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WHAT IS FREEMASONRY
Freemasonry is the oldest and largest world wide fraternity dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of a Supreme Being. Although Freemasonry is not a religion, it urges its members, however, to be faithful and devoted to their own religious beliefs.
Masons, when asked such a question, will give different answers, in their own words, based on their own perceptions, experience and education. The most common answer is "a peculiar system of morality, based on allegory and illustrated with symbols".
The lessons Freemasonry teaches through its ceremonies are to do with moral values (governing relations between people) and its acknowledgement, without in any way crossing the boundaries of religion.
All Freemasons are taught that any duties which they have as a Freemason come only after their duties to family, work, and faith. In no circumstances should their membership interfere with these aspects of their lives. Freemasons feel that these lessons apply just as much today as they did when it took its modern form at the turn of the 17th century.
Another way of explaining, “What Freemasonry is”, is to detail what it is not.
Freemasonry and Religion
Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion, and it does not allow religion to be discussed at its meetings.
Its essential qualification opens it to men of many religions, and it expects them to continue to follow their own faith. All Freemasons are required to profess and continue in a belief in a Supreme Being.
It has no theology, nor sacraments, and it does not claim to lead to or offers no answers on matters of salvation, as these are the preserve of churches. All Freemasons are encouraged to find answers to such questions through their own faith, religion and church. Members are urged to respect the teaching of their own faith and not to allow Freemasonry to infringe, in any way, on the member's duty to their mosque, church, synagogue, etc. For this reason Lodges in Christian countries do not meet on Sundays. Lodges within Jewish communities do not meet on Saturdays and Lodges with a predominately Muslin membership will respect the Holy Days of that faith.
THE THREE GREAT PRINCIPLES
The Great Three Principals of Freemasonry are Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
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.
How a man chooses to practice his personal religious beliefs is left entirely up to him, but Freemasonry recognizes the strong bond which unites all people under One Creator. Our members include men from a wide range of religious backgrounds, but each of them shares a commitment to this important principle.
The seven great world religions listed below each tells us of the importance of "Brotherly Love."
While we may each practice how we name, address, or serve The Great Architect Of The Universe somewhat differently, we universally subscribe to and practice "man's humanity to man" as commanded by our creator.
This "Golden Rule" is commanded of all men and knows no boundaries of religion, denomination or nation. It is the very foundation of Freemasonry throughout the world and throughout the ages.
Relief: Because of our strong bond of Brotherly Love, Masons provide Relief to help those who are in need. This includes the notion of charity, and Masons provide much assistance to worthy charities, but it also means offering a helping hand, in other ways, to people that need assistance.
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.
As Masons, we are committed to being honest and truthful with other people. The Masonic Fraternity teaches a man to be faithful to his responsibilities to God, his Country, his fellow man, his family and himself. The Masonic principle of Truth also teaches a man to search for wisdom and understanding. For only in this way can he grow and become a better person. The pursuit of knowledge is at the very heart of our purpose.
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.
Today in North America, the Masonic Fraternity continues this tradition by giving almost $1.5 million each day to causes that range from operating children’s hospitals, providing treatment for childhood language disorders, treating eye diseases, funding medical research, contributing to local community service, and providing care to Masons and their families at Masonic Homes.
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 private and public 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 has acted dishonorably or unlawfully is contrary to this prime duty.
Freemasonry is not in any way a secret society despite what many people claim. Freemasonry's so-called secrets are solely used as a ceremonial way of demonstrating that one is a Freemason when in Lodge meetings; that is, its traditional modes of recognition. Like many other societies, it regards some of its internal affairs as private matters for its members.
Other reasons why Freemasonry cannot be called a secret society are that Freemasons do not promise to keep their membership secret. All members are free to acknowledge their membership, where and when Freemasons meet are matters of public record (you can look up Masonic centers in telephone directories) and our Constitutions, rules, principles and our aims are readily available to the public.
It is ironic that because Freemasons used to be reticent about their membership, as they were and still are taught never to use it to advance their own interests, critics have taken this the wrong way and think that there is something secretive going on. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Freemasonry and Politics
Freemasonry is not a political organization, and it will not comment on, nor offer, opinions as to competing forms of Government. Freemasonry is non-political, and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings is forbidden.
The reason for religion and the discussion of politics at Masonic meetings are expressly forbidden stem from Freemasonry's aims to encourage its members to discover what people from all different backgrounds have in common.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014