Having time to reflect on their mistakes, felons may develop a stronger faith and belief in helping others in addition to meeting the challenge of finding a job. This may lead them to get involved with a charitable organization like the Freemasons after their release.
This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can become a Freemason.
- What is a Freemason?
- How to Become a Freemason
- An Opportunity for Felons?
- Recommended Action
What is a Freemason?
The Freemasons are a fraternity of men whose primary principles include showing tolerance, respect, and kindness to others. They practice charity and care for the community, striving to achieve high moral standards in their personal life.
Honor and integrity are at the center of Freemasons’ beliefs. Members are expected to practice self-control and treat others with respect regardless of personal opinions.
Freemasonry is a voluntary, fraternal organization composed of men of good will, good character, and good reputation. The Freemason motto is “better men make a better world.”
Freemasons learn to practice brotherly love and provide charitable contributions for those in need in the community. Freemasonry serves as a society that is:
The Masonic lodge is the center for all Freemason activities. They engage in fundraising, public relation events, and perform charity work in the community.
The Freemasons are the oldest and largest fraternity in the world with 2,000,000 men of all ages, races, religions, and from all walks of life. They have a history dating back to early eighteenth-century London and the guilds of actual stonemasons. These are the craftsmen who constructed the great cathedrals of Europe. Over the years, groups of these guild members called themselves lodges.
There have been a number of famous men that have been members of the organization, including George Washington, Mozart, and Mark Twain.
How to Become a Freemason
Requirements to join the Freemasons include:
- Be male
- Be at least 21 (in most states)
- Be of good morals and good reputation
- Believe in a Supreme Being
- Be able to support himself and his family
- Control his own free will
- Have a have a strong desire to make a difference in the world
- Be unanimously elected by the lodge members
Freemasonry welcomes members from all religions and practices universal brotherhood. Freemasonry is not a political group, a church, or a substitute for any religious observance. The organization is non-sectarian, meaning it is not affiliated with or restricted to any particular religious denomination.
The Freemasons do not solicit membership. Any Freemason in good standing may withdraw his membership at any time. Freemasonry requires men to be of “sound mind and members” who are in good health and able to walk, kneel, and have a clear mind.
Joining the Freemasons begins by contacting the Grand Lodge of that state and initiating the process. Then a candidate will meet with the Investigative Committee for a series of interviews. Following this, if the Committee is favorable, they will make inquiries of others about the candidate’s character, which typically takes several weeks.
Once that’s completed, a vote of the lodge members will be conducted. If the petitioner is elected, a date for admission to the brotherhood will be set, which is called achieving a degree of Freemasonry.
An Opportunity for Felons?
The Freemasons associate with other men of high character. Freemasonry is a system of self-improvement, but they “do not intend to make bad men into good.” Therefore, a felon is not allowed to be a Mason.
While felons can become productive members of society, the Masonic lodge will not accept any petitions for membership from anyone who has been convicted of a felony and who has not been restored to full civil rights.
Obtaining a degree of Freemasonry by fraud, untrue statements of representation, or by concealing and withholding relevant information is subject to Masonic discipline.
A Masonic lodge can receive a petition for a Mason degree from a man who has been convicted of a felony provided the lodge has evidence of the petitioner’s civil rights being restored. Eligibility for restoring civil rights include no violent offenses and not being a:
- Habitual violent felony offender
- Three-time violent felony offender
- Violent career criminal
- Sexual predator
A Freemason can be removed from the brotherhood by:
- Committing a criminal offense involving moral turpitude under state or federal law
- Being charged with any offense when any plea other than not guilty is entered
- Entering into a pretrial intervention program or plea bargain that requires an admission of guilt
Moral turpitude is “the element of an offense that characterizes the act as vile, wicked, or evil, and contrary to the accepted customary rules of rights and justice, including all violations of moral law.” A crime of moral turpitude is one that violates the ethical standards of a community and involves betrayal of public trust, including acts of dishonesty, fraud, or deceit.
It’s important to be honest in filling out a petition to become a Freemason. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is discovered when petitioning a Masonic lodge, this constitutes fraud which is generally a punishable crime, but in this case would lead immediately to being turned down by the lodge.
Having their record expunged can give them the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a Freemason. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on a Masonic petition that he has not been convicted of a crime and provide the opportunity to join this brotherhood.
It’s a big challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon wanting to become a Freemason. Giving himself the best chance for success by having his record expunged and also documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference.
Having support from family, friends, or personal advisors can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.
What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a Freemason with a felony? What was that like for him, and how did he achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.