Demystifying Fraternal Organizations

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My older sister has started dating a guy whom the whole family really likes. But I found out something kind of weird about him: he’s a Freemason. You know: like the Illuminati or something!


I’m no conspiracy theorist, but it seems super weird to me that anyone would be involved in a secret society. It’s not that I think that my sister’s new boyfriend is undermining the government in his free time, but it’s just kind of off-putting that he’s involved in this group that–from what I’ve read and seen in the movies–has secrets, power, and a mysterious agenda. My sister thinks all of this is no big deal. What, if anything, should I do?


The Freemasons have quite the reputation. In the minds of many, the “secret society” of Freemasons is a silent force throughout human history. Among other things, Freemasons are credited with secretly running UK courts (not true), worshipping Satan (also not true), backing the KKK (nope), hiding their symbols on U.S. currency (false–sorry, movie fans), and being the same as (or related to) the Illuminati (they’re not, despite your reference to the same). But the list of famous and powerful Freemasons is long indeed: George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and even John Wayne were Freemasons. So the group must have some secret power, right?


Well, any group with powerful members may be powerful, but the idea of the Freemasons as some sinister force has little root in reality. The truth is far less exciting: the Freemasons are fraternal organization. Their members get together to network socially and professionally, and to do good for their communities. They don’t talk politics in meetings, and–despite an old position against them held by the Catholic church–don’t talk religious or even allow avowed atheists to join.


In other words, it’s just a club–a private club with a legendary and (in the minds of some, at least) cool reputation, but a club all the same. Being a Freemason is about connecting with other people, and it’s not necessarily this big secret–after all, you know about your sister’s boyfriend’s membership. According to the experts at Proline Designs artisan masonic rings craftsmen, members are even eager to wear rings that denote their membership. Freemasons can keep their membership secret, but they don’t have to.


But why would grown adults get together in an exclusive club? Well, why not? As a college student, you probably know a lot of people in fraternal organizations yourself: fraternities (and sororities) are undergraduate versions of the same phenomenon. And the Freemasons aren’t the only people in a fraternal organization after college. The Elks Club and Rotary Club may not have the same shadowy reputation, but they’re in the same boat as the Freemasons. There are ethnic and religious versions, too: the Knights of Columbus, for instance, or the Ancient Order of Hibernians. There are a lot of these clubs!


Look at any group of networking adults, and you’re sure to find connections: that’s the whole point of networking, after all. So it’s no surprise that folks who know each other through the Freemasons might give each other a leg up professionally or share goals. It’s the same with alumni of the same school or sorority. But imagining that the Freemasons are as unified as some conspiracy theorists believe, or that the organization has geopolitical ambitions beyond the individual and diverse ones of its members, is a bit much.


Your sister’s boyfriend is in a fraternal organization. It’s a social outlet and a professional networking opportunity. He may also do charity work with them. That’s about it! There’s no need to be mystified by his choice to be a member, any more than there is reason to be concerned about him taking over the world anytime soon.


“There are no strangers in Freemasonry, only friends you’ve yet to meet.” — Dave Thomas