutes of the previous meeting
• Proposing and balloting for new members
• Discussing and voting on financial matters
• Masonic news and correspondence
• News about charitable work

Second, there are the ceremonies for:

• Admitting new members
• The annual installation of the Master of the Lodge and his officers

Why do Freemasons take oaths?

New members make solemn promises concerning their behavior both in the Lodge and in society. Members also promise to keep confidential the way they recognize each other when visiting another Lodge. Freemasons also promise to support others in time of need but only so far as it does not conflict with their family and public obligations.

Are Freemasons expected to give preference to fellow members?

Certainly not. This would be unacceptable and may lead to action being taken against those involved. On joining, each new member states that he expects no material gain from membership.

Who do the Masonic charities donate to?

Whilst there are Masonic charities that cater specifically, but not exclusively, for Masons or their dependants, others make significant grants to non-Masonic organizations.

What is Freemasonry’s relationship with religion?

All Freemasons are expected to have a religious belief, but Freemasonry does not seek to replace a Mason’s religion or provide a substitute for it. It deals in a man’s relationship with his fellow man not in a man’s relationship with his God.

Why do some churches not like Freemasonry?

There are elements within churches who misunderstand Freemasonry and its objectives. They confuse secular rituals with religious liturgy. There are many Masons in churches where their leaders have been openly critical of the organisation. Masonry has always actively encouraged its members to be active in their own religion.

Does Freemasonry accept Roman Catholics?

Yes. Four Grand Masters of English Freemasonry have been Roman Catholics. Today there are many Roman Catholic Freemasons.

What is Freemasonry’s relationship with politics?

Freemasonry, as a body, will never express a view on politics or state policy. The discussion of politics at Masonic meetings has always been prohibited.

Is Freemasonry an international order?

Freemasonry exists throughout the world. However, each Grand Lodge is sovereign and independent. There is no international governing body for Freemasonry.

Can anyone become a Freemason?

Yes – Freemasonry is open to people from all walks of life, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or socio-economic position in society.

Can Women join a Freemasons Lodge?

No! Recognized Lodge Membership in Germany is open only to men.

Women have their own Lodges and Grand Lodges which are not open to men. 
The Women's Grand Lodge of Germany (Frauen-Großloge von Deutschland, formerly the Grand Lodge "to Humanity", Großloge „Zur Humanität“) is a German masonic association admitting only women. It has its headquarters in Berlin and comprises 22 feminine Masonic lodges.

Why do Freemasons wear regalia?

Wearing regalia is historic and symbolic. Like a uniform, the regalia indicates the rank of the wearer in the organization.

How many Freemasons are there?

Under the United Grand Lodges of Germany, there are over 16,500 Freemasons.

The United Grand Lodge of England has over 200,000 Freemasons.

There are Grand Lodges in Ireland, which covers both Northern Ireland and Eire, and Scotland which have a combined total of approximately 150,000 members.

The United States of America has around 2 Million Freemasons.

Worldwide, there are approximately six million Freemasons 

How many degrees are there in Freemasonry?

Basic Freemasonry consists of three degrees:

• Entered Apprentice
• Fellow Craft
• Master Mason

How much does it cost to be a Freemason?

There is an initiation fee when you join and each lodge charges an annual subscription to cover its running costs.

Each meeting is normally followed by a dinner, with the cost depending on the venue. However, there is no requirement to attend the dinner if you are unable to. You will also be expected to wear a dark suit, white shirt, and black, or other suitable, tie. In due course, you will need to buy your own regalia.

Members are invited to donate to charity, but this should always be within your means and it is entirely up to you how much you wish to contribute. 

Costs can vary considerably from lodge to lodge and your proposer should make them clear to you before you join.

The Initiation fees and annual dues are normally indicated on the petition form of the Lodge which you wish to join.