III. How do I become a Mason?

(1) What are the requirements for becoming a Mason?

In Louisiana candidates must be male, at least 18 years of age, able to profess a belief in God, and of good character.

Some Grand Lodges also have a residency requirement; for example, the Grand Lodge of Michigan requires candidates to have lived in its jurisdiction (Michigan) for a minimum of one year.

There are some exceptions to the age requirement. For example, in England and Virginia, the direct relatives of Master Masons in good standing are eligible to join at the age of 18. In some jurisdictions, DeMolays may join upon reaching their 18th birthday. In some jurisdictions candidates must be male, at least 21 years of age.

(2) Can Asians be Masons?

Any human who meets the requirements listed in question (1) of this section is eligible, regardless of race or color.

Some have speculated that while there is no official prohibition against, say, blacks or Asians from becoming Masons, there is a de facto prohibition because they would never be voted into a lodge. This is false. There are Masons of all ethnic backgrounds.

However, it is fair to state that Masons, as humans, are prone to the kinds of prejudices that all humans may succumb to. Since the vote to admit a candidate is anonymous and must be unanimous, one man's unspoken prejudice is sufficient to deny entry to a man (except, of course, in those jurisdictions which require more than one 'no' vote to deny entrance, but you get the idea). Prejudice is inexcusable and irreconcilable with Freemasonry, but then, it is also irreconcilable with Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and there are certainly Christians, Jews, and Muslims who harbor prejudices.

So it is possible that a Mason, acting unMasonically, could act to keep a member out without due cause. But this is not common, nor is it representative of Freemasonry in general, nor does it conform to the high ideals of Freemasonry.

(3) I have a physical disability. Can I be a Mason?

The answer is almost certainly yes, provided you can attend Lodge (and meet the non-physical criteria in question (1) of this section). Paraplegics have been made Masons, as have the blind, the deaf, and others with a variety of physical handicaps. Minor modifications may need to be done to the rituals (e.g., employing sign language, modifying points where the candidate stands if the candidate is in a wheelchair, etc.) but most Lodges are willing to accommodate candidates.

In medieval times, the requirement to have a sound body free of physical defect was a serious one, since the work of stonemasonry was physically difficult. Some Grand Lodges did carry this requirement into symbolic (i.e., non-operative) Freemasonry. However, in recent times this has all but been eliminated. Talk to your local Lodge if you have any questions.

(4) Can Muslims be Masons?

The only religious requirement is that candidates believe in the Supreme Being. If you can in good faith profess a belief in the Supreme Being, you are eligible to be a Mason. No atheists will ever knowingly be made a Mason.

There are Christian (Catholic, Protestant, Mormon), Jewish, and Muslim Masons. It would be tedious and pointless to go into a religion-by-religion (and then denomination-by-denomination) discussion. The key points to remember are the requirement of belief in the supreme being and the fact that Freemasonry is a fraternity, not a religion.

(5) Do Masons accept Catholics?

Catholicism is only mentioned specifically because it has generated a lot of traffic in the past on the Masonic newsgroups. There is no prohibition in any Grand Lodge jurisdiction against Catholics being made Masons.

(6) What if my religion does not allow the swearing of oaths?

Some Grand Lodges allow affirmations to be used instead of the traditional Masonic oath. This is more common in Europe than in the United States. In all cases, it is best to check with the Grand Lodge in your jurisdiction (or your local Lodge) for more specific information.

(7) Do I have to be invited?

Don't wait to be invited-- you will die waiting. Masons are prohibited from actively recruiting or asking non-Masons to join the fraternity, to insure that candidates come of their own free will.

As with many things Masonic, there are some exceptions to this rule. Some Grand Lodges allow solicitation, provided it is low-key and with the strict provision that no pressure be applied. Still, you don't need to be invited in any jurisdiction, and if you're interested, act.

(8) OK, I'm interested-- how do I proceed?

If you know a Mason, ask him about membership. He will be glad to tell you all about the Craft and the local lodge, and give you a petition if you wish to join.

If you do not know a Mason, drop a letter to the local lodge, and one of the officers will call you (or call the lodge, though you may not get an answer unless someone is actually there).

Typically, the process is as follows:

(a) the applicant fills out a petition. The petition asks for two sponsors, though if you meet and talk with the officers, they can usually find sponsors or act as sponsors themselves if you do not know anyone in the lodge.

(b) the petition is read at the lodge during the next business meeting, which for many lodges is during the first week of the month. A committee is formed to investigate the candidate. The petition also asks for two character references.

(c) the committee meets with the candidate to answer questions, ascertain that he meets the criteria for membership, and find out a little about him. This is not a "grilling session", but rather a friendly and casual chat to make certain that the candidate has been properly informed about Freemasonry and that was not improperly solicited. The committee also contacts the character references listed on the petition (typically asking if they know any reason why the candidate should not be accepted, etc.)

(d) The committee reports back to the lodge during the next business meeting and the candidate is voted on. If accepted, someone from the lodge (often the Secretary) contacts the candidate and informs him that he has been accepted and schedules a date for the Entered Apprentice degree.

Comments