Originally posted by FallenFromTheTree
What is the official position of the Free Masons regarding
Race, color, creed, national origin and sexual orientation?
It's probably the most liberal organisation in the World with respect to the above. Freemasonry accepts men of any
race, color creed, or
national origin. It is also a worldwide organisation and can be found all over the planet.
Sexual orientation is an entirely personal subject and it is totally up to the individual how he indulges. A man can be heterosexual, bisexual or
homosexual - it is irrelevant.
Education or financial requirments?
The only financial requirement is that you can afford to fork out the couple of hundred pounds (or dollars) that it costs you to join (you need some
"regalia" etc). There is no educational requirement. Freemasonry probably had a lot of illiterate members when it began and this is part of the
reason why symbols are used.
What is their position on equality of women, employment, abortion rights etc.
Freemasonry itself takes no stance over these issues. These choices are all down to the individual Freemason. Some of the above are political issues
and Freemasonry forbids it's members to discuss politics in Lodge as this could damage the harmony found amongst it's members. Of course, we all
have our personal opinions and they tend to be as diverse as those that you find in the general society to which we all belong.
Is anyone excluded from membership and if so WHY?
The only people excluded are atheists and those with severe criminal records. Atheists because there are spiritual aspects within Freemasonry that
they may disagree with and disrupt, and criminals because they may also disrupt the harmony found within the Order. Having a criminal record per se
does not exclude you - there are exceptions made. For example I know 40 year old men who have joined who were tearaways in their youth. Freemasonry
recognised that they simply needed to grow up and that once they did, they became reasonable and responsible members of society. It doesn't always
hold that a man should be punished for a failiure all his life if he has recognised and adjusted his shortcomings.
Are contributions expected and if so to what degree?
You normally pay a yearly fee to be a member of a degree (over here in the UK average £50 for Craft masonry, side degrees are normally half that). You
are then expected to pay for your dinner (we dine together once a month, although it isn't compulsory). Charitable contributions are totally up to
the individual. I've known some unemployed Freemasons that could only afford to donate 50p to charity - the amount is not frowned upon or lauded
though. You also don't have to join other degrees if you don't have the time and inclination. In the UK you can be a Freemason for as little as £50
a year. So really, Freemasonry will only cost you what you want it to, after the small initial outlay.
When you speak of "craft " what exactly does that encompass?
"Craft" encompasses the first 3 degrees of regular Freemasonry. The word probably dates back to the days of operative stonemasons where their work
was an artform or a "craft".
Since there may be different policies depending on the individual lodge what " red flags " should one look for that indicate perhaps one
consider a different lodge?
Although each Lodge may have different policies regarding it's day to day running, all have to conform to some general principles laid down by their
governing body - Grand Lodge. Probably the only things that would concern somebody who wants to join are the minor details, such as is your Lodge a
dining Lodge (you have to pay for your dinners up front for a year), does your Lodge meet at a time appropriate for you etc. What sort of ritual does
the Lodge use - emulation, local or a mixture? (although again this isn't really important).
These are all questions that can be answered by just contacting a member of that Lodge and asking.
Offhand, I can't think of any fundamentally deep differences between Lodges that would affect anyone who wishes to join Freemasonry. I know of no
"red flags" - in general, if a Lodge wasn't operating in a way that is acceptable to it's members or new candidates, it wouldn't exist as they
would all leave and go and join other Lodges.
[edit on 2-1-2005 by Leveller]