Why the secrecy?

A lot of the so called secrecy is inaccurate perception by many people following numerous conspiracy theories. In the 19th century it was regarded as being highly respectable within society. The foundation stones of important buildings were often laid in public with many masons present dressed in full regalia. The exact reason for the secrecy is unclear. During World War II Hitler persecuted freemasons in the same way as Jews with over 200,000 members killed. After the fall of the Channel Islands leading to further persecution, the threat of invasion of the UK became significant and it was better for freemasons to be quiet and ignore questions rather than speak openly. It was from this difficult period in history that an atmosphere of rumour, misinformation and false statements about the Order emerged resulting in negative perception by many people which, albeit to a lesser level, still exists today. 

Freemasonry is not a secret society otherwise people would not have known that it exists. It is a society with secrets which have traditionally been preserved. That said, a lot is publicly available. The Book of Constitutions (the masonic rule book) has been in the public domain since the first edition was published in 1723 and anyone can buy a copy. Freemasons’ Hall in London, the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England, is open to the public daily welcoming over 100,000 visitors annually. Other masonic centres across the UK are also open to the public. Freemasons parade in large numbers and in full regalia each year in the Lord Mayor’s Show in London as well as other nationwide events. Members are encouraged to speak openly about Freemasonry. And, of course, the digital age has done wonders and a wealth of content is publicly available online.