|FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS|
One of the most powerful and successful marketing tools is undeniably word of mouth.|
A recommendation from trusted friend is far more convincing than any
television commercial or advertising programme.
However, our past attitude towards publicity has had the unintended effect of creating
an absence of public information about Freemasonry, which has in many cases
been filled by unflattering speculation and anti-Masonic propaganda.
Consequently, while there is not a complete ignorance about Freemasonry,
there is rumour and misinformation.
As a result, when broaching the topic of Freemasonry among non-freemasons,
it is possible that the audience will have questions founded on half truths and
misunderstanding that can be difficult to answer.
How we answer these questions will seriously influence the listener's opinion.
Anything less than a confident,
sensible and above all honest answer risks appearing evasive and disingenuous.
Similarly, the historical reluctance to openly discuss Freemasonry with non freemasons has
left our members feeling unprepared to answer some of the more complex questions.
It is in this spirit that we offer the following information.
The answers contained herein are by no means prescriptive and should not be taken as definitive.
They are offered as a starting point from which to begin a conversation.
Ultimately every Freemason must develop his own understanding of Freemasonry and its place in his life.
It is my aim that these Frequently Asked Questions form a step in that process.
MWBro Vaughan Werner|
The Frequently Asked Questions
Is Freemasonry a Secret Society?
A "Secret Society" is generally defined as one whose existence
is unknown to the public and is specifically denied.
The existence of Freemasonry and its work in the community has a high public profile and
of Freemasonry is no more secret than belonging to a football club or service organization.
What are the secrets of Freemasonry?
Individual Freemasons obligate themselves to keep secret certain modes
of recognition, which include passwords, signs and a handshake.
Historically, groups of operative masons used secret modes of recognition
to preserve their competitive advantage from other groups of operative masons.
Today, Freemasons persist in the practice of these traditional secrets in a purely symbolic fashion.
The communication of these secrets is meant to act
as a symbolic test of member's honour and trustworthiness.
In this sense, the keeping of a secret demonstrates the importance of being
a man of integrity who can be trusted to keep his word.
There are elements of the ceremonial which are generally not discussed in details but are by no means secret.
Freemasons are sometimes reluctant to discuss these in order to retain an element of surprise
for joining members in much the same way as the key points of a movie
are not generally discussed in order to avoid spoiling the ending.
Freemasonry has long since ceased to have any real secrets.
The passwords, signs and the full text of the ceremonies of Freemasonry have been unofficially printed
in numerous books, some more accurate than others and widely published on the internet.
One quick search on any respectable search engine should satisfy the curiosity of the sceptical or suspicious.
Is Freemasonry a Religion?|
In general, a religion is defined as a set of strictly codified beliefs
regarding the cause, nature and purpose of existence.
A religion also generally offers a path to salvation or enlightment.
Freemasonry offers none of these things.
Although Freemasonry requires its members to express a belief in a
Supreme Being as an underlying principle of order in the universe,
at the same time it explicitly forbids discussion of the details of that belief.
Freemasonry is a sectarian organization that encourages tolerance and inter-faith understanding.
The various religions represented amongst Freemasons include,
Christianity, Isla, Judaism, Buddhism and Taoism.
Can Women Join Freemasonry?|
Although Freemasonry does not accept female applicants, there are many activities and groups
associated with Freemasonry that welcome the participation of Women.
Freemasonry was also among the first of similar organisations to recognise the need for the
inclusion of women, introducing the Order of the Eastern Star for the participation of women in 1850.
Freemasonry offers men an important support structure that breaks down the
isolation imposed by expectations placed on modern masculinity.
Modern life offers very few social support structures for men.
It promotes an environment in which the development of masculinity and the principles of
natural equality and mutual dependence can be appropriately nurtured, challenged and guided.
Why do you wear Aprons?
Traditionally, medieval stone masons wore aprons while cutting and shaping stonework for their buildings.
This apron had a practical purpose and also identified the trade of the craftsman.
Freemasonry takes the customs and usages of operative masons and applies them to
modern life lessons, such as fidelity, equality, trust and honour.
In this sense, the apron is an important insignia of a Freemason.
Although it has no practical utility the apron symbolizes innocence and purity of spirit.
What happens at a Masonic Meeting?|
A Masonic meeting is run along similar lines to any club.
General business is conducted including the presentation of minutes
and discussion about the lodge's finances.
Visitors from other lodges are welcomed, a lecture may be given or
new members introduced into the lodge in an initiation ceremony.
The meeting is generally concluded with a meal and perhaps entertainment.
If you are curious about what goes on in a lodge and wish to know more,
there are a number of options open to you.
Many Masonic meetings, particular those of grand lodge, are open to the public.
Call the grand secretary's office for further information about these meetings as
office for further information about these meetings as well as
an information pack for prospective members.
Does being a Freemason give you an unfair advantage in business
or get you out of trouble with the law?
Freemasons are strictly forbidden from using Freemasonry as a tool for social or financial advantage.
To do so would be considered contrary to the nature and essence of Freemasonry.
Freemasons are exhorted to be law abiding citizens and to adhere to the statutes and
regulations of their country above any Masonic obligations.
Freemasons believe in the principles of equality and a fair go.
To attempt to trade on Freemasonry for advantage would be considered
serious misconduct as it would bring Freemasonry into disrepute.
Is Freemasonry a Secret World Government?
Freemasonry does not have a world governing body.
Each province or geographic region is broken into independent, wholly self regulating and
autonomous territories governed by their own grand lodge.
The lodges within Victoria, for example are governed by the United Grand Lodge of Victoria.
The United Grand Lodge of Victoria reports to no higher body.
These regions are (and in some cases are not) in amity with each other, maintaining
correspondence and fraternal relations but in no way are they ultimately accountable to each.
Furthermore Freemasonry is largely a voluntary institution relying on
the generous donation of its members' spare time.
Given the locally independent and voluntary nature of Freemasonry it would be
impossible for it to operate any kind of "Secret World Government"
Is Freemasonry a Charity?
Freemasonry is not specifically a charity organization in that the general public can not
make tax deductible donations nor can Freemasons Victoria solicit donations directly.
Rather, Freemasonry is an organization that encourages and facilitates the individual charity of its
as well as coordinating large scale charitable projects through its Board of Benevolence.
Freemasons are encouraged to be active in supporting their community and individual lodges are
often involved locally supporting schools, sports teams and other community groups or
restoring and maintaining community facilities such as playgrounds and parks.
There are a number of methods to apply to Freemasons Victoria for charitable support including
contacting the Board of Benevolence, the Freemasons Public Charitable Foundation or a local lodge.
Are you a cult or group of devil worshipers?|
A cult is defined as a "system of religious worship especially as expressed in
ritual devotion or homage to a person or thing".
While there are ceremonial aspects to Freemasonry, these ceremonies are theatrical
representations of useful life lessons, such as honesty, loyalty, charity and honour.
Freemasonry is not a religion but rather a non-sectarian organisation that
encourages tolerance and interfaith understanding.
It recognises the richness of all cultural beliefs and does not exclude membership on the basis
of race or politics but simply requires its members to express a belief in a supreme being.
Do you have occult symbols in the Lodge?
However there are many recognisable symbols and objects used
in the ceremonial portions of Masonic meetings.
Each symbol has a unique meaning, describing certain Masonic principles.
For example, the Level is used to symbolise equality and the anchor symbolises faith.
Other symbols represent such qualities as fidelity, trust and our mortality.
All these symbols impress upon members the necessity of making the most of their lives in pursuit
of their family responsibilies and also the responsibilities they owe to their employer and the community.
Do you make people swear oaths and have ghastly punishment?
Each joining member undertakes three ceremonial progressions called degrees.
When taken as a whole these degrees describe the progression one takes through life
and impresses upon the participant certain principles which are considered necessary
to live a full, rewarding and well respected life.
These degrees encourage learning and enquiry, understanding and
sympathy, respect and deference and integrity and honour.
Symbols and objects taken from the era of the operative masons are used,
through allegory, to demonstrate these principles and life lessons.
This provides each member with an intellectual advantage in how to tackle life and relationships.
Just as operative stonemasons were obligated not to disclose their occupational and trade secrets,
so Freemasons are obligated during each ceremony not to disclose our traditional modes of
recognition as an undeniable demonstration of their integrity and trustworthiness.
To break one's obligation has consequences, which in extreme cases result in exclusion from membership,
but more fundamentally result in the disrespect of the transgressor.
However there are no ghastly, violent or physical punishments.
Isn't Freemasonry just for old men and isn't it dying out?
While Freemasonry in Victoria has an older age profile than that of the general population,
its older members provide a tremendous source of life experience.
Freemasonry's diverse membership basis also provides wide perspective about how best
to develop and support each other in pursuit of its mission.
Freemasonry is far from dying out as evidence by the level of enquiry and application for
membership currently being experienced, particularly by younger men.
How do I become a Freemason?|
Becoming a Freemason is simple.
Contact Freemasons Victoria on 03 9411 0111 or
toll free on 1800 068 416 and talk to one of our friendly staff.
Alternatively, contact a Freemason;|
email a very friendly Freemason at the Footscray St John's Lodge No 71.
They will be able to supply you with reliable research material and
are free to answer nearly any question you may have.