About Freemasonry

Square and compasses on bible.jpgFreemasonry is one of the oldest and largest fraternal and charitable organisations in the world. It is a society of like-minded men who meet regularly in a fraternal and social environment, share a common desire to give charitable support to the community and live according to a high moral code. It was established many centuries ago and now has more than 300,000 members in England and Wales, and many millions worldwide. It was founded as a male-only society and has been happy to continue as such to this day, though there are now parallel Orders of Women Freemasons in the UK and abroad as well as mixed (known as "Co-masons") accepting both men and women.  Freemasonry is also the second largest charity giving organisation in the UK after the National Lottery.

The three key principles of Freemasonry are Neighbourly Concern, Charity and Moral Standards. Masons refer to these as Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.

Neighbourly Concern refers to contribution by Freemasons to the communities in which they live, as well as to each other. They are encouraged to play an active role in society as individuals, in whatever way their interests and abilities lead them. Many Masons are active as unpaid volunteers in churches (and synagogues, mosques etc), the Red Cross, the Scouting movement, local hospitals, local politics, the Magistracy and other community groups. In doing so and in their everyday life, Freemasons do not give preferential treatment to other Masons and do not seek financial or other undue advantage from  their membership. Masons do not advertise their membership in case it is wrongly seen as seeking special treatment. The discussion of politics and religion are banned in Masonic meetings, to avoid causing disharmony among friends. Freemasonry as an institution has no view on political theories or party politics.

Charity is in many ways a visible expression of Neighbourly Concern. We direct our charitable fundraising at both Masonic and non-Masonic recipients. Our major beneficiaries include hospices, air ambulances, medical research and smaller community projects which require substantial sums to enable them to thrive. The Metropolitan Grand Lodge, governing Freemasonry in the London region, runs both national and London-wide co-ordinated charitable efforts. Individual Lodges and Masons also have their own projects which they support. Of course, Freemasonry also supports Masons and their dependents of all ages in time of need, through Masonic charitable institutions which were established before the advent of universal education and the NHS. 

It is important to note that Freemasonry is a secular society not a religious one. That said, an essential requirement for all members is a belief in God which is free of denominational distinctions. This enables men of different religions to meet together in co-operation and friendship, and to use the symbolism of Masonry to reinforce and underpin the moral standards which are taught by all religions and shared by all right-thinking people. Thus, in Freemasonry there are Christians (Anglicans, Catholics, Orthodox, Baptists, Methodists, Salvationists and many others), Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and other believers. However, discussion of religion is not allowed in Masonic meetings because, like politics, it could be divisive.

Download UGLE's Freemasonry Leaflet to read more about what Freemasonry is about.