Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies. This page is intended to explain Freemasonry as it is practised under the United Grand Lodge of England which administers Freemasons’ lodges in England, Wales and in many places overseas.
Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Members are taught its working principles by a series of ritual dramas which follow ancient forms and use stonemasons’ customs and tools as allegorical guides.
Qualification for Membership
The essential qualification for admission into and continuing membership is a belief in a Supreme Being.
Membership is open to men of any race or religion who can fulfil this essential qualification and are of good repute.
Freemasonry and Religion
Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. Its essential qualification opens it to men of many religions and we expect them to continue to follow their own faith. We do not allow religion to be discussed at our meetings.
Freemasonry and Society
Freemasonry demands from its members a respect for the law of the country in which a man works and lives.
Its principles do not in any way conflict with its members’ duties as citizens but should strengthen them in fulfilling their public and private responsibilities.
The use by a Freemason of his membership to promote his own or anyone else’s business, professional or personal interests is condemned and is contrary to the conditions on which he sought admission to Freemasonry.
His duty as a citizen must always prevail over any obligation to other Freemasons and any attempt to shield a Freemason who has acted dishonourably or unlawfully is contrary to this prime duty.
Freemasonry has been concerned with the care of orphans, the sick and the aged from its earliest days. This work continues today. In addition, large sums are given to national and local charities.
The Three Great Principles
For many years Freemasons have followed three great principles:
The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with its traditional modes of recognition. All Freemasons are free to acknowledge their membership and will do so in response to inquiries for respectable reasons. Our constitutions and rules are available to the public. There is no secret about our aims and principles. Like many other societies, we regard some of our internal affairs as private matters for members.
Freemasonry and Politics
Freemasonry is non-political, and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings is forbidden.
Other Masonic Bodies
Freemasonry is practised under many independent Grand Lodges with standards similar to those set by the United Grand Lodge of England.
However, some Grand Lodges and other apparently Masonic bodies do not meet these standards. For example: some do not require a belief in a Supreme Being. Others do not allow or encourage their members to participate in political matters. These Grand Lodges and bodies are not recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England as being Masonically regular and Masonic contact with them is forbidden.
A Freemason is encouraged to do his duty first to his God (by whatever name He is known) through his faith and religious practice and then, without detriment to his family and those dependent on him, to his neighbour through charity and service.
None of these ideas is exclusively Masonic but all should be universally acceptable. Freemasons are expected to follow them.