What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest secular fraternal societies. 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 precepts (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: it seeks to reinforce thoughtfulness for others, kindness in the community, honesty in business, courtesy in society and fairness in all things. Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount but, importantly, Freemasonry also teaches and practises concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.
Freemasonry is open to all men, but requires you to be of at least 21 years of age, honest and law abiding with a sound spiritual belief in a supreme being regardless of your religious background.
What happens at a Masonic meeting?
The meeting, which like those of other groups, are open only to members, is normally in two parts. First, there are normal administrative procedures such as:
- Minutes of the previous meeting
- Proposing and balloting for new members
- Discussing and voting on the annual accounts
- Masonic news and correspondence
- News about charitable work
Second, there are the ceremonies for:
- Admitting new members
- The annual installation of the Master of the Lodge and his officers
What promises do Freemasons make?
New members make solemn promises concerning their behaviour both in the Lodge and in society. Members also promise to keep confidential the way they recognise each other when visiting another Lodge. Freemasons also promise to support others in time of need but only so far as it does not conflict with their family and public obligations.
Is Freemasonry a religion?
Freemasonry is not a religion. It deals in a man’s relationship with his fellow man not in a man’s relationship with his God. It has no theology and does not teach any route to salvation. No discussion of religion is permitted in lodge meetings.
Is Freemasonry political?
Freemasonry is definitely not a political organisation, it has no political agenda, and discussion of politics is not permitted at lodge meetings.
Is Freemasonry an International order?
Freemasonry exists throughout the world. However, each Grand Lodge is sovereign and independent. There is no international governing body for Freemasonry.
How many Freemasons are there?
Under the United Grand Lodge of England, there are over a quarter of a million Freemasons. There are Grand Lodges in Ireland, which covers both Northern Ireland and Eire, and Scotland which have a combined total of approximately 150,000 members.
Worldwide, there are approximately six million Freemasons.
Is Freemasonry involved in charity?
From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been involved in charitable activities, and since its inception it has provided support for many widows and orphans of Freemasons as well as 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.
How much does it cost to be a Freemason?
It varies from Lodge to Lodge but to join Thames Valley there is a one-off initiation fee of £100. The annual subscription is £240 and includes a three course dinner with wine, following each of our four meetings.
The fee for joining members is £100 plus the £240 annual subscription.