Monitor Lodge No. 197

A.F. & A.M.
212 E. Mellen Street
Hampton, VA 23663



Introduction to Freemasonry

    Freemasonry is the oldest fraternal organization in existence.  Written records about the Order date back to 1390, and the traditions of Masonry are even older.  The Grand Lodge of Virginia is the oldest independent body in the United States.  A roster of  Masonic membership during the early years of our country reads like a study in American history.  It is led by George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Marshall, Edmund Randolph, and a host of signers of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.  Since those early years of our country's history, Masonic membership has continued to include many famous Americans, including United States Presidents, Congressmen, State Governors, and other well known men in leadership positions.  The Masonic Fraternity includes men from all walks of life;  professionals, tradesmen, and laborers.

     Freemasonry is not a religion.  It does not promise salvation.  Religion and religious beliefs are not discussed in our Lodges, but through the use of symbols and allegories, Freemasonry teaches the equality of man and the value of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.  Freemasonry teaches and practices charity towards all who are less fortunate, and seeks to become the happy means of cementing its members into one harmonizing body.  Thus, while not a religion, Freemasonry is religious in the sense that Masons revere God, and urge every man to attend the Church or Synagogue of his choice.

     Freemasonry is not a secret society as some would charge.  Masons proudly wear the ancient insignia of Freemasonry, the Square and Compasses, publicly.  The location of our Masonic Lodges is known and our membership rosters are printed.  We do keep secret our modes of recognition and the ceremonies of initiation to prevent the imposition by impostors.

     In sum, Freemasonry teaches the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God, marveling at the Divine order of the universe.  It brings together men of all creeds and teaches the many aspects of the Great and Golden Rule common to all Faiths.

Excerpted from the Grand Lodge of Virginia Publication  "For Your Information"