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Masonic Mission
                   

What is Freemasonry?

                             This is the text of a leaflet published by by the
                             Board of General Purposes of the United Grand
                             Lodge of England in 1984.

                             What is Freemasonry?

                           Introduction:
                             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.
                             The Essential Qualification for Membership:
                             The essential qualification for admission into and
                             continuing membership is a belief in a Supreme
                             Being. Membership is open to men of any race or
                             religion who can fulfil this essential
                             qualification and are of good repute.

                             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:
                               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.
                              Relief
                                   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.
                               Truth
                                   Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high
                                   moral standards and aiming to achieve them in
                                   their own lives.

                             Freemasons believe that these principles represent
                             a way of achieving higher standards in life.
                             Charity:
                                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 fulfulling their private and
                                public responsibilities. 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 dishonourably or unlawfully is contrary to
                                this prime duty.
                             Secrecy:
                                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 non-political, 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 recognised by the United
                             Grand Lodge of England as being masonically
                             regular, and masonic contact with them is
                             forbidden.

                             Conclusion:
                             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 familiy and those dependent on
                             him, to his neighbour through charity and service.
                             None of these ideas is exclusively Masonic, but
                             all should be universally acceptable. Freemasons
                             are expected to follow them.