Who Are Masons?
Masons are spiritual and moral men who choose to associate with group of like-minded individuals for mutual benefit. What they find in freemasonry is a disciplined and systematic course of self-improvement based on the Golden Rule: always do to others what you would like them to do to you.
Everyone is welcome, regardless of race, color or creed.
Masons are spiritual and moral people, but there’s no room for discussion of sectorial religion or partisan politics in freemasonry. Members are free to follow their own path, as long as it fits with the ethical principles of integrity and virtue symbolized by the square and compass—the icon most commonly associated with Masonry.
Masonry stresses the principles of kindness and consideration at home, honesty in business, courtesy towards others, dependability in one’s work, compassion for the less fortunate and being a good citizen of the world. Masonry recognizes that each man has obligations to his family, his work, his religious beliefs, his community and himself - these must take priority and Masonry does not interfere with his ability to meet these obligations.
Masons participate in three progressive degrees, each one teaching an important lesson through the use of symbols. The degrees help a Mason think about the big questions: Where did I come from? What am I doing here? And what comes next?
A lodge is not a building… it’s the men that form it.
The foundation of the Masonic family is the Masonic lodge. It is here that Masonry teaches its lessons: kindness in the home, honesty in business, courtesy in society, fairness in work, concern for the unfortunate and respect for one another. Most lodges are clearly signed and located on main streets in communities small and large across the globe.
Masonry is not a secret society… we’re happy to share what we know.
Any information about Masons can be found at a well-stocked bookstore or local library. Masonic buildings are clearly marked and listed in the phonebook and members often identify themselves by wearing Masonic jewelry.
The so-called Masonic “Secrets” are confined to modes of recognition by which a visitor can prove himself to be a Mason and thereby become eligible to enter a lodge in which he was otherwise not known.
Freemasonry and Women
In Freemasonry, as in all other areas of life, women play an important role. The opportunities for women to participate in Freemasonry are widespread and meet a variety of needs, from social interaction in the Orders for both men and women, to the unique needs met in the "women only" Masonic-related organizations. The moral and ethical values that Freemasonry encourages are universal and not gender-based.
Masonic Lodges maintain today a long-standing tradition of restricting membership in Freemasonry to men. This tradition is based on the historical all male membership of stonemasons guilds. During the Middle Ages, men traveled far from home and lived in lodges while constructing great cathedrals throughout Europe.
However, in the middle 1800s the fraternity took the progressive step, for that time, of creating organizations that included women, so that men and women could share Masonic fraternalism. The Order of the Eastern Star (the largest of these Masonic-related groups) was established in 1855, the Order of the Amaranth in 1873, and the White Shrine of Jerusalem in 1894.
Two national Masonic-related youth organizations are for young women: the International Order of Job's Daughters, founded in 1920, and the International Order of Rainbow for Girls, founded in 1922. Rainbow and Job's Daughters are involved with local charities, community services, and educational programs.
Other Masonic-related organizations limit their membership to women only, such as the Ladies Oriental Shrine of North America, Daughters of the Nile, the Daughters of Mokanna, and the Social Order of Beauceant. These Masonic-related organizations, like many organizations in North America, both social and professional, base their membership on gender. Junior League, P.E.O., National Association of Female Executives, and Girl Scouts, for instance, are organizations created exclusively for women, established to fulfill their unique interests and specific needs.