Lodge Dues and Contributions
Membership dues represent the primary source of revenue for most Masonic Lodges. Dues support Masonic services provided to Lodge members, their families and the community, and cover the cost of Lodge meeting notices, rent and all other expenses. It is not only important, therefore, that members pay their dues in a timely manner, it is their Masonic duty to pay such dues and assessments as their Lodge shall levy and is a condition of membership. It is also the duty of each Mason, within his means and as his conscience shall guide, to do his share in maintaining the charities of the Lodge and to stand ready to lend a helping hand to a sick or distressed Brother.
When a man joins the Fraternity, he gains many benefits; if suspended from Masonry, he loses all benefits. Freemasonry does not want any Brother suspended because that Brother cannot pay his dues. If suspended by his Lodge for nonpayment of dues, a member forfeits his Lodge membership and may not visit any Lodge. In addition, suspension from Lodge membership prohibits him from attending any other Lodge in which the Mason has gained membership, whether in this or many other Masonic jurisdictions, as well as in the collateral bodies that the Mason has joined.
A Mason is entitled to attend his own Lodge and visit other Lodges if he has a current dues card. If the dues card has expired, a Mason may not visit any other Lodge.
If a member is financially burdened and cannot pay his dues, he should contact the Master or Secretary of his Lodge so that arrangements may be made for his dues to be remitted, which will maintain his membership in good standing. Information on his financial situation will be held in confidence. If for some reason a member wishes to discontinue his Masonic membership, he should request a “demit” while he is still in good standing, i.e., with no outstanding dues unpaid. A demit must be granted upon request of a member in good standing. This severs Lodge membership, and the member becomes an unaffiliated Master Mason, a Mason “not in good standing” with any Lodge.
When a demitted member desires to resume membership in his own or another Lodge, he must apply for membership in the Lodge he intends to join and present his demit. If the ballot is favorable, he will again be an affiliated Mason.
Balloting on New Lodge Members
The consideration and election of men for membership is among the most important business to come before the Lodge. As previously noted, concerns about an applicant should be communicated to the Master before voting begins, preferably in sufficient time to allow the Master to have the concerns addressed by the investigating committee or by himself.
Before a Lodge ballots on a man for membership, his application must have been read in a previous Lodge stated communication. While the Master may defer consideration of an application for membership, once the application has been announced and the reports of the investigation committee read, the Master must immediately proceed with the balloting; the application cannot be withdrawn. Every member present must vote on the application unless excused by a majority vote of the Lodge. No other business shall be brought before the Lodge, nor shall any Brother enter or exit the Lodge between the time the investigating committee reports are read and the Master declares the results of the election.
Only members of a Lodge should be apprised of the status of applicants for membership, except as otherwise deemed appropriate by the Master. The names of investigating committee members are held in confidence and should not be made known except as necessary to complete the investigation of the applicant. The rejection of any applicant for membership must be held in strict confidence and should never be discussed outside the Lodge.
The instructions of the Master should be followed when balloting on applicants. The ballot box contains white balls and black cubes, and has a small opening through which to place either a ball or a cube. The white ball indicates approval. The black cube is a negative vote and it should never be used unless the member casting the vote is certain that admission of the applicant would not be in the best interest of the Lodge or Freemasonry. Casting a black cube without just cause is a Masonic offense for which a member is subject to Masonic punishment.
Subjects Not Proper for Discussion in Lodge
Freemasonry is a positive organization in which relationships between men are strengthened by their common beliefs and where the differing views of members are tolerated. An objective of Freemasonry is to unite men, and actions that could divide them should be avoided. Consequently, as each Mason should desire harmony in his Lodge, when a matter has been decided by vote, that decision must be accepted by every member, regardless of how he personally voted.
When Masons meet together in Lodge, they are always on the same level, without consideration of the distinctions of class or wealth that are regarded highly in the outside world. Each Brother is entitled to his own beliefs, and he may follow his own convictions as dictated by his conscience. Yet in a Masonic Lodge, each Brother stands before his Creator and his Brethren unbolstered by wealth or class position.
The ability of every Mason to maintain his personal beliefs outside the Lodge while meeting harmoniously in Lodge with Brethren holding differing opinions ensures the continued presence of Brotherly Love and a strong Masonic Fraternity. This was perhaps never more evident than during the Civil War, when Masons of the North and of the South fought during the day and then came together in Lodge after the day’s battle ended to share in the Brotherhood of Man. To promote harmony within the Lodge, meetings should be free of discussions unrelated to Lodge business, particularly where strong differences of opinion might exist, such as about religious dogma, politics and business ventures.
Politics is one of the forbidden topics of discussion in Masonic Lodges. Nor does a Lodge, or the Fraternity as a whole, take any part in politics. This is one of those areas in which honest differences of opinion could disturb the peace and harmony of any Lodge. The teachings of Freemasonry urge each man to be a good citizen and to perform his civic duties. Nothing should keep any Mason from expressing his personal opinion outside the Lodge or from serving his city, county, state or nation in every honorable manner.
Participation in politics as an individual citizen is a right that belongs to every man. However, he must not act politically as a Freemason or in the name of Freemasonry in exercising his individual right. Many of the greatest civic leaders of today and the past have been members of the Craft, standing proud to support our Masonic endeavors.