So that one may not have a mistaken idea of what Freemasonry is, it may be well to point out some of the things which Freemasonry is not, and which it has never claimed to be.
1. Freemasonry is not a religion nor a substitute for religion. It requires a belief in a "Supreme Being" which it does not name as its members include men from all religions. It urges men to follow the teaching of and to regularly attend their choice of a church. It has a philosophy of its own which it believes to be compatible with the teachings of religious institutions. The teachings of Freemasonry transcend all denominational and sectarian divisions. In the field of human conduct, it is complementary to religion, but religious topics are not discussed in Lodge.
2. Contrary to the opinion held by many, Freemasonry is not a charitable institution, as such. It is true that one of the fundamental principles of Freemasonry is the practice of relief, and a Freemason will necessarily minister to the widows and fatherless in their affliction. But these and other similar modes of conduct, must proceed from that purity of life and conduct which is one of the great objectives of all Masonic teachings. It does, however, through the numerous organizations that require Masonic membership, such as Shriners, Tall Cedars, Scottish Rite, York Rite, etc. donates a tremendous amount of money each year.
3. Freemasonry does not insure its members against the vicissitudes of old age; provides no sick benefits as such; issues no insurance policies on the lives of its members and pays no death benefits of any kind. Not that Freemasonry disbelieves in these and other means by which modern civilization undertakes to reduce suffering and privation-quite the contrary. But it confines the matter of individual relief to those cases where such relief becomes necessary, in spite of all the efforts of a Brother or his family to maintain their economic independence. The Masons part in this work is far more likely to be that of a contributor than a beneficiary, except in the larger sense, in which every man benefits from the fact that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
4. Freemasonry does not lend itself to the promoting of selfish or mercenary interests. Any underlying purpose of such a nature in one's mind will eventually become apparent to the other Brethren resulting in the inevitable loss of one's respect.
5. Freemasonry is not connected in any way with a political creed. A Freemason's political views are his own and a Lodge may well have members belonging to many different political parties. For that reason, no discussion of political matters is permitted in a Lodge.