What is Freemasonry?
What is Freemasonry's purpose?
Masonry tries to build a better world by making "better men out of good men," by strengthening their character, improving their moral and spiritual outlook and broadening their mental horizons. It teaches men 1] principles of personal responsibility and righteousness; 2] an understanding of Freemasonry's character; and 3] how to put these lessons into practice in daily life. In short, Freemasons believe in universal peace made possible by teaching its doctrine through the Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God.
How did Freemasonry originate?
Masonic scholars are not sure of the exact time at which our Craft (the Masonic fraternity) came into being and many theories have been advanced through the years. One of the more plausible is that modern Freemasonry came from the "lodges" which traveling stonemasons formed at building sites in Europe during the Middle Ages. They established the apprentice-to-journeyman-to-master system of educating men in their craft. The also kept secret their methods of building and used passwords and other means to identify themselves to each other as masons. In addition, they gave apprentices and journeymen moral instruction.
With the growth of cities, the Renaissance, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and a decline in the demand for great building projects, the special privileges of stonemasons as traveling craftsmen disappeared. As a result, they began to take in non-masons as patrons. In the17th century, this led large numbers of "speculative" or non-working masons to become members of the stonemasons "lodges." By the end of that century, Masonic lodges were almost wholly speculative, made up of Masons who never touched a chisel to stone.
These new Freemasons kept the old traditions. Today, we still begin new members as Entered Apprentices, the as Fellowcrafts (journeymen) and finally Master Masons. We preserve some of the original secrecy of how we teach friendship, morality, brotherly love, relief and truth. And, we still utilize the old passwords and signs.
What is a Grand Lodge?
The structure of modern Freemasonry as we know it today started with the formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717. Other Grand Lodges took their charters from this and other early Grand Lodges. Today, there are Grand Lodges in most countries of the world and in each of the United States.
During the mid-18th century, the Grand Lodge of England began to introduce innovations in their ritual that alienated many members. A schism was created, splitting the Craft into two Grand Lodges. The original was labeled the "Moderns" and those who supported the traditional ritual were called the "Ancients." After a great deal of effort and compromise, a merger of the two factions was brought about in 1813. However, we still see the effects of the schism today in the variations of the initials "A.F.& A.M." Some Grand Lodges, such as here in Illinois, are titled A.F.& A.M.(Ancient Free & Accepted Masons). Other Grand Lodges use F.& A.M. (Free & Accepted Masons). However, all Grand Lodges work toward the same end.
Is Masonry a secret society?
Is Masonry a religion?
No! Masonry is not a religion, nor is it designed or intended to replace (or substitute for) religion in its members' lives. We do not require that members belong to a church, but they may belong to any church they wish. We do ask, however, that each prospective member state that he believes in a Supreme Being. Masonry seeks only to unite men for the purpose of brotherhood, not religion.
Can an atheist become a Mason?
Can political beliefs prevent a man from becoming a Mason
Masonry takes no account of a man's political beliefs. In fact, only two subjects are banned from discussion in a lodge: religion and politics. Masonry only requires that each member support his country's government and obey its laws. In other words, members should be good citizens and perform their civic duties. In fact, honorable civic service is one of our teachings, although a Mason running for public office should not take advantage of his Masonic affiliation by mentioning it in his campaign speeches or advertising.
What do Freemasons support?
Here in Illinois, we care for Masons and their widows in our Masonic Home in Sullivan. Children in need are cared for at our Children's Home in LaGrange, which is supported by Illinois Masons. Shriners Hospitals (all Shriners must belong to the Masonic fraternity) for burned and crippled children are constantly called upon for services to the unfortunate who might otherwise suffer for a lifetime. And addressing a critical issue that faces society today, Illinois Masonry has established its Foundation for the Prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Children, which trains educators in intervention and support procedures to arrest this problem in our schools and among our youth. We fund academic programs in schools and work with and support a multitude of youth organizations in communities throughout the state of Illinois.
The first step toward becoming a member of the Masonic fraternity is to ask a Mason for a petition to a Masonic lodge. In Illinois, to become a Mason, you must:
Our ceremonies involve no hazing, horseplay or physical mistreatment of any kind. Candidates find the initiation ritual a solemn, beautiful and moving experience. Every word is spoken from memory, as has been our practice from Masonry's earliest days. The ritual itself has remained virtually unchanged for nearly three centuries. And finally, every man in the lodge is a friend -- and will be a brother.
If you have any questions about Freemasonry or a particular Masonic lodge, ask a Mason. He will be pleased to either answer your questions or put you in touch with someone who can. Excellent literature and audio-visual materials are available to tell you more about who we are and what we do.
If you wish, we can have a Master Mason contact you.Please complete the inquiry form on this Web site.