A fraternity that has been wildly exaggerated by conspiracy theorists and considered to be in league with other groups such as the “Illuminati” and the “New World Order,” the Freemasons are in actuality a very normal fraternity that promotes admirable qualities in order to hopefully make the world a better place, regardless of ethnicity or political beliefs. These include a focus on freedom, family, philanthropy, personal growth, ethics and tolerance.
It is unknown when the Freemasons were founded, as the Masons built King Solomon’s Temple; many of the images used for lesson-teaching by the Freemasons also originated from the construction of this Temple. Some sources, such as the Grand Lodge of Michigan, suggest that Freemasonry may have began some time in the Middle Ages, forming out of the stone mason guilds that constructed castles and cathedrals and were influenced by other organizations such as the Knights Templar. The first lodge (Which means both a meeting of Freemason members and the location where they are meeting), was formed in 1717 with the building of a Grand Lodge in London, England, which came to be known as the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. This spread of Freemasonry from England to America is why certain government buildings in both countries look very similar to each other.
A reason why many conspiracy-theorists believe the Freemasons are actually some elite group that controls the world is because many important people throughout history were Freemasons. An example of this would be Lord Charles Cornwallis, George Washington, Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, F.D.R., Harry Truman, L.B.J., etc. In fact, fifteen presidents of the USA were Freemasons, and multiple debates over important documents such as the Bill of Rights occurred within Masonic lodges. Of course, Freemasons can be found in a multitude of fields besides politics, such as sports, science, etc.
Worldwide, there are Freemasons (And thus Masonic lodges) in almost every country in the world. These range from the United States and England to all of Europe, to South America, Central America, and Asia. However there are certain lodges that must maintain a low-profile, such as Iran. Otherwise Freemasons are not essentially secretive at all, as members may wear rings, hats or have bumper-stickers that possess Masonic symbols, and some branches such as the Shriners (Or the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine), maintain the Shriners Hospitals for Children, where children may receive medical attention despite whether or not the child can pay. One of the concepts that allows Freemasonry to include men of vastly different cultures and religions is the requirement that they believe in a supreme being, or God (As referenced by the “G”) regardless of who they believe it is.
While it may be exciting to think of the Freemasons as a secret society bent on world domination, it should be made clear that while there are aspects of the organization that are kept secret from non-members, Freemasonry promotes goals that only seek to make the world a better place for everyone. This is visible from the way there are lodges located around the world and the way they promote themselves and their message to the public.