Frequently Asked Questions

Is Masonry a religion?
Masonry is a fraternity, not a religion. Masonry acknowledges the existence of God, but Masonry does not tell a person which religion he should practice or how he should practice it. That is a function of his house of worship, not his fraternity. Sometimes people confuse Masonry with a religion because we call some Masonic buildings “temples.” But we use the word in the same sense that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called the Supreme Court a “Temple of Justice.” Neither Masonry nor the Supreme Court is a religion just because its members meet in a “temple.” Most Michigan Lodges now refer to their buildings as Masonic Centers to avoid the confusion.

Why is Masonry so secretive?
It really isn’t secretive, although it sometimes has that reputation. Masons don’t make a secret of the fact that we are members of the fraternity. We wear rings, lapel pins, and tie clasps with Masonic emblems like the Square and Compass. Masonic buildings are clearly marked, and are usually listed in the phone book. Lodge activities are not secret – events are often listed in the newspapers, especially in smaller towns. But there are two Masonic traditions that are shared only with members. First are the ways in which a man can identify himself as a Mason, through a handshake or a password. The second tradition is Masonic ceremonies, which are private (for members only) but are not secret. Both of these traditions are practiced in most fraternities.

Why hasn’t anyone ever asked me to join?
Some men are surprised that no one has ever asked them to become a Mason. They may even feel that the Masons in their town don’t think they are “good enough” to join. But it doesn’t work that way. For hundreds of years, Masons have been forbidden to ask others to join the fraternity. We can talk to friends about Masonry. We can tell them about what Masonry does. We can tell them why we enjoy it. But we can’t ask, much less pressure, anyone to join. It’s not that we’re trying to be exclusive. We believe that becoming a Mason is a very serious thing and that no one should be talked into making this permanent life commitment.

How much time is required of a Mason?
Most Michigan Lodges hold ten meetings a year. In addition to the meetings, members may participate in various community outreach programs. The events calendar for each Lodge is different, but members are encouraged to put their family’s needs first.

Why does Masonry use symbols?
Much of the general population uses symbols every day because it allows us to communicate quickly. When you see a red light, you know what it means. When you see a circle with a line through it, you know it means “no.” In fact, using symbols is probably the oldest method of communication and teaching. Likewise, Masons use symbols for the same reasons. Certain symbols, mostly selected from the art of architecture, stand for certain ethics and principles of the organization. The “Square and Compass” is the most widely known symbol of Masonry. In one way, this symbol is the trademark for the fraternity. When you see it on a building, you know that Masons meet there.

What is the difference between a “Lodge” and a “Grand Lodge”?
A Lodge is the name of the place where Masons meet to have their meetings. There are more than 340 Lodges in Michigan. A Grand Lodge is the administrative body in charge of Freemasonry in some geographical area. In the United States, there is a Grand Lodge of Freemasonry in each state and the District of Columbia. In Canada, there is a Grand Lodge of Freemasonry in each province.