Freemasonry is a fraternal, benevolent and educational order. It teaches the practice of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Its members believe in the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. It is a system of morality based on the Sacred Law.
The Constitution of the order specifies that a belief in Deity is one vital requirement for membership. Thus no atheist or agnostic can become a Freemason. Every Lodge opens and closes with the benefit of prayer, and a deep and sincere reverence for Deity is manifest in all Masonic ceremonies. On the other hand, a member is never questioned about his personal religious beliefs. Thus within the Fraternity are found Christians, Jews, Mohammedans, Buddhists, and those of other monotheistic faiths, meeting and working together in perfect harmony.
Freemasonry upholds law and constitutional government. It inculcates into its members the highest moral and religious principles. It fosters patriotism and teaches toleration.
You may have thought of Freemasonry--as many do--as a secret society. It is not. A secret society is one whose members hide the fact that they belong to it, or even that such an organization exists. Freemasons on the contrary, make no secret of their affiliation with the order, and announcements of Masonic meetings appear frequently in the press. Freemasonry is not a secret society, but a society with secrets. They are kept secret because those who have not received the degrees in Masonry would not understand them or realize their significance.
Some have attempted to trace its origin back
to the most remote antiquity, and indeed we can find records
of organizations of masons existing in the early days of ancient
Rome. But these associations were composed of men who followed
masonry as a trade--in other words, they were working masons,
or operative Masons, as they are known. The present fraternity
is young by comparison, dating back to 1717. Its members are
referred to as speculative Masons. Modern Freemasonry did, however
evolve over the centuries from operative masons who, in
the Middle Ages, built the glorious gothic cathedrals in Europe,
many of which still stand today.