WHAT IS FREEMASONRY
Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest fraternal societies. Ancient Freemasonry's lessons of moral values (governing relations between people) and its acknowledgement, without crossing the boundaries of religion, that all depends on the providence of God, apply today with as much force as they did when it took its modern form at the turn of the 17th century. Freemasonry has "secrets" (used in proof of membership) but it is not a secret society. Some of its internal affairs are private and Freemasons incline to reticence about their membership because they are taught not to use it to advance their own interests.
Although all Masons are required to profess and continue in a belief in a Supreme Being, and their ceremonies include prayers, Freemasonry is no substitute for religion: it has and can have no theological doctrines; it offers no sacraments, and does not claim to lead to salvation.
The Essential Qualification for Membership
The essential qualification for admission into 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 are of good repute.
Freemasonry and Religion
Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. Its essential qualification opens it to men of many religions and it expects them to continue to follow their own faith. It does not allow religion to be discussed at its meetings.
Freemasonry and Politics
Freemasonry is non-political, and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings is forbidden.
The Three Great Principles
For many years Freemasons have followed three great principles:Brotherly Love
Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow creaturesRelief
Freemasons are taught to practice 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 and aiming to achieve them in their own lives.
Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in life.
From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been concerned with care of orphans, the sick and the aged. This work continues today. In addition, large sums are given to the national and local charities.
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 responsibilites. 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 has acted dishonourably or unlawfully is contrary to his prime duty.
The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with its traditional modes of recognition. It is not a secret society, since all members are free to acknowledge their membership and will do so in response to enquiries for respectable reasons. Its constitutions and rules are available to the public. There is no secret about any of its aims and principles. Like many other societies, it regards some of its internal affairs as private matters for its members.
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 is exclusively Masonic, but all should be universally acceptable. Freemasons are expected to follow them!