From Freemasons Launch Recruitment Drive For Young Women:
Nikki Roberts is someone a teacher might call a good “all-rounder”: smart, pretty, lots of friends. Aged 31, she is also a far cry from your typical Freemason. But that, if the Federation of the International Order of Co-Freemasonry has its way, is about to change.
Forget secretive circles of white-haired men locking fingers in strange handshakes, they say. A British branch is in the throes of a thoroughly modern recruitment drive. It is using Facebook and Twitter to sign up new members, particularly young women, to its society.
“A lot of people have misconceptions about what Masonry is,” Ms Roberts says. Not surprising, given that for centuries members of this traditionally male club have refused to divulge what goes on behind closed doors in meetings and ceremonies. “I can say that it [the Freemasons] is an association, a fellowship if you like, dictated by a system of morals, with lot of symbols and philosophy...” Roberts explains. She compares it to an “occult”: “You need to believe in a divine intelligence or supreme being.”
Since joining the Freemasons five years ago, Roberts says her life has been transformed. “I gave up a lucrative job in the City and now I work in health and social care, something more rewarding,” she says. While cohorts at her lodge (one of the only mixed gender orders in the world, the British Federation) range from party-planners to nurses – many of them female – there are other common elements among members, she says. “The kind of people it draws are interested in being good people; we have respect for laws, we like giving to charity... we live by certain morals.” It is a “life-long commitment”, she adds.
The biggest misconception, Roberts says, is that women are not suited to joining the club. “People choose the Masons in order to become more aware and to awaken areas of their mind to their true nature; women, being naturally nurturing and intuitive, are particularly responsive to that.” That, however, is a matter of opinion. Ask Ken Kirk, 86, a former policeman and a member of the strictly-male United Grand Lodge of England and the answer is clear: “Mixed gender orders? Absurd.”