What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry teaches moral lessons and self-knowledge through participation in a progression of allegorical two-part plays, which are learnt by heart and performed at Lodge meetings. Thereby Freemasonry offers its members an approach to life which seeks to reinforce thoughtfulness for others, kindness in the community, honesty and integrity, courtesy in society and fairness in all things.
Freemasons are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount but importantly Freemasonry also teaches and practices concern for other people and care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
Why do people join the Freemasons?
People become Freemasons for a variety of personal reasons, some as the result of family tradition already having a brother of father in the lodge, others upon the introduction of a friend and for some the curiosity to know what Freemasonry is all about.
Those who become active members and who grow in Freemasonry do so principally because they enjoy it. They enjoy the challenges, social activities, sports and fellowship that Freemasonry offers. There is more to it, however, than just enjoyment.
Participation in the dramatic presentation of moral lessons and in the working of a Lodge provides a member with the opportunity to learn more about himself and encourages him to live in such a way that he will always be in search of becoming a better man, not better than someone else but better than he himself would otherwise be and therefore an exemplary member of society.
Each Freemason is required to learn and show humility through initiation. Progression is made through a series of degrees he gains insight into increasingly complex moral and philosophical concepts, and accepts a variety of challenges and responsibilities which are both stimulating and rewarding.
The structure and working of the lodge and the sequence of ceremonial events, which are usually followed by social gatherings, offer members a framework for companionship, teamwork, character development and enjoyment of shared experiences.
How much does it cost to become a Freemason?
Contrary to any popular belief Freemasonry is not reserved for those of affluent background but is accessible by all men. Fees vary from lodge to lodge.
Typical fees will include annual subscriptions, dining fees, charity donations and spends for refreshments.
What promises does a Freemason take?
New members make solemn promises concerning their conduct in the Lodge and society. These promises are similar to those taken in court or upon entering the Armed Services or many other organizations. Each member also promises to keep confidential the traditional methods of proving he is a Freemason which he would use when visiting a Lodge where he is not known.
The much publicized ‘traditional penalties’ for failure to observe these undertakings were removed from the promises in 1986. They were always symbolic, not literal, and refer only to the pain any decent man should feel at the thought of violating his word.
Lodge members are strictly prohibited from making use of their membership for personal gain or advancement; failure to observe this principle or to otherwise fall below the standards expected of a Freemason can lead to expulsion.
Who can join the Freemasons?
Membership is open to men over the age of 21 years, of all faiths who are law-abiding, of good character and who acknowledge a belief in God.
Freemasonry is a multi-racial and multi-cultural organization. It has attracted men of goodwill from all sectors of the community into membership.
Is Freemasonry a Religion?
Freemasonry is not a religion. It has no theology and does not teach any route to salvation. A belief in a Supreme Being, however, is an essential requirement for membership and Freemasonry encourages its members to be active in their own religions as well as in society at large.
Although every Lodge meeting is opened and closed with a prayer and its ceremonies reflect the essential truths and moral teachings common to many of the world’s great religions, no discussion of religion is permitted in lodge meetings.
Is Freemasonry an open Society?
Lodge meetings, like meetings of many other societies and professional associations, are private occasions open only to members.
Freemasons are encouraged, and do, speak openly about their membership, while remembering that they undertake not to use it for their own or anyone else’s advancement. As members are sometimes the subject of discrimination which may adversely affect their employment or other aspects of their lives, some Freemasons are understandably reluctant about discussing their membership. In common with many other national organizations, Grand Lodge neither maintains nor publishes a list of members and will not disclose names or member’s details without their permission.
In circumstances where a conflict of interest might arise or be perceived to exist or when Freemasonry becomes an issue, a Freemason must declare an interest.
The rules and aims of Freemasonry are available to the public. The Masonic Year Books, also available to the public, contains the names of all national office-holders and lists of all lodges with details of their meeting dates and places.
The meeting places and halls used by Freemasons are readily identifiable, are listed in telephone directories and in many areas are used by the local community for activities other than Freemasonry. Freemason’s Hall in London is open to the public and ‘open days’ are held in many provincial centre’s.
The rituals and ceremonies used by Freemasons to pass on the principles of Freemasonry to new members were first revealed publicly in 1723. They include the traditional forms of recognition used by Freemasons essentially to prove their identity and qualifications when entering a Masonic meeting. These include handshakes which have already been much written about and can scarcely be regarded as being of much consequence today; for medieval Freemasons, they were the equivalent of a ‘pin number’ restricting access only to qualified members.
Many thousands of books have been written and published on the subject of Freemasonry and are readily available to the general public. Freemasonry offers spokesmen and briefings for the media and provides talks to interested groups on request. Freemasons are proud of their heritage and happy to share it.
Is Freemasonry involved in Politics?
Freemasonry has no affinity to political organizations, it has no political agenda, and discussion of politics is not permitted at Lodge meetings.
Freemasonry naturally tends to attract those with a concern for people and a sense of social responsibility and purpose. There are members, therefore, who are involved in politics at local, national and international level. Equally there are members who take an active interest in non-Masonic charitable organizations and other community groups.
Is Freemasonry involved in the Community?
From its earliest days Freemasonry has been involved in charitable activities, and since its inception it has provided support for many good causes, widows of Freemasons and orphans of Freemasons as well as for others within the community.
All monies raised for charity are drawn from amongst Freemasons, their families and friends, while grants and donations are made to Masonic and non-Masonic charities alike.
Over the past five years alone Freemasonry has raised more than £75m for a wide range of charitable purposes including those involved in medical research, community care, education and work with young people.
Freemasonry has an enviable record for providing regular and consistent financial support to individual charities over long periods while at the same time making thousands of grants to local charities, appeals and projects throughout England and Wales each year. Future opportunities to obtain or provide matched funding are periodically examined with a view to enhancing the impact of the support Freemasonry can give to specific projects. The personal generosity of Freemasons and the collective fundraising efforts of almost 8,000 lodges, however, will continue to determine the contribution Freemasonry makes within the community.