Frequently Asked Questions About Freemasonry

This list is in development, your patience is appreciated.

What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry (or Masonry) is a fraternal organization for men that uses the tools and implements of ancient architectural craftsmen as symbols in a system of instruction designed to build character and moral values in its members. Its purpose is “to make good men better.” Masonry teaches that each person, through self-improvement and helping others, has an obligation to help make a difference for good in the world.

How do you join the Masons?

To become a Mason, you have to ask. The idea that a man must be invited to become a Mason is a complete myth. In fact, the opposite is true: Masons are forbidden to invite new members. Contact your local Masonic Lodge or the Grand Lodge in your area and let them know you are interested in joining and the journey will continue from there. Click here for more detailed information on becoming a Mason.

What are the qualifications for membership?

The basic requirements for Masonry are that you be a man of a certain age (in Oregon it is 18), be of good moral character, and believe in a single supreme being and the immorality of the soul. Each state has its own list of more specific requirements, click here to learn more about Oregon’s.

Isn’t Freemasonry a religion?

No it isn’t. The only religious requirement in Masonry is that you believe in a single supreme being. Masons refer to this being as the Great Architect of the Universe, but this is a generic term and does NOT refer to any specific being. Men of every monotheistic belief are represented within Freemasonry.

Lodge, Temple, Masonic Hall…what does it all mean?

Local groups of Masons are called Lodges, similar to the way a college fraternity would have local chapters. The governing body for a region is called a Grand Lodge. In the USA, each state has a Grand Lodge that administers the Lodges within that state.

A Masonic Temple usually refers to a building where Masons meet, but is more specifically used to describe a building owned by a Masonic Lodge(s). For example, if a Lodge met in a church’s basement, that would not make the church a Masonic Temple. The term Masonic Hall is also used to describe the same kind of building, just as you might use “Elks Hall”, “Grange Hall”, etc.

Is there any connection between Masonry and the Shriner’s Hospitals?

Yes! All Shriners are Masons. The Shrine is one of many ‘appendant bodies’ that Masons can belong to.

I’ve heard about 32nd and 33rd degree Masons, what is that about?

Both of these terms refer to the Scottish Rite, which is (yet) another group of organizations that Masons can join. There are 29 degrees in the Scottish Rite, and when those are added to the 3 degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry (also known as Blue Lodge), you get 32. The 33rd degree is an honorary degree conferred by the Scottish Rite on members who have served with great distinction.

My (male relative) is/was a Mason, does that mean I’m one too?

No. While many men follow older relatives into Masonry, it is a decision and a process that each individual must go through for himself.

Someone gave me my (male relative)’s old Masonic ring. Can I wear it?

You can if you really want to, but wearing a Masonic ring or pin does not make you a Mason and our members are cautioned about this during their initiation. In Oregon, Masons are reminded that “…the wearing of the Square & Compasses or any other Masonic emblem by a man is no evidence that he is a Mason or that he ever saw the inside of a Masonic Lodge.”

If you have old Masonic pins, rings, or other items, you might try contacting your local Masonic Lodge to learn more about them. Sometimes antique stores will buy them. Or you may want to hang on to them in case you or someone you know becomes a Mason. Many Masonic items (especially rings) become heirlooms that are worn proudly by many different generations.

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