Vol. XVI No. 1 — January 1938

The Petition

Every man who desires to become a Freemason signs a petition. But they are not all phrased the same. The late great Robert I. Clegg, in The Builder for September 1917, wrote:

A Petition for the degrees is usually in brief form. It recites that the petitioner has long had a favorable opinion of the institution and if found worthy is desirous of being admitted a member; that he believes in the existence of a Supreme Being; that he has (or has not) before petitioned a lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for admision; that he has lived in the same locality since the date set forth in the petition; states when and where he was born; and also gives his occupation. To this document there is appended his own signature and usually two Masonic endorsers.

While the above statement is true in the main, there are many exceptions. Not all petitions are “in brief form.” In a number of grand jurisdictions, the applicant is NOT required to state his belief in the existence in a Supreme Being. In such jurisdictions, that matter is left for later determination. Nor are the simple inquiries listed above by any means the Alpha and Omega of many jurisdictions, some of which have questionnaires of great length to which the petitioner must reply before a lodge will accept and refer it to a committee.

This Association made exhaustive study of the petitions of all the forty-nine[1] grand jurisdictions of the United States. With a copy of each petition before him and the services of a competent clerk, a compiler abstracted all questions unique to each, and all those common to two or more jurisdictions. Additions, subtractions, elimination of duplicates, and compilation of the whole, resulted in a composite petition, showing every question asked by all grand jurisdictions.

The result is as follows; surely an interesting exhibit of the product of “many men, many minds.” Note that certain questions, important to one section of the country, are of little worth in another. Thus, in a city like Washington, D.C., home of the homeless and temporary residence of multiplied thousands, it is much more important to know where a man has lived in the past (that his record may there be gone into) than in a state which has little of immigration.

(In reading the composite petition aloud in lodge, it is suggested that the lists of states after each question be omitted when possible, consistent with clarity.)

Composite Petition

Of the Forty-Nine Grand Jurisdictions of the United States

Name? All grand jurisdictions. (A majority require “full name”).

Present Residence? All.

Length of present residence? (Phrased also: “How long have you resided within the jurisdiction of this lodge?”) All, except N.H. and N.J.

Previous residence? (from six months to ten years) Ariz., Calif., Col., Del., Fla., Ga. Ill., Ind., Kan., Me., Md., Mass., Mo., Mont., Nev., N.Mex, N.Y., Pa., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Utah, Vt., Wash., WVa., Wis., D.C. (Many ask also length of previous residences.)

Resided in state more than 12 months and in jurisdiction of lodge more than 6 months preceding date of petition? Conn., Idaho, Iowa, Me., Nev., Tex., Va.

Masonic lodge nearest each previous place of abode? D.C.

Residence and (or) business telephone? Ariz., Calif., Ind., Ia., Mich., Okla., Oreg., Tex., WVa., D.C.

Send mail to what address? Ga., Ind., Okla.

Age? All.

Place of birth? All, except Miss., N.Dak.

Occupation? All.

Previous occupations? (generally wanted for at least ten years) Calif., Fla., Ga., Iowa, La., Me., Minn., Mo., Mont., N.Y., N.C., N.D., Oreg., S.C., Tenn., Utah, Vt., WVa.

Residence of employer? Tex.

Is employer a Mason? Mich., N.Dak.

Freeborn? Del., Md., Neb., N.C., Oreg., Penn.

Citizen of the United States? Ill., Iowa., N.C., Oreg., D.C.

Citizen of what country? Del., Mich.

Citizen, native born or naturalized ? Ill., Mich., N.Mex (Ill. asks: “If naturalized, where and when admitted to citizenship?”)

Nationality of parents? Wash.

If not citizen, what excuse for not taking out citizenship papers? Mich.

Registered voter? Ind., Oreg. (Oreg, asks: “If not, why not?”)

When and where last voted at local, state or national election? Ind.

Where and when paid last poll tax? Me.

War record? Rank? Honorably discharged? etc. Overseas lodge. R.I.

Married? Ariz., Calif., Col., Fla., Ind., (date and place); Iowa., La., Me., Mich., Nev., N.C., N.Dak., Okla., Oreg., R.I., S.C., Utah, Wash., WVa., D.C.

Wife’s name? Ariz., Iowa., N.C., R.I., D.C.

Divorced? Ariz, Ga., Iowa, N.C., Oreg., Wash., D.C.

If divorced, who sought decree? Oreg.

If divorced, for what reason? Ga.

If divorced, providing for any children? Oreg.

Widower? Ariz., Iowa, N.C., Oreg., D.C.

With whom living? La.

Living with wife? Ariz., Calif., Col, Iowa, Nev., N.C., Oreg., D.C.

Domestic relations congenial? Mich., N.Dak.

Married before? Iowa, Mich., N.C., N.Dak.

Previous wife living? Mich., N.Dak.

Family? Calif, Fla., Me.

How many children? Mich., N.Dak., WVa.

Names and ages of children? Ariz., Iowa., N.C., Oreg., D.C.

Home environment? Mich.

Any brothers who are Masons? Ind., N.Dak., Mich. (Ind. asks names of lodges of brothers’ memberships).

Father’s name? Ariz., Ind., Me., (if living); N.C., R.I., D.C.

Father living? Mich., N.Dak.

Date of Father’s birth? R.I.

Father a Mason? Ind., Me., Mich., N.Dak.

Mother’s name in full? Ariz., N.C., R.I., D.C.

Mother living? Mich., N.Dak., Oreg.

Mother’s age? Oreg.

Names, ages, relationships of other dependents? Iowa, N.C.

Previous application to a Masonic lodge? All. (in addition to the direct statement, Fla. asks “Have you ever to your knowledge, been rejected in a Masonic lodge” and Ia. asks “Have you ever to your knowledge been proposed as a candidate and rejected in a Masonic lodge?”)

Other fraternal and (or) religious organizations? (Phrased also “secret orders,” “secret societies”) Ia., Me., Okla., Oreg., Utah, Vt.

Denied membership in or suspended or expelled from any fraternal organization? Ind.

Member of any organization regulations of which are incompatible with membership in Masonic Fraternity? Ill.

Ever member of clandestine bodies? If so, renunciation from required. Nev., WVa.

If rejected previously, what was probable cause? Calif.

Name of political or ecclesiastical offices held? R.I.

Will expense of entrance fee be a hardship to self or family? Ill., La., Mich., N.C., N.Dak.

Financially able to pay annual dues? Ill., N.C., N.Dak.

Provision for family and (or) dependents? Calif., Iowa, Oreg.

Likely to become charge upon lodge? Calif., Oreg.

In event of illness or trouble, in position to provide without calling immediately upon lodge? La.

How much life insurance and how long carried? Oreg.

Life, sick, or accident insurance? Mich., N.D., (how much of each) Oreg.

Physical defects and (or) infirmities? Ariz., Calif., Col., Fla., Ga., Idaho, Iowa, Mich., Nev., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Okla., Oreg., S.C., Tex., D.C.

Physical, legal or moral reason to prevent becoming a Freemason? (Some jurisdictions add the word “mental” and others substitute “disability” for “reason”) Calif., Col., Ga., Idaho, Ill., Me., Minn., Mo., Nev., N.Mex, N.Y., Okla., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Wash., Wyo., D.C.

Mental disability? Fla.

Mentally competent? Mich.

State of health? Ariz., Calif, Del., Ga., Mich., Mo., Nev., N.Mex, NY., N.Dak., Oreg., S.C., Tenn., Utah, D.C.

Illness in past five years? Mich., N.D., Oreg.

Name and address of physician who treated illness? Mich., N.Dak., Oreg.

Law abiding citizen? Col., Nev., Oreg.

Reputation for truth and honesty? Oreg.

Clean, right living, sober, industrious? Calif.

Any habits which tend to degrade morals? Calif.

Man with whom others willingly associate? Oreg.

Financial reputation? Calif., Oreg.

Gone through bankruptcy? When and where? Oreg.

Character of company and associates? Col., Mich., Nev., Oreg.

Engaged in liquor traffic? Ark., Col., N.Dak., Oreg.

Agree not to engage in liquor traffic in future? Col.

Addicted to intemperate, use of intoxicants? Col., Nev., Oreg.

Gambler? Col., Nev., Oreg.

Habitual use of profane and (or) indecent language? Col., Mich., Nev., Oreg.

Licentious or immoral habits? Mich., Nev., Oreg.

Ever been convicted of crime? (Phrased also “been a defendant in a criminal case in court,” “pleaded guilty of a crime,” “respondent in a criminal case,” “indicted for a crime,” “convicted of a crime or violating law involving moral turpitude”) Ariz., Fla., Ill., La., Me., Mo., Oreg., D.C.

Agree to keep reputation unblemished, will not bring disgrace on self or order? Mich.

Belief in God? (Phrased “Everliving and True God,” “Supreme Being,” “God the Author, Creator and Ruler of the Universe,” “Deity,” etc.). All except Ala., Ark., Iowa, Mass., Mont., N.H., R.I., S.Dak., Wis. (The fact that this question is not asked on the petitions does not mean that it is not asked in the jurisdictions specified, as of course it is; merely that those grand lodges ascertain the fact otherwise than by the petitioner’s signed statement on his petition.)

Belief in a future existence? Calif.

Belief in immortality of the soul? Miss., N.Y., Oreg.

Belief in authenticity of the Holy Scriptures? Tex.

What religious faith? Mich., N.Dak., Oreg.

Wife’s religious faith? Oreg.

Religious faith of father and mother? Mich., Oreg.

What church attended or member of? Me., Mich., N.Dak., Okla., Oreg.

Read all the questions? Calif, Del., Ga., Ill., Md., Mo., N.Mex, N.Y., N.C., S.C., Tenn., Utah, WVa.

Answers in own handwriting? Calif., Del., Ga., Ill., Md., Mo., N.Mex, N.Y, S.C., Tenn., Utah., WVa.

Declare on honor replies are truthful? Ariz., Calif, Ga., Mo., Nev., N.Mex, N.Y., N.C., Okla., S.C., Tenn., Vt., Utah, Wyo., D.C.

Who assisted in answering questions? N.Dak., Oreg.

How long has petitioner known recommenders? Mich., N.Dak., Oreg.

Acquainted with any member of lodge? Mich., N.Dak.

References (two) Mich.; (three) Ariz., Ind., Iowa, D.C.; (five) Mich., N.Dak., Oreg. (Oreg, asks for “names of five prominent men with whom petitioner is well acquainted.”)

What motive prompted application? Calif., Iowa., La., Mich., N.Dak., Oreg., Tex.

Statements of motives to be signed: “Desire for knowledge”; All, except Ark., Col., Ind., Kan., Ky., Me., Mass., Minn., Miss., Mont., N.H., Ohio, R.I., Tex., Vt. “Sincere wish to be of service”: Ala., Ariz., Calif., Conn., Fla., Ga., Idaho, Ill., Iowa, La., Mich., Mo., Neb., N.H., NJ., N.C., N.Dak., Okla., Oreg., S.Dak., Tenn., Utah, Va., WVa., Wis., D.C. “Unbiased by proper solicitation and uninfluenced by mercenary motives”: All except Ark., Col., Ind., Mass., NJ., N.C., N.Dak., R.I., S.C., Vt., Va., WVa. “Favorable opinion of the Institution”: All except Me.

Understand Freemasonry to be a Fraternal order, not a financial institution or Insurance Society? Fla.

Understand Freemasonry not primarily a charitable or insurance organization? Iowa, N.C.

Understand Freemasonry a philosophy requiring service, not a sick benefit association? La.

Promise obedience to customs and laws of fraternity? (Phrased also “conform to the by-laws,” “obey laws, resolutions and edicts,” etc.) All except Ark., Col., Conn., Mass., Miss., Ohio, R.I., S.C.

Agree all statements as to character and qualifications for membership shall be privileged? N.C.

Think Masonry a benevolent society? Mich.

Expect financial benefit from Masonry? Mich., N.C., N.Dak.

Sufficient education and intelligence to understand Masonry? Calif., Col., Nev., Oreg.

Agree not to apply for membership in, or receive degrees in any body requiring members to be a Mason? Within six months, Calif.; within twelve months, Neb., Nev. (Not apply to Shrine for 2 years, Nev.)

Value placed on social relationship of the Fraternity? Mich., N.Dak.

Will or does petitioner disregard distinctions between individuals as to station in life, wealth, religious opinion, politics, etc? Mich.

At variance with any Mason regarded as unworthy to acknowledge as a Brother? Mich.

Believe in and pledge loyalty to principles of free popular government, due processes of law and order as laid down by framers of Constitution of the United States? N.Dak.

Regard Constitution of the United States as inviolate? Oreg.

Is wife or family in sympathy with petitioner joining Institution? Cal.

Willing to render service to fellowman if opportunity offers? Mich., N.Dak.

A comparison of the Composite Petition with that used in the jurisdiction in which this Bulletin is read may prove interesting, as may a discussion of the usefulness or needlessness of any or all of the questions in the Composite Petition which appear in the petition used in any particular grand jurisdiction.

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  1. Forty-eight continental states plus the District of Columbia.

The Masonic Service Association of North America