An Approach To Life
Freemasonry under the United
Grand Lodge of England is the
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry teaches moral
lessons and self knowledge through participation in a progression of
allegorical two-part plays, which are learnt by heart and performed within each
offers its members an approach to life which seeks to reinforce thoughtfulness
for others, kindness in the community, honesty in business, courtesy in society
and fairness in all things. Members are urged to regard the interests of the
family as paramount but importantly Freemasonry also teaches and practices
concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
Why do people join and
People became Freemasons for a
variety of reasons, some as the result of family tradition, others upon the
introduction of a friend or out of a curiosity to know what it is all about.
Those who become active members
are who grow in Freemasonry do so principally because they enjoy it. They enjoy
the challenges and fellowship that Freemasonry offers. There is more to it,
however, than just enjoyment. Participation in the dramatic presentation of
moral lessons and in the working of a lodge provides a member with a unique
opportunity to learn more about himself and encourages him to live in such a
way that he will always be in search of becoming a better man, not better than
someone else but better than he himself would otherwise be and therefore an
exemplary member of society.
Each Freemason is required to
learn and show humility through initiation. Then, by progressing through a
series of degrees he gains insight into increasingly complex moral and
philosophical concepts, and accepts a variety of challenges and
responsibilities which are both stimulating and rewarding. The structure and
working of the lodge and the sequence of ceremonial events, which are usually
followed by social gatherings, offer members a framework for companionship,
teamwork, character development and enjoyment of shared experiences.
What Promises do
New members make solemn promises
concerning their conduct in the lodge and in society. These promises are
similar to those taken in court or upon entering the armed services or many
other organisations. Each member also promises to keep confidential the
traditional methods of proving he is a Freemason which he would use when
visiting a lodge where he is not known.
The much publicised ‘traditional
penalties' for failure to observe these undertakings were removed from the
promises in 1986. They were always symbolic not literal and refer only to the
pain any decent man should feel at the thought of violating his word.
Members also undertake not to
make use of their membership for personal gain or advancement; failure to
observe this principle or otherwise to fall below the standards expected of a
Freemason can lead to expulsion.
Who can join?
Membership is open to men of all
faiths who are law-abiding, of good character and who acknowledge a belief in
God. Freemasonry is a multi-cultural organisation. It has attracted men of
goodwill from all sectors of the community into membership. There are similar
Masonic organisations for women.
Is Freemasonry a
Freemasonry is not a religion.
It has no theology and does not teach any route to salvation. A belief in God,
however, is an essential requirement for membership and Freemasonry encourages
its members to be active in their own religions as well as in society at large.
Although every lodge meeting is
opened and closed with a prayer and its ceremonies reflect the essential truths
and moral teachings common to many of the world's great religions, no
discussion of religion is permitted in lodge meetings.
Is Freemasonry a secret
Freemasonry is not a secret
society, but lodge meetings, like meetings of many other social and
professional associations, are private occasions open only to members.
Freemasons are encouraged to
speak openly about their membership, while remembering that they undertake not
to use it for their own or anyone else's advancement. As members are sometimes
the subject of discrimination which may adversely affect their employment or
other aspects of their lives, some Freemasons are understandably reticent about
discussing their membership. In common with many other national organisations,
Grand Lodge neither maintains nor publishes a list of members and will not
disclose name or member's details without their permission.
In circumstances where a
conflict of interest might arise or be perceived to exist or when Freemasonry
becomes an issue, a Freemason must declare an interest.
The rules and aims of
Freemasonry are available to the public. The Masonic Year Book, is also
available to the public, contains the names of all national office-holders and
lists of all lodges with details of their meeting dates and places.
The meeting places and halls
used by Freemasons are readily identifiable, are listed in telephone
directories and in many areas are used by the local community for activities
other than Freemasonry. Freemason' Hall in
The rituals and ceremonies used
by Freemasons to pass on the principles of Freemasonry to new members were
first revealed in 1723. They include the traditional forms of recognition used
by Freemasons essentially to prove their identity and qualifications when
entering a Masonic meeting. These include handshakes which have been much
written about and can scarcely be regarded as truly secret today; for medieval
Freemasons, they were the equivalent of a ‘pin number' restricting access only
to qualified members.
Many thousands of books have
been written on the subject of Freemasonry and are readily available to the
general public. Freemasonry offers spokesmen and briefings for the media and
provides talks to interested groups on request. Freemasons are proud of their
heritage and happy to share it.
Is Freemasonry involved
Freemasonry is definitely not a
political organisation, it has no political agenda, and discussion of politics
is not permitted at lodge meetings.
Freemasonry naturally tends to
attract those with a concern for people and a sense of social responsibility
and purpose. There are members, therefore, who are involved in politics at
local, national and international level. Equally there are members who take an
active interest in non-Masonic charitable organisations and other community
Is Freemasonry involved
in the community?
From it earliest days,
Freemasonry has been involved in charitable activities, and since its inception
it has provided support for many widows and orphans of Freemasons as well as
others within the community.
All monies raised for charity
are drawn from amongst Freemasons, their families and friends, while grants and
donations are made to Masonic and non-Masonic charities alike.
Over the past five years alone
Freemasonry has raised more than £75m for a wide range of charitable purposes
including those involved in medical research, community care, education and
work with young people.
Freemasonry has an enviable
record of providing regular and consistent financial support to individual
charities over long periods while at the same time making thousands of grants
to local charities, appeals and projects throughout