Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest fraternal organizations. The lessons Freemasonry teaches in its ceremonies, are to do with moral values. Feemasonry's acknowledgement, without crossing the boundaries of religion, is that everything depends on the providence of God. Freemasons feel that these lessons apply as much today as they did when it took its modern form at the turn of the 17th century.
Despite what many people claim, Freemasonry is not in any way a secret society. Freemasonry's so–called secrets are solely used as a ceremonial way of demonstrating that one is a Freemason. In any case, Freemasonry have been exposed by the media for almost as long as they have existed. The real point of a Freemason promising not to reveal their secrets, is basically a dramatic way of promising to keep one's word in general.
It is ironic that Freemasons used to be quiet about their membership. They were and still are taught never to use it to advance their own interests. Critics have taken this the wrong way and think that there is something secretive and nasty because of the silence. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Masonic ceremonies are secular morality plays, which are learned by heart, by members of the lodge for the benefit of the person who is becoming a Freemason. Each ceremony has a message for the candidate. A further reason why Freemasons do not go around broadcasting their contents is simply because it would spoil it for the candidate. The same way you would not tell someone the ending of a good book or a film, you would not tell someone about the ceremony.
Freemasons are required to profess and continue in a belief in a Supreme Being. Their ceremonies include prayers, which are not in any way a substitute for religion. It has no theological doctrines, it offers no sacraments, and it does not claim to lead to salvation. By having prayers at its meetings Freemasonry is no more in competition with religion than, say, having a meal where grace is said.
Freemasons are not allowed to discuss religion or politics at meetings. Freemasonry's aim is to encourage its members to discover what people from all different backgrounds have in common. As is all too well known, debate about religion and politics can lead to heated discussion rather than enlightenment.
A Freemason is thus basically encouraged to do his duty first to his God, and then to his family and those who dependent on him. He is to help his neighbors through charity and service.
None of these ideas is exclusive to Freemasonry, but all should be universally acceptable and Freemasons are expected to follow them.
Next to the Regius/Halliwell manuscript, the oldest manuscript that is known is the Matthew Cooke Manuscript (British Museum: "Additional M.S. 23,198"), a transcript of a yet an older document, which was written by a Speculative Mason.
A transcription of Matthew Cooke's 1861 version, with original line breaks and translation, is also available at this website.Read More Download PDF (38KB)
The fraternal order has long been the target of conspiracy theories and hoaxes.Here's the real story.By Jay TolsonSeptember 5, 2005
The 1820s looked as though they would be the best of times for the special relationship between the fraternal order of Freemasonry and the young American nation...Read More Download PDF (28.9KB)
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