How Much Do You Know About the Freemasons?

HISTORY

John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons via Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

They’ve been ostracized as politically-subversive dissidents. Some suspect they’re part of the New World Order, out to reform society in their vision. Or maybe they’re just black-hearted witches. For centuries, outsiders have scratched their heads regarding the Freemasons, a worldwide group that has a reputation for secrecy. In this hard-hitting investigative quiz, do you really know anything about Freemasonry?

As the name implies, the Freemasons have their roots in an ancient trade. That craft made many men rich, but it required a degree of professionalism and credentials that other people tried to emulate. So the real pros formed their own groups to keep copycats at bay, and to keep their pay rates fair. Do you recall some of the primary purposes of mason guilds and groups?

In the process, Freemasons garnered an aura of secrecy that pervades even today. Many members don’t talk about their activities, which further deepens the suspicions of others. But they’re not witches… really. Peek behind the closed doors of this Freemasons quiz now!

What are the Freemasons?

The Freemasons are a collection of fraternal organizations. They have a reputation for secrecy, but that's actually not an accurate depiction of these groups.

Advertisement

The Freemasons started as a professional fraternity in which profession?

In the 14th century, stone masons created a serious of credentials to protect their craft. The Freemasons have since evolved into a much broader series of activities.

Advertisement

What the traditional symbol for the Freemasons?

Freemasons began with stone masons. They often used tools like the square and compass to do their jobs, so these are the organization's traditional symbols.

Advertisement

Where do Freemasons go do conduct much of their business?

Freemason activity centers around their beloved Lodge. That's where they hold meetings, conduct club business, and plan to take over the world, and we're probably joking about that last part.

Advertisement

Why did early Freemasons earn a reputation for secrecy?

In the early days, stonemasons proved their legitimacy by using secret symbols and words. The idea was to keep outsiders from infiltrating their trade and their network of clients.

Advertisement

Where was the first Freemason lodge established?

Scotland, the birthplace of so many of Western cultural touchstones, also gave rise to the Freemasons. The first lodge may have been established in the late 1500s.

Advertisement

Which of the following statements best describes Freemasonry?

The Freemasons aren't some strange cult of the underworld. It's a secular organization primarily concerned with professional networking.

Advertisement

Masons are supposed to take an oath that promises what?

In spite of their (inaccurate) public perception as a force of cultural subversion, Masons are expected to be peace-loving. They take an oath that they'll not harm peaceful society.

Advertisement

In what era were Freemasons openly persecuted?

To be fair, was there anyone that Hitler didn't persecute? The Freemasons were another target of the Third Reich, so they went underground during the war.

Advertisement

Freemasons have a reputation for secrecy. These days, how secretive are they, really?

The Freemasons aren't exactly the CIA. They do protect some information - like any other exclusive club - but they don't have any deep dark plans for the world.

Advertisement

Members of the Freemasons are expected to believe what?

In the Freemasons, there's no indication that you have to believe in a specific god. But you are expected to at least go through the motions in expressing belief in a higher-deity, such as the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Advertisement

How do Masons publicize their membership in the lodge?

It's one reason that the organization has a reputation for secrecy. Members don't really talk about being members - it's a relatively hush-hush topic.

Advertisement

How many degrees of Freemasonry are there?

Per medieval traditions, there are three degrees in Freemason society. They are Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Mason.

Advertisement

How often are women admitted into the Freemasons?

The Freemasons are mostly a boy's club. However, in some isolated cases, women are admitted and welcomed with open arms.

Advertisement

What's the name of the organization that oversees all Freemasons?

Unlike a lot of organizations, there's no overarching headquarters for Freemasons. They are mostly independent lodges … and sometimes don't really recognize each other at all.

Advertisement

Which icon of history was part of the Freemasons?

Like many powerful men who knew their way around society, George Washington was a prominent Freemason. He was even Master of his lodge.

Advertisement

How much time do Freemasons spend discussing religion in their lodges?

In theory, religion is off the table. Lodge meetings are supposed to pretty much avoid the topic of religion.

Advertisement

How do people generally start the process of joining a lodge?

In most situations, prospective members must flat-out ask to be a part of a lodge. Then, they have to survive an interview process that determines whether they are truly worth of Freemasonry.

Advertisement

To what degree to Masons discuss politics at their gatherings?

Like religion, politics are off the table at Mason meetings. These two topics are simply too divisive for a professional networking group.

Advertisement

What are Grand Lodges?

Grand Lodges are the top lodges. They are a headquarters of sorts for a particular area, like a county or state.

Advertisement

Religions is mostly a taboo topic. But when someone applies to a lodge, what might happen?

In most cases, lodges allow people of any religion, so long as that religion specifies a single god. But there are some lodges that only admit candidates who believe in the "right" religion.

Advertisement

Why do few Freemasons publicly declare their membership status?

The pervasive public perception of Masons as weirdly secretive types doesn't make lodges forthcoming about their status. So most men don't declare their membership to others.

Advertisement

What's one way Masons greet each other?

Like all "secret" societies, the Masons have a groovy secret handshake. It looks suspiciously like a normal handshake.

Advertisement

Freemasons sometimes have which reputation?

In some areas, Freemasons are considered very, very conservative. And in some cases, they've earned (rightly or wrongly) a reputation for resisting progress and change.

Advertisement

What was a purpose of the original Freemasons?

Stonemasons needed to standardize pay rates so that everyone got their fair share. So they helped to regulate wages throughout the lands.

Advertisement

Freemasons are always committed to what?

There's no universally-accepted (or even clear) doctrine for the Freemasons. But no matter where they are located, they're committed to their brotherhood and continual self-improvement.

Advertisement

What was another traditional activity at lodge meetings?

In the olden days - and even now - drinking was part of lodge meetings. Members take meals and drinks together as part of the bonding experience.

Advertisement

Starting in the 1800s, most lodges were made up of which kind of men?

As stone mason guilds faded in the 1700s, the lodges found their ranks filling with gentlemen. Membership became more for well-to-do types hanging out with like-minded men.

Advertisement

What's the Catholic Church's stance on Freemasonry?

The Catholic Church has a long-standing reputation for condemning organizations that might be perceived as gaining in political power. It has always condemned the Freemasons.

Advertisement

How is Freemasonry faring in the United States?

For decades, membership in the Freemasons has been declining, particularly in America. Very few people express interest in joining the groups today.

Advertisement

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes