This was written for the information of Freemasons.. there is a lot of misconceptions in it !
In a very loose straw pole I asked several people I know what Freemasonry is and what they know about it - here are some unedited responses. Obviously I make no efforts to address the many inaccuracies herein, so if you a reader who is not a Freemason - there are some gross misconceptions in the below…
"I am not a fan of the masons. During the depression they stopped my grandfather and other family members getting work because he was not a member - he was catholic and they would not let him join; not that he would have. He was a Knight of the Southern Cross. The Orange Lodge is a conservative and Protestant organisation in the worst sense of the word where wealth and connections matter - it’s a closed shop of royalists who serve their own and other members interests. Why would you join them ?"
"My father was a mason and I have wonderful memories of ladies nights. Our whole family would go and many of the men and women involved were great friends. Dad was Master and after he passed away his Lodge was there to support and assist us. Freemasons are special men and have done many great things in history and their extensive charity work provided hospitals, aged homes and assistance to the needy."
"I have heard of references to things “masonic” before, and based on those references if I had to hazard a guess I would have said some kind of religious group which has some kind of cult connotations to it, because to be honest I did think it was a little odd when you said that you wanted to join. Google has just told me it is a men-only group and that you have to believe in a supreme being, and there were also references to satanic rituals, though I don’t believe that there is a satan, or a place called hell to go to when I die, so methinks that can’t be true, though I guess that doesn’t stop people who believe in satan from indulging in satanic rituals. Given that you have joined, unless you have changed your stripes, methinks there must be some beer drinking involved. So I’m thinking… something like boy scouts for men, but with slightly stricter acceptance criteria."
"They seem to be some sort of Jewish organisation? Their building in Camberwell has a Star of David on it."
"First thought is the building trade connection. Then a secret society with a sectarian background. Then reports of secret handshakes, aprons, and 'school lunchbox cases' - holding who knows what. Is it men only? Rather limiting and boring. Conspiracy theories about world influence/domination? Why the secret and mysterious atmosphere - is it sinister, or just strange. What is the real purpose of such an organisation in the 21st century? What do the Masons do other than meet as a club? Are the Masons involved in community work? Can't really tell whether they are relevant or not. But overall no more or less important than many other idiosyncratic groups and organisations."
"I am afraid I have no idea what Freemasons are."
"I have read about them in books - they are always the bad guys trying to rule the world. They often seem satanic. I had no idea that you can actually find them in the phone book and there are some in Victoria - what do they actually do ? On the other hand, Nation Treasure was a movie about American Freemasons who wrote the Declaration of Independence- they seemed like good guys."
"How can you be a Freemason - they don’t let Catholics join !"
"I am the proud sister of a Freemason. I had known several Freemason’s before, but knew virtually nothing about the Freemason fraternity as those I have known are quite tight lipped. After a reasonable amount of web hunting I’m still rather “in the dark” about what Freemasons are and what they stand for as most of the information on the web is negative and portrayed as evil. So far, I can say that I believe that they are a brotherhood made up of people from all walks of life who want to better themselves and make a difference within their communities. I know they believe in a Supreme Being, and although not a religion they have Christian values and strive to be virtuous and true to themselves."