What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is the oldest fraternity in the world. Its members have included Kings, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Statesmen, Generals, Admirals, Supreme Court Chief Justices, corporate CEOs, opera stars, movie stars, ministers, plumbers, electricians, and all other noble professions, and probably your next-door neighbor. Click here for a list of famous Freemasons compiled by the Grand Lodge of British Columbia. Or click here for a list of 10,000 Freemasons compiled by the Missouri Lodge of Research.
Is Freemasonry a religion?
No. Freemasonry does not profess to be a religion. It offers no road to salvation. We do offer prayers to God and believe our actions should be directed by our faith in God. Our order was born out of the age of enlightenment (late 17th and 18th centuries) and thus we believe men should be free to find their spiritual direction through thoughtful and informed study.
As such, Freemasonry does not evangelize for one religion over another. The only thing required of a prospective Mason is the belief in the one true God, however you may define it.
Masons are bound to respect each other's view of God and religion and believe it is up to the individual Mason to determine their relationship with God, heaven, salvation, etc.
As a Mason, you must allow other people the freedom of their religion and beliefs just as you demand your freedom to believe as you do. (This might sound very close to what you read in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. It's called Freedom of Religion.)
Masons do however believe that the Holy Bible contains important lessons in living a moral and just life, so a prospective Mason should not be offended by references to the Holy Bible, God, or other spiritual references.
A couple of additional points, Masons believe prayer is important, so a prospective Mason should have some understanding and reverence for the offering of prayers to God. We also believe in the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body.
Is there one person who speaks for all of Masonry?
In matters of symbolism, tradition, and related topics, no person can or does speak officially for Masonry. Each Mason is entitled to decide such matters for himself. We’ll give you the best thinking and information we can, but it is not official.
From a governance standpoint, each Oklahoma lodge is a member of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the State of Oklahoma and must abide by the Constitution and Code of the Grand Lodge. The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge is elected for a one-year term of office and is the administrative head of Oklahoma Masonry. His powers are limited by the Constitution and Code and are meant to bring harmony and consistency to all Oklahoma lodges and appendant organizations. But no one in Freemasonry, including the Grand Master, has the power to dictate how you believe or practice your faith in God.
When I search the Internet, I get all sorts of Anti-Masonic articles and references to the Illuminati and the New World Order. Is any of this true?
In a word, it is all "hogwash". We don't have enough space here to dispel and repudiate all of the libelous and slanderous misinformation on the Internet about Freemasonry. A great website that has been around for many years that addresses all of this misinformation can be found at MasonicInfo.com.
Be particularly skeptical of any website that attempts to connect Freemasonry and the Illuminati or other conspiracies. These websites are simply a scam to raise money by selling books to gullible people or selling "memberships". You cannot join a Masonic Lodge by simply sending money and you won't become rich and famous by joining our organization.
Also, be aware Freemasonry does not contain some type of magical or mystical power that will protect you from evil forces and make you part of some group of rich and powerful people. If that is your goal, you are chasing an illusion. That is not what Masonry is about. We are not part of a "One World Order" or any other conspiracy theories which abound on the Internet. You will be disappointed if that is your goal, and we would urge you to find another organization that shares your beliefs.
When did Freemasonry start?
Stonemasons have been around for thousands of years and were called Operative Masons. Our organization is based on these ancient guilds or unions which taught the art of stone masonry to men.
Modern masons are called Speculative Masons, as we do not work with actual stone to build. Speculative Masons use the symbolism of the building of a building with stones to represent our lives.
It is generally agreed that modern speculative masonry originated in England on St. John the Baptist Day, June 24, 1717, with the establishment of the United Grand Lodge of England. Four existing lodges gathered at the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St. Paul’s Churchyard in London. The Grand Lodge of the State of Oklahoma maintains mutual recognition with the United Grand Lodge of England to this day.
If you would like to read more on Freemasonry, we encourage you to go to the Oklahoma Grand Lodge website for a list of reliable reading materials.
Is there any reason I should NOT be a mason?
Here is a very interesting blog that discusses why you shouldn't be a mason.
Is Freemasonry in decline?
Depends on the definition of decline. After World War II, there was a significant increase in the number of men joining the fraternity. The men of the Greatest Generation that spurred rapid growth in the Freemasonry are now passing on to that Grand Lodge above, thus it appears our numbers are decreasing.
There are some lodges, especially in small towns that are having difficulty maintaining membership numbers, but mainly because most small towns across America are shrinking. But smaller numbers do not mean we are less relevant.
In our Lodge, we are finding a renewed interest in the Fraternity and our membership has been fairly stable recently. Some believe the new interest is due to the impersonal nature of our current society, through the use of the Internet for communication, that men are seeking a personal connection with other men in a Fraternal environment, and to make deep friendships that are just not possible in a virtual world. We are also finding many young men with a military background are seeking our fellowship and brotherhood. Whatever the reason, if you desire to build deep and lasting fraternal relationships, Masonry may be for you.
Do I have to believe in God to be a Mason?
Yes. No atheist or agnostic can be a Mason. You must also believe in the one true God.
Here are additional questions asked about our Fraternity as expressed by the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma.
Questions to ask yourself about becoming a Mason:
If you answered yes to these questions, you should consider becoming a Mason.
How do I become a Mason?
The answer... ASK ONE. Masons are all around you. You may also go to the Oklahoma Grand Lodge website to express your interest in finding an Oklahoma lodge. But you must take the first step. Masonry asks no man to join, it must be of your own free will and accord.
If you do not know a Mason, we encourage you to visit a local Masonic Lodge, like Broken Arrow Lodge #243 at 117 W. Commercial in Broken Arrow, OK 74012. There you will find men who will be glad to answer your questions about Freemasonry. However, there are several basic requirements that you will need to meet before asking to join:
Please also be aware your background will be thoroughly investigated should you petition to join. This includes searches of public records and calls to family and friends. This is done to protect our Fraternity's reputation and protect members of other Masonic organizations that rely on us.
If you meet these qualifications, and you wish to explore becoming a Mason, you should come by the Lodge any Tuesday night and/or contact us at 918.251.9282. There is also a contact form available on the "Home" page of this website.
Another resource for information on Freemasonry is the website Be A Freemason. See one of their videos below.
Please note the website mentioned, askafreemason.org, is no long a valid website.
Check out this great video
Check out this great video
Check out this great video
Check out this great video
(CBS News) "Sunday Morning" looks at the rumors, fears and conspiracy theories sparked by the Freemasons' fraternal order, its secrets and rituals.
1. When meeting, Masons do not discuss religion or politics.
"There are certain subjects which are prevented or we simply proscribe from discussing within the lodge," Piers Vaughan, master of St. John's Lodge #1 in New York, told Mo Rocca. "And religion is one. Politics is another."
One of the world's leading experts on Freemasonry confirms.
"Do they discuss forms of politics and events that have happened? Yes, they do," said UCLA history professor Margaret Jacob. "Do they say, 'Well, I'm a Democrat and therefore I think ...' Or, 'I'm a Republican ... ' No, I don't think they do that."
2. Freemasonry is not a religion.
"Freemasonry has the look of a religion," said Jacob. "You think of religion as ritual, there's also this ritual element. But there are no priests, there are no ministers, there are no rabbis, there's no system of clergy of any sort. Everybody's their own thinker."
3. The Catholic Church condemns Freemasonry.
Jacob said the initial response to Freemasonry in continental Europe, particularly in Catholic Europe, was suspicion from seeing "all these men [from] different neighborhoods, different professions meeting in the cafe, breaking bread together, doing rituals, what could this be? Political conspiracy or religion."
In 1738 the Catholic Church condemned Freemasonry, and has since issued about 20 decrees -- directly or indirectly -- against the fraternity. In 1983 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) re-affirmed this position.
(Editors Note: Catholics can freely join the fraternity. Broken Arrow has several members who are Catholic. The Catholic Church created the Knights of Columbus to attempt to duplicate a masonic organization that answers to the Pope. They are a fine organization and do great work, by the way. But Freemasonry DOES NOT exclude Catholics from membership.)
4. Atheists are not welcome.
Freemasonry is not a religion per se, but agnostics or atheists cannot belong, said Brent Morris, a Masonic historian, editor of the Scottish Rite Journal, and a 33rd degree Freemason. (Editors note: the 33rd degree is an honorary degree of the Scottish Rite Masons, which is an appended body to Freemasonry. You must be a Mason to become a Scottish Rite Mason.)
"This is an organization of believers," he said. "When it was started on a formal basis in 1717, many historians believe that it was trying to bridge the gap between the religious civil wars that had been going on in England at the time. The Catholics would get in power and beat up on the Protestants; the Protestants would get in power and beat up on the Catholics; and everyone was beating up on the Jews.
"So when the Freemasons were formed, [they] said, 'Here's a group of men that agree that God is central in their lives, they can even agree that God compels them to do good in the community, then they can shut up after that." That was a radical concept -- that men could get together and agree on that fundamental level, and then get on with their lives."
So could an atheist join? No, said James Sullivan, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York: "The reason we, I think in the past, wanted somebody that had a belief in a supreme being is because we take certain obligation to be a good man, to support the fraternity. And if you didn't have a belief in a supreme being, the obligation would mean nothing."
5. Most of the Founding Fathers were NOT Freemasons.
Two of America's earliest presidents, George Washington and James Monroe, were Freemasons, as were Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and Paul Revere. But many leading figures in the American Revolution -- including John and Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Thomas Paine -- were not Masons.
Of the 56 figures who signed the Declaration of Independence, only nine were confirmed Masons, according to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania; and of the 39 delegates of the Continental Congress who signed the draft of the new nation's Constitution in 1787, only 13 (one-third) were Freemasons.
6. There are NO secret Masonic symbols on the U.S. dollar bill.
The back of the dollar bill features an incomplete pyramid with an eye on top of it. Many people -- including some Freemasons -- say it's a Masonic symbol, but that's not the case. UCLA's Margaret Jacob says these symbols have been used by many different groups, including Masons, throughout history.
"I'm sure there are a lot of Freemasons who want to believe [they're Masonic symbols] and who will tell it to you, because it makes the Lodges seem important," Jacob said. "I mean, if you have a symbol on the dollar bill, that's a big deal!"
Brent Morris said there are two types of people who want to promote the idea that the symbols are Masonic: "The pro-Masons and the anti-Masons -- and that pretty well covers the universe.
"The Eye of God is a common icon for God looking over the affairs of man," Morris said. "It's an icon that appears in cultures across the centuries. The uncompleted pyramid [which also appeared on a 50-pound Colonial note] represented that our country was not yet completed, that we were continuing to grow."
7. The Shriners are Freemasons.
The Shriners (known formally as the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine), the charity organization best known in the popular mind for driving tiny cars in parades, are an off-shoot of the Masons. They run 22 children's hospitals where patients don't pay a cent.
"You must be a Mason to become a Shriner," said Morris.
8. The secret Masonic password originated as a job tool
Masonry began as a guild for stone masons who built the castles and cathedrals of Medieval Europe. "If you were a baker, a miller, a brewer, you could spend your entire life in one village practicing your trade," said Morris. "If you are a mason, after they repair the church or build the town hall, there might not be any mason work in that town for decades, so you had to move to another job site.
"Now, you're illiterate; the officers of the lodge are probably illiterate. So that's why they believe the Masons' word came into effect. It allowed the craftspeople to move from one job site to another and identify themselves as being part of the trade union.
"We have evidence in Scotland going back to the early 1600s that the Masons' word existed, and [that] was how you as a Mason in Edinburgh could identify yourself to a Mason in Lancashire that you were a member of the guild and could have work."
"Are there secret handshakes?" asked Rocca.
"Oh, secret handshakes, of course," replied Morris. "I mean, what's the point of having a password if you don't have a handshake?"
9. There is no hidden Masonic code on Rolling Rock beer bottles.
Introduced in 1939, the Rolling Rock brand of beer, from the Latrobe Brewing Company of Pennsylvania, ends a statement on its label with the cryptic "33." Over the years it has been suggested that it refers to the 33rd degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry.
According to "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry" (Alpha), Latrobe insists the "33" refers to 1933, the year Prohibition ended.
In 1986, Cecil Adams' "The Straight Dope" column investigated this urban legend and found that "33" actually was scribbled under the statement, indicating how many words it contained, and the printer mistakenly added it to the label. [You see, it's always printing errors.]
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117 W. Commercial St.
Broken Arrow, OK 74012
918.251.9282. After Hours: 539.204.4547