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.
- Means different things to each of those who join. For some, it’s about socialising with like-minded individuals and 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 and practices concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
- Is about making good men better.
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. 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.
Masonic charity is exercised at every level: individual Lodges make gifts and give aid to their own communities and every Province also gives large sums of money to regional causes. Nationally, our efforts are channelled through four main charity organisations:
- The Freemasons’ Grand Charity
- Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
- Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution
- Masonic Samaritan Fund
You can read more about our grants and support for good causes on our Masonic Charity page.
Our members come from all walks of life and meet as equals whatever their race, religion or socio-economic position in society. Freemasonry promotes an environment where like-minded individuals gather to socialise and have fun whilst at the same time creating lasting, and in very many cases, life-long friendships.
The Essential Qualification for Membership
The essential qualification for admission 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 who are of good repute.
Freemasonry and Religion
All Freemasons are expected to have a religious belief, but Freemasonry does not seek to replace a Mason’s religion or provide a substitute for it. It deals in a man’s relationship with his fellow man, not in a man’s relationship with his God.
The Three Great Principles
Freemasons have followed three great principles for many years:
- 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, requiring high moral standards, aiming to achieve them in their own lives.
Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in life.
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 as acted dishonourably or unlawfully is contrary to this prime duty.
Freemasonry and Politics
Freemasonry, as a body, will never express a view on politics or state policy. The discussion of politics at Masonic meetings has always been prohibited.
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 however some Grand Lodges and other apparently Masonic bodies that do not meet these standards, e.g. that do not require a belief in a Supreme Being, or that allow or encourage their members as such 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.
Our fraternity offers its members an approach to life that embodies thoughtfulness for others, compassion and benevolence in the community, honesty in business and in the personal dealings with others, courtesy in society and fairness in all things. As Freemasons 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.
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 are exclusively Masonic of course, but all of them should be universally acceptable. Freemasons are expected to follow them.
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. All of our meetings include a social dimension where the focus is on good fellowship and enjoyment in the company of like-minded friends.
If you would like to find out more about becoming a Freemason at OPM Lodge then please check out our information on becoming a member via the 'Freemasonry' option on the top menu.
You might also find the booklets "What's It all About?" and "Are You Thinking Of Becoming A Freemason?", published by the United Grand Lodge of England, and available to read on our publications page or available to download, helpful and interesting to read. "What's It all About?" is a brief summary of what Freemasonry is, clarifying its role and relevance in society today, and dispels head on many commonly held myths.
Sources: With thanks to the United Grand Lodge of England.