Masonry, also referred to as 'Freemasonry', is often described as a philosophy of life and a system of morality supporting brotherly love and a belief in God and eternal life; as well as teaching certain fundamental truths, the practice of basic virtues, and lifelong learning through active inquiry and investigation.
Freemasonry is kindness, strength and support for loved ones, tolerance of differing viewpoints, honesty and integrity in relationships and business, learning moderation of our desires and passions, helping those in need, preservation of historic truths, and responsibility for the betterment of self and community.
Freemasonry is not a religion nor does it endorse any particular theology, doctrine, or creed. It is not a substitute or rival of any religion or doctrine. We welcome and respect members from all religions and walks of life--with the only requirements being an upright and moral character and a belief in God, eternal Architect of the universe. No atheist can be a Mason.
How Did it Originate?
Freemasonry has a long and fascinating history and is the oldest fraternity in the world. No one knows just how old Masonry is because its actual origins have been lost in time. Viewed as a philosophy, it dates back to the dawn of recorded history. The beginnings of Masonry can be traced to the building of the ancient structures and monuments of Europe, Egypt, and the Middle East built hundreds, and perhaps even thousands of years ago. Modern Freemasonry is traced back to the 10th century when the stonemasons that designed and created the awe-inspiring Gothic cathedrals, temples, and monuments of that era formed craft guilds to protect the secrets of their building trade and to pass on their knowledge of geometry and architecture to apprentices and craftsmen found to be worthy of instruction.
Is Masonry a Secret Society?
It really isn't 'secretive', although it sometimes has that reputation. Masons certainly don't make a secret of the fact that they are members of the fraternity. We wear rings and other Masonic emblems like the Square and Compasses--the best known of Masonic signs which, logically, recall the fraternity's early symbolic roots in stone masonry. Our Lodge buildings are clearly marked and many of our events, such as cornerstone layings, funeral ceremonies, picnics, dances, and installations are often open to our families and the public. But there are some Masonic secrets, and they fall into two categories. The first are the ways in which a man can identify himself as a Mason--grips and passwords. We keep those private. The second are harder to describe, but they are those Masons usually mean if we talk about 'Masonic secrets'. They are secrets because than literally can't be put into words. Try telling someone exactly what you feel when you help a sick or needy child, or when you hear music that stirs old memories, and you'll understand what we mean. They are the changes that happen to a man when he truly accepts responsibility for his own life and, at the same time, truly decides that his real happiness is in helping others without personal recognition. If Masonry is a secret society, it's the worst-kept secret in the world.