Freemasonry has its lodges throughout the free world. You’ll find Masons meeting in almost every town and village and – except where repressive governments make their existence difficult – they’re readily found. None of these lodges was ever organized as a result of any type of ‘missionary’ work: they came into existence because a group of Masons wanted to share the friendship and fraternity with others in the area.
What is SO often misunderstood is a simple fact: there are few but important requirements to become a Freemason! While they are stated in slightly different words in various jurisdictions (and a few jurisdictions may have one or two requirements beyond these), they basically are as follows:
1. Being a man, freeborn, of good repute and well-recommended;
2. A belief in a Supreme Being;
3. Ability to support one’s self and family;
4. Of lawful age; and
5. Come to Freemasonry of their “own free will and accord”.
Freemasonry is an initiatic experience. You can’t become a Mason by reading a book or by hanging out on the internet.
BECOMING A MASON
Masonry began as a male organization. There are women’s groups and groups of mixed male-female membership who use rituals similar to that of the major body of Freemasons throughout the world. Some of these groups receive acknowledgement (but not ‘recognition’) due to their adherence to high moral principles etc. while others are frowned upon. It is, after all, quite easy for anyone to claim that they are the head of a Masonic group and begin to obtain members. (Check our list of regular/recognized Grand Lodges here and you may wish to browse our section on Fake Masonry here.)
The requirement of being “freeborn” harkens back to the earliest days of Freemasonry. It became a requirement since only those free from indentured service as an apprentice or bondsman (as many were in 17th century England, for example), could truly make decisions for themselves.
Being of good repute is another essential requirement. Masons do not wish to encourage membership by those whose actions would stain the reputation of the fraternity. In some jurisdictions this is specifically stated but in all, it is practiced!
A well-recommended person is one for whom another is willing to vouch. Those who become Freemasons have been recommended by a proposer and then examined by lodge members to ensure that the candidate will benefit from his membership.
The major ‘bone of contention’ for some detractors, Masonry does not attempt to define or delineate how a person should pray or to whom worship should be addressed.
The term “Great Architect of the Universe” (or “Grand Architect of the Universe”) is used to permit offerings of prayer in a non-offensive manner regardless of the varied religious beliefs of those present. All Masons understand this concept and when a prayer is said in lodge (a blessing before a meal, a word of prayer for the sick, for example), they understand that regardless of the person speaking the words or the usual form of prayer of others present, the prayer is addressed to their Supreme Being.
Once a candidate professes such belief, no further investigation or interrogation is made. This fact stymies Freemasonry’s detractors who seem to be constantly engaged in wars of ‘religious correctness’ and who consequently wind up in contradiction with each other as a result. Ability to support one’s self and family
Although not specifically stated by all jurisdictions, this ‘requirement’ comes from a time when many would join fraternal organizations in the hope there would be financial and other benefits available for them in their old age. Masonry did not want to become a benevolent association (some sort of group which would provide a hand-out, strongly desired by those seeking ‘free’ assistance in a time without any type of social support systems) and thus the requirement appeared. Now, this is important to ensure that those who seek membership understand the priority of Freemasonry is secondary to religious and family obligations!
Of Lawful Age
It’s a simply understood concept: if you are not old enough to make legal commitments, then the concepts and precepts of Freemasonry might be a bit too much for you to comprehend. Although this isn’t always true, there is a conceptual basis for separating ‘adults’ from ‘children’. In most US jurisdictions, this age is now 18. There are, however, some jurisdictions where the age might be 19 or 21. Canadian and other jurisdictions vary as well. Check with your local Grand Lodge. To join Mercia Lodge you would need to be of the full age of 21 years.”Own Free Will and Accord”
You won’t find recruiting posters or ‘membership bars’ on a medal although one jurisdiction has put ‘advertisements’ on various web locations including search engines like Google. Masons simply don’t get awards for bringing in new members. It’s a voluntary organization, sought out by those with a positive impression of the organization.
Masonic membership has always been an intensely personal experience and in times when “feelings” weren’t discussed publicly by men, the need for a person to ask for membership was often not communicated to those who might otherwise be interested in the fraternity. Accordingly, there are many who became Masons much later in life than necessary: they had thought the proper thing to do was to wait to be asked to join!
Some grand jurisdictions, recognizing the problem arising from false perceptions (“I must be asked to join such a good organization.”), have begun to loosen prior strict prohibitions. They may now have a provision for Masons to let those who they may feel would be appropriate candidates know that they are ‘welcomed’ to join. This does not, however, in any way mitigate or diminish the requirement that a man make the choice to join under his ‘own free will and accord’ not actuated by unworthy motives!
There is more information on becoming a Mason on the Grand Lodge website please follow this link http://www.ugle.org.uk/becoming-a-mason