Ever since we’ve published our guide on how to become a Freemason, a common (recurring) question that has been coming up often is:
Can those with felonies on their records become Freemasons?
Unfortunately, the answer is not quite so clear-cut.
Grand Lodge Jurisdiction
Legislation on various matters (including this one) vary from grand lodge jurisdiction to grand lodge jurisdiction.
Grand Lodge A might specifically prohibit those convicted with felonies from being initiated while Grand Lodge B might not.
Even if the relevant grand lodge jurisdiction does not have any rules specifically prohibiting those previously convicted with felonies, the pertinent lodge’s by-laws may be another story.
Each lodge has a set of by-laws to which it adheres; it may be codified therein that nobody with felonies on their records may be candidates for the degrees of Masonry.
After you have petitioned and been investigated, Master Masons of the lodge will vote on whether to accept you as a candidate for the degrees of Masonry and as a candidate to become a member of the lodge.
If they are aware that you have a felony on your record (and they should be), then it is possible that at least one of them votes against your election.
In most grand lodge jurisdictions, one Mason’s ballot against is enough to see that the petitioner does not become a candidate.
This stated, it is still possible. I know of a man who had a drug-related felony on his record from when he was 19. By his late 20s when he petitioned to join my lodge, he was on the strait and narrow.
The lodge felt it permissible to overlook this one-time, ten-year-old charge and to judge him instead by his then-present character; he was unanimously voted upon to become a candidate for the degrees of Masonry.
He is also one of the most charitable men whom I have ever met.
If you are already a Mason before you commit a felony, then it is highly likely that you will also be brought up on Masonic charges, go through a Masonic trial, and be expelled from the Fraternity.
When you become a Mason, you are charged to be a peaceable citizen and to obey the laws of the nation in which you reside.
If you have committed a felony and you still wish to be a Freemason, I recommend contacting your local lodge and seeking their guidance in joining.
They (particularly the Worshipful Master and/or the Lodge Secretary) will know and/or be able to verify what the Grand Lodge’s stance on the matter is as well as what the lodge’s by-laws say relative to felonies.
Another factor to consider is how recent your felony is; as stated in my above example, about 10 years or so had passed for my friend who had become a Mason.
Contrast this with the hypothetical petitioner who was convicted of a felony a year or so ago; the more recent offender is not as likely as the one who has spent about a decade obeying the law.
Some states and countries offer conviction relief, such as reductions of charges or pardons;
I recommend looking to see if this is available to you, as it may help you not only in your desire to become a Mason, but in various other aspects of your life as well.
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This article was written for MasonicFind.com by Brandon Cole, SW.