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.
The Mission of Freemasonry
Freemasonry has many aims and objectives:
We are dedicated to making good men better and to developing our knowledge of ourselves as individuals and the world around us through education, discussion and social exchange
We aim to make proper use of our time, dividing it between worship, work, leisure and service, thus making the best use of our mental and physical abilities
We aim to use our talents for the benefit of ourselves, our families, our neighbours and our communities throughout our private, public business and professional life
We declare our membership whenever any possible conflict of interest may arise or be perceived to arise
We promise not to use our membership to promote our own or anyone else’s private, public business or professional interests
We aim to behave towards others as we would have them behave towards us
We aim to be constructive in our approach to life and uphold the importance of the welfare and independence of everyone
We admit members from every ethnic group in the world
We believe that all individuals are equal and dependant on each other. That they must be valued for their own merits regardless of factors such as race, national origin, religious creed, social status or wealth
We respect the ideals and beliefs of others and endeavour to behave with kindness and understanding to all
We cherish all life and the well being of all
We consider charity as being goodwill to all.
We give as generously as our circumstances allow and encourage voluntary work in the community.
We care not only for Masons and their families, but also for the community as a whole
We raise money for charitable purposes only from our own members, not from the general public
We give as generously as our wealth will allow and through voluntary work in the community
Not only do we donate to local charities and good causes but also to medical research and need both locally and on a National scale
We strive for truth and believe that nothing can justify the telling of lies or being untrustworthy
We treat everyone in an open and honest manner
Our Values are expressed as single words, which describe those attributes that Freemasons try to practise.
The Highest Moral Standards
We are concerned with human behaviour, especially the distinction between good and bad and right and wrong.
We are taught to be aware that all individuals have a natural tendency towards both good and evil; to consider our options and choose the former.
We define our moral standards as
Obeying the laws of the land
Living peaceably and creditably
Acting honourably and with understanding and charity to all
Serving Our Own Religion
Freemasonry is not a religion, but is about man’s relationship with man. There is no Masonic God, however, all Freemasons must declare a belief in a Supreme Being and we therefore have members of many faiths, including Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. We are encouraged to practice our own religion, whatever faith it may be, and regard Freemasonry as a moral code subordinate to, but supportive of, that religion. We do not admit atheists or agnostics into Freemasonry.
Serve our Community
Freemasonry encourages us to fulfil our responsibilities to our family and ourselves:
We try and support our families in all they do and develop knowledge of ourselves, look after our health and do nothing to excess.
Serve Our Neighbours
We try to avoid private disputes and quarrels, behave towards others as we would have them behave towards us and to help anyone in need of support and assistance.
Our Masonic Lodge and its Members
We serve our Lodge by:
Attending regularly and participating in the ceremonies through which the high moral standards to which we aspire are re-inforced
Keeping the few traditional Masonic forms of recognition within the confines of the Lodge
Preserving harmony at our meetings
Joining in the social activities
We promise to support and serve our fellow members by:
Respecting their family
Defending their good character in their absence
Keeping their confidences – except anything contrary to the laws of our own religion or country.
A Society of Upright Men
We offer membership to men of any race or religion who are of good reputation and not atheists or agnostics. All applicants must confirm that they are aged 21 years or above and come forward voluntarily with no expectation of obtaining material advantage.
We exclude from membership those Freemasons who abuse the trust placed in them in their private or public lives or who fail to uphold the rules of Freemasonry.
Our ceremonies contain dramatic presentations of moral lessons and include:
- Traditional passwords and signs of recognition which are only used in those ceremonies
- Solemn promises which are no different from those taken elsewhere
- Traditional penalties from an earlier age which are symbolic, not literal. They allude to the pain any honest man should feel at the thought of violating his word.
- Our society is for men only but there is a parallel and totally independent Masonic organisation for women.
Enjoy Each Other’s Company
Our social activities and our enjoyment of Freemasonry cannot be over-emphasised. The objectives of Freemasonry are serious but our members are ordinary, fun-loving individuals who seek a good balance in life. Most of our meetings include a social dimension where the focus is on good fellowship and enjoyment in the company of like-minded friends.
Our family and friends are important to us and are actively encouraged to participate in our social activities just as we participate in theirs.
Develop Team Spirit and Fellowship
We develop team spirit and fellowship through all our activities and gain an understanding of the needs of others which in turn leads to increased tolerance and respect. We therefore consider Freemasonry to be a way of life which, when practised, makes us good citizens.
Happiness is the outcome of such activity.
It cannot be expressed in words but can only be experienced in the heart. As such it is sometimes described as the only true mystery of Freemasonry.