FIFTY-THREE QUESTIONS FREQUENTLY ASKED BY NON-MASONS ABOUT FREEMASONRY
Prepared by the Vision 2013 Committee
in cooperation with
Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Tennessee
P.O. Box 24216
Nashville, TN 37202
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- What is Freemasonry?
- A fraternity of men dedicated to the up
building of moral character of its members and
the preservation of personal freedom.
- Is Masonry a religion?
- No. Every applicant must express belief in
God, but no particular religion is required.
- When did it start?
- Informally, many centuries ago; formally in
1717 in London, England.
- Who formed the Freemasons?
- One theory is that the stonemasons
developed the organization. Another is that the
Knights Templar formed the fraternity.
- What was the Knights Templar?
- A group formed by the Pope to Protect
pilgrims going to the holy land. The Templars
developed into a military group and young men
took great pride in becoming a Knight. Many
people in Europe gave huge sums of money in
order for their sons to be accepted as a Knight.
The group became wealthy and King Philip of
France desired this wealth in order to carry on
his war. In cooperation with the Pope he
accused the Templars of heresy and on October
13, 1307 many Templars were arrested, tortured
for confessions of heresy, and many died. The
King confiscated their property as he had done
with the Jews in 1306.
- Did the Knights Templar prior to 1717 take
oaths of secrecy?
- Yes. Their life depended upon their being
faithful to their fellow Templars.
- Do the Masons of today take these oaths?
- Symbolically, yes. They are in remembrance
of physical tortures imposed on Masons during
the middle ages.
- How do Masons teach morality?
- Rituals were developed centuries ago
imploring men to be faithful and charitable. These
are taught by allegory and symbols.
- How are these teachings enforced?
- Masons who go astray are counseled by their
brothers. Those who cannot he helped are
expelled from the fraternity.
- How are Masons charitable?
- In the United States, Masons contribute over
two million dollars a day to charitable purposes.
These funds go to the indigent for medical care,
shoes, sick room equipment, scholarships, and a
wide range of other help for the needy. Many
hospitals are supported.
- Are there Masons in other countries?
- Yes. World wide, there are about 6 million.
- How many Masons are there in the United
- About 2.5 million.
- How many Masons are there in Tennessee?
- About 55,000.
- Can a woman join the Masons?
- No. But Masonry has many appendant bodies.
Some are for men, some for women some for
both, some for boys, and some for girls.
- Are Shriners Masons?
- Yes, but not all Masons are Shriners.
- Are Knight Templars Masons?
- Yes, but not all Masons are Knight Templars.
- Who is the head of the Masons in the United
- No one. Each state is independent, as a Grand
Lodge. The highest officer is the Grand Master.
- Is there an official spokesman?
- No, not for the entire fraternity. The Grand
Master speaks for his Grand Lodge.
- Is there a head of Masons in each state?
- Yes. He is called the Grand Master.
- Is he elected for life?
- No. A new one is elected each year.
- When did masonry come to Tennessee?
- Several lodges were formed under the
jurisdiction of North Carolina. The Grand
Lodge of Tennessee was formed on December
27, 1813 in Knoxville.
- Are the offices still in Knoxville?
- No. The Grand Lodge moved to Nashville
in 1817; now located at 100 7th Avenue,
- How many individual Lodges are in
- How much does it cost to join the Masons
- The average fee is $100.
- How much are the annual dues?
- The average is $40.
- How old are individual Masons?
- In Tennessee, at least 18 years old.
- Is memory work required?
- Yes. This relates to the procedure carried
out when the man becomes a Mason.
- Is attendance required?
- No, but it is encouraged.
- How long does it take for one to become a
- Typically, about six months.
- Can a Mason's wife attend Lodge?
- No, but many functions are for both.
- What notable people have been Masons?
- Fourteen of the United States Presidents
and many prominent people in business and
- What notable Tennesseans have been
- Andrew Jackson, James Polk, Andrew
Johnson, Roy Acuff, 28 Governors, and many
members of Congress.
- Why are so many Masons in public
- The ritual helps a person to gain self
confidence and ease when speaking in public.
Masons are forbidden from discussing politics at
- Is Masonry a patriotic organization?
- Yes. Masons are taught to obey the laws of
the country in which they reside. In the United
States, the Masons have many patriotic
activities. All meetings include the Pledge of
Allegiance to the flag.
- Do Masons become so involved that they
neglect their families?
- Masons are taught that they should never
neglect their families or their church. Masonry
comes after these obligations are fulfilled.
- Do Masons have a particular kind of dress?
- When in Lodge meetings they wear a white
apron over regular street clothes.
- What does this signify?
- Purity. The Mason is admonished to live his
life so that no stain of dishonor will show upon
- Do Masons perform the last Rites upon the
remains of a departed brother?
- When requested by the family to do so,
Masons will recite the time-honored ritual.
- Do Masons believe that by doing good
works they can gain admittance to heaven?
- No. The admittance into heaven falls in the
realm of the spiritual, not the fraternal.
- Are black people permitted to be Masons?
- Yes. There are many Prince Hall Lodges in
the United States which are made up of only
black people. Some lodges are integrated.
- Are Holy Bibles displayed in the lodge hall?
- Yes. In the United States this is usually the
Holy Bible, but in other countries it is the book
of the predominant religion. When a person
becomes a Mason, the book of his faith is used
in the ritual.
- Has Masonry been attacked by religious
- Yes. Masonry has been attacked by radio and
television preachers who stir up unrest in order to
sell their books and tapes. Other persons, non-
Masons who are uninformed, have also carried on
- Have these attacks been answered?
- In past years Masons have ignored such talk.
Recently, however, they have responded. Also
two non-Masons have taken the lead in answering
the critics; John J. Robinson, and Dr. Gary
- Are Masons permitted to solicit potential
- How do people learn about the fraternity?
- Through the good works of the Masons.
- How does a person gain entrance?
- By asking a Mason for a petition to join.
- Is admittance assured?
- No. Only after an investigation as to the
character of the person is he voted upon.
- If he is not accepted will the fee be returned?
- If accepted, what comes next?
- He is asked to come for the first degree.
- How does he learn his memory work?
- A teacher is assigned to assist him.
- What is the Scottish Rite?
- A series of 29 degrees, teaching by drama, the
moral and religious philosophies of Masonry.
- What is the York Rite?
- A system of degrees including Blue Lodge,
Royal Arch, Cryptic Rite and Knights Templar.
- Is the Shrine part of Masonry?
- Yes. When a person has become a Mason he
is eligible to become a Shriner.