to Opening the Doors of Freemasonry

  Freemasonry is the largest and most highly respected Fraternal Order in the World. We hope that
  after reading this exciting brochure, you will be much more familiar with our organization -- who we are,
  where we came from, what we've done in the past and what we're doing now to make this place a better
  and brighter world.

  What is Freemasonry?
  Freemasonry is kindness in the home; honesty in business; courtesy toward others;
  dependability in one's work; compassion for the unfortunate; resistance to evil; help for
  the weak; concern for good government; support for public education; and above all, a
  life-practicing reverence for God and love of fellow man.
  It encourages good citizenship and political expression but is not a political
  organization. Its charitable activities are manifold, yet, it is not a welfare or benefit organization.
  Fifty years ago, a prominent Freemason referred to our Gentle Craft as "an organized association of
   men, symbolically applying the principles of operative Masonry and architecture to the science and art of
  character building." That observance was true in 1937 -- it is just as true today.
  For the most relevant definition of our Fraternity, it is suggested that you consider the personal
  attributes of your Masonic friend who has made this brochure available to you.

  Where did it start?
  The background of today's Masonry is found deep in the time when men built the
  cathedrals, abbeys, and castles of medieval Europe. The stonemasons who constructed
  these awe-inspiring Gothic structures formed craft guilds to protect the secrets of their
  building trade and to pass on their knowledge to the worthy and desreving apprentices.
  By the time the need for this type of "Operative" mason declined in the Seventeenth
  Century, the practices and customs of the operative craft had left such an impression that
   men wh had no inclination of being operative builders sought membership. These speculative builders
  were learned and well-thinking men, men of integrity and good will. With their admission, "speculative
  Masonry" evolved. This speculative Fraternity of Freemasons used the symbols (tools) which the
  operative Masons used in Cathedral building as symbols in character building.
  The two principal tools were the Square and Compass -- which together form the most familiar
   Masonic "trademark" in the world to this day. The letter "G," in the very center of this emblem, reflects
    the true Masonic belief that God is the very center of ALL life.

 What are the requirements for membership?
 The person who wants to join Masonry must be a man (it's a fraternity), sound
 in body and mind, who believes in God, is at least the minimum age required by
 Masonry in his state, and has a good reputation. (Incidentally, the "sound in
 body" requirement -- which comes from the stonemasons of the Middle Ages --
 doesn't mean that a physically challenged man cannot be a Mason; many are).
 Those are the only "formal" requirements. But there are others, not so formal.
 He should believe in helping others. He should believe there is more to life than
 pleasure and money. He should be willing to respect the opinions of others. And
 he should want to grow and develop as a human being.
 Twenty-two words describe the most important prerequisite to becoming a Mason.

      "...we receive none, knowingly, into our ranks who are not moral and upright before God
             and of good repute before the world..."

 Under Indiana Masonic law, a person seeking admission must be a man, at least 18
 years of age and a resident of Indiana for at least one year immediately prior to petitioning.
 Further, he must profess his belief if the existence of a Supreme Being, by whatever name he may be known. Membership in  the Fraternity must be of one's own free will and accord.
 A man possessing these qualifications and being desirous of becoming a Freemason need only ask his
 Masonic friend for a membership petition. The petition having been completed and signed by two
  members of the Lodge petitioned, is read at a meeting of the Lodge. A committee of three is appointed
  to call on and visit with the petitioner and his family that they might become acquainted with the
  organization and its activities. After the committee reports back to the Lodge, the petition is voted on by
   the members and, if accepted, the aspirant begins the process of becoming a Mason.

 How does a man become a Mason?

 Some men are surprised that no one has ever asked them to become a Mason.
 They may even feel that the Masons in their town don't think they are "good
 enough" to join. But it doesn't work that way. For hundreds of years, Masons
 have been forbidden to ask others to join the fraternity. We can talk to friends
 about Masonry, we can tell them about what Masonry does. We can tell them
 why we enjoy it. But we can't ask, much less pressure anyone to join.
 There's a good reason for that. It isn't that we're trying to be exclusive. But
 becoming a Mason is a very serious thing. Joining Masonry is making a
 permanent life commitment to live in certain ways. We've listed most of them
 above -- to live with honor and integrity, to be willing to share and care about
 others, to trust each other, and to place ultimate trust in God. No one should be
 "talked into" making such a decision.
 So, when a man decides he wants to be a Mason, he asks a Mason for a
 petition or application. He fills it out and gives it to the Mason, and that Mason
 takes it to the local lodge. The Master of the lodge will appoint a committee to
 visit with the man and his family, find out a little about him and why he wants to
 be a Mason, tell him and his family about Masonry, and answer their questions.
 The committee reports to the lodge, and the lodge votes on the petition. If the
 vote is affirmative -- and it usually is -- the lodge will contact the man to set the
 date for the Entered Apprentice Degree. When the person has completed all
 three degrees, he is a Master Mason and a full member of the fraternity.

     What's a degree?

 A degree is a stage or level of membership. It's also the ceremony by which a
 man attains that level of membership. There are three, called Entered
 Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. As you can see, the names are
 taken from the craft guilds. In the Middle Ages, when a person wanted to join a
 craft, such as the gold smiths or the carpenters or the stonemasons, he was
 first apprenticed. As an apprentice, he learned the tools and skills of the trade.
 When he had proved his skills, he became a "Fellow of the Craft" (today we
 would say "Journeyman"), and when he had exceptional ability, he was known
 as a Master of the Craft.
 The degrees are plays in which the candidate participates. Each degree uses
 symbols to teach, just as plays did in the Middle Ages and as many theatrical
 productions do today.
 The Masonic degrees teach the great lessons of life -- the importance of honor
 and integrity, of being a person on whom others can rely, of being both trusting
 and trustworthy, of realizing that you have a spiritual nature as well as a
 physical or animal nature, of the importance of self-control, of knowing how to
 love and be loved, of knowing how to keep confidential what others tell you so
 that they can "open up" without fear.

 What happens at the initiation?

  An applicant, whose petition has been accepted by the Lodge, is advised of the date
   his Entered Apprentice Degree has been scheduled. On that date, following a brief
   ritualistic opening, the petitioner is properly prepared and introduced to the Lodge. The
  solemn process is an enlightening experience and the candidate need never worry that
  embarrassing or compromising situations will arist during this (or any other) degree --
  they will not!
  After receiving the Entered Apprentice Degree, you will be expected to memorize several key
   passages of the Ritual and help will be extended in the teaching/learning process.
   Having learned the required Ritualistic work and satisfying the Lodge of that proficiency, you will be
   asked to return for the conferral of your Fellow Craft Degree. Following a proficiency examination on
   that Degree, you will advance to the "last and highest grade of Ancient Craft Masonry -- the Sublime
   Degree of a Master Mason."
  Only after completing these three symbolic degrees will you truly understand the oft-quoted statement,
  "Freemasonry builds its Temples in the Hearts of Men."

   Is Freemasonry a religion?

   No! Religion can best teach a man faith, hope, and charity. Freemasonry only
   endeavors to reinforce those teachings. Masonry is not a religion -- nor is it a substitute
   for or a rival of any doctrine. It is an aid to religious development in that it builds
   character and stresses righteousness. It is significant that many clergymen are active members of the
   Fraternity. A Mason respects and is tolerant of that which is sacred to his brother, be he Christian,
   Muslim, Jew, or of some other faith in God.
   The Fraternity is essentially an institution providing moral instruction, and the rules of right conduct a
   member must follow are acceptable to all religions.

    How do Masons help others?

    The basic premise of Freemasonry is "The Brotherhood of Man -- under the
    Fatherhood of God." With that thought uppermost in mind, Masons strive to learn how
    better to serve that "brotherhood of man" -- charitably -- not just with money (although a
     recent curvey revealed that over two million Masonic dollars are contributed EVERY
     DAY to philanthropies) but also through actions and deeds. The over 100,000 Masons of Indiana own
     and operate one of the finest Masonic Homes in the world, which over the past three-quarters of a
     century has extended the hand of brotherly love and concern to thousands of men women and children.
     At the other end of the spectrum, Masons help, believe in, and support our young people through
     scholarship and student load programs, sponsored by the Grand Lodge, the Grand Commandery, and
     the Scottish Rite Valleys in Indiana. Each year the Grand Lodge of Indiana alone awards over $500,000
    in college scholarships to deserving children and grandchildren of Indiana Masons.

 So, is Masonry education?

 Yes. In a very real sense, education is at the center of Masonry. We have
 stressed its importance for a very long time. Back in the Middle Ages, schools
 were held in the lodges of stonemasons. You have to know a lot to build a
 cathedral -- geometry, and structural engineering, and mathematics, just for a
 start. And that education was not very widely available. All the formal schools
 and colleges trained people for careers in the church, or in law or medicine. And
 you had to be a member of the social upper classes to go to those schools.
 Stonemasons did not come from the aristocracy. And so the lodges had to
 teach the necessary skills and information. Freemasonry's dedication to
 education started there.
 It has continued. Masons started some of the first public schools in both Europe
 and America. We supported legislation to make education universal. In the
 1800s Masons as a group lobbied for the establishment of state supported
 education and federal land grant colleges. Today we give millions of dollars in
 scholarships each year. We encourage our members to give volunteer time to
 their local schools, buy classroom supplies for teachers, help with literacy
 programs, and do everything they can to help assure that each person, adult or
 child, has the best educational opportunities possible.
 And Masonry supports continuing education and intellectual growth for its
 members, insisting that learning more about many things is important for
 anyone who wants to keep mentally alert and young.

What does Masonry teach?

 Masonry teaches some important principles. There's nothing very surprising in
 the list. Masonry teaches that:
 Since God is the Creator, all men and women are the children of God. Because
 of that, all men and women are brothers and sisters, entitled to dignity, respect
 for their opinions, and consideration of their feelings.
 Each person must take responsibility for his/her own life and actions. Neither
 wealth nor poverty, education nor ignorance, health nor sickness excuses any
 person from doing the best he or she can do or being the best person possible
 under the circumstances.
 No one has the right to tell another person what he or she must think or believe.
 Each man and woman has an absolute right to intellectual, spiritual, economic,
 and political freedom. This is a right given by God, not by man. All tyranny, in
 every form, is illegitimate. Each person must learn and practice self-control.
 Each person must make sure his spiritual nature triumphs over his animal
 nature. Another way to say the same thing is that even when we are tempted to
 anger, we must not be violent. Even when we are tempted to selfishness, we
 must be charitable. Even when we want to "write someone off," we must
 remember that he or she is a human and entitled to our respect. Even when we
 want to give up, we must go on. Even when we are hated, we must return love,
 or, at a minimum, we must not hate back. It isn't easy!
 Faith must be in the center of our lives. We find that faith in our houses of
 worship, not in Freemasonry, but Masonry constantly teaches that a person's
 faith, whatever it may be, is central to a good life.
 Each person has a responsibly to be a good citizen, obeying the law. That
 doesn't mean we can't try to change things, but change must take place in legal
 It is important to work to make this world better for all who live in it. Masonry
 teaches the importance of doing good, not because it assures a person's
 entrance into heaven -- that's a question for a religion, not a fraternity -- but
 because we have a duty to all other men and women to make their lives as
 fulfilling as they can be.
 Honor and integrity are essential to life. Life, without honor and integrity, is
 without meaning

Beyond Lodge Membership

 Lodge members may join Masonically-related organizations outside of the Symbolic Lodge. These
 groups include the York Rite (Royal Arch Masons, Cryptic Masons, Knights Templar), Scottish Rite,
 Shrine, and the Order of the Eastern Star.