WHAT IS FREEMASONARY?
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.
There are 200,000 freemasons across 8000 lodges throughout England and Wales, and millions around the world. 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.
Famous freemasons include King Edward VII, King George VI, Sir Winston Churchill, The Duke of Wellington, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Captain Scott, Sir Alexander Fleming, Sir Malcolm Campbell, Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher, Dr Barnado, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde and Peter Sellers.
Relief is practised by raising funds for charities. From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been concerned with the care of orphans, the sick and the aged. This work continues today. Freemasonry is the UK's second largest donator after The Lottery Fund, and gives over £33 million a year to good causes. There are a number of Masonic and non Masonic charities supported around the world.
Brotherly love is expressed by care for other people, by understanding, respecting and tolerating beliefs, politics and opinions and by genuine kindness towards others regardless of their declared religion. Freemasonry encourages support for the rule of law and democratic systems of government.
Truth demands integrity in all our actions and thoughts. It demands that we observe and maintain the highest moral standards in our personal lives. A freemason can invite a brother into his home and know that he can be assured of his good behaviour and friendship. A confidence given to a brother freemason will always be kept. It’s a simple matter of truth and trust.