Freemasonry is an ancient fraternal order which originated in Scotland. Its’ precise origin is unclear but what is known is that the order evolved out of the medieval stone masons’ guilds and that the oldest extant Masonic Charter dates to the 16th century. Freemasonry appears to have taken root in North America when English and Scottish soldiers brought it with them during the French and Indian War (1753-63.)
Freemasonry is not a “secret” order in America. Lodges operate in the open, do not hide the purposes of their activities, and welcome questions about the organization. Brother masons are often seen wearing our jewelry and symbols.
The purpose of Masonry is to “take good men and make them better.” This is accomplished through the use of ritual dramas, called ‘degrees,’ that teach the precepts of what Masons believe makes a good person. These precepts are:
- Brotherly Love: Kindness, understanding, tolerance and respect of, towards, and for others.
- Charity: To serve the less fortunate, our communities, and our brothers both individually and as a Lodge.
- Truth: Upholding high moral standards for themselves. Striving to live up to that standard.
The essential qualification for membership is belief in a “Supreme Being.” There is no religious requirement beyond this. Members may be of any race or religion. Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. This one essential qualification means that Freemasonry is open to men of many religions and it expects and encourages them to continue to follow their own faith. It is not permitted for Freemasons to discuss religion at Masonic meetings.
Other requirements for membership in Montana lodges are being a man who has attained the age of 18 years, a believer in a Supreme Being and a future existence, of good moral conduct, and without physical or mental impairment that would prevent him from learning and practicing the principles of Masonry or which would create a burden on the lodge.