frequently asked questions...
Are there dues, fees, etc. associated with being a Mason?
Yes. Like all organizations, Lodges must be able to pay their light bills.
Typically, there is a one-time fee for the three degrees of Masonry as well as
annual dues. These rates and fees will vary greatly from lodge to lodge
depending on a variety of factors. We at Sunnyside Lodge strive to keep
these costs as low as possible and currently the initiation stands at $155.00
with annual dues of $55.00. The benefits far outweigh the costs.
A “life membership” can also be purchased and it is extremely affordable.
Isn't masonry just a place where businessmen make deals?
No. In fact, most Masons believe that to trade with a Brother Mason only
because he is a Mason is unmasonic. Even more importantly, anyone who attempts
to join a Lodge solely for business reasons will not be given a petition.
Masons, however, are friends, and it is not surprising that many Masons do
trade with Brothers. For one thing, they are dealing with people that are of
good character and can be trusted, which is no small statement in the modern
But Masonry is not a "place to network". Yes, some men do view one of the
benefits of membership as an additional source of customers or partners, but few
would say that is the only reason they became Masons. The work involved in the
degrees alone would make this a poor investment - better to join the Rotary Club
or other business group.
Is Masonry a secret society?
No. Secret societies are generally defined as organizations which are unknown
to the public and whose existence is denied. The Bavarian Illuminati and the Mafia
would be examples of secret societies.
Masonry, on the other hand, is well-known and proudly displays its existence.
Masonic Temples are clearly marked as such, and many Lodges are listed in the
yellow pages (usually under "Fraternal Orders"). Members often wear rings or
tie-clips that identify themselves as Masons, and Masons often participate in
community charity work. Some Masonic functions are even open to the public.
Masonry is not a secret society, but rather a society with a few secrets.
These are mainly modes of recognition - the signals, grips, signs, and phrases
by which Masons recognize each other. The actual degree rituals are considered
secret as well, not because there is anything that would harm Masonry by their
revelation, but rather because they are more meaningful if the candidate has no
prior knowledge or expectations.
It should be pointed out that many other organizations have a similar class
of secrets. College fraternities (a.k.a. "Greek letter organizations") often
have small secrets known only to their members, allowing them to travel from
house to house and still be known.
Is Masonry a religion?
No. "Masonry is not a religion by the definitions most people use. Religion,
as the term is commonly used, implies several things: a plan for salvation or
path by which one reaches the after-life; a theology which attempts to describe
the nature of God; and the description of ways or practices by which a man or
woman may seek to communicate with God. Masonry does none of those things. We
offer no plan of salvation and we make no effort to describe the nature of God. And while we open and close our meetings with prayer, we never tell a man how he should pray or for what he should pray. Instead, we tell him that he must find the answers to these great questions in his own faith, in his church or synagogue or other house of worship. We urge men not to neglect their spiritual development and to be faithful in the practice of their religion. As the Grand Lodge of England wrote in Freemasonry and Religion, "Freemasonry is far from indifferent to religion. Without interfering in religious practice, it expects each member to follow his own faith, and to place above all other duties his duty to God by whatever name He is known." Masonry itself makes only a simple religious demand on a man - he must believe in a God.
"Freemasonry has no dogma or theology. It teaches that it is important for every man to have a religion of his choice and to be faithful to it. A good Mason is made even more faithful to the tenets of his faith by membership." Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, who was also a Mason.
Can you be a Mason no matter your religion?
The only religious requirement is that candidates believe in a Supreme Being. If you can in good faith profess a belief in a Supreme Being, you are eligible to be a Mason. No atheists will ever knowingly be made a Mason.
There are Christian (Catholic, Protestant, Mormon), Jewish, and Muslim Masons. It would be tedious and pointless to go into a religion-by-religion (and then denomination-by-denomination) discussion. The key points to remember are the requirement of belief in a Supreme Being and the fact that Masonry is a fraternity, not a religion.
Are Masonic rituals demeaning or embarrassing to the candidate?
Nothing could be further from the truth. The rituals (degrees) are designed to reinforce virtues that the Craft finds desirable, such as Justice, Brotherly Love, Truth, and the like. The rituals are actually quite beautiful and filled with ancient language and much symbolism. At no point, however, is the candidate asked to do anything that would embarrass or demean him, nor anything that would violate his obligations to his faith,
country, or the law.
Do I have to be invited to become a Mason?
Don't wait to be invited - you will die waiting.
Masons are prohibited from actively recruiting or asking non-Masons to join the fraternity, to insure that candidates come of their own free will.
From where did Masons come?
A fascinating question! And, alas, impossible to answer within the confines of this FAQ. There are a number of theories, a lot of debate, and a lot of musty history books. As a very brief overview, here is part of an essay by Henry C. Clausen, a noted Masonic author. This is, of course, just one point of view - many other theories exist, but Clausen nicely
covers the basics:
"Our Masonic antiquity is demonstrated by a so-called Regius Manuscript written around the year 1390, when King Richard II reigned in England, a century before Columbus. It was part of the King's Library that George II presented to the British Museum in 1757. Rediscovered by James O. Halliwell, a non-Mason, and rebound in its present form in 1838, it consists of 794 lines of rhymed English verse and claims there was an introduction of Masonry into England during the reign of Athelstan, who ascended the throne in A.D. 925. It sets forth
regulations for the Society, fifteen articles and fifteen points and rules of behavior at church, teaching duties to God and Church and Country, and inculcating brotherhood. While the real roots of Masonry are lost in faraway mists, these items show that our recorded
history goes back well over 600 years. Further proof is furnished through English statutes as, for example, one of 1350 (25 Edward III, Cap. III) which regulated wages of a "Master...Mason at 4 pence per day." The Fabric Role of the 12th century Exeter Cathedral referred to "Freemasons."
The historical advance of science also treats of our operative ancient brethren who were architects and stonemasons of geometry. It is apparent from this portrayal that they had a very real and personal identification with the Deity and that this fervent devotion provided energy to build cathedrals. They embraced the teachings of Plato and understood and applied Pythagorean relationships. Just as there is a beauty of harmony credited to
mathematical relationships on which music is based, in precisely the same way these master geometrician treated architecture. The architects and stonemasons became the
personification of geometry, performing extraordinary feats with squares and compasses. Geometrical proportion, not measurement, was the rule. Their marks as stonemasons were derived from geometric constructions. The mighty works they wrought, cathedrals with Gothic spires pointing toward the heavens, and especially their "association," were not
without danger and opposition, bearing in mind the Inquisition established in 1229, the Saint Bartholomew's Eve Massacre of 1572, and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. These historical points remind us of the need for our cautions against cowans and eavesdroppers.
Our operative Brethren of the Middle Ages thus were the builders of mighty cathedrals throughout the British Isles and continental Europe, many of which still stand. These skilled craftsmen wrote in enduring stone impressive stories of achievement, frequently chiseled with symbolic markings. With these architectural structures of these master builders there
was a companion moral code. These grew up together. Out of this background modern Freemasonry was born.