The story of Freemasonry has captured the public interest for hundreds of years. Many have expressed opinions about the Craft and thought they understood her Mysteries. However, few have shown any real understanding of Freemasonry's principal aims of bettering the individual, teaching him about himself and his place in the world, and being of service to Mankind. And yet, men of all religions, all walks of life, and all ethnic backgrounds, have continued to come to her doors and seek admission in order to better themselves and be of service to their fellow man.
Each and every Freemason is a builder. But instead of using the tools of architecture to erect a physical structure out of stone and mortar, he uses these same tools symbolically for intellectual, moral, and spiritual development. "Thereby fitting our minds, as living stones, for that spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens."
Freemasonry does not conflict with a man's family or his religion. It encourages him to be a better member of society, and to regulate his behavior by ethical principles. It is not a church, or a substitute for one. It expects each member to be loyal to his country, to provide for his family, and to conduct himself at all times to earn the respect and trust of others.
Freemasons are not only devoted to high ideals and principles but to community service and benevolence. California Masons maintain homes for the elderly and for children, provide college scholarships without regard to race, creed, or color, and support the public schools system. Hospitals for children and language disorder clinics are supported by affiliated organizations such as the Shrine and Scottish Rite, while the York Rite provides funds for eye research.
Throughout history, many distinguished men have found it desirable to join the Fraternity and unite with their brethren for the common purposes of bettering themselves and being of service to their fellow man. Fourteen U.S. Presidents have been Masons, as well as an incalculable number of world statesmen, authors, artists, musicians, actors, and more. All of these men shared the basic values of the Fraternity: the belief in personal and religious freedom, the belief in a Supreme Being, and the belief that the actions of a single man can have a profound and lasting impact in making the world a better place.
Freemasonry is a tremendously rewarding way of life for millions of Freemasons around the world. There are approximately 5 million Freemasons worldwide, and of those, about 2 million are in the United States. The Grand Lodge of California was formed on April 17, 1850. Today it has approximately 100,000 members and 415 lodges, located statewide.