Freemasonry is a fraternity, not a religion.
As a fraternal association dedicated to making good men better, Freemasonry respects the religious beliefs of all its members. Freemasonry has no theology and does not teach any method of salvation. In particular it does not claim that good works gain or guarantee salvation.
Freemasons are united in their desire to be of service to mankind.
While Freemasonry supports homes for members and their spouses, most Masonic services, including Shrine medical and burn centers, are available to all citizens. In 1990, American Masonic philanthropy totaled more than $525 million, of which 58% went to the general public.
Freemasonry is an open, not secretive, society.
Masonic meetings are announced publicly, Masonic buildings are marked clearly and are listed in telephone directories, and Masons proudly wear jewelry identifying their membership. Freemasons inherited a tradition of trade secrets from the cathedral building guilds of medieval Europe. The only “secrets” still belonging to modern Masonry are traditional passwords, signs of recognition, and dramatic presentations of moral lessons.
Freemasonry is open to all men of good character who believe in a Supreme Being.
Freemasonry does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or social class.
The Masonic family of organizations is open to all.
Freemasonry admits only men, but many Masonic related organizations, such as the Eastern Star, Amaranth, Job’s Daughter, rainbow for Girls and DeMolay for boys, offer ample opportunities for women and youth.
Freemasonry does not require improper oaths.
The solemn promises taken in Freemasonry are no different than the oaths taken in court or on entering the armed forces. The much-discussed “penalties,” judicial remnants from an earlier age, are symbolic, not literal. They refer only to the pain any honest man should feel at the thought of violating his word.
Freemasonry teaches individual improvement through study.
Freemasonry encourages study, including literature by the great writers of ancient times. Freemasonry does not sanction the views of those authors but offers them for each individual’s reflection and evaluation.
Freemasonry teaches in steps.
Masons learn through a series of lessons. These “degrees” of insight move from basic to more complex concepts. This no more hides the nature of Freemasonry from novice members than does having a student understand fractions before calculus.
Masonry is practiced worldwide.
There are approximately 2.5 million Masons in the United States and nearly 6 million throughout the world.
Freemasonry has no single spokesman.
Freemasonry is made up of many individuals in numerous organizations, all subordinate to the Grand Lodge within their jurisdiction (i.e. state). None of these members’ organizations can speak for Freemasonry; that is the responsibility of each Grand Lodge within its jurisdiction. No Masonic body or author, however respected, can usurp the authority of a Grand Lodge.
Freemasonry is made up of many organizations.
Masonry has many groups, each with a special social, educational, or philanthropic focus. A man becomes a Mason in his local Lodge. Then he joins any of the following “Appendant Bodies”: the Scottish Rite, York Rite (which includes the Royal Arch and the Knights Templer), Shriners, Grottoes, Tall Cedars, etc.