San Bernardino Masonic Lodge 178

Information

FAQ's

Answers to frequently asked questions about Masonry

What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry (also called “Masonry”) is the world’s first and largest fraternity, based on the belief that each man can make a difference in the world. Freemasonry enhances and strengthens the character of the individual man by providing opportunities for fellowship, charity, and education.

Where do the names Freemasonry, Masonry, and Free and Accepted Masons come from?

Masons’ name comes from the occupation of their original members – stonemasons who built castles and cathedrals in England and Scotland. The word “free” was added during the Middle Ages. Because stonemasons possessed knowledge and skills not found everywhere, these men had the privilege of traveling between countries.

Over time, many men who were not builders were drawn to the practices of Freemasonry. To encourage intellectual diversity, stonemasons began accepting men from other professions into the fraternity. These men were known as “accepted Masons.” This trend continued, and accepted members eventually outnumbered operative members. Today, the names “Freemasonry,” “Masonry,” and “Free and Accepted Masons” are used interchangeably to refer to the fraternity.

What is a lodge?

Freemasonry began when stonemasons formed local organizations, called lodges, to take care of sick and injured members, as well as the families of those who were killed on the job. The masons also used the lodges as places to meet, receive their pay, plan their work, train new apprentices, and socialize. Today, this term refers both to a unit of Masons and the room or building in which they meet. There are more than 320 lodges in California and approximately 13,000 in the United States.

What is a grand lodge?

A grand lodge is an administrative body that oversees Freemasonry in a specific geographic area, called a jurisdiction. The United States has grand lodges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Is Freemasonry an international organization?

There are about five million Masons worldwide, including almost two million in the U.S. and more than 60,000 in California. All lodges follow the same principles of Freemasonry, but their activities may vary. Each grand lodge is sovereign and independent; there is no U.S. or international governing body for Freemasonry.

Is Masonry a secret organization?

Membership in Masonry is not a secret; all members are free to acknowledge their membership. There is no secret about any of Masonry’s aims or principles. Masonry’s constitutions and rules are available to the public, and meeting locations are clearly identifiable. Like many similar organizations, some of Masonry’s internal affairs, such as ceremonies, grips, and passwords, are regarded as private matters for members only.

What happens at a lodge meeting?

There are two kinds of meetings for members. The most common is a business meeting, called a stated meeting, devoted to administrative procedures: minutes of the last meeting, discussing financial matters, voting on applications, and planning for lodge activities. The second kind of meeting is ceremonial, used for admitting new Masons and conferring degrees.

What are degrees?

There are three stages of Masonic membership: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. These stages are referred to as “degrees,” and correspond with members’ self-development and increased knowledge of Freemasonry. As a man completes each phase of learning, the lodge holds a ceremony to confer his degree.

Degree names are taken from craft guilds: In the Middle Ages, to become a stonemason, a man would first be apprenticed. As an apprentice, he learned the tools and skills of the trade. When he had proved his skills, he became a “fellow of the craft,” and when he gained exceptional ability, he was known as a “master of the craft.”

What is the significance of officers’ titles?

Masonry came to America from England and many of the original English titles are still in use. These titles may sound archaic in today’s society, but their meanings are simple. The master is the leader of the lodge, similar to the term president in other organizations. He is called “master” for the same reason that the leader of first violins in an orchestra is called the concertmaster. It’s simply an older term for leader. The senior and junior wardens represent the first and second vice presidents. 

Why does Masonry use symbols?

Symbols allow people to communicate quickly, and to transcend language barriers. When you see a green light or a circle with a line through it, you know what it means. Likewise, Masons use metaphors from geometry and the architecture of stonemasonry to inform their continuing pursuit of knowledge, ethics, and leadership skills.

To reflect their heritage, Masons wear aprons while in lodge, at certain public events, and at funerals to demonstrate their pride in the fraternity, and their lineage from stonemasons, who historically carried their tools in leather aprons. The square and compass is the most widely known symbol of Masonry: When you see the symbol on a building, you know that Masons meet there.

Do Masons engage in politics?

Masonry does not endorse political candidates or legislation, and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings is not allowed.

Is Masonry a religion?

Masonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. The fraternity requires its members to have a belief in a Supreme Being, but the fraternity itself is not affiliated with any religion, and men of all faiths are represented in the fraternity. Religion is not discussed at lodge meetings.

Why are some Masonic buildings called temples?

We sometimes call a building a “temple” in the same sense that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called the Supreme Court a “Temple of Justice.” Most California lodges now refer to their buildings as Masonic centers.

What are the other Masonic organizations?

A man first becomes a Mason at his local lodge. After he has been awarded the three degrees of Masonry, he may join any of the other allied Masonic organizations, each of which has a special social, educational, or philanthropic focus. The best known in the United States are the Shrine, Scottish Rite, and York Rite. 

Why can’t women join Masonry?

Masonry is a fraternity, a brotherhood. The essence of a fraternity is that it is for men, just as the essence of a sorority is that it is for women. There are several affiliated Masonic organizations for women only, as well as organizations for both men and women.

Are there Masonic organizations for youth?

In the years following World War I, Masons in the United States helped establish a trio of youth orders dedicated to teaching young men and women the principles and values of Masonry. Today, DeMolay International, Job’s Daughters International, and the International Order of Rainbow for Girls offer young men and women ages 10 to 21 opportunities for personal growth and community service. More information is available at masons4youth.org.

Are there financial commitments for Masons?

There is an application fee for membership, which includes a charitable contribution to help fulfill our philanthropic mission and our obligation to aid brothers and their families in times of need. Continued giving supports important charitable programs, which rely on member contributions. Annual dues begin when the Entered Apprentice degree is received; each lodge determines the dues amount.

Why are so many men joining Free Masons?

Freemasonry is a voluntary, fraternal organization, composed of men of good will, good character and good reputation, whom in most jurisdictions around the world, believe in an Almighty Creator and practice the spirit of universal brotherhood to man.

They are loyal to their country and devote their time to the principles of friendship and fellowship.  Their focus is to be of service to all mankind.

For many men, Freemasonry fulfills a part of themselves that they intrinsically felt was missing.  Whether it be the social, the philosophical, the spiritual, the historical or simply a sense of community with others; you will find within Freemasonry that part of you which you seek. 

If I become a Free Mason, what is their Mission?

Free Masons help to build a better world through a unique and worthy process of building better men to live in it.  The Free Mason Motto is:  Better men make a better world.

What principles will I learn?

You will learn to practice brotherly love for all, charitable relief for those who may be in need, morality and good citizenship in every community.

What type of fraternal society is Free Masonry?

Freemasonry acts as a charitable, fraternal, educational, social and character-building society.

Masonic Fraternity:

Masonry’s active ideal is the brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God. 

Masonic education is a vital part of receiving your Master’s degree in Freemasonry.

Masonic Education:

Freemasonry supports public education and teaches its own members morality and brotherhood by means of ceremonies and symbols.

Social: 

The Masonic Fraternity furnishes opportunity and inducement for men to gather for group enjoyment and personal development.

Character Building: 

All Masonic activities stress the values of personal integrity and personal responsibility. Each of the 3 degrees within a lodge culminates in a man becoming a Master Mason.

Each member is encouraged to make efforts to improve his community in the interest of human welfare, inspire the members with feelings of charity and good will for all mankind as well as move them to translate these learned principles and convictions into individual action.

What will I learn if I become a Free Mason?

You will learn biblical history from  the days of Solomon’s Temple, throughout the Middle Ages  In Europe, Masonic Speculative Lodges and Grand Orient Lodges were being formed in each country.  

Many exact dates of historical events are sometimes difficult to discern, however Masonic records show that these Grand Lodges were formed in:  England in 1717, Ireland in 1725, France in 1728, the United States in 1730 and Scotland in 1736.  

If you wish to study and learn, the Holy Scriptures will finally begin to come alive to you with their real people and their successes and failures.  You will learn biblical truths with the Supreme Architect of the Universe, as your Master.

If I contact someone to become a Free Mason, will I receive a continuous barrage of spam and junk mail?

No.

Why not?

In some jurisdictions, a man wishing to become a Free Mason must of his own free will, ask to become a Free Mason.  In other jurisdictions, (a few U.S. states and in England), a man wishing to become a Free Mason may be invited to join by a current member who feels that he would be an asset to the Fraternity.  

In either case, each and every man comes to Freemasonry of his own free will and accord.  

Every man who wishes to become a Free Mason (whether he requests to be admitted as a member or whether he has been invited to be admitted to the fraternity) must be investigated as to his background and then balloted upon by his prospective Lodge’s brethren.

If I join Freemasons, will I learn Freemasons secrets and Masonic Lodge Secrets?

Yes.  But, if Freemasons secrets and Masonic Lodge secrets are your main reason for joining, your enthusiasm will soon diminish.  Here are the Freemason’s secrets:  They are the grips, passwords, penal signs and ritual work.  

The remainder of the craft of Freemasonry is found in the Holy Books around the world, the Old Charges, which are old Manuscripts and Old Lodge Charters which date back to 1390, and in Freemason books.  

In fact, if you are considering becoming a Free Mason, the easiest way to begin learning about Freemasonry is to begin right here on this website. 

I hear and read about  Free Masons being satanic, taking part in pagan rites, attempting to create a New World Order (NWO), such as the New World Order videos on YouTube, and their plans to take over the world.  Is any of this true?

No.  In fact, let’s consider this, rationally, at greater length.  Entire countries and civilizations have come, gone and changed in the several hundred year period during which Freemasonry has existed. 

If Freemasons were, in fact, attempting to take over the world, (having approximately 300+ years in which to accomplish such a feat), one could only come to the logical conclusion that these Masonic secrets are either tremendously well-kept (from both Freemasons and non-Freemasons) or… that after all this time, Free Masons aren’t very effective planners.    

Is Free Masonry a secret Masonic society?

Free Masonry’s “secret” inheritance from the past is largely ceremonial.  The Masonic Freemason fraternity meets in Masonic halls and temples, whose addresses are in the telephone books in the United States.  

(However, it is difficult to call a specific lodge because most only meet a couple times a month, therefore, if you stop by, there probably won’t be anyone there.)  

Most Freemasons proudly wear their Masonic rings and Masonic lapel pins.  

If you are thinking about joining the fraternity, and becoming a Master Mason, it is also beneficial to you to learn more about the reason why Freemasons wear a Masonic signet ring which displays Freemasonry’s logo, the square and compasses. 

Many member’s vehicles display Masonic emblems such as the Square and Compass. or the famous 2B1Ask1, … To-Be-One-Ask-One bumper sticker.  

Newspapers and magazines record many of their activities and list their officers….and their charity work and events are not only very public, but very well attended. 

Each jurisdiction has a Grand Lodge. Here is a list of the Grand Lodges around the world. Each state in the United States also has a Grand Lodge. Subordinate lodges fall under their Grand Lodge’s jurisdiction. 

Most Grand Lodges around the world have websites, as do many subordinate lodges. 

Despite the ongoing National Treasure documentaries, and the DeCoded episode on television in December, 2010, which inferred that Freemasons somehow used our symbolic Masonic tools to stealthily remove the cornerstone to our nation’s Capitol, (without anyone noticing), in reality, the everyday Freemason’s secrets remain, (as they have for centuries) as the specific grips, penal signs, passwords and ancient rituals used within the lodge.  

These are carryovers from ancient ceremonies, which, if omitted, would remove some of Freemasonry’s very proud history. 

I read and hear a lot about the belief in Masonic pentagrams in the streets of Washington, D.C., secret Masonic conspiracies, Anti-Christian and anti-Bible beliefs, etc.   If I become a Free Mason, will I learn more about these?

No.

Why not?

There aren’t any….which is why none can be “uncovered”.  If your sole reason to join Freemasonry is to learn more about these types of Masonic myths, media hype, the occult and other supposed Masonic secrets, you will be deeply disappointed.  

Is Free Masonry Anti-Christian?

No.

Is Freemasonry a religion?

No. Freemasonry encompasses and welcomes members from all religions. 

If I become a Free Mason, will I be expected to change our religion?

No.  The foundation of Freemasonry is the brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God.  Only those who are truly religious can fully understand the meaning of “universal brotherhood”.  

Except in a very few jurisdictions around the world, only those who believe in a Supreme Being can be members of the Masonic Fraternity.  There are no specific religions mentioned in Masonic ceremonies nor in Masonic prayers.

Freemasonry is not a church, a tabernacle, a mosque nor a synagogue, nor is it a substitute for any of them or for any religious observance.  

Freemasonry is non-sectarian, which means it is not affiliated with nor restricted to any particular religious denomination.  The form of a man’s belief is his own business.  In fact, many active Masons are active religious laymen.  

In the United States, most lodges use the Holy Bible, however, if you are of another religion, you may request that your sacred holy book (Torah, Veda, Koran, etc.) be placed beside the Bible during lodge meetings.  Some lodges have several sacred books to accommodate the different religions of its members.  

Lodges whose members are wholly of a specific religion may choose to use their sacred books only. 

Is a Masonic Bible different than any other Bible on the market, today?

No.  (Although many Masonic bibles have Preface pages which may be filled in to record the dates of its owner having receiving their degrees, as well as possibly a Study Guide or Biblical Index, to assist its owner to understand certain phrases, symbols and the biblical verses used within Freemasonry.)  

Is Free Masonry a political group?

No.  In fact, both politics and specific religions are discouraged from being mentioned in lodge because to do so may negate its collective peace, harmony, and thus, its universality of spirit.

What do Freemasons do?

Freemasons are a fraternity of brothers who attempt to follow our Creator’s plan for us and to help each man be the best man that he can be.  In different languages, the Creator is known by different names.  He may be called God, Allah, Jehovah, YHWH, I Am That I Am and others.  

Can I quit being a Freemason if I want to?

Any Mason in good standing (whose annual dues are paid) may withdraw from membership at any time.

How Do You Become a Freemason?

Freemason Membership Requirements

What are the requirements to become a Free Mason?

The requirements to join Freemasons, are: 

  • You must be a man of good repute.
  • In most U.S. states, you must be over the age of 21. Some states vary, so you will need to ask. 
  • You must believe in a Supreme Being.  (This is a requirement in the majority of jurisdictions around the world.)
  • You must be able to support yourself and your family.  
  • You must live a moral and ethical life. 
  • You must have a strong desire to want to make a difference in the world.  By your actions, you want to make yourself a better man, and make your community and the world a better place to live.
  • Are Lodge dues expensive if I become a Free Mason? 
  • Typically, lodge dues are a nominal sum in the United States, however each Lodge varies, somewhat.  Lodge dues in other countries vary.  Some are nominal sums and some can be more expensive.  Inquiries as to the annual dues in your area should be made to your individual lodge.

What will I gain if I become a Free Mason?

  1. You will never again be truly alone, because you are a part of a brotherhood of men who want to see you prosper in all ways possible and if it is within their ability, they will help you to do so. 
  2. You will learn to focus your energies upon an upright and truthful life, and remove the more negative excesses which all of mankind must continually resist. 
  3. If you become a Free Mason, you will become a better man, if you truly wish to study and learn.

How do I begin the process to become a Free Mason?

  1. In the United States, you may look in the telephone book for the phone number of a Masonic lodge near you, however, it is highly probable no one will be there to answer your call because lodges usually only meet twice a month, during a week day, in the evening. 
  2. If you find a man who has a bumper sticker that says:  2B1Ask1, you may ask him to provide you a petition.  He probably won’t have a petition for Masonic admission with him, but if you give him your name and phone number, he will contact a member of his lodge, who will contact you. 
  3. However, the easiest way to begin the process to become a Free Mason is to contact your state or country’s Grand Lodge. You may call them or fill out their website form and request that they have someone contact you. 

Then what happens?  

  1. Arrangements will be made to meet you, personally, to discuss Freemasonry.  
  2. A committee of members from the Lodge, which are called the Investigative Committee, will contact you to arrange a meeting. 
  3. They will answer any questions you may have.  If the meeting is mutually satisfactory; you will be asked if you wish to fill out a petition form. 
  4. The Investigative Committee performs inquiries of others as to your character. In the United States, this may take a few weeks. In most other countries around the world, this thorough investigative process may take up to 2 years.
  5. Your request for membership will be balloted upon by the lodge’s members. 
  6. You will be advised of the date of your admission
  7.                                               

____________________

Becoming a Free Mason is perhaps best summed up by Freemason and stone sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, who with his son, Lincoln Borglum, sculpted the faces of 4 U.S. presidents into Mount Rushmore’s sheer stone peak near Keystone, South Dakota.

Begun in October, 1927 and completed in October 1941, (14 years later), over 400 workers worked on it during the carving process….with no lives lost. 

When he was asked how he carved stone into such beautiful statues, Gutzon Borglum replied:

“It is very simple.  I merely knock away with hammer and chisel the stone I do not need and the statue is there …… it was there all the time! “

 

 

…And so it is with each of us.

Like everything else in life, when you become a Freemason, you will receive from Freemasonry what you put into it.

What is a Masonic Lodge?

A lodge is a certain number of Freemasons who assemble to work, by having authority to do so from a charter or warrant which usually comes from a Grand lodge. 

A “lodge room”, or “lodge” is the properly arranged and furnished room where the lodge meets. 


Is Everything About Freemasonry a Masonic Secret?

Actually, with the exception of the passwords, grips, signs and the ritual,  itself, there is nothing else that is secret within the lodge.  

When asked about Freemasonry, most often, it is the Masons who have not properly studied Freemasonry who make blunders such as jokingly saying things like:  “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”  

There is nothing within Masonry about its members having to kill anyone.

Every Mason is taught that it is his duty to always be trying to improve himself in order to honor and respect his God-given talents and so that he may be better able to assist his brother Masons.  

To not do so is to be “a drone in the hive of Nature” and unworthy of Masonic assistance.  

With the advent of the internet, and online bookstores with thousands of books available about Freemasonry, modern Freemasons are achieving a greater collective knowledge about Freemasonry and its true place within their lives.

Within another few short years, Freemasons who do not study will be at a major disadvantage within their respective lodges. 

TYPES OF FREEMASON LODGES

What is a “Regular” Masonic Lodge?

Regularity is the process by which individual Grand lodges recognize one another for the purposes of allowing formal interaction at the Grand Lodge level and visitation by members of other jurisdictions.  

The largest collection of mutually recognized Grand Lodges derives its regularity from the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) based on a set of specific criteria.  Dating back to 1717, UGLE is considered to be not only the oldest, but the largest grouping of lodges.  

UGLE provides a list of recognized Grand Lodges on its website.

What is a “Clandestine” Lodge?

A “clandestine lodge” is one that does not hold a proper charter from any Grand lodge. 

What is an “Irregular” Lodge?

An “irregular lodge” is a lodge that does have a charter from a Grand lodge, but its Grand lodge is not recognized by other Grand lodges. 

THE WORSHIPFUL MASTER

Why Do Masonic Lodges Call Their Leader the Worshipful Master?

Worshipful Master means one who is held in honor, and considered as an honorable man.  It is an Olde Englishe word that means someone who is worthy of honor and respect because he, himself worships or is full of worship, faith and respect.  

He is respected because of the depth and strength of his faith in and his reliance on Deity. 

ANCESTORS

A Now Deceased Relative of Mine Was a Freemason.  

How Can I Find Out More About His Masonic Affiliation?

Begin by contacting the lodge in which he was a member.  If they cannot offer you sufficient information, ask for a contact number for the Grand Lodge in the state or country in which your relative was a member. 

RELIGION

Are All Members of Freemason Lodges, Christian?

No.  Masonry is not a religion nor is a specific religion one of its requirements.  Freemasonry teaches each member to be faithful to his conscience and his own chosen religion.  

Within “regular” Freemasonry, all that is required of a candidate is a belief in a Supreme Being.

Can Mormons Be Freemasons?

Yes.  There is no rule within Freemasonry barring Mormons from becoming a Freemason.  There are quite a few Mormons who are Freemasons.

Can Catholics Be Freemasons?

Yes.  The fraternity of Freemasonry embraces universality, no matter what a man’s ethnicity, economic or social status, or religious beliefs. However, Catholics may wish to check with their church about the church’s stance on Freemasonry.

SEXUAL PREFERENCE 

Can Gays Join a Masons Lodge?

Yes…however Freemasonry is based on morality.  There are some lodge members who may feel very strongly that homosexuality is immoral.  If that becomes the case, you may want to petition another lodge.  

EVIL, DEMONS AND PENTAGRAMS

One of Freemasonry’s symbols is a 5 Pointed Star.   Is it a Demonic Pentagram?

No.  You’ve been watching too much T.V.  

Do Freemasons practice devil worship, animal sacrifices or other such shocking acts?


No.  Most Freemasons are hard working, middle class men with families, a belief in a Supreme Being, a church affiliation and a desire to help others.

The basic foundation underlying Freemasonry is morality.  If you are still unsure, ask your local Masonic lodge to give you a tour of the lodge.  

Have you ever heard or read in any of the media of any shocking acts perpetrated by a Masonic lodge?  

It is of course, possible, however, that the perpetrator of such an act might be a Mason, just as he might be black or white, Christian or Hindu, married or unmarried, or even a Boy Scout Leader or Sunday School teacher.  

However the Masonic lodge, itself, nor the Grand Lodge under which the lodge receives its charter, does not tolerate nor condone any un-Masonic conduct, including murder, treason or heinous acts.  

Freemasons are required to obey moral law, the laws of their country, all regulations and the established customs of the fraternity.

FIND A MASONIC LODGE

How to Find A Masonic Lodge

In the United States, you can:

  1. Look in the telephone book under “Fraternal Organizations” or “Lodges”.
  2. Perform a Google (or other search engine) search for: “your state” + “Grand Lodge”.  Once you arrive at your state’s Grand lodge website, look for a list of subordinate lodges in their jurisdiction which are near you.
  3. If you see a vehicle with a Masonic symbol on its bumper or tail light, and feel comfortable speaking to its owner, ask him where his lodge is located and whatever other questions you may have about it.

List of Masonic Lodges

If you are not in the United States, go to this page World Grand Lodges page.  Once you arrive at your country’s Grand lodge website, look for a list of subordinate lodges in their jurisdiction which are near you.

If you cannot find a lodge near you, it does not, necessarily mean that there are none.  Call or e-mail your Grand Lodge and request information about a Masonic lodge near you.

How to Find A Masonic Lodge If You Are a Woman

Go to this page Women Freemasons page for contact information about women-only Masonic lodges and Co-Masonry.

For a Prince Hall Lodge Click here

BECOME A FREEMASON

How To Become a Freemason

Go to this page Become a Freemason page.  

Can I Fill Out a Membership Petition on the Internet?

No.  You must find a lodge near you.

How To Become a Knights Templar

All Knights Templar must first become Freemasons.  (see How to Become a Freemason, above.) Once you have become a Master Mason, you may begin pursuing the other degrees, of which Knights Templar is one of the Chivalric Orders within the York Rite of Freemasonry.  

Note:  In the United States, a requirement of membership in the York Rite is being a professed Christian.

How To Visit a Masonic Lodge

If you are in the United States, see number (1.) and number (2.), above.  Once you have the phone number or an e-mail address, contact the lodge nearest you and ask for a tour.  Feel free to ask whatever questions you have at the time of your visit.

How To Start a Masonic Lodge

If you are currently a member of a “regular” Masonic lodge, read your Grand Lodge By-Laws to find out what steps you must take to start a new Mason’s lodge.  You may also contact your Grand Lodge for more assistance.