connected with Freemasons CultureFreemasonryFreemasons, often called Masons, are members of a secret society for men, the Free and Accepted Masons, which is based on brotherly love, faith in the Supreme Being (= God) and good works.Freemasonry, or Masonry, developed in Britain from medieval guilds (= trade associations) of masons (= craftsmen) who travelled round the country. There was a guild for each craft. Its members were highly skilled master craftsmen and journeymen (= trained workers). Titles given to modern Masons reflect these origins. New members are admitted as apprentices and may go on to the higher rank of fellowcraft or journeyman, and finally master mason. Tools traditionally used by stonemasons (= craftsmen who worked with stone) are still used in the society's ceremonies.During the 17th century the guilds became popular with rich gentlemen who gradually took them over. They developed into secret societies whose religious beliefs and practices provoked the hostility of many, including the Roman Catholic Church. In 1717 the Grand Lodge was founded in London and became the most important branch of the society with authority over other branches or lodges. The Grand Lodge of Scotland was founded in 1736.Most Masons today belong to the professional and middle classes and are lawyers, civil servants, businessmen, etc., though members of the aristocracy and the royal family have also been Masons. In Britain, new members are only admitted at the invitation of existing Masons and have to go through a special initiation (= welcoming) ceremony in which they promise not to tell anyone else the secrets of the society. It is commonly believed that they also learn special signs and words, and the Masons' handshake, which they can use in public to identify themselves to other Masons. In the US some of the details of Masonic practices are different: for example, people who wish to become Masons must ask to join, because Masons are not allowed to invite others to become Masons.In Britain, because Masons keep their affairs secret, Freemasonry has often been viewed with suspicion. Many people believe that Masons in positions of power give other members of the society an unfair advantage. Masons themselves deny such practices and emphasize the social and charitable aspects of the movement. In the US there is a more tolerant attitude to Freemasonry. Perhaps the best known Freemasons in the US are a group called Shriners. Shriners are well known for their circuses which are held every year to raise money for charity work, including hospitals that the Shriners run.Many other social clubs in the US which call themselves fraternal organizations have titles and ceremonies that are based on those of the Masons.