Who are the Freemasons?
Freemasonry is a voluntary, fraternal organization, composed of men of good will, good character and good reputation, whom in most jurisdictions around the world, believe in an Almighty Creator and practice the spirit of universal brotherhood to man.
They are loyal to their country and devote their time to the principles of friendship and fellowship. Their focus is to be of service to all mankind.
For many men, Freemasonry fulfills a part of themselves that they intrinsically felt was missing. Whether it be the social, the philosophical, the spiritual, the historical or simply a sense of community with others; you will find within Freemasonry that part of you which you seek.
- You must believe in a Supreme Being.
- You must be joining of your own free will.
- You must be a man.
- You must be free-born. ***
- You must be of lawful age; in North Dakota you must be 18.
- You must come recommended by at least two existing Freemasons from the lodge you’re petitioning.
*** The term “free-born” is a holdover from the days when slavery, indentured servitude, and bonding were common. It means that a man must be his own master, and not be bound to another man. That’s not a problem these days, but the language is retained because of its antiquity and a desire to retain the heritage of the fraternity.
Brief History of Masonry
No one knows with certainty how or when the Masonic Fraternity was formed. A widely accepted theory among Masonic scholars is that it arose from the stonemasons’ guilds during the Middle Ages. The language and symbols used in the fraternity’s rituals come from this era. The oldest document that makes reference to Masons is the Regius Poem, printed about 1390, which was a copy of an earlier work. In 1717, four lodges in London formed the first Grand Lodge of England, and records from that point on are more complete.
Within thirty years, the fraternity had spread throughout Europe and the American Colonies. Freemasonry became very popular in colonial America. George Washington was a Mason, Benjamin Franklin served as the head of the fraternity in Pennsylvania, as did Paul Revere and Joseph Warren in Massachusetts. Other well-known Masons involved with the founding of America included John Hancock, John Sullivan, Lafayette, Baron Fredrick von Stuben, Nathanael Greene, and John Paul Jones. Another Mason, Chief Justice John Marshall, shaped the Supreme Court into its present form.
Over the centuries, Freemasonry has developed into a worldwide fraternity emphasizing personal study, self-improvement, and social betterment via individual involvement and philanthropy. During the late 1700s it was one of the organizations most responsible for spreading the ideals of the Enlightenment: the dignity of man and the liberty of the individual, the right of all persons to worship as they choose, the formation of democratic governments, and the importance of public education. Masons supported the first public schools in both Europe and America.
During the 1800s and early 1900s, Freemasonry grew dramatically. At that time, the government had provided no social “safety net”. The Masonic tradition of founding orphanages, homes for widows, and homes for the aged provided the only security many people knew.
Today in North America, the Masonic Fraternity continues this tradition by giving almost $1.5 million each day to causes that range from operating children’s hospitals, providing treatment for childhood language disorders, treating eye diseases, funding medical research, contributing to local community service, and providing care to Masons and their families at Masonic Homes.
History of Freemasonry. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://www.msana.com/historyfm.asp