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What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is the worlds oldest and largest fraternity. It is a also a beautiful system of personal development that uses symbols and allegories to illustrate moral principals like equality, fraternity, liberty, brotherly love, charity and truth. Members of our fraternity are on perpetual journeys of self introspection and self discipline. We learn valuable life's lessons by keeping in mind the symbols that remind us to, keep ourselves within boundaries toward our fellow humans, be tolerant of others, and contribute to our communities through selfless service. In short, Freemasonry is a complex philosophical system that successfully takes good men, and makes them better by teaching them to be leaders, to be charitable, circumspect, honest, loyal, and to be gentlemen.
What Freemasonry is not.
Freemasonry is not a religion, nor does it seek to replace or conflict with a man's religion. Freemasonry encourages men to be active and faithful in their religions and to be an asset to the belief system that they choose.
Freemasonry also is not a cult or a conspiracy. In fact, Freemasonry teaches men specifically to come to their own conclusions about every aspect of life and to make informed decisions about how they live their lives.
Freemasonry welcomes men of all religious belief systems as long as they have a belief in a supreme being.
Where did Freemasonry begin?
Freemasonry's origins are lost in antiquity and are the subject of much speculation. Some say it originated with the stone masons who built King Solomon's Temple. Others claim it grew out of the medieval stone masons guilds. What we do know for sure is that records of speculative Masonic Lodges started appearing in the late 16th century in England and grew very fast from there. The first Grand Lodge was formed in England on June 24, 1717 when 4 lodges met and formed the Grand Lodge of England. From there, the fraternity has grown all over the world.
If you want to understand Freemasonry in the most well put and succinctly put manner, then view Benjamin Franklin expounding the whole thing: