FAQ about Freemasonry
How is the organisation structured?
Each local ‘Lodge’ draws its members, essentially from the local community. A Regional group of local Lodges will comprise a ‘District’. For administrative purposes, there is a central organisation in each state, known as ‘Grand Lodge’. In addition, in each state, there are a number of separate charitable and other community service organisations, such as: The Masonic Hospital, Masonic Youth Welfare Fund, Frank Whiddon Masonic Homes and the Royal Freemasons Benevolent Institution (RFBI).
What is Freemasonry?
‘Freemasonry’ is a word, which is often used by Masons, to describe the high ideals and philosophy of caring to which all Masons adhere.
I am told that Masons need to devote a lot of their own time to community work, and my time is limited, would this apply to me?
As a Mason, the time you devote to community work is entirely up to you. You are asked to support your Lodge by attending its regular meeting, once a month. No more is expected of you.
I have heard that it is an advantage to a person’s career to be a Mason, is this true?
This is a commonly held viewpoint, but it is incorrect. Masons are under strict obligation, to not use their connections to obtain any personal advantage. There is of course, a general benefit that does come from being known as a Mason that is being known as ‘a person of integrity, who can be relied upon.’
I’ve heard that Masons, in the past, have been regarded as some sort of secret society, is that the situation now?
Until recently our policy was to be rather discreet about ourselves, our community work and even our membership. However, times have changed….and so have we! Today, Masons will often talk freely about their work and their membership. Lodge rooms are often opened to our visitors, and enquiries about Masons and their valuable community work, are always welcomed.
Why do you have any funny secrets at all?
In your daily life you have secrets; your bank cannot disclose your tax file number; your doctor is not allowed to disclose your medical records; you do not disclose your PIN numbers. Being discreet about certain aspects of your personal business is obviously quite normal. Everyone is familiar with the phrase: ‘Can you be trusted to keep a secret?’. Therefore, Masons use ‘secrets’ to test and prove the good character of those who choose to join. This is because to become a Mason requires a person to continually observe, with total sincerity, our high ideals of Integrity, Goodwill and Charity.
Why do you wear black dinner suits, and carry little black bags?
the reason for this is quite simple. We wear dinner suits, because our meetings are conducted in a semi-formal and dignified manner, in keeping with our principles. Our members come from all walks of life, and the uniformity of our attire demonstrates our uniformity of respect for our fellow Masons. The small black bag we carry simply contains such items as our meeting notices and agendas etc, maybe a short speech and our Masons leather apron.
Why do you not have women members?
There are other organisations that are strictly for women, and we agree with, and support their right to be ‘strictly for women’. We feel confident that they, and other well informed people, would support our right to exist as we do.
Some of your old buildings have the word ‘temple’ on them.
Why is that?
In the past, our Lodges were called ‘temples’. This was an allegoric reference to King Solomon’s Temple, constructed by early Masons, whose principles of Integrity, Goodwill and Charity, we have inherited.
Are the Masons some sort of religion?
Absolutely not. Our membership is, in fact, made up of people who belong to many different religions. Every member is encouraged, and is completely free, to follow their own private personal beliefs. Religion, as such, is not permitted to be discussed in any Lodge.
You have a Bible in your Lodge Room.
Why is this?
As a standard rule we do. However, any Lodge can determine, based on its membership, which Holy Book (or group of Books) it will use. This is because we are a truly non-sectarian organisation.
I have heard that Catholics cannot become Masons,
is that true?
No, that isn’t true. There are many practicing Catholics who are
Masons. You can be assured that there is nothing whatsoever, in being a Mason, which conflicts with a person’s duties as a practicing Catholic. It is understood that there is a Papal directive banning Catholics from becoming Freemasons but such a ban does not come from Freemasonry.
As a Mason, are there any compulsory charity donations
or levies that I have to pay?
No, rest assured there are never any compulsory donations ever required of you. Any donation you may choose to make to any fund, is at all times, entirely at your own discretion.
If I choose to make a donation, how is that done?
There are many charity organisations that Masons assist by direct donations of money, personal skills and time. How a Mason chooses to contribute, is a personal and strictly private matter.
What happens if I become a Mason, and find that it doesn’t suit me?
This is unlikely, since much will be explained to you before you join. You will be able to ask additional questions which will be answered frankly. Since we work for good in the community, and encourage your personal, cultural and religious freedoms, the possibility of you not liking the Masons is extremely slim. If, however, you later decide it is not what you want, you can simply resign.
I have head that some of the ceremonies are embarrassing for membership candidates, is that true?
No, the ceremonies are not embarrassing to candidates in any way. In fact, they have given to all members who have participated in them over the years, lasting and positive memories of a special and moving event.
I’ve heard about ‘riding the goat’ and other silly things like that.
That can’t possibly be true, can it?
These sorts of things are myths. You may rest assured that there is nothing in any of our ceremonies that could offend your moral, cultural, religious or family values, as these values are of prime importance to all Masons.
What do you do in ‘Lodge’?
A Lodge meeting is run like any other normal business or social meeting. Minutes and correspondence are read; financial statements, general business, and membership proposals are considered and voted upon; ‘Caring Officers’ report on current charity work, and on members who are ill; candidates are advanced, on merit, through the various appropriate levels; the meeting is concluded, and the Lodge is closed. Supper is then served.