What is Freemasonry?

The basic facts about Freemasonry.

Freemasonry (also called “Masonry”) is the world”s first and largest Fraternity, based on the belief that each man can make a difference in the world. Freemasonry enhances and strengthens the character of the individual man by providing opportunities for fellowship, charity, and education.

Freemasonry is a social organization that promotes charity, esteem, and love for each Brother and their families. We build a network that is worldwide to support each other in time of need. We serve our country, promote peace, and help others in need. Masonic organizations in North America collectively contribute well over 2.7 million dollars every day to charities.

To become one you must ask one. In order to join our Fraternity, you must be a good man who has a belief in God. Our membership is open to men of all faiths, and of good character. You should read about becoming a Freemason and contact a Masonic Lodge near you about membership.

Masons’ name comes from the occupation of their original members – stonemasons who built castles and cathedrals in England and Scotland. The word “free” was added during the Middle Ages. Because stonemasons possessed knowledge and skills not found everywhere, these men had the privilege of traveling between countries.

Over time, many men who were not builders were drawn to the practices of Freemasonry. To encourage intellectual diversity, stonemasons began accepting men from other professions into the Fraternity. These men were known as “accepted Masons.” This trend continued, and accepted members eventually outnumbered operative members.

Today, the names “Freemasonry,” “Masonry,” and “Free and Accepted Masons” are used interchangeably to refer to the Fraternity.

Our Mission is to make good men better, to teach and perpetuate a way of life that promotes the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God and to assist Lodges to grow and prosper.

Our Vision is to be the premier organization composed of men of integrity and character, who are honest, true to their word, have a belief in God, are devoted to family, charitable in their community, and courteous and helpful to each other.

There are almost five million Masons worldwide, including almost two million in the U.S. and over 34,000 in Virginia. All Lodges follow the same principles of Freemasonry, but their activities may vary. Each Grand Lodge is sovereign and independent; there is no U.S. or international governing body for Freemasonry.

Masonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. The Fraternity requires its members to have a belief in a God, but the Fraternity itself is not affiliated with any religion, and men of all faiths are represented in the fraternity. Religion is not discussed at Lodge meetings. The Grand Lodge does not restrict membership by men of any denomination, including Catholic.

Masonry is a Fraternity, a Brotherhood. The essence of a fraternity is that it is for men, just as the essence of a sorority is that it is for women. There are several affiliated Masonic organizations for women only, as well as organizations for both men and women.

There is an application fee for membership and degrees, which includes a charitable contribution to help fulfill our philanthropic mission and our obligation to aid Brothers and their families in times of need. Continued giving supports important charitable programs, which rely on member contributions. Annual dues begin when the Master Masons degree is received; each Lodge determines the dues amount.