The text 'Freemasonry's
External Relations' explains relations between the United Grand
Lodge of England and the Grand Lodge of Ireland ('Grand Lodge')
and other Masonic bodies. It shows what constitutes Masonic regularity.
The following text examines the attitude of regular Freemasonry
to public affairs.
The basic principles or
rules governing the recognition of a Grand Lodge as regular were
codified by Grand Lodge and the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland
(the 'Home Grand Lodges') in 1929. They include a requirement
that the 'discussion of religion and politics within the Lodge
shall be strictly prohibited'. The phrase 'within the Lodge' should
not be interpreted narrowly but extends to Masonic circumstances
generally, and must be read in the light of paragraph 6 of Aims
and Relationships of the Craft.
Aims and Relationships
of the Craft
The aims and relationships
of the Craft (i.e. Freemasonry as practised under a Grand Lodge)
have been explained from time to time in the Press in the British
Isles, particularly in formal statements (in identical terms except
for national names) issued by the Home Grand Lodges in 1938. Relevant
paragraphs of Grand Lodge's statements are as follows:
'6. While English and Irish
Freemasonry thus inculcates in each of its members the duties
of loyalty and citizenship, it reserves to the individual the
right to hold his own opinion with regard to public affairs. But
neither in any Lodge, nor at any time in his capacity as a Freemason,
is he permitted to discuss or to advance his views on theological
or political questions.'
'7. The Grand Lodge has always consistently refused to express
any opinion on questions of foreign or domestic State policy either
at home or abroad, and it will not allow its name to be associated
with any action, however humanitarian it may appear to be, which
infringes its unalterable policy of standing aloof from every
question affecting the relations between political parties, or
questions as to rival theories of government.'
'8. The Grand Lodge is aware that there do exist bodies, styling
themselves Freemasons, which do not adhere to these principles,
and while that attitude exists the Grand Lodge of England and
the Grand Lodge of Ireland refuses absolutely to have any relations
with such bodies, or to regard them as Freemasons.'
In 1949 the Home Grand
Lodges formally confirmed that they stood by their statements,
particularly paragraph 7. Their opinion has not changed.
The basic principles and
the statement of Freemasonry's aims show that the rule that forbids
Masonic discussion of politics is designed to prevent regular
Freemasonry becoming involved in any way in affairs of State,
whether they are domestic or external. Great care must be taken
to ensure that nothing is done that might allow it even to seem
to be so involved.
Grand Lodges which ignore
these principles are not conducting themselves regularly and cannot
expect to be or to remain recognised.
The full 'basic principles'
and the statement on the aims and relationships of the Craft are
printed in Grand Lodge's Book of Constitutions and Masonic Year
Basic principles are re-stated
in Grand Lodge's leaflet 'Freemasonry's External Relations'.