Who Are The Free Masons? It is a fraternal organization whose membership is held together by shared moral and metaphysical ideals and in most of its branches by a constitutional declaration of belief in a Supreme Being. They are past presidents of the United States, supreme court justices, doctors, nurses, carpenters, factory workers, in sense they are your neighbors.
It is an organization that helps behind the scenes. Masons came from the Knights Templar. Their business is to help men become better than what they are, better fathers, and family men. To be a Mason you must believe in a higher power. How do I know they are not off the wall or satanic? First of all I am a Mason and anyone who knows me God comes first in my life. In the Temples in the Blue Lodge in North America, inside you will find lying open on the altar a book of Sacred Law, from the Torah to the Bagavad Gita, to the lessons of Buddha. Our Lodge has the King James Version Bible normally open to the Book of Psalms or Ezekiel. The KJV Bible is read from in our Ceremonies and meetings.
During the 1800's and early 1900's, Freemasonry grew dramatically. At that time, the government had provided no social "safety net." The Masonic tradition of founding orphanages, homes for widows, and homes for the aged provided the only security many people knew.
Most everyone is familiar with the Shriners and Shriners; hospital for children and the Shriners Burns institute hospital. You must be a Master Mason before you can become a Shriner. These are wonderful Masons that sit behind the lines behind the public's eyes and help in many ways in our communities without taking credit for their work.
There are many great names of this world, people you may know but did not realize they were masons. Just to name a few past president George Washington, John Wayne, Danny Thomas (The founder of St. Jude Children's Hospital). And the list goes on.
There is a Boy's Freemason called the DeMolays, There is a Lodge based on Masonry that has women members, but must have Mason relatives participate called The Eastern Star. For young ladies there is a group called Job's Daughters. All have fine and wonderful people that realize they want something special in their family life. Let's face it, in today's age, they are becoming a dying breed.
Masons must believe that there is a Supreme Being, Great Spirit, and that people employ many different ways to seek and express what they know of God. Masonry primarily uses the appellation, "Grand Architect of the Universe," and other non-sectarian titles, to address the Deity. This way, persons of different faiths may join together in prayer, concentrating on a higher power, rather than differences among themselves. Masonry believes in religious freedom and that the relationship between the individual and a higher power is personal, private, and sacred.
Freemasonry compared with religion: Freemasonry lacks the basic elements of religion:
1). It has no dogma, theology, wish or means to enforce religious orthodoxy.
2). It offers no sacraments.
3). It does not claim to lead to salvation by works, by secret knowledge, or by any other means.
Freemasonry supports religion. Freemasonry is far from indifferent toward religion. Without interfering in religious practice, it expects each member to follow his own faith and to place his duty to a higher power above all other duties. Its moral teachings are acceptable to all religions.
Today in North America, the Masonic fraternity continues this tradition by giving almost $1.5 million each day to causes that range from operating children's hospitals, providing treatment for childhood language disorders, treating eye diseases, funding medical research, contributing to local community service, and providing care to Masons and their families at Masonic homes.
The four million Masons worldwide continue to help men and women face the problems of the 21st century by building bridges of brotherhood and instilling in the hearts of men ideals for a better tomorrow.
I hope this sheds some insight to the brick building at 504 Main St. Bennington. Come in and talk to us, we meet on the first Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. for dinner. Just come through the back door and we will be glad to talk with you.
Tim Pinsonneault is a Master Mason who lives in Arlington.