This is the text of a leaflet was published by by the Board of General
Purposes of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1984. Content revision of this page by the Grand Lodge of South Carolina 2001.
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest secular fraternal societies.
This leaflet 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. The
explanation may correct some misconceptions.
Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual
values. Its members are taught its precepts by a series of ritual
dramas, which follow ancient forms and use stonemasons' customs and
tools as allegorical guides.
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.
The Three Great Principles:
For many years Freemasons have followed three great principles:
Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving
higher standards in life.
- Brotherly Love
Every true Freemason will show tolerance and respect for the opinions of
others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow
Freemasons are taught to practise 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.
Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high moral standards and aiming
to achieve them in their own lives.
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.
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 ay way conflict with its members' duties as
citizens, but should strengthen them in fulfilling their private and
The use by a Freemason of their 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.
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 inquiries 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.
Freemasonry and Politics:
Freemasonry is nonpolitical, and the discussion of politics at Masonic
meetings is forbidden.
Other Masonic Bodies:
Freemasonry is practised under many independent Grand Lodges with
standards similar to those set by the United Grand Lodge of England.
There are some Grand Lodges and other apparently Masonic bodies which do
not meet these standards, e.g. which do not require a belief in a
Supreme Being, or which allow or encourage their members to participate
in political matters. These Grand Lodges and bodies are not recognized
by the United Grand Lodge of England as being masonically regular, and
Masonic contact with them is forbidden.
A Freemason is encouraged to do his duty first to 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 neighbor
through charity and service.
None of these ideas is exclusively Masonic, but all should be
universally acceptable. Freemasons are expected to follow them.
AFM #22 main page.