There are many good reasons to become a Freemason. All of these are very personal and there are as many reasons as there are Masons. Each one has their own story on how and why they joined.
Some of the more common reasons include:
1) Family History
Many Masons have family members who were Freemasons before them. They have fathers, grandfathers, or uncles who had joined a local lodge. Even though there is no requirement to have a family member to be able to join, being a family legacy can be exciting.
2) Love for History
Freemasonry has included in its ranks some of the most influential men in history. Some of the more famous names include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Mozart, Winston Churchill, Louis Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Masons were involved in many important points in history including the founding of the USA, Texas and the French Revolution.
Meet men from many different backgrounds, including nationalities, ethnicities, social, educational, religious, sexual orientation, political. Get to know people that you might have otherwise been at a perpetual distance, and become friends and brothers. This is an international fraternity that allows for travel and being welcomed with open arms as a long-lost member of the family.
US Masons donate an average of $2.6 Million / Day to charity. That includes local lodges, Grand Lodges, and the appendant bodies including the Scottish Rite and the Shriners. Additionally lodges allow for members to become involved in charitable events such as serving food to first responders, cleaning highways and local parks, supporting teachers and public education. The opportunities are as countless as the individual lodges and masons that are involved.
Learn about philosophy, history, and comparative religions. Freemasonry is composed of many different philosophies and uses symbolism to teach these meaningful lessons to its members in an easy to understand method.
6) Personal Growth
Learn vital leadership skills by becoming involved in a lodge. There are lots of opportunities to become involved, including the officer line, kitchen, or acting in degrees. Freemasonry takes good men and makes them better.
7) Community Involvement
Get to know members of your local community and become actively engaged in the social and civic opportunities. Meet long-time locals and give back to the town by becoming involved in charitable events.
Freemasonry is not a good fit for everyone. Nor is everyone a good fit for freemasonry.
There are many good reasons to become a freemason. But there are also some reasons not to do so.
Joining a masonic lodge when one is not compatible, is not good for either the candidate nor the lodge.
Here are some reasons NOT to join a lodge:
1) You are looking for business contacts
Even though you might find new contacts through the expanded network that you will join, this would not be a good reason to become a mason. There are no special discounts for fellow masons. It is generally frowned down upon to use the fraternity as a method to gain financially. Furthermore, the members of the lodge come from all backgrounds. One is just as likely to meet students, grocery store clerks, bank tellers, or car mechanics as one is to meet doctors, lawyers, professors, CEO’s or politicians.
Instead: join the Rotary Club – it is a worldwide service organization for men and women that brings together businessmen and professionals. They encourage conducting business in an ethical manner to serve their community. Their motto is: Service above Self.
2) You are looking for a social club
If you are looking for an opportunity to hang out and simply socialize, then freemasonry might not be your best option. Even though we are a fraternity and enjoy spending time with our brothers, there are many additional requirements such as the educational and service components. If you are not interested in working to improve yourself or help the lodge, then there are better options.
Instead: join the Order of the Elks, or any of the many clubs organized around interests and activities such as fan clubs for sports teams, tailgating at a local high school or university, or a book club.
3) You are an atheist
Sorry, that is a hard no. In order to become a Freemason in the USA one has to profess a believe in deity. That does not mean belonging to an organized religion or church. But the candidate must in clear conscience be able to state, without question, that he believes in a higher power.
4) You believe in the conspiracy theories
If you believe in the conspiracy theories about Freemasons, such as that masons are lizard people, run the world, drink blood, or any similar stories, then lodges are really not the place for you to go. Even if we would engage with you and explain the multitude of reasons why these theories are simply untrue, you would not believe us, and think that we would either lie to you or not be high enough in the ranks to know the truth.
Instead: enjoy Q-anon or Alex Jones. ‘Nuf said.
5) You are uncomfortable to be amongst people different from yourself
Freemasonry invites people of good character, regardless of their nationality, economic status, profession, religious belief, political affiliation, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age. Masons might differ in their ideas and backgrounds, but are united in a common cause. They might have spirited debates with their brethren outside of lodge, but always know that these difference in opinion are not to be considered personal attacks. The members understand the underlying goodness in character of the other mason and any disagreements will not be held as a personal affront.
If you are uncomfortable in the presence of people who might look different from yourself, or have different opinions and believes, then Freemasonry would not be a good fit.
The Masonic Gavel is used by the three highest officers of the lodge while conducting business in a tiled lodge meeting. That includes the Worshipful Master, Senior and Junior Wardens. The Gavels are symbols of their office and used to indicate when something has concluded or even to get the brethren’s attention. The Gavel is used to maintain order during a Masonic meeting.
Operative Stonemasons used gavels to shape stones in order to fit them into place more perfectly. Freemasons use gavels as a symbol to remind them of the
There are two types of gavels commonly used in Freemasonry. The common gavel, and the setting maul. The common gavel has a flat end and a shaped end. It is used by stonemasons to break off large chunks of detritus as well as smaller pieces to smooth out the final parts of stone. The setting maul has a heavy flat bottom with a single handle on top. It is used by stonemasons to hammer in the stone and set it into place without damaging the surfaces of the stones themselves.
Some Masonic districts have created a program commonly called the “Traveling Gavel”. It is done to encourage Masonic visitations. This specially engraved gavel is proudly displayed whenever a lodge that has won it, opens a meeting. When another lodge does an official visit during a stated meeting, and has more members than the hosting lodge, then the visitors will win the gavel.
Brotherly Love is one of the principal tenants of Freemasonry.
The Monitor of the Grand Lodge of Texas teaches us that “by the exercise of brotherly love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family – the high and low, the rich and poor; who, as created by one Almighty Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support and protect each other. On this principle, Masonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion, and conciliates true friendship among those who might otherwise have remained at perpetual distance.”
It teaches us respect and tolerance for people who have differing opinions, believes and ideals. We believe in the best of intentions of our fellow men. Brotherly Love reminds us to be courteous, kind, compassionate and friendly towards all mankind, more especially a Brother Mason.
However, this tenant does not mean that we must like each and every brother, We can have feelings of personal dislike, but we must not let those feelings overcome us and prevent us from growing into the best person that we can be.
Freemasonry inspired many people over the centuries. Some of the most influential musicians of their times, whose works have lasting impact to this day, were members of the fraternity. Here are some of the more well known ones.
Franz Joseph Haydn
1732 – 1809
Was initiated in February 1785 in “Zur wahren Eintracht” Lodge in Vienna, Austria.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
1756 – 1791
Was initiated on December 14, 1784 in “Zur Wohltätigkeit” Lodge in Vienna, Austria
Ludwig van Beethoven
1770 – 1827
It is generally accepted that he was a Freemason, but the evidence of when he was initiated and what lodge he joined has been lost.
1809 – 1847
There is no specific evidence that he ever joined the fraternity.
1811 – 1886
Was initiated in 1841 at “Zur Einigkeit” Lodge in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
1833 – 1897
There is no specific evidence that he ever joined the fraternity.
Gilbert and Sullivan
Sir William Schwenck Gilbert
1836 – 1911
Was raised on June 23, 1871 in St. Machar Lodge No. 54 in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan
1842 – 1900
Was raised on January 30, 1866 in Harmony Lodge No. 255 in Richmond, England.
John Philip Sousa
1854 – 1932
Was raised on 10 November 1881 at Hiram Lodge No. 10, Washington D.C.
1858 – 1924
1860 – 1911
1865 – 1957
Was a member of Soumi Lodge, No.1 in Helsinki, Finland.
1888 – 1989
Was raised on June 3, 1910 in Munn Lodge No. 190 in New York, New York.
1899 – 1974
Was a member of Social Lodge No. 1 PHA in Washington D.C.
Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong
1901 – 1971
Was a member ofMontgomery Lodge No.18 PHA in New York, New York.
1904 – 1984
Was a member of Medina Lodge No. 19 PHA in New York, New York.
Nat King Cole
1919 – 1965
Was a member of Thomas Waller Lodge No. 49 PHA in Los Angeles, California.
John Entwhistle (The Who)
1944 – 2002
Was a member of Ezekiel Bates Lodge, Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Rick Wakeman (Yes)
He is a Past Master of Chelsea Lodge No. 3098 E.C. in London, England.
Phil Collins (Genesis)
There is no specific evidence that he ever joined the fraternity.
Mel Gaynor and Derek Forbes (Simple Minds)
Both are members of Shalom Lodge No.1600, Glasgow, Scotland.
Marshall Goodman (Sublime)
Was initiated in 2015 at Lakewood Lodge No. 728 in Long Beach, California.
Is a member of Hiram Lodge No. 7 in Franklin, Tennessee.
Tom DeLonge (Blink 182)
Is a member of Widow’s Sons Lodge No. 17 PHA in Kansas City, Missouri.
Apathy (Hip Hop)
He is a member of Coastal Lodge No. 57 in Stonington, Connecticut.
St John the Baptist was a traveling preacher who lived in the Jordan River Valley in the first century A.D. According to the New Testament John was a Jewish prophet who preached the imminence of God’s Final Judgment and baptized those who repented in self-preparation for it. He is revered in the Christian church as the forerunner of Jesus Christ. After a period of desert solitude, John the Baptist emerged as a prophet in the region of the lower Jordan River valley. He had a circle of disciples, and Jesus was among the recipients of his rite of baptism.
His austere camel’s hair garment was the traditional garb of the prophets, and his diet of locusts and wild honey represented a strict adherence to Jewish purity laws.
Later in his life he as imprisoned by King Herod and was executed by beheading around 28-36 CE.
He is considered a major religious figure by many religions including Christianity, Islam, Baha’i Faith, Druze Faith, Madaeism and Gnosticism.
St John the Baptist Feast Day is one of the major holy days of Freemasonry. It is celebrated on June 24, the Summer Solstice or the longest day of the year. He represents severity and strength of character.
The Volume of Sacred Law, or VSL for short, is what Freemasons call the religious text that is used in their ceremonies and traditionally placed onto their altar while the lodge is in session. In predominantly Christian areas such as the USA, it is most common to display the King James Bible. This is the same sacred text that candidates take their obligations upon.
If a lodge has members of different faiths it is often common to display multiple books upon the altar, to represent each member. The most common books of faiths besides the Christian bible are the Muslim Qur’an, the Hindu Bhagavad Gita, the Buddhist Discourses, the Jewish Tanakh, and the Sikh Granth Sahib. Generally Grand Lodges consider a text as permissible if it represents sacred teachings to the Mason. However, that is entirely jurisdictional.
One of the most notable individual VSL is the George Washington Inaugural Bible. It belongs to St. John’s Lodge No. 1 in New York City and has been used at its meetings since 1767. It is famous, however, for being the Bible used at the first inauguration of George Washington as President of the United States, and numerous presidents since then.
Albert Pike (December 29, 1809 – April 2, 1891) was a Renaissance man who was a writer, orator, lawyer, jurist and Confederate general. He is most famous for his copious writing on Freemasonic philosophy and symbolism. He served as the Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction from 1859 to 1889. During this time he rewrote the rituals for the Scottish Rite degrees, in addition to publishing his most famous tome “Morals and Dogma”. In 1944 his remains were moved for internment to the headquarters of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction at the House of the Temple in Washington, D.C. Even though he was the head of the Sottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction, it is important to stress the fact that there is no single leader or figurehead of Freemasonry as a whole. Some conspiracy theorists refer to him as a Masonic Pope, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Several controversies have swirled around Albert Pike over the years. While he was undoubtedly a man of his age who held certain believes that by today’s standards would be unpalatable, some of the bigger issues seem to be without proof. A rumor that he was involved with the Ku Klux Klan has never been substantiated. It has been rumored that Pike held certain offices in the KKK, but that has not been corroborated by historians who reviewed the membership roster “The Prescript”, also known as the Klan constitution.
In 1901 a statue was erected to celebrate Albert Pike as a Mason in Washington D.C. It was gifted by local Freemasons to the district and to the federal government. There was a desire by the citizens of Washington D.C., which was supported by the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction, to remove the statue over the years, due to the controversy it sparked with his affiliation with the Confederacy. This request was not adhered to by the National Park Service which owned the land and monument, resulting in the toppling and burning by outraged citizens after the protests on July 2, 2020. These protests were inspired by the outrage after the murder of George Floyd.
No matter the shortcomings of the man himself, it is undeniable that Pike had a monumental impact onto the Scottish Rite in particular, and Freemasonry in general. His writings provide tremendous insight and inspiration to countless masons the world over.
As the preface of Morals and Dogma states: “Every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound. It is only required of him that he shall weigh what is taught, and give it fair hearing and unprejudiced judgment.” It would be wise to approach the life and writings of Albert Pike with the same mindset.
The Golden Trowel Award is an award that is given out by lodges within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Texas to deserving brothers. It is an award to recognize brethren who display extraordinary efforts and service to their lodge on a regular basis. Each recipient can only receive it once per lodge; and each lodge can only award one per year.
The idea for this award originated in a place called “Armadillo Acres”—the get-away home of Past Grand Master Leonard P. Harvey. In the Fall of 1989 while at Armadillo Acres for a bit of breather before the up-coming Grand Lodge Session, the Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, and Grand Senior Warden were discussing the fact that nearly every lodge has brothers who day-in and day-out accomplish the “little things” for Masonry and for their lodges. The cement, if you will, that unites a building in one common mass or, in our case, unites us as a true brotherhood. While sitting in “the red chair” twiddling between his fingers a small golden trowel that was given to Brother Harvey’s father-in-law several years previously, the proverbial light came on and the Deputy Grand Master declared, “We can call it the ‘Golden Trowel Award.’” And thus began the creation of this highest honor that a lodge can bestow.
It requires a committee of five of the most recent past masters of the lodge to vote on a worthy brother. The award is presented in an open meeting at lodge and friends and family members of the recipient are invited to attend this high honor.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE; also often known as the Elks Lodge or simply The Elks) is an American fraternal order. The Elks began in 1868 as a social club for minstrel show performers, called the “Jolly Corks”. It was established as a private club to elude New York City laws governing the opening hours of public taverns. The Elks borrowed rites and practices from Freemasonry.
Until 1995 the Elks had been exclusively a men’s fraternal organization. However, due to pressure from individual states and several lawsuits, the national organization voted to extend membership to women.
The current requirements include belief in God, American citizenship, willingness to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, willingness to salute the flag of the United States of America, willingness to support the laws and Constitution of the United States of America, being of good character and being at least 21 years of age.
Today there are still about 1,900 local lodges, and about 1,000,000 members.