Freemasons. That's a name or title we hear quite a bit. Are they Illuminati? A cult? A secret society? As someone who has worked closely with the Freemasons — a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls — and has seen some things that many people haven't, I can tell you a little bit more about them.

1. Freemasons love charity work.
What? How could it be? How could a society of men behind closed doors love to do charity? These men are involved in so many things without getting recognition for them. The Shriner's Hospitals are run by Freemasons. Freemasons spend time and effort working for different charities as well as fundraising for them. On top of that, many masonic lodges sponsor local troops of boy scouts as well as host masonic youth organizations in their buildings. A big charity that many lodges work with is actually the American Red Cross!

2. Freemasons are goofballs.
Honestly! Masons may take things more seriously when it comes to running their businesses, but at their public events, they are fun people to be around. As a matter of fact, at nearly every Masonic "installation" I've been to, the outgoing Master, or leader, of the lodge gets "reintroduced" to his wife because he has been so busy taking care of lodge matters. I once received a bobble head of Benjamin Franklin from a lodge for helping them paint poles.

3. There are so many branches of Freemasonry.
As previously mentioned, Freemasons run the Shriner's Hospitals. That's because, in order to be a Shriner, you must first be a Master Mason. One of my close friends is a member of so many masonic organizations that I lose track of them all. He may be at anywhere from seven to 13 different organizations. One of them being (and I really kid you not) The Grand and Glorious Order of the Hillbillies. Really.

4. Freemasonry is not a rare, exclusive organization.
Any man over the age of 18 can become a Master Mason. However, the Freemasons are a respectable organization, so they will run background checks to make sure that a man trying to join isn't a criminal, and they'll call you for an interview to make sure you'd be a good fit in that lodge. It's a lot like getting a job, and some will say that with the work you put into Freemasonry, it IS a job. At least my Freemason friends love it.

5. The Freemasons are family friendly!
The lodge that I meet in for my organizations hosts a family potluck dinner once a month in order to get to know all the groups, and the people involved, as well as their families. Not only is it a ton of fun, it's also a great way to raise a little bit of money for the expenses for the lodge. Our building gets used a LOT. Anywhere from 2 different masonic youth groups, OES, Masonry, Clockmakers, and even a Dungeons and Dragons group meet in our lodge. Never on the same day, of course.

6. Freemasons take pride in their work.
I can't stress enough how incredible it is to see work performed by the Freemasons. Attending their public events, such as Installations of Officers, gives a glimpse of the oldest and largest fraternity in the world. Their traditions are well loved, and it shows in their floor work (the way they walk) and the way they recite their "ritual", which is a speaking part, like a script in a play.

7. The Freemasons are a band of brothers.
And they do actually call each other brothers. In OES, we call the ladies "Sister" and the men "Brother". That is no different in Freemasonry, but because Freemasons are all men, they are all "brother". They can not stress enough the importance of brotherhood in masonry, and it is that brotherhood that keeps them as close-knit and successful as they have been. They are a fraternity, remember.

8. Each Freemason is entitled to his own opinion.
From what I've seen, all masons have the right to think and believe however they choose. Masonry is not about brainwashing you to believe in one specific God. Masonry is also not its own religion, though they ask each member to be religious in their own way. Masonry does not discriminate against religion, political ideas, race, sexuality, or anything like that.

9. Masonry is not a cult.
At least, in the typical idea of a cult. Technically, according to Merriam Webster, a cult is a system of religious beliefs and ritual. If you would consider the joining of all religious faiths under one ritual (again, similar to the script of a play) in order to celebrate brotherhood, then yes, Freemasonry is a cult. Unfortunately, many see it as a dangerous thing. Many see it as a group of people who are potentially sacrificing animals or people to the devil in order to gain power, or something. Though I myself don't know what goes on in their regular meetings, I have a fairly good idea that it isn't that.

10. Even though a woman can't be a Mason, they are important.
I have seen many things saying that behind every good Mason is a strong woman. To the Shriner's, the ladies are hugely important because it's their support that allows the Shriner's to do so much. That's why there are so many Masonic organizations for women. Though now not every Mason is a straight man, who may have a boyfriend or husband backing him through his travels, women are a hugely important part of Freemasonry. Women help prepare refreshments for the men, help plan events, and even "donate" her husband or significant other to the lodge, as he serves a year as the Master of the lodge. Masonry is a family affair, and so the women of the family are included in that.

I hope this helped a little to shed some light on this great fraternity. The Masons are incredible men, who work hard in their community to bring charity and brotherly love to the area. I have never met a Freemason who I was uncomfortable to be around, I have never gotten an "evil" vibe from them. Watching their work has been an incredible journey, and working with them has been even better.