Following are questions and answers about Freemasonry as it is practiced at Unity Lodge No. 198 in North Bend, Washington. There may be some differences in other jurisdictions. Click (or tap) a question to see an answer.

What is Freemasonry about?

Freemasonry is a voluntary, fraternal organization, composed of men of good will, good character and good reputation, who believe in an Supreme Being and practice the spirit of universal brotherhood. Freemasonry is a fraternal, educational, social, character-building and charitable society.
Educational: Freemasonry supports public education and teaches its own members morality and brotherhood by means of ceremonies and symbols.
Social: The Masonic Fraternity furnishes opportunity and inducement for men to gather for group enjoyment and personal development.
Character building: All Masonic activities stress the values of personal integrity and personal responsibility. Each of the 3 degrees within a lodge culminates in a man becoming a Master Mason.
Charitable: Each member is encouraged to make efforts to improve his community in the interest of human welfare, inspire the members with feelings of charity and good will for all mankind as well as move them to translate these learned principles and convictions into individual action.

What is the mission of Freemasonry?

Freemasons help to build a better world through a unique and worthy process of building better men to live in it. The motto of Freemasonry is: "Making good men better."

Where did freemasonry come from?

Part of the mystique of Freemasonry can be attributed to speculation about its roots. Over the years, historians have been unable to conclusively determine exactly when, where, how, and why Freemasonry was formed.
The order is thought to have arisen from the English and Scottish guilds of practicing stonemasons and cathedral builders in the Middle Ages. Certain Masonic documents actually trace the sciences of geometry and masonry to the time of ancient Egypt, and some historians say that Masonry has its real roots in antiquity.
The formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717 marks the beginning of the modern (or Speculative) era of Freemasonry, when members were no longer limited to actual working stonemasons. These “Accepted” Masons adopted more enlightened philosophies, and turned what was a tradesmen’s organization into a fraternity for moral edification, intellectual recitation, benevolent service, and gentlemanly socialization.
Because Masons have not traditionally recruited members, and do not hold public meetings, there has long been confusion about how to join the Fraternity.

Is Freemasonry a secret society?

Free Masonry's "secret" reputation is from the past based on the ceremonies held in closed meetings. The Freemason fraternity meets in a hall, whose address is in the telephone books. However, it is difficult to call a specific lodge because most only meet a couple times a month, therefore, if you stop by, there probably won't be anyone there. Newspapers and magazines record many of their activities and list their officers, and their charity work and events are not only public, but very well attended.
Many members display Masonic emblems such as the Square and Compasses on their vehicles - or the famous bumper sticker 2B1Ask1, "to be one, ask one."

Is Freemasonry a religion?

No. Freemasonry encompasses and welcomes members from all religions. It is compatible with all religions. The foundation of Freemasonry is the brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God. Only those who are truly religious can fully understand this concept of "universal brotherhood." 
One must believe in a Supreme Being to become a member of the Masonic Fraternity, but no specific religion is mentioned in Masonic ceremonies nor prayers.
Freemasonry is not a church, a tabernacle, a mosque nor a synagogue, nor is it a substitute for any of them or for any religious observance. Freemasonry is non-sectarian, which means it is not affiliated with nor restricted to any particular religious denomination. The form of a man's belief is his own business. In fact, many active Masons are active religious laymen. In the United States, most lodges use the Bible, however, if you are of another religion, you may request that your sacred holy book (Talmud, Vedas, Quran, etc.) be placed beside the Bible during lodge meetings. Some lodges have several sacred books to accommodate the different religions of its members.

Is Freemasonry a political group?

No. In fact, Freemasonry discourages the discussion of partisan politics as well as specific religious beliefs in Lodge meetings. Freemasonry seeks to maintain a collective peace, harmony and universality of spirit.

What are the time and/or financial commitments of being a mason?

Time: Becoming a Mason takes several months from the time you complete your petition until you have finished your degrees. Until you begin taking your degrees though, very little is asked of you. Once the degree work begins you will need to attend the Lodge’s monthly meeting. You must also complete a little bit of homework. Every member of the Fraternity has gone through this process and your lodge will assign a Brother to help you.
Once a member has completed the three degrees, we expect him to attend the Lodge’s monthly meeting, although it is not required. Sometimes there will be another meeting in a month. Beyond that, there may be other activities during the year: community service, family and social outings, etc. We hope our members will participate in the events that their time and interest allows. Like many things, you get out of Freemasonry what you put into it; although we also recognize and understand the need for balance between family, work or school, and other interests and commitments.

Money: There are some costs involved: There is a one-time initiation fee of $175. Currently annual dues are $75.

What are Freemasonry degrees?

A degree is a stage or level of membership. It is also the ceremony by which a man attains that level of membership. There are three, called Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason, which came from the craft guilds. In the Middle Ages, when a person wanted to join a craft, such as the gold smiths or the carpenters or the stonemasons, he was first apprenticed. As an apprentice, he learned the tools and skills of the trade. When he had proved his skills, he became a "Fellow of the Craft" (today we would say "Journeyman"), and when he had exceptional ability, he was known as a Master of the Craft.
Through the Masonic degrees we teach the great lessons of life: the importance of honor and integrity, of being a person on whom others can rely, of being both trusting and trustworthy, of realizing that you have a spiritual nature as well as a physical or animal nature, of the importance of self-control, of knowing how to love and be loved, of knowing how to keep confidential what others tell you so that they can "open up" without fear.

Why all the symbols?

Freemasonry uses symbols because they communicate quickly. When you see a stop sign, you know what it means, even if you can not read the word Stop. A circle with line through it means "do not" or "not allowed." In fact, using symbols is probably the oldest way of communication and the oldest way of teaching. In middle ages many working people and craftsmen had only rudimentary reading skills, so symbols were a necessary form of communication.
Masonry uses symbols for the same reason. Some form of the Square and Compasses is the most widely used and known symbol of Masonry. In one way, this symbol is a kind of trademark for the Fraternity. When you see the Square and Compasses on a building, you know that Masons meet there.
Freemasonry uses other symbols from architecture, geometry and craft masonry as visual aids to impart deeper meanings. The symbolism of Freemasonry is found throughout the Masonic Lodge, and contains many of the working tools of a medieval or Renaissance stonemason.

What is a "Blue Lodge?"

Masonic Lodges that emphasize the first three masonic degrees are called craft lodges or “Blue Lodges” because of the traditional color for borders of aprons, collars and other regalia. Blue is the traditional color of ancient degrees of Freemasonry and is associated with truth, knowledge, faith and friendship.

What's Masonic ritual for?

Freemasonry is described in its own ritual as a beautiful or peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. The symbolism of freemasonry is found throughout the Masonic Lodge, and contains many of the working tools of a medieval or Renaissance stonemason. The whole system is transmitted to initiates through the medium of Masonic ritual, which consists of lectures and allegorical plays.
The nature of Masonic ritual is both complex and beautiful. Ritual means a formal ceremony of initiation which recites certain tenets and truths that have been passed down for generations — mostly by word of mouth. Ritual takes the form of lectures and theater in the Lodge, and is used to teach new Masons the value of true friendship, the benefits of knowledge, and the necessity of helping those in need.
It speaks to the power and impact our ritual has on men’s hearts and minds because it has stood the test of time for more than 300 years. Although our world has changed dramatically during that time, our ritual is virtually the same.

What are the benefits of being a Mason?

There are many personal benefits to becoming a Mason, and the rewards can be different for each person. But all Masons share a common goal: making good men better. Only individuals believed to be of the finest character are favorably considered for membership.
Here are some aspects of Freemasonry you may appreciate. Without question you will have the opportunity to experience camaraderie and fellowship with a group of men across the boundaries of age, race, religion, culture, and opinion. This is a fundamental concept to the Fraternity. Many find great value and knowledge in our ritual ceremony — it uses symbolism and metaphors to encourage and remind us to appreciate principles, ethics, and morality, and to live our lives accordingly. Others find great purpose in our charitable efforts, community service, and the support we provide our members and their families. Those who take on leadership positions within their lodge, can develop or further very practical management
You will never again be truly alone, because you are a part of a brotherhood of men who want to see you prosper in all ways possible and if it is within their ability, they will help you to do so. You will learn to focus your energies upon an upright and truthful life, and remove the more negative excesses which all of mankind must continually resist.

How do I go about becoming a Freemason?

The easiest way to begin the process of becoming a Freemason is to contact your Unity Lodge. First, click the Qualifications link in the Freemasonry menu at the right to see if you meet the standards. For more information, click the Send a message button below right to express your interest in Freemasonry and request that someone contact you.
Remember, 2b1 ask 1.

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If you have a question that isn't answered here or if you need clarification, click the Send a message button at the bottom right of this window.

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