Diversity in the Freemasons?

by Theo
(Twin Cities, Minnesota, US)

I understand that as a fraternity, the freemasons are men-only, but outside of that, I am curious about how diverse the freemasons are. For instance, are they open to men of different races and ethnicities? What about gay, bisexual, or transgender men? Are there any significant barriers for poor men to join? Do you have many members with physical disabilities or mental health issues? Would a polytheistic man be able to join if his personal god weren't a "supreme being" but were still "something bigger than ourselves"?

I'm also curious about meeting the requirement of being of good moral character (a good requirement for most organizations). How "strict" are lodges about questions of personal choice? For instance, while it is a religion and not a fraternity, I had mormon acquaintances who said that in order to be considered a good person in their religion, one must go to church consistently and give money, vote conservatively, proselytize as much as possible, get married as soon as possible, and have as many children as you can, among other things. These seem like fine choices for one to make if one wants to, but a lot of things to (attempt to) stipulate to people who may have different wishes for their lives. My question here is how much pressure there is to be socio-politically similar?

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Nov 12, 2018
Good questions
by: Bob

A good question with a multidimensional answer. (Nothing is ever simple, is it?)

First off, we are obliged to obey the laws wherever we are living. Simple enough to say, at least.

Then there are Masonic principles and ideals, which tell us that any moral man who believes in the Almighty is eligible to join and that all Masons are equal.

That's where we run aground on the rocks of reality. Masonry, like religious churches, bar associations, unions and all other groups, is comprised of human beings. That's a good thing, but it also leaves us open to all the flaws inherent in humanity.

It used to be, sadly, the black men or Jews would have a hard time being admitted due to the prejudices of the time. It certainly wasn't right, but perfection is rare these days. Things in those regards have generally improved. Last time I checked, the members of my own lodge had on the order of 13 mother tongues. We had people of color. Does my lodge have homosexuals, bisexuals or whatever? I have no idea; the topic has never come up.

Polytheism? By some standards monotheism is required, but many Hindus have for instance been admitted and cherished as fellow Masons.

Physical ability? Each grand lodge is free to set its own standard. Mine merely says that the applicant must be able to do the work. Taking it to the limit, a quadriplegic would have a hard time with that.

Poverty? Well, to be realistic, every society must be able to support itself financially. Be it Boy Scouts, Rotary or Freemasons, there are financial obligations. So very poor men probably wouldn't meet the requirement for financial stability. That said, we do have some men whose financial status has slid due to, say, a recession. We try to help them to some degree.

Does that all help?

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