Become a Mason
Masonry Does Not Seek, It Must Be Sought
One of the ancient landmarks of the fraternity is that it does not solicit new members. Many good men over the years have had their feelings hurt because close friends whom they knew to be Masons never invited them to join Freemasonry. They did not know, of course, that these close friends were prohibited by Masonic law from issuing such invitations. A man must seek Masonic membership of his own free will and accord.
This circumstance has, as noted, caused some hurt feelings and, in some instances, even hard feelings. It can cause difficulty for Mason and non-Mason alike. It is naturally hard for a man to understand why his father, or his brother, or his very best friend, has never asked him to become a Freemason. On the other hand, a Mason can ache to urge Masonic membership upon someone particularly close to him, someone he knows would be a credit to the fraternity, but he is hemmed in by the Masonic law. So it could be reasonably asked why Freemasonry imposes this prohibition, why it will not permit its members to invite others to join them in Masonic membership.
The fraternity has always taken the stand that it would be impossible to draw the line if invitations to membership were permitted. Admittedly, with invitations it would gain some good members. Most members would invite only those men who would be good Masons. But, some members would be ruled by their hearts and not their heads, often inviting men out of affectionate regard without properly considering their moral worth from a Masonic standpoint. Besides, the resourceful Mason can always find an opening in casual conversation to let certain individuals know that Masonry does not seek, it must be sought. Further bolstering the fraternity's position is the indisputable fact that the man who becomes a Mason of his own free will and desire is much more likely to become a strong and useful member than is one who comes by invitation.
Things to consider before you join
Once a man begins thinking of applying for Masonic membership, there are a number of factors he should seriously consider.
He should make certain he has a general idea of what Masonry is all about. That is one of the prime purposes of this booklet, the man who reads it in its entirety should be able to determine if the fraternity is really what he thought it was, if it is really something he wishes to become a part of. Freemasonry is not for everyone, if a man is not going to be an interested member he will do himself and the fraternity a service if he never applies. (In later chapters we will discuss some of the attractions that draw men to and keep them in Freemasonry, this should aid the average individual in making his own determination.)
A man interested in applying for Masonic membership should inquire into the financial obligations membership in his particular area would entail. The initiation fees and annual dues can and do vary from state to state, and within states. With rare exception, though, the cost of Masonic membership is well within the means of the average man.
He should ascertain when and where the local lodge meets. While there are no attendance requirements of a Mason, he will not obtain the full benefits of membership if he has not time to attend and participate in a reasonable number of meetings and other activities without neglecting his family and other duties.
He should examine his own life style and determine if it will suit him to be a Mason.
Just regular guys
From much that has already been said here, it could be assumed that Freemasons are prudes and will accept none but prudes into their ranks, but this is not the case. The fraternity recognizes the inevitability of human frailty and harbors no illusions about finding or creating perfect men. It only hopes to make good men better men.
A man is seldom rejected for Masonic membership simply because he is known to take an occasional drink, but he is virtually certain of rejection if it is known he is addicted to the bottle or that his occasional drink is cause for unseemly behavior.
The fact that a man is divorced is, in itself, not cause for rejection, but if he has abused his wife or their children he can forget about any likelihood of being accepted into Masonry.
If a man has at some time, despite his best efforts, gotten behind in his financial or other obligations, that fact likely will not be held against him; if he has failed to meet his obligations when capable of doing so he will probably be rejected by Masonry.
In summary, Freemasons will not knowingly elect bad apples into their order, they wish new members to be better men than themselves—at least as good. Masons do not claim to be or wish to be reformers, but they do believe a good man coming into the fraternity will become a better man as a result of his membership.
Once a man decides to seek Masonic membership he must be recommended by members of the lodge, and he must submit to a background investigation. Following a prescribed waiting period, his petition will be balloted upon during a regular meeting of the lodge. The vote is by secret ballot, and election of a petitioner requires a unanimously favorable ballot.
The man who has decided to seek Masonic membership needs only to convey his desire to someone close to him who is a Mason. That Mason will take it from there.