Frequently Asked Questions — Masons

FAQs — Masons

What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry is the oldest, largest and most widely recognized fraternal organization in the World. Founded in London, England in 1717, its current worldwide membershiptotals 3.6 million members, 1.6 million of which are in North America. With 120,000 Masons and 530 local Lodges, Ohio has one of the largest Masonic memberships of any state in the country.

As a fraternal organization, Freemasonry unites men of good character who, though of different religious, ethnic, or social backgrounds, share a belief in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind.

The traditions of Freemasonry are founded upon the building of King Solomon’s Temple, and its fraternal ceremonies use the working tools of the stonemasons to symbolize moral lessons and truths. For example, Masons are reminded at Lodge to “meet upon the level of equality, act by the plumb of uprightness, and part upon the square of virtue.”

Like most organizations, one will get out of Freemasonry what he is able to put into it. However, membership in Freemasonry is not meant in any way to interfere with an individual’s commitment to his faith, family, or occupation.  Freemasonry is not and never can be a replacement for these important institutions, but rather it is a positive environment that reminds every Mason of his duty to God, his community, his family and himself.

Freemasonry provides opportunities for sincere, honest, forthright men who believe in God and desire to contribute to the improvement of their communities and themselves. Through our Masonic Fraternalism, we reaffirm our dedication and unity to become involved citizens who have a strong desire to preserve the values that have made and continue to make America great.

History of Freemasonry

Freemasonry is the oldest, largest, best known, and most widespread Fraternity in the world. Its origins have been the subject of much research and discussion among scholars, who generally agree that it predates any written records which are available today. Most Masonic scholars also agree that it has its origins in the operative stonemason lodges which existed in Europe during the Middle Ages.

These lodges were created to ensure that people who claimed to be stonemasons were in fact qualified through a deep practical understanding of the craft.  They enforced codes of conduct on their members, established means of recognition, and dictated training and testing of apprentices. A lodge had jurisdiction over any stone work in its locale, and therefore also ensured that its stonemasons would have a means to perform their work and earn a livelihood.

During the 1600´s, as the number of great cathedrals under construction began to decline, lodges adopted the practice of admitting men who were not stonemasons into their membership. These members were termed ‘Speculative´ or ‘Accepted´ Masons. It was from these groups that modern day Freemasonry had its beginning, and from which the earliest recorded historical artifacts can be identified.

In 1717, a famous meeting was held in London, England, where the four Lodges present agreed to work under a common constitution, and by this act, the first Grand Lodge was created. From this Grand Lodge, many Symbolic and Provincial Grand Lodges were chartered, and today there are over 150 Grand Lodges with a membership of over 6 million members. There are very few places in the world where you cannot find a Masonic Lodge, or locate a Brother.

Ceremonies and Degrees

The experience of becoming a member of a Masonic Lodge is divided into three ceremonial stages that Masons call “degrees.” These three degrees are loosely based upon the journeyman system, which was used to educate Medieval craftsmen. Symbolically the degrees represent the three stages of human development: youth, manhood, and age.

The first degree of Freemasonry is the Entered Apprentice degree. It is a candidate’s first experience with the ceremonies of the fraternity and like all Masonic ceremonies is a solemn and meaningful event. Though new to Freemasonry,an Entered Apprentice enjoys the title of “Brother.”

The Fellow Craft degree is the second ceremony and exposes a Brother to more of the symbolism and philosophy of the fraternity. For skilled craftsmen this degree would have marked one’s progress from an apprentice to a journeyman.

The Master Mason degree is the last of the Lodge ceremonies and with it a candidate becomes a full member, enjoying both the rights and responsibilities of membership.

During all three ceremonies, a candidate is treated with complete respect. At no time, is he ever made to feel uncomfortable or harassed in anyway. Masonic ceremonies are a wonderful tradition shared by men such as George Washington, Harry S. Truman, Dave Thomas, and other men of integrity. These ceremonies are always conferred in such a way as to bring pride to the candidate and the members of the Lodge.

Joining a Masonic Lodge and Becoming a Master Mason

Joining a Masonic Lodge is an opportunity for qualified men to become members of the world’s oldest, largest, and best known fraternal organization. The process of becoming a member is divided into stages marked by three separate ceremonies, the symbolism of which is intended to strengthen a man’s commitment to his Faith, his family, and his community.

Master Masons are men from a variety of ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds who share a belief in the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God, work to improve themselves and their communities, and are an asset to all who know them. Membership in a Masonic Lodge is an honor that says a great deal about the character and personal integrity of a man.

If you do desire to join a Masonic Lodge and share in the fraternal fellowship that abounds there, you will need to determine which Lodge is nearest you, contact the secretary of the Lodge for information regarding the fees for application, and meet with two members of the Lodge who would recommend you for membership in the Lodge.

Use the Lodge Locator Links at the following websites to find the Masonic Lodge nearest you:

Grand Lodge of Ohio

Grand Lodge of Kentucky

Grand Lodge of Indiana

Qualifications for Membership

Application for membership is open to men who:

    • Have been an Ohio resident for at least one year

    • Are at least 19 years old

    • Have a belief in a Supreme Being

    • Live a good moral and social life

    • Do not advocate the overthrow of the government

    • Can read and write English

    • Are recommended by two members of the Lodge they wish to join. (If you do not know two members of a Lodge, the secretary of the Lodge to which you are applying can arrange a meeting with two members.)

The Masonic term for a membership application is a “petition.”  Click Here to download the petition.

If you meet the qualifications for membership, and have any questions regarding
membership, you can email and arrangements can be made to assist you.

Other Common Questions

Is Freemasonry a religion?

Categorically, not. Freemasonry is not a religion, although there is a religious aspect of every Freemason. Those who claim that it is a religion either do not understand our tenets, are confused as to what constitutes a religion, or have simply made an error of judgment without basis of fact. Freemasonry does require that a man profess a sincere belief in God, but not as to how he practices it, or what else he might believe spiritually. It does not take the place of religion, nor does it supplant the teachings of any religion. If anything, it reinforces those moral teachings of religions that form the basis of all good societies.

Finally, it is one of the ancient landmarks of Freemasonry that there is never any secular or political discussion in any legally constituted Lodge. So seriously do all regular Lodges take this principle, that the penalty for such discussion is severe and could result in expulsion.

Isn´t Freemasonry a ‘secret´ society?

Contrary to the claims of some, Freemasonry is not a secret society, any more than a publicly held company or most civic organizations. Freemasonry neither hides its existence, or its membership. There are some very public demonstrations of Masonry through parades, the East-West Shrine Football Game, the many Scottish Rite Learning Centers, the Shriners Burns and Orthopedic Hospitals, many biomedical research programs into schizophrenia, vision, diabetes, and dyslexia, as well as cornerstone laying ceremonies, scholarship funds, boys and girls programs, and many charitable events.

There has never been any attempt to conceal the purpose, aims, and principles of Freemasonry. Its constitutions are published for the world to read, and its rules and regulations are open for inspection by anyone.

It is true that we have modes of recognition, rites, and ceremonies with which the world is not acquainted. But in the same light, so do most families, groups, and business organizations have private affairs internal to their membership. In fact, Masonry has been so studied and published, that there are virtually countless sources for reputable information in bookstores, on the internet, and in libraries. There simply are no secrets to be had which cannot be obtained elsewhere.