Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest secular fraternal societies. The United Grand Lodge of England administers all Lodges of Freemasons in England, Wales and many places overseas. 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 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. To be initiated into or to join the Lodge of Trinity, Cambridge, you must be a past or present member of the College, or a close family relation (father, son, uncle, nephew) - if you want to know more, please ask.
Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. Its essential qualification opens it up to men of many religions; and it expects them to follow their own faith. It does not allow discussion of religion at any of its meetings.
For many years, Freemasons have followed the three Great Principles:
Freemasons believe that these principles represent a way of achieving higher standards in life.
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 demands from its members a respect for the law of the country in which a man works and lives. Its principles do not in any way conflict with its members' duties as citizens, but should strengthen them in fulfilling their private and public responsibilities.
The use by a Freemason of his 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.
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.
English Freemasonry has no political affiliations, and, as with religious beliefs, no discussions relating to political matters are allowed in its Lodges.
Freemasonry is practised under many independent Grand Lodges in many parts of the world, 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 match up to these standards: for example, they do not require a belief in a Supreme Being, or they allow or encourage their members to participate in political matters.
These Grand Lodges or bodies are not recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England as being Masonically regular, and Masonic contact with them is forbidden.