Following is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about Freemasonry
If you have a question not answered here or in these pages then please contact us here. We will put your question(s) to the relevant authority on the subject and get back to you as soon as possible. We can answer any questions you might have about Freemasonry, our history, our future, what we believe in, the kind of work we do or where your nearest Lodge is and how to make contact or join.
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is a fraternal society and in 2017 will be celebrating the 300th anniversary of the first Grand Lodge formed in 1717 in London. Some believe it to have evolved from the stonemason’s guilds and it has certainly been in existence in some form since the 1500s. It offers a philosophy on life and its main aim is to help men sculpt themselves into better men; better Fathers, colleagues, employers, husbands and friends. Every Freemason believes in the following:
Brotherly love: Showing tolerance, fairness, respect and kindness to others.
Relief: The practice of charity and care for Freemasons and the community as a whole.
Truth: Honesty and integrity and high moral standards in everyday life.
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-political, non-religious, fraternal and charitable organisations.
Is Freemasonry a Religion?
No, it is not. Neither is it a substitute for religion. There are no sacraments. To become a member one must express a belief in a Supreme Being and every member is expected to follow his own belief. We have members of all faith in our ranks, Christians, Hindu, Jews, Muslims and many others. All are welcome to join provided they meet the criteria of a belief in Supreme Being. Freemasonry is a means by which men of different faiths may meet in harmony when perhaps they would otherwise remain at a perpetual distance. We do not allow discussion on religious doctrine or politics in our Lodges. It is generally acknowledged that all religions teach us to do good, to be magnanimous, sincere, truthful, law-abiding and honest. This fits very well with Masonic philosophy and we encourage our members to follow their own religion, denomination or church if that is their will.
Does the Roman Catholic Church allow its members to be Freemasons?
Membership of Freemasonry in the UK is currently permitted by the Roman Catholic Church.
Why then are some religions against Freemasonry?
It is true to say that from time to time some religious leaders have spoken against Freemasonry, but we believe that it stems from a misunderstanding of what Freemasonry is all about. There are many members of the clergy of all the world’s religions who are Freemasons and find no incompatibility with their beliefs and the Order. We accept that we will always have our critics and of course they are entitled to their views and they are free to ask questions of us at any time.
Do you have to be rich to be a Freemason?
The answer to this question is no. There are people from all walks of life who are Freemasons, as long as you can afford the lodge subscriptions. A Masonic lodge is no different from being a member of a golf club when it comes to paying your way. Membership is open to all men regardless of religion, political persuasion, career, wealth or social position. The costs associated with membership of Freemasonry are explained further on our Become a Member page.
What do you do? Is Freemasonry just about Lodge Meetings?
Fortunately, no. We take part in many social and sporting events, including bowling, golf, clay pigeon shooting, cycling, walking, activity days / weekends etc. and we join in with our wives, partners and families to share these pursuits. We hold dinner dances and social evenings to which non-Masons are invited on a regular basis. Events may be organised at lodge level or even District or Provincial level and these can be quite special occasions to which civic dignitaries and special guests may be invited. Many Masons also become actively involved in charitable activities in the communities local to their Masonic Hall or do work for other good causes and charities.
What do you do in your meetings?
Meetings are usually held once a month. We have a business part to the meeting. We read the minutes of the previous meeting. The Secretary will read correspondence and the Treasurer will give an update on the financial situation within the lodge. The Almoner will advise the members if there is any member who is sick or needs visiting and the Charity Steward will give an update on charity matters. Whenever there is a candidate the Officers of the lodge will work a ceremony which is a sort of play. These vary depending on which step the candidate is taking. These are known as degrees. The meetings are generally rounded off by a meal known commonly as a social board. Fundamentally the lodge meetings are about an approach to life.
Can anyone visit your meetings?
Only Masons who have been made a member of a regular lodge may visit and enter a meeting. However, from time to time Masonic halls are opened to the Public and visitors are accepted. This is usually known as an Open day at which visitors will be shown around the building, including the lodge room(s) and have the various lodge offices and activities explained to them. Also Masonic halls are often made available to members of the public for functions such as, business meetings, conferences, weddings, birthday parties, funerals and the like. Most have licensed bars and catering facilities.
Why is Freemasonry not allowed in some countries?
That is a good question and one which has been asked many times. You will find that generally speaking where democracy exists, so does Freemasonry and it is spread right across the globe. In some countries, especially those where a dictatorial regime exists, they seem to think that because Freemasons meetings are held behind closed doors that they may be conspiring against them. Freemasonry in England and in those countries whose Freemasonry is in accord with us, forbid the discussion of religion or politics at meetings.
Why don’t you admit women?
Freemasonry under the United Grand Lodge of England is for men only and has been so for 300 years; however, there are separate Masonic organisations for women which follow the same organisational pattern as the men. We don’t attend their meetings and they don’t attend ours. Since 1998 the two English women’s jurisdictions, while not formally recognized, have been acknowledged as being regular in practice and relationships are far from hostile.
What are the modes of recognition between Freemasons?
The traditional modes of recognition, which are confidential between Freemasons, developed from the early stonemasons’ guilds and are not used indiscriminately, but solely as a test of membership, e.g. when visiting another lodge where you are not known or during the Lodge ceremonial. They should never be used outside of the Lodge room and only used when the Lodge is open.
Why do you wear Aprons?
We are continuing an age-old tradition practised by the ancient stonemasons’ guilds. Originally they would have been worn for protection whilst the stonemason was working, but now they serve a symbolic purpose like many other things in Masonry. However, they are now highly decorated and signify the rank of the wearer. Freemasons are not alone in wearing aprons many other fraternal societies also wear something similar.
How old does a man have to be to join?
Generally speaking, a man would have to be 21 years of age and has to be proposed and seconded by a Freemason. These will usually be people who know him well although we do get enquirers who don’t know other Freemasons. An applicant must be of good reputation. Occasionally a man of 18 years of age may be accepted by special dispensation. The precise rules for admission do vary slightly from time to time and these can be obtained from the current Book of Constitutions which is available via the United Grand Lodge of England website. www.ugle.org.uk
How much does it cost to be a Freemason?
It varies from lodge to lodge but anyone wishing to join can usually find a lodge to suit his pocket. There is an initiation fee and an apron to buy. Members pay an annual subscription to cover the running costs of the lodge but this can often paid by monthly standing order. There may also be dining, social functions and charitable contributions, but it is up to the individual what he gives or attends according to his means, although it is generally accepted that if you join a Lodge and Freemasonry you will become involved and support its activities. Whichever Lodge you become a member of they will probably explain likely costs to you in some detail and also insist that you discuss it with your family. Freemasonry will become your ‘hobby’ or ‘pastime’ and like all similar activities, e.g. the golf club, there are fees involved.
What is special about Freemasonry?
An independent report has concluded that, contrary to the much misleading commentary, freemasonry demonstrates genuine openness and transparency and concludes that it is arguably more relevant today than ever before. Freemasonry acts as a ‘constant’, providing members with a unique combination of friendship, belonging and structure, with many Masons saying they have made valuable lifelong friendships.