What is Freemasonry? 1


Subject: Leaflet: What is Freemasonry

This is the text of a leaflet published by by the Board of
General Purposes of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1984.

                        What is Freemasonry

Introduction:
     Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest secular fraternal
societies.  This leaflet is intended to explain Freemasonry as it is
practised under the United Grand Lodge of England, which administers
Lodges of Freemasons in England and Wales and in many places overseas.
The explanation may correct some misconceptions.
     Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and
spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts by a series of
ritual dramas, which follow ancient forms and use stonemasons' customs
and tools as allegorical guides.

The Essential 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 it expects them to continue to follow their own faith.
It does not allow religion to be discussed at its meetings.

The Three Great Principles:
     For many years Freemasons have followed three great principles:

                                  Brotherly Love

     Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the
     opinions of others and behave with kindness and
     understanding to his fellow creatures.

                                     Relief

     Freemasons are taught to practise charity, and to care, not
     only for their own, but also for the community as a whole,
     both by charitable giving, and by voluntary efforts and
     works as individuals.

                                     Truth

     Freemasons strive for truth, requireing high moral standards       
     and aiming to achieve them in their own lives.

     Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of
achieving higher standards in life.

Charity:
     From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been concerned with the
care of orphans, the sick and the aged. This work continues today. In
addition, large sums are given to national and local charities.

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 ay way conflict with its members' duties
as citizens, but should strengthen them in fulfulling their private and
public responsibilities.
     The use by a Freemason of their 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.

Secrecy:
     The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with its traditional modes
of recognition. It is not a secret society, since all members are free
to acknowledge their membership and will do so in response to inquiries
for respectable reasons. Its constitutions and rules are available to
the public. There is no secret about any of its aims and principles.
Like many other societies, it regards some of its internal affairs as
private matters for its 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.
     There are some Grand Lodges and other apparently masonic bodies
which do not meet these standards, e.g. which do not require a belief in
a Supreme Being, or which 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.

Conclusion:
     A Freemason is encouraged to do his duty first to God (by whatever
name he is known) through his faith and religious practice; and then,
without detriment to his familiy 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.