WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?
A band of Brothers linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection, forged link by link through the binding effect of a shared experience in the great lessons taught in the Craft degrees.
A Fraternity of morality, founded on the allegorical application of the tools and implements of architecture to the construction of our personalities - buildings of living stone, in the service of God and mankind.
A descendant of the ancient craft of stonemasons, builders of the great cathedrals and churches of the Middle Ages, structures so magnificent that the Holy Church itself declared them to be designed by God alone, as the "[Grand] architect of the universe."
Not a religion and offering no promise of salvation, but a Fraternity seeking to inculcate in its membership love for God and our fellowman, by the practice of the principles of brotherhood, relief, and truth.
Not wedded to any one religion, though it requires of its members a belief in God and the Holy Bible always remains open on the altars of its Lodges. It expects of a member devotion to the religion of his choice, believing, above all, that the path to salvation is better left to one's personal conscience rather than to the rigid imposition of another's beliefs.
Nevertheless frequently called the "handmaiden of the Church," for the principles which it seeks to inculcate in the individual are common to all the great religious faiths. The Fraternity, by its teachings and examples, seeks to make of every Brother one who is more amenable to the dictates of his religion, whatever it may be. Thus, it unites in the Brotherhood of Man: Christian, Jew, Muslim, and Buddhist, who set aside their differences in seeking to serve God and their Brethren.
Charitable. Freemasons in North America give over 2.6 million dollars each day to charities in and out of the Fraternity. To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent on all of us. From the great Crippled Children's Hospitals and Burn Centers to the Orphanages and Masonic Homes of our various States, from the Knights Templar Eye Foundation to the specialized charities of the Scottish Rite and Royal Arch Masons, Freemasons freely give of their earnings to help others escape the bonds of poverty, loneliness and despair.
All of the above and more. It is truly a system of morality, veiled in allegory and teaching men by symbols to better themselves in their religious bodies, their communities, and their families. It gathers under its umbrella men of all faiths, all nations, and all classes without distinction - save that noble distinction, "of who can best work and best agree."
The World's oldest fraternal organization. It has persevered through the years, despite the attacks of the ignorant and the powerful, because it teaches toleration for all faiths, acceptance of all men of good character, and support of free government institutions, wherever found. Freemasons are loyal citizens, support a God-centered life, and emphasize man's duty to aid his fellowman.
Because we steadfastly adhere to these principles, we have lasted through the ages, despite the tyrannical attacks of despotic governments and narrow-minded sectarians. As one of us, may you always proudly bear the badge of a Free and Accepted Mason!
~Source: Grand Lodge of Virginia Last Updated ( Sunday, 30 September 2007 )