Freemasonry is a Fraternal Order dedicated to the three principle tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. Brotherly Love is the idea that all of us are brothers under the Fatherhood of the Great Architect of the Universe. Great Architect of the Universe is the name we use to refer to whatever Divine principle is applicable to the personal faith of a man. How he chooses to practice his faith is entirely up to him. We do not discuss either religion or politics within a Masonic Lodge. Relief is the flower that stems from the root of Brotherly Love. Since we are all brothers, it is our obligation to provide relief for the distress of another brother. This relief may take the form of monetary assistance, but more often it is exemplified in other ways. If a brother is in need, we will extend to him the hand of friendship and Brotherly Love. We will assist him in his endeavors, lending support where needed, and offering good counsel when necessary. Truth is a two-fold idea. On the one hand it means being honest and forthright in all our doings. Thus, Masonry takes a good man and makes him a better man by inculcating universal moral principles that teach him the value of integrity, good citizenship, charity, fidelity, and so on. The concept of Truth also refers to the search for what Freemasonry calls Light. In order to better ourselves as individuals, it is necessary to search for knowledge, transforming the rough, uncut stone into the perfect stone which is then fit to be used by the Mason in his work.

The subject of Freemasonry has captured the imagination of scholars, historians, and history buffs for hundreds of years. Many myths have developed that have led to misunderstandings and outright fabrications about the Craft. Some of these myths are simply romantic embellishments and harmless fantasy. Other false and misleading accusations have been aimed at the Fraternity by those ignorant of its sublime and beautiful truths. Despite this, Freemasonry continues to be a rewarding and meaningful way of life for millions of Freemasons, or Masons, around the world.

Throughout history, many distinguished men have found it desirable to join the Fraternity and unite with their brethren for the common purposes of bettering themselves and being of service to their fellow man. Fourteen U.S. Presidents have been Masons, as well as an incalculable number of world statesmen, authors, artists, musicians, actors, and so on.

All of these men shared the basic values of the Fraternity: the belief in personal and religious freedom, the belief in a Supreme Being, and the belief that the actions of a single man can have a profound and lasting impact in making the world a better place.

Freemasonry is the world's oldest and largest fraternal organization. There are approximately 10 million Freemasons worldwide, and of those, about 5 million are in the United States. The Grand Lodge of California, which was formed on April 17, 1850, has approximately 120,000 members and 450 Lodges, located statewide. While all Grand Lodges in the United States, including California, have experienced a decline in membership in recent years, the Grand Lodge of California is firmly committed to being a modern, dynamic organization. We are dedicated to making Freemasonry a relevant and vigorous institution today, tomorrow, and in the future!

Reprinted and edited with permission from the Grand Lodge of California World Wide Web site.

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