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Is Masonry a religion?

The answer to that question is simple. No. We do use ritual in meetings, and because there is always an altar or table with the Volume of the Sacred Law open if a lodge is meeting, some people have confused Masonry with a religion, but it is not. That does not mean that religion plays no part in Masonry. A person who wants to become a Mason must have a belief in God. No atheist can ever become a Mason. Meetings open with a prayer, and a Mason is taught, as one of the first lessons of Masonry, that one should pray for divine counsel and guidance before starting an important undertaking. But that does not make Masonry a "religion".

Is there a "required" Masonic religion?

Masonry encourages every Mason to be active in the religion and church of his own choice. Masonry teaches that without religion a man is alone and lost, and that without religion, he can never reach his full potential.

But Freemasonry does not tell a person which religion he should practice or how he should practice it. That is between the individual and God. That is the function of his house of worship, not his fraternity. And Masonry is a fraternity, not a religion.

Why does Masonry use ritual?

Ritual simply means that the same things are done more or less the same way each time. Masonry uses ritual because it's an effective way to teach important ideas - the values we've talked about; it reminds us where we are. Masonry's ritual is very rich because it is so old. It has developed over centuries to contain some beautiful language and ideas expressed in symbols. But there's nothing unusual in using ritual. All of us do it every day.

Why does Masonry use symbols?

Everyone uses symbols every day, just as we do ritual. We use them because they communicate quickly. When you see a stop sign you know what it means even if you can't read the word "stop". The red circle with the slanted line through it means "don't" or "not allowed". In fact using symbols is probably the oldest way of communication and the oldest way of teaching.

Why do Mason's put the Square & Compass on things?

Some form of the "Square and Compass" is the most widely known symbol of Masonry. In one way, this symbol is a kind of trademark for the fraternity, as the "golden arches" are for McDonald's. When you see the Square and Compass on a building you know that Masons meet there.

Is Masonry Education?

Yes. In a very real sense, education is at the center of Masonry. We have stressed it's importance for a long time. Back in the Middle Ages, schools were held in the lodges of stonemasons. You have to know a lot to build a cathedral - geometry, and structural engineering, and mathematics, just for a start. And that education was not very widely available. All the formal schools and colleges trained people for careers in the church, or in law or medicine. And you had to be a member of the social upper classes to go to those schools. Stonemasons did not come from the aristocracy. And so the lodges had to teach the necessary skills and information.

Does Masonry promote education?

Masons started some of the first public schools in both Europe and America. We supported legislation to make education universal. Today we give millions of dollars in scholarships each year. We encourage our members to give volunteer time to their local schools.

Masonry supports continuing education and intellectual growth for its members, insisting that learning about many things is important for anyone who wants to keep mentally alert and young.

What does Masonry teach?

1. Since God is the Creator, all men & women are the children of God.
2. Each person must take responsibility for his/her own life and actions.
3. No one has the right to tell another person what he or she must think or believe.
4. Each person must learn and practice self-control.
5. Faith must be in the center of our lives.
6. Each person has a responsibility to be a good citizen, obeying the law.
7. It is important to work to make this world better for all who live in it.
8. Honor & integrity are essential to life.

What are the requirements for membership?

The person who wants to join Masonry must be a man (it's a fraternity), sound in body and mind, who believes in God, is at least the minimum age required by Masonry in his state, and has a good reputation (incidentally, the "sound in body" requirement which comes from the stonemasons of the Middle Ages - doesn't mean that a disabled man cannot be a Mason; many are). Other, less formal requirements are: he should believe in helping others, that there is more to life than pleasure and money, be willing to respect the opinions of others, and he should want to grow and develop as a human being.

What is the symbolism of "Acacia"?

The tree grew abundantly in the vicinity of Jeruselum and gum arabic is derived from it. In Scripture it is called "Shittah" and was esteemed as a sacred wood among the Hebrews. Moses was ordered to use it to make the tabernacle, the ark of the covenant, the table for the shrewbread and the rest of the sacred furniture. In Freemasonry the acacia is pre-eminently the symbol of the immortality of the soul. Also Mason's consider it the symbol of initiation, which itself was the symbol of the resurrection to a future life.

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