Freemasonry is the world’s largest, secular, fraternal organisation. It is multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-faith with over 300,000 members in approximately 8,500 Lodges in England & Wales. Part of a world wide organisation of millions of Freemasons,.
Freemasonry offers its members an approach to life which seeks to reinforce thoughtfulness for others, kindness, honesty, courtesy, truth, integrity and fairness in all things. Freemasonry urges brethren to regard the interests of the family as paramount.
Charity is at the heart of Freemasonry by teaching and practicing concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
Freemasonry is not a religion. Although a Freemason must be of a faith and have a belief in a Supreme Being (the God of his belief). Due to this Atheists or agnostics would not be eligible to become Freemasons.
A Freemason should, in the widest sense, practise the tenants of his faith, and regard his Freemasonry as a moral code subordinate to but, supportive of, that faith. Members of many faiths, in many countries, are Freemasons; Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and many others.
In countries where Freemasons meet and a number of religions are practiced there are often several holy books on the Master’s pedestal during out ceremonies. Freemasonry is where men of different faiths meet together in the Brotherhood of a Lodge; without distinction.
It must be made clear that in order to preserve the harmony of the Lodge, by which we set so much store, no discussion of religion is permitted within the Lodge. For the same reason we do not discuss business or politics. These are private to the individual.
Everyone is aware of how divisive these subjects can be and the form of heated arguments to which it can lead.
There are many reasons why people join Freemasonry. Some are intrigued by rumours, and wish to know more of the mystery which surrounds our rituals. But most join because they see that friends, whom they respect and who are proud to be Freemasons, clearly enjoy their membership as members of the order. We value high standards of behaviour which we expect from all members of the craft.
That was why, before anyone is proposed, they are interviewed by a membership committee and are asked a number of questions. We want to know something about the type of person before accepting them. It is important for a lodge to be satisfied that a person is not seeking to become a Freemason for ulterior motives such as advancing their business or seeking material gain or preferential treatment.
Brother Freemasons also want to assure themselves that anyone joining would be a credit to the craft and indeed, a worthy Brother among them. Freemasons also need to feel that the ideals of a potential brother are compatible with those propounded by the craft. It is also important that the family of a joining brother is ‘comfortable’ with them becoming a member.
The first essential in understanding Freemasonry is to free your mind of any preconceived notions. These will almost always have resulted from uninformed talk, guesswork, malicious gossip, or even nowadays, from various anti Masonic sites on the World Wide Web.
We do not pretend that all Freemasons are perfect in word or deed. But Masonic brethren are expected to observe the highest moral standards of behaviour towards others; whether members of the craft or not.
A brother should behave towards others as he would have them behave towards him. This is well summed up in part of the Masonic ritual which states; “A brother, rising to eminence through merit, should live respected and die regretted.
In regard to charity he is expected to attend his Lodge as regularly as domestic, and other duties, will allow and to give to charity, as generously as his means will permit. Freemasonry does not collect from the general public. All the donations to charity are from personal giving by the brethren. Freemasonry is the largest donator to Charity after the National Lottery.
The definition of Freemasonry, known to members of the craft, is a system of morality and moral teaching. The basis on which it rests is affected by ritual and ceremonial which experience has shown to have a real impact on the attitudes and actions of brethren.
This may sound rather pompous but in practice it is not so. Freemasonry is to be enjoyed. Its companionship, its constructive attitude to life and its insistence on the importance of the welfare and independence of the individual all help to ensure that this happens.
From the moment a person becomes a Freemason he is a Brother to every other Freemason throughout the world however ‘senior’ that Brother maybe.
The Lodge into which he is initiated, usually referred to as his Mother Lodge, is in fact the Lodge which remains the most important Masonic body for him. However this does not mean that a brother’s Freemasonry will be limited to his own Lodge. Brethren are encouraged to visit other Lodges, as a guest, and to invite those back to his own Lodge.