Acacia Lodge no.315
North Augusta, South Carolina
Ancient Free Masons
of South Carolina

Frequently Asked Questions

How Did Masonry Begin?

No one knows just how old Freemasonry is because the actual origins have been lost in time. Most scholars believe Masonry rose from the guilds of stonemasons who built the majestic castles and cathedrals of the middle ages. In 1717, Masonry created a formal organization when four Lodges in London joined in forming England's first Grand Lodge. By 1731, when Benjamin Franklin joined the Fraternity, there were already several Lodges in the Colonies, and in Canada the first Lodge was established in 1738.

Today, Masonic Lodges are found in almost every community throughout North America, and in large cities there are usually several Lodges.

A Mason can travel to almost any country in the world and find a Masonic Lodge where he will be welcomed as a "Brother."

Source: The Masonic Information Center, 8120, Fenton Street, Silver Spring, Md., a division of The Masonic Service Association.

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How did Masonry get from Great Britain to America?

In a time when travel was by horseback and sailing ship, Masonry spread with amazing speed. By 1731, when Benjamin Franklin joined the fraternity, there were already several lodges in the Colonies, and Masonry spread rapidly as America expanded west. In addition to Franklin, many of the Founding Fathers -- men such as George Washington, Paul Revere, Joseph Warren, and John Hancock -- were Masons. Masons and Masonry played an important part in the Revolutionary War and an even more important part in the Constitutional Convention and the debates surrounding the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Many of those debates were held in Masonic Lodges.

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How Do I Join a Lodge in South Carolina?

General Requirements

  1. Must believe in a Supreme Being.
  2. Must be male.
  3. Must be 18 years old or older.
  4. Must have resided in the state of South Carolina for 12 consecutive months.
  5. Must be able to read and write English.
  6. Must be recommended by two Masons.

Investigation and Balloting

  1. Must apply by petition at a regularly scheduled business meeting.
  2. Petition must be in the petitioner's handwriting.
  3. Petition must accompany the specified fee. Fees are set by individual lodges and approved by the Grand Master.
  4. The lodge will assign a committee of three to inquire into the petitioner's qualifications and make a report at the next scheduled business meeting.
  5. If the committee is favorable, a vote of the lodge members present at a business meeting is taken.
  6. If the vote is unanimous, the candidate is invited to take the first degree of three degrees.


The process of joining a Masonic lodge after petitioning consists of three "degrees". They consist of the Entered Apprentice Degree, Fellow Craft Degree, and Master Mason Degree. Each of these degrees represent the three stages of life as well as the stages a operative Mason would go through in his life to learn his craft.

During the course of taking the degrees, all candidates are required to commit certain parts of our teachings to memory. A "coach" is assigned to teach the candidate. After the candidate has demonstrated that he has memorized the required text, the lodge membership votes again. If the ballot is unanimous, the candidate is invited to take the next degree.

General Requirements and Investigation and Balloting information can be found in Section 99 Code of the Grand Lodge and Articles 130-131 Constitution of the Grand Lodge

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Is Masonry a Religion?

The answer to that question is simple. No.

We do use ritual in the meetings, and because there is always an altar or table with the Volume of Sacred Law open if a lodge is meeting, some people have confused Masonry with a religion, but it is not. That does not mean that religion plays no part in Masonry -- it plays a very important part. A person who wants to become a Mason must have a belief in God. No atheist can ever become a Mason.

Meetings open with prayer, and a Mason is taught, as one of the first lessons of Masonry, that one should pray for divine counsel and guidance before starting an important undertaking. But that does not make Masonry a "religion."

Sometimes people confuse Masonry with a religion because we call some Masonic buildings "temples." But we use the word in the same sense that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called the Supreme Court a "Temple of Justice" and because a Masonic Lodge is a symbol of the Temple of Solomon. Neither Masonry nor the Supreme Court is a religion just because its members meet in a "temple."

In some ways, the relationship between masonry and religion is like the relationship between the Parent-Teacher Association (the P.T.A) and education. Members of the P.T.A. believe in the importance of education. They support it. They assert that no man or woman can be a complete and whole individual or live up to his or her full potential without education. They encourage students to stay in school and parents to be involved with the education of their children. They may give scholarships. They encourage their members to get involved with and support their individual schools.

But there are some things P.T.A.s do not do. They don't teach. They don't tell people which school to attend. They don't try to tell people what they should study or what their major should be.

In much the same way masons believe in the importance of religion. Masonry encourages every Mason to be active in the religion and church of his own choice. Masonry teaches that, without religion, a man is alone and lost, and that without religion, he can never reach his full potential.

But Freemasonry does not tell a person which religion he should practice or how he should practice it. That is between the individual and God. That is the function of his house of worship, not his fraternity. And Masonry is a fraternity, not a religion.

Source: The Masonic Information Center, 8120, Fenton Street, Silver Spring, Md., a division of The Masonic Service Association.

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Several Masonic Principles

Masonry Teaches some important principles. There's nothing very surprising in the list below. Masonry teaches that:

Since God is the Creator, all men and women are the children of God. Because of that, all men and women are brothers and sisters, entitled to dignity, respect for their opinions, and consideration of their feelings.

Each person must take responsibility for his/her own life and actions. Neither wealth nor poverty, education nor ignorance, health nor sickness excuses any person from doing the best he or she can do or being the best person possible under the circumstances.

No one has the right to tell another person what he or she must think or believe. Each man and woman has an absolute right to intellectual, spiritual, economic, and political freedom. This is the right given by God, not by man. All tyranny, in every form, is illegitimate.

Each person must learn and practice self-control. Each person must make sure his spiritual nature triumphs over his animal nature. Another way to say the same thing is that even when we are tempted to anger, we must not be violent. Even when we are tempted to selfishness, we must be charitable. Even when we want to "write someone off," we must remember that he or she is a human and entitled to our respect. Even when we want to give up, we must go on. Even when we are hated, we must return love, or, at a minimum, we must not hate back. It isn't easy.

Faith must be in the center of our lives. We find that faith in our houses of worship, not in Freemasonry, but Masonry constantly teaches that a person's faith, whatever it may be, is central to a good life.

Each person has a responsibility to be a good citizen, obeying the law. That doesn't mean we can't try to change things, but change must take place in legal ways.

It is important to work to make this world better for all who live in it. Masonry teaches the importance of doing good, not because it assures a person's entrance into heaven -- that's a question for a religion, not a fraternity -- but because we have a duty to all other men and women to make their lives as fulfilling as they can be.

Honor and integrity are essential to life. Life, without honor and integrity, is without meaning.

Source: The Masonic Information Center, 8120, Fenton Street, Silver Spring, Md., a division of The Masonic Service Association.

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What Do Freemasons Do (Philanthropy)?

The Masonic experience encourages members to become better men, better husbands, better fathers, and better citizens. The fraternal bonds formed in the Lodge help build lifelong friendships among men with similar goals and values.

Beyond its focus on individual development and growth, Masonry is deeply involved in helping people. The Freemasons of North America contribute over two million dollars a day to charitable causes. This philanthropy represents an unparalleled example of the humanitarian commitment of this great and honorable Fraternity. Much of that assistance goes to people who are not Masons. Some of these charities are vast projects. The Shrine Masons (Shriners) operate the largest network of hospitals for burned and orthopaedically impaired children in the country, and there is never a fee for treatment. The Scottish Rite Masons maintain a nationwide network of over 150 Childhood Language Disorder Clinics, Centers, and Programs.

Many other Masonic organizations sponsor a variety of philanthropies, including scholarship programs for students, and perform public service activities in their communities. Masons also enjoy the fellowship of each other and their families in social and recreational activities.

Source: The Masonic Information Center, 8120, Fenton Street, Silver Spring, Md., a division of The Masonic Service Association.

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What does it take to become a Mason?

When we are first initiated into Masonry, we are instructed not to recommend anyone who we do not feel will conform to our rules. You must be willing to do just that before another Mason can recommend you. Therefore, you need to know two Masons who are willing to sign your petition.

You may not realize that you know any Masons. Look around for rings or bumper stickers. You may be surprised who you know may be a Mason. If you find that you still don’t know any Masons personally, feel free to stop by a Lodge on a regular meeting night and introduce yourself. You will likely be invited to have dinner with the members, which will give you a chance to know them, and give them a chance to know you.

It also takes time and commitment. In order to rise through the degrees of Freemasonry, you will need to dedicate a certain amount of time each week. The amount of time is up to you, but the more you put into it, the more you will get out of Masonry.

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What is Freemasonry?

Freemasonry (or Masonry) is dedicated to the "Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God." It uses the tools and implements of ancient architectural craftsmen symbolically in a system of instruction designed to build character and moral values in its members. Its singular purpose is to make good men better. Its bonds of friendship, compassion, and brotherly love have survived even the most divisive political, military, and religious conflicts through the centuries. Freemasonry is a fraternity which encourages its members to practice the faith of their personal acceptance. Masonry teaches that each person, through self-improvement and helping others, has an obligation to make a difference for good in the world.

Source: The Masonic Information Center, 8120, Fenton Street, Silver Spring, Md., a division of The Masonic Service Association.

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Who are the Masons?

Masons (also known as Freemasons) belong to the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world. Today, there are more than two million Freemasons in North America. Masons represent virtually every occupation and profession, yet within the Fraternity, all meet as equals. Masons come from diverse political ideologies, yet meet as friends. Masons come from varied religious beliefs and creeds, yet all believe in one God.

Many of North America's early patriots were Freemasons. Thirteen signers of the Constitution and fourteen Presidents of the United States, including George Washington, were Masons. In Canada, the Father of the Confederation, Sir John A. MacDonald, was a Mason, as were other early Canadian and American leaders.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Freemasonry is how so many men, from so many different walks of life, can met together in peace, always conducting their affairs in harmony and friendship and calling each other "Brother."

Source: The Masonic Information Center, 8120, Fenton Street, Silver Spring, Md., a division of The Masonic Service Association.

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Why have I never been asked to join?

This is no reflection on you. It is said that you must first want to be a Mason in your heart. If you are asked to join Masonry, you are then using your brain and not your heart.

A gentleman needs to come to Masonry because he really wants to, not because he has been talked into joining. A gentleman has to be ready for Masonry. Masonry is not a civic club, although we do a lot of civic projects. Masonry is a Fraternity. We are dedicated to the growth and development of our members as human beings. A gentleman has to be ready to grow, he has to suspect that there is something more to life, and he wants to know what that is, before he is really ready to become a Mason.

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Why is Masonry so "Secretive"?

It really isn't "secretive," although it sometimes has that reputation. Masons certainly don't make a secret of the fact that they are members of the fraternity. We wear rings, lapel pins and tie tacks with Masonic emblems like the Square and Compasses, the best known of Masonic signs which, logically, recalls the fraternity's roots in stonemasonry. Masonic buildings are clearly marked, and are usually listed in the phone book. Lodge activities are not secret -- picnics and other events are even listed in the newspapers, especially in smaller towns. Many lodges have answering machines which give the upcoming lodge activities. But there are some Masonic secrets, and they fall into two categories.

The first are the ways in which a man can identify himself as a Mason -- grips and passwords. We keep those private for obvious reasons. It is not at all unknown for unscrupulous people to try to pass themselves off as Masons in order to get assistance under false pretenses.

The second group is harder to describe, but they are the ones Masons usually mean if we talk about "Masonic secrets." They are the secrets because they literally can't be talked about, can't be put into words. They are the changes that happen to a man when he really accepts responsibility for his own life and, at the same time, truly decides that his real happiness is in helping others.

It's a wonderful feeling, but it's something you simply can't explain to another person. That's why we sometimes say that Masonic secrets cannot (rather than "may not") be told. Try telling someone exactly what you feel when you see a beautiful sunset, or when you hear music, like the national anthem, which suddenly stirs old memories, and you'll understand what we mean.

"Secret societies" became very popular in America in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There were literally hundreds of them, and most people belonged to two or three. Many of them were modeled on Masonry, and made a great point of having many "secrets." Masonry got ranked with them.

But if masonry is a secret society, it's the worst-kept secret in town.

Source: The Masonic Information Center, 8120, Fenton Street, Silver Spring, Md., a division of The Masonic Service Association.

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Why the Square and Compasses as a Symbol?

Some form of the "Square and Compasses" is the most widely used and known symbol of Masonry. In one way, this symbol is a kind of trademark for the fraternity, as the "golden arches" are for McDonald's. When you see the Square and Compasses on a building, you know that Masons meet there.

And like all symbols, it has a meaning.

The Square symbolizes things of the earth, and it also symbolizes honor, integrity, truthfulness, and the other ways we should relate to this world and the people in it. The Compasses symbolize things of the spirit, and the importance of a well-developed spiritual life, and also the importance of self-control -- of keeping ourselves within bounds. The "G" Stands for Geometry, the science which the ancients believed most revealed the glory of God and His works in the heavens, and it also stands for God, Who must be at the center of all our thoughts and of all our efforts.

Source: The Masonic Information Center, 8120, Fenton Street, Silver Spring, Md., a division of The Masonic Service Association.

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