1. Is Masonry a religion?
Masonry is a fraternity, not a religion. Masonry acknowledges the existence of God, but Masonry
does not tell a person which religion he should practice or how he should practice it. That is a
function of his house of worship, not his fraternity.
Sometimes people confuse Masonry with a religion because we call some Masonic buildings "temples."
But we use the word in the same sense that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called the Supreme Court
a "Temple of Justice." Neither Masonry nor the Supreme Court is a religion just because its members
meet in a "temple."
2. Why is Masonry so secretive?
It really isn't secretive, although it sometimes has that reputation. Masons certainly don't make a
secret of the fact that we are members of the fraternity. We wear rings, lapel pins, and tie clasps
with Masonic emblems like the Square and Compass. Masonic buildings are clearly marked, and are
usually listed in the phone book. But there are two traditional categories of secrets. First are the
ways in which a man can identify himself as a Mason: grips and passwords. This is the same for any
fraternity. Second are Masonic ceremonies, which are private and for members only.
3. Why does Masonry use symbols?
Everyone uses symbols every day because it allows us to communicate quickly. When you see a red
light, you know what it means. When you see a circle with a line through it, you know it means "no."
In fact, using symbols is probably the oldest method of communication and teaching.
Masons use symbols for the same reasons. Certain symbols, mostly selected from the art of
architecture, stand for certain ethics and principles of the organization. The "Square and Compass"
is the most widely known symbol of Masonry. In one way, this symbol is the trademark for the
fraternity. When you see it on a building, you know that Masons meet there.
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Leather aprons were worn centuries ago by stonemasons to protect their skin and clothing, as well
as to carry their tools. Today, lambskin or cloth aprons, often elaborately decorated or embroidered,
are worn by members as a symbolic connection to those medieval craftmen from which it is
purported that we derive our Masonic tradition.
Degrees of Masonry
Indications of the level of membership and knowledge of Freemasonry principles. The basic degrees
of Masonry are Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason.
The word "free" was added to "mason" during the Middle Ages. Speculation has it, that it may be
related to stonemasons who worked as advanced stone carvers in "freestone." Also, they had to be
"freeborn", thus enabling them to travel or move from town to town because at this time a lot of
people were serfs or indentured servants who had to stay in one place.
The administrative body in charge of Freemasonry in a specific geographic area. The United States
has Grand Lodges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The elected leader of the Grand Lodge. In Virginia, this position changes annually in November.
This refers to both a unit of Masons as well as the room or building in which they meet. There are
approximately 13,000 lodges in the United States.
A member of the Masonic fraternity.
The elected leader of the local lodge; also the title a Mason acquires once he has completed the
third degree of membership.
The monthly lodge meeting to conduct regular business, receive new members, and vote upon the
Petitions and Applications for Degrees.
Another name for a Masonic building.