Freemasonry, what is it and what does it mean to many?
Freemasonry means different things to each of those who join. For some, it’s about making new friends and acquaintances. For others it’s about being able to help deserving causes – making a contribution to family and society. But for most, it is an enjoyable hobby.
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations. It teaches self-knowledge through participation in a progression of ceremonies. Members are expected to be of high moral standing and are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry. The following information 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.
Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its principles (moral lessons and self-knowledge) by a series of ritual dramas – a progression of allegorical two-part plays which are learnt by heart and performed within each Lodge – which follow ancient forms, and use stonemasons’ customs and tools as allegorical guides.
Freemasonry instils in its members a moral and ethical approach to life: its values are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness. Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount but, importantly, Freemasonry also teaches concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
For many years Freemasons have followed three great principles. Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in life.
Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow creatures.
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.
Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high morals standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives.
Question: What is Freemasonry?
Answer: Freemasonry is the U.K.’s largest secular, fraternal and charitable organisation. United by a belief in God as Supreme Being, it teaches moral lessons and self knowledge through participation in a progression of two part plays without trespassing on the preserves of religion, and at the same time exhorting its members to practice the religion of their choice. Freemasonry 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. Though the interests of one’s own family are paramount, Freemasonry teaches and practices concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
Answer: We are not, but Lodge meetings, like those of many other groups, are private, open only to members. The rules and aims of Freemasonry are available to the public, many of the well known books on Freemasonry being available from the local library. Local Lodges, Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodges have websites. Meeting places are known and in many areas the local community for activities other than Freemasonry uses them. Members are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry. Masons have sometimes been understandably reticent about discussing their membership, perhaps fearing discrimination which may have affected their employment adversely. Such discrimination has been challenged legally.
Wonderful example of a Masonic Temple in London
Question: What are the secrets of Freemasonry?
Answer: The secrets in Freemasonry are the traditional modes of recognition. They are not used indiscriminately, but solely as a test of membership, e.g. when visiting a Lodge where you are not known.
Question: Why do Freemasons take oaths?
Answer: New members make solemn promises concerning their conduct in Lodge and in society. Each member also promises to keep confidential the traditional methods of proving that he is a Freemason, which he would use when visiting a Lodge where he is not known. Freemasons do not swear allegiances to each other or to Freemasonry. Freemasons promise to support others in times of need, but only if that support does not conflict with their duties to God, the law, their family or with their responsibilities as Citizens.