The Derrick - Oil City, PA
Freemasonry has long history, millions of members
The Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons is the oldest, largest, and most widely known fraternal association in the world. Records reveal that Freemasonry was introduced in England in 926 A.D.
Freemasonry is directly descended from the association of operative masons, the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages, who traveled through Europe employing the secrets and skills of their crafts.
In the 17th Century, when cathedral building was on the decline, many guilds of stone masons, known as "Operative Masons," or "Free Masons," started to accept as members those who were not members of the Masons' craft, calling them "Speculative Masons" or "Accepted Masons."
It was from these groups, comprised mostly of "Adopted or Accepted Masons," that "Symbolic Masonry", or Freemasonry, as it is known today, had its beginning.
Today, there are more than 160 grand lodges in the world with a membership of more than 4.2 million. There are 51 grand lodges in the U.S. with about two million members.
Masonic documents and pamphlets state that "Freemasonry teaches high moral ethical standards and family values. Masons come from all religious beliefs which are based on the belief in one God. They are men bonded by friendship and brotherly in service to mankind."
The literature also says that "Freemasonry does not pretend to take the place of religion nor serve as a substitute for the religious beliefs of its members. It teaches monotheism. It teaches the Golden Rule."
The Freemasons of America contribute more than $2 million every day to charitable causes that they have established.
Only individuals believed to be of the finest character are favorably considered for Freemasonry membership, which is limited to adult males 18 years of age, mentally competent and of good moral character.
In Pennsylvania, the Children's Learning Centers of the 32nd Degree Masons treat children afflicted with dyslexia for free. Shriners hospitals are free of charge for children with orthopedic and burn problems, and there are four Masonic Villages in Pennsylvania offering both independent and assisted living facilities for senior citizens.