What is liberal, or adogmatic, freemasonry?
Freemasonry is, first and foremost, a fraternity of men and women united by a shared commitment to humanistic ideals and to the notion of Man as a perfectible and social individual. It is a philanthropical, philosophical and initiatory institution whose aims are the search for truth, the study of morals and the practice of human solidarity. The basic principles of freemasonry are mutual tolerance, respect for others and for oneself, and complete freedom of conscience.
What are your relations to the United Grand Lodge of England?
The United Grand Lodge of England is the predominant masonic body in England. However, we are completely separate from the UGLE, and our institutions do not have a reciprocal treaty of recognition. We are affiliated to the Grand Orient of France (http://www.godf.org), the largest liberal masonic body in Europe, which is in amity with many other bodies worldwide.
What is the point of becoming a freemason?
We believe that everyday life provides few settings where men and women from all walks of life can meet and work together in the pursuit of our aims. Very often, the ways we think and act in relation to fellow humans are determined by our background, our social status or our environment, all of which can hinder our ability to connect with others on a deeper level. Although we can never really become separate from our personal „baggage”, the masonic temple provides a formal and stylized environment that encourages us to distance ourselves from it and grow as individuals through our contact with others.
What is the purpose of rituals and symbols used by freemasons?
Freemasonry is an initiatory institution that guides its members along a path of learning. By its very nature, this form of learning cannot be expressed through normal language alone. The „thing” we seek to learn has less to do with factual truth than with constructing an outlook and an attitude towards life and other human beings. Masonic rituals and symbols firstly serve as a constant reminder of our guiding principles. Secondly, the repetition of symbolically-laden words and actions instils a discipline of the mind that channels our thought and facilitates learning.
Do freemasons have secrets?
There is nothing secret about freemasonry and any factual material is publicly available in bookstores. The “secret” is more about respecting the discretion of fellow members who, for personal reasons may wish to be discrete about their membership. Also, because the temple guarantees total freedom of conscience, brethren are at liberty to express views and feelings that might occasionally be too hastily misinterpreted in daily life. The sole purpose of secrecy is to guarantee that the temple remains a shelter where each member can retain complete freedom of conscience. Every member is of course free to reveal his/her own membership.
What goes on in a masonic meeting?
Following tradition, freemasonry involves performing some symbolic rituals. In adogmatic freemasonry, these rituals are not religious in nature but serve to convey the basic teachings and values of freemasonry.
The centrepiece of a typical lodge meeting is the presentation of a “piece of architecture”, in other words a paper, by a member of the lodge, on a topic of his/her choice. This presentation is then followed by a discussion where members share their perspective on the topic, in order to explore its multifaceted reality. Topics typically concern questions of philosophy, society, human rights and current affairs, as well as traditional masonic symbolism. The relevance of all these topics to basic human values serves as the common ground and the basis on which to strengthen fraternal bonds. Topics can range from simple personal experiences and reflections to more focused philosophical questions such as “Is sustainable development an obstacle to human development?” or “If freedom of conscience is an absolute freedom, how so then for freedom of expression?”
But freemasonry is not just about serious work! As a fraternity, freemasonry seeks to promote fraternal bonds. Lodge meetings are thus followed by a more informal “agape”, a lunch where members can socialise in a more relaxed manner.
Do I have to believe in God to be a freemason?
No. In contrast to other forms of freemasonry, belief in God is neither a requirement nor a barrier to becoming a freemason in an adogmatic lodge. Individuals are free to follow any religion of their choice, or none, provided that they respect the same freedom of others. We regard individual religious and philosophical views as a matter of personal freedom of conscience. The principle of secularism, which is central to our approach, serves to protect this freedom from the dominance of any particular worldview.
How does one go about becoming a freemason?
The decision to become a freemason must always be motivated by an earnest desire to learn and grow within the framework of masonic initiation. An interested candidate first undergoes a process of introduction where the lodge members get to know him/her, and where he/she also has the opportunity to have his/her questions answered. If, after this process, the candidate wishes to commit to join the lodge, and the lodge members are also favourable to his/her admission, the initiation ceremony can proceed.
All new members must agree to abide by the rules of the fraternity, to uphold its principles and ideals and to contribute to the life of the lodge by regularly attending the lodge gatherings. An annual membership fee is necessary to cover administrative expenses and assist those in need.
Can one stop being a freemason?
Any member is free to terminate his membership at any time without justification. There are hurdles to jump to enter freemasonry, but there are none to leave it.