Freemasonry is the oldest, largest and most widely recognized fraternal organization in the world. The United Grand Lodge of England and Wales or UGLE was founded in London in 1717. In England and Wales membership totals over 300,000.
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.
Freemasonry 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 attach importance to a high moral code.
Indeed, masons represent virtually every occupation and profession. Freemasonry unites men of good character who, though of different religious, ethnic, or social backgrounds, share a belief in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind. One of the most fascinating aspects of Freemasonry is how so many men, from so many different walks of life, can meet together in peace, always conducting their affairs in harmony and friendship and calling each other “Brother.”
Freemasonry is a secular society not a religious one. Discussion of religion is not allowed in Masonic meetings because, like politics (also not discussed), it could be divisive. Freemasonry as an institution has no view on political theories or party politics.
The three key or grand principles of Freemasonry are Neighbourly Concern, Charity and Moral Standards. Masons refer to these as Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
The traditions of Freemasonry are founded upon the building of King Solomon’s Temple, and its fraternal ceremonies use the working tools of the stonemasons to symbolize moral lessons and truths. For example, Masons are reminded at Lodge “that the Square teaches us to square our actions by rule and line and to act on the square with all mankind…the Level demonstrates that we are all descended from the same stock and share the same hope….. and the Plumb Rule admonishes us to be just and upright in all our actions…..”
Like most organizations, one will get out of Freemasonry what he is able to put into it. However, membership in Freemasonry is not meant in any way to interfere with an individual’s commitment to his faith, family, or occupation. Freemasonry is not and never can be a replacement for these important institutions, but rather it is a positive environment that reminds every Freemason of his duty to God, his community, his family and himself.
Freemasonry provides opportunities for sincere, honest, forthright men who believe in God and desire to contribute to the improvement of their communities and themselves. Through our Masonic Fraternalism, we reaffirm our dedication and unity to become involved citizens who have a strong desire to preserve the values that have made and continue to make Great Britain, well, great.