Music by Brother J. L. F. Mendelssohn.
A FOUNDATION STONE
This Short Talk Bulletin has been adapted from a pamphlet published by the Grand Lodge A.F.& A.M. of Illinois, entitled, "What Can a Mason tell a Non-Mason
The ancient traditions of Freemasonry permit you to influence your qualified sons,
friends and co-workers to petition for the
degrees. There is absolutely no objection to a
neutrally worded approach being made to a
man who is considered a suitable candidate for
Freemasonry. After the procedure for obtaining membership in a Masonic Lodge is explained, there can be no objection to his being
reminded once that the approach was made.
The potential candidate should then be left to
make his own decision and come of his own
One of the most misunderstood of the laws
of Freemasonry is the rule that prohibits the
solicitation of a candidate by any Mason. Every
man who enters the portals of a Masonic Lodge
must come of his own free will and accord but
he can only come if he knows of the opportunity.
So far ingrained in our Masonic law is the
rule against solicitation that it has unquestionably caused most Masons to refrain completely from discussing Freemasonry with
friends and acquaintances who are not Masons.
Don't let that happen to you.
The failure of the Masonic institution to
make known to the public, that is to nonMasons, its principles and its purposes has, in
the past, resulted in both suspicion and antagonism toward Masonry. People are naturally inclined to be suspicious or fearful of those
things of which they are ignorant.
Freemasonry is not a secret society, but is
rather a society which possesses certain secrets.
A really secret society is one in which the
membership is not known. Freemasonry is
quite well known to the uninitiated. We do not
attempt to hide our membership. A large percentage of our membership wears pins or rings
bearing well-known emblems of the Craft. We
do not meet in secret places. We meet in
Temples which are well marked as Masonic -
often times with neon signs bearing the square
and compasses - and we meet at meetings which
are quite well advertised.
What is actually supposed to be secret about
the institution of Freemasonry is its ritual. Dr.
Mackey's 23rd Landmark, "The secrcy of the
Institution," embraces nothing more than it.s
ritual, which we must conceal and never reveal.
The fundamental principles of Masonry which
are taught by that ritual, however, are, or could
be, well known, and most of them are not even
principles peculiar to the Masonic institution.
The candidate for the mysteries of Masonry
must always come to us of his own free will and
accord, unbiased by friends and uninfluenced
by mercenary motives, and he must so formally
declare before he enters a Lodge room. It must
be his own personal desire which as brought
him to the point of petitioning for the degrees
of Masonry. An explanation of the charitable
and character building attributes of
Freemasonry to a worthy and well--qualified
person is not solicitation.
Probably the first question that would come
to the mind of the unitinitiated would be "What
is Freemasonry? We define it as a "progressive
moral science divided into different degrees".
This definition probably would not satisfy and
and would mean practically nothing to the Non-Mason.
Freemasonry might be defined to such a peerson as a
fraternal society which is based on certain moral and
religious doctrines; the meral doctrines including
Brotherly Love, Relif, Truth; Temprance, fortitude,
Prucence, and Justice; and the religious doctrines
comprising a belif in god and a future existance;
sometimes shortened to the statement of a belif in the
fatehrhood of god and the brotherhood of man.
There is no reason at all Why this subject
should not be discussed quite freely with a nonMason. The fact of the matter is that the
philosophy of Masonry is freely discussed in
thousands of printed volumes available to
Masons and non-Masons alike.
One question which often comes from nonMasons is this: "How does one become a
member?" "Why have I not been asked to
join?" In any such discussion, of course, the
non-Mason should be told that, unlike the
members of other fraternal organizations,
Masons are forbidden to solicit any one to
become a member, and that any prospective
member must apply of his own free will and accord; and further, that he must pass a
unanimous ballot for admission. It must be free
will and accord on both sides.
One question which any non-Mason might
ask, and which can be freely discussed with
him, is the relationship of Masonry to religion
and to the churches of any denomination
Masonry has two fundamental religious tenets -
a belief in God and a belief in a future ex-
istence, or, as it is phrased in Mackey's Land-
marks, "a belief in the resurrection to a future
The inquirer should be told that Masonry is
not a religion in any sense of the word; but it is
religious, and that no atheist can ever be made a
Mason. As the Old Charges approved in 1723
put it, "If he rightly understands the art, he will
never be a stupid atheist nor an irreligious libertine." In those charges, under the heading of
"Concerning God and Religion" it was said:
"But though in aancient times Masons
were charged in every countly to be of the
religion of that country or nation, whatever it was, yet it is now thought more
expedient only to oblige them to that religion
in which all men agree, leaving their
particular opinions to themselves; that is,
to be good men and true. or men of honor
and honesty, by whatever denominations
or persuasions they may be distinguished;
whereby Masonry becomes the centre of
union, and the means of conciliating true
friendship among persons that must else
have remained at a perpetual distance."
Masonry does not require membership in
any church as a condition of membership in a
Lodge. On the other hand, membership in any
church is no bar to admission to Masonry.
There is nothing in the requirements of
Masonry to prevent a Roman Catholic, a
Mohammedan, a Buddhist, a Mormon, a Protestant, or a member of any religious sect from
becoming a Mason. Any bar is one prescribed
by the church to which he may belong. For instance, while Masonry is not anti-Catholic,
nevertheless until recently the Roman church
had itself set up the ban of excommunication of
any of its members becoming Masons, which
edict had been repeated by the Popes since the
year 1738. There is nothing wrong in telling a
non-Mason that, or telling him that the discussion of sectarian religion is prohibited in every
One might also ask whether Masonry is a
political organization. He should be told that
no political discussion would be permitted in
any Masonic Lodge.
Here again we might refer to the Old
Charges, where we are told:
"A Mason is to be a peaceful subject
to the civil powers, wherever he resides or
works, and is never to be concerned in
plots and conspiracies against the peace
and welfare of the nation, nor to behave
himself undutifully to inferior magistrates;
for as Masonry hath been always injured
by war, bloodshed and confusion, so
ancient kings and princes have been much
disposed to encourage the Craftsmen
because of their peaceableness and loyalty,
whereby they practically answered the
cavils of their adversaries and promoted
the honor of the fraternity, which ever
flourished in times of peace."
In our jurisdiction, the rule that the discussion of politics and religion in Lodges is to be
avoided, has the force of an Ancient Landmark.
Another question a non-Mason might ask is
whether Masonry is a benefit society, like the
many fraternal societies offering insurance and
death benefits. This is something which can and
certainly ought to be discussed, to avoid any
misunderstanding by a prospective candidate.
The inquirer should be told that we have no insurance benefits, and that while Masons are second to none in their charitable endeavors, as is
evidenced by our Homes for the Aged and for
Children, nevertheless it would be financially
impossible for the Fraternity to care for all of
its members. The minimum dues of $20 per
year provide little surplus for any Lodge to
render aid except to those in dire distress.
Another subject which could certainly be
discussed with a non-Mason is the history of the
Masonic society and its evolution from the
Operatives, the builders of the Middle Ages,
who created the great Gothic cathedrals, churches and other structures in the British Isles and
on the continent of Europe. There are many interesting topics of Masonic history which are
perfectly proper to be discussed and might
possibly excite the interest of serious-minded
listeners who are not Masons. The history of
our Craft in America and the part which
Masons played in the early history of our country is something of which we should all be justly
proud. It is no secret and no Mason is pro-
hibited from discussing it.
You should not discuss the ritual. Part of
the fun of Freemasonry is the excitement and
adventure of the ritual. You can explain that it
is based in part upon the Holy Bible and that
the ceremonies of Masonry are of a serious and
dignified nature, without levity or horseplay.
Certainly every candidate should be told this,
and should be asked not to listen to the remarks
of unthinking brethren about "riding the goat"
and similar intimations that the candidate is
entering into something like a high school
fraternity. Such intimations are unworthy and
untrue. Explain that Freemasonry is divided into three degrees and what is required to progress. Explain about the catechism, qucstions
and answers, and what is expected: 6,000,000
Masons learned and be sure they know they
can. All they need do is ask to start their travel
from friend to brother.
We are proud of our fraternity and want
you proudly to explain Freemasonry to the worthy and well qualified people in your sphere of