The Masons, or Freemasons, are members of a somewhat secret fraternal organization. The purpose of this group is to promote brotherhood among its members and to do charity work in its community. This is why there are, for example, many childrens hospitals that are run by the Masons.
The Masons have been a very controversial group during much of history. The fact that their meetings are secret have worried people at times. This worry has been great enough that there was even an Anti-Masonic Party in the United States at one time in the 1820s and 1830s.
Many of America's "Founding Fathers" were Masons and Masonic symbols can be found on American dollar bills.
The Freemasons grew from an organization of skilled stoneworkers and architects who created a masonry guild or secret organization to protect their secrets regarding the cutting-edge craftsmanship of stonework. In the 18th century, Freemasonry spread among middle-class men who felt that religion should be about rational moral progress, and it should unite people rather than keep old divisions alive. The order taught religious tolerance, benevolence, and self-improvement by means of elaborate rituals. Freemasonry derives its beliefs not from the bible but from the mystical Hebrew text, the Kabbalah. The primary belief is in the “Great Architect of the Universe”. Masonry is dense with symbolism including the sun, moon and stars, masons’ tools, columns, Solomon’s Temple and alchemical symbols and symbols of the world's ancient religions.