Is Freemasonry Governed by an International body, or an International Grand Lodge?

No, it is not. There are many conspiracy theories around, and most of us are not taken in by them, unfortunately there are a few that are and, evidently, this includes some governments. Those that spread such theories are the ones most deeply taken in, they are so convinced that they are correct that they can be very convincing when communicating these unfounded “theories” to others. Some are involved are in the deceit for their own gain. This article addresses one such unfounded theory, this one conspires to suggest that Freemasonry is an international organisation that is involved in Politics. It apparently makes no difference to this minority of misguided fools when confronted with the truth, as their minds are so entrenched with their misguided beliefs that nothing any reasonable person tells them, no book or encyclopaedia, seems to be able to penetrate their misplaced logic. Hopefully, though, it may be heeded by some that may have been deluded.

So, how are politics treated by Freemasons and their governing bodies, and how is Freemasonry governed and how international is it,? 

Freemasonry and Politics

Freemasonry takes no part in Politics in any way, shape or form. Previous articles have already addressed the fact that political or religious discussion is totally banned from all regular lodges. To be a Freemason you are obliged to take seriously the Charge at Initiation, an extract of which is below:

“As a citizen of the world, I am to enjoin you to be exemplary in the discharge of your civil duties, by never proposing or at all countenancing any act that may have a tendency to subvert the peace and good order of society, by paying due obedience to the laws of any State which may for a time become the place of your residence or afford you its protection, and above all, by never losing sight of the allegiance due to the Sovereign of your native land,,,,”

This originates from the “Old Charges” believed to have formed part of the “rules” governing the guilds of stonemasons in medieval times. These guilds evolved into the fraternity that we know today and this Charge at Initiation originated from the “Old Charges” included in the first Book of Constitutions published in 1723. This is part of the ancient Principles and Tenets of Freemasonry that still apply today.

Regular governing bodies of Freemasonry never take part in any form of politics whatsoever, and political discussions are totally forbidden by Freemasons within any regular lodge in any part of the world. However, individually, a Freemason may involve himself in politics if he so desires, but any Freemason found conspiring with another Freemason or Freemasons for personal gain, be it within politics or business, is strictly forbidden, would result in immediate suspension from the fraternity pending an inquiry into his and/ or others intensions. If found totally innocent then reinstatement is the likely result, but if it is found that there is a more sinister motive, then expulsion would be the final outcome.

International Governing Body.

There is no single International body governing Freemasonry. Freemasonry is governed by a series of Independent Grand Lodges that are territory, State or Country based. The principle of the Grand Lodge was first acknowledged to have been introduced in London, England in 1717. The idea of the Grand Lodge soon spread around Europe countries and then to the European colonies of the 18th and 19th centuries.  A Grand Lodge for Ireland was formed in 1725, for France in 1728 or 1729 (date is uncertain), then for Scotland in 1736.  Freemasonry began spreading around the world by travelling Freemasons, in the armies or privately, forming travelling Lodges when abroad. These later became firm lodges which then grouped together, perhaps to form District Grand Lodges governed by their home Grand Lodge, or forming independent Grand Lodges. These new and independent Grand Lodges governed only the Freemasons’ lodges in their territory and were answerable to no other Grand Lodge; they made their own rules for governance. This included the Grand Lodge in England, later to become the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE); this Grand Lodge is the governing body for all Freemasons in England and Wales only. All these new Grand Lodges that governed based upon the Book of Constitutions of the Freemasons, first published by the Grand Lodge of England (in London) in 1723, constituted them as “regular” Freemasonry. These regular Grand Lodges today form a network of Grand Lodges internationally and are bound together because they chose to follow these ancient Principles and Tenets. Today, if a Grand Lodge is in amity with the Grand Lodges of England, Scotland or Wales, it is recognised as regular Freemasonry. Does that make Freemasonry international? In a way, it does, as Freemasonry covers the world in a network of regular Grand Lodges. A list of Grand Lodges in amity and recognised by UGLE can be found here: https://www.ugle.org.uk/about/foreign-grand-lodges

There is no single international Grand Lodge that governs over all, so any Lodge or Grand Lodge that declares itself to be as such must be considered as clandestine.

Other Grand Lodges

These are the Grand Lodges, such as two in France, the Grand Lodge of France and the Grand Orient of France that, although once formed as a regular Grand Lodge in the 18th century, have split and strayed from the ancient Principles and Tenets of Freemasonry. These Grand Lodges are known as irregular Grand Lodges (to regular Freemasons). Grand Lodges in other territories that are in amity with these two French Grand Lodges are recognised by regular Freemasons as irregular. There is a third Grand Lodge in France, The Grand National Lodge of France, that is in amity with UGLE and hence is a regular Grand Lodge.

Clandestine Freemasonry

Unfortunately, there are those Lodges that have no Grand Lodge, or have formed their own “Grand Lodge” from lodges that have never been governed by regular or irregular Grand Lodges. These are deemed clandestine and are really unsafe organisations as they do not follow any of the strict rules applied by the other two groups. Any lodge pertaining to be an International Lodge of Freemasons is definately clandestine and operates under no recognised authority whatsoever and should be avoided at all costs. Such a lodge does not represent Freemasonry at all and is definitely operating, at best, under some illusion that it is Freemasonry, or, at worst, under a disguise whilst conducting criminal activities. These clandestine Lodges can be found in any country, even those with a regular Grand Lodge. One clandestine lodge, I am reliably informed, has declared itself International and, as you can see from above, this has nothing to do with regular (or irregular) Freemasonry. Any government contacting this lodge under the delusion that it represents Freemasonry International should be warned that this is definitely bogus.

Freemasonry Worldwide

Therefore, to suggest that there is an International governing body for Freemasonry, or a group calling themselves an International Lodge or an International Grand Lodge, couldn’t be farther from the truth or reality and is most definitely bogus.

In summation, regular Freemasonry is a network of Independent Grand Lodges that govern Lodges that follow the Ancient Principles and Tenets as laid down in the Book of Constitutions of the Freemasons published in 1723. To be deemed regular Freemasons, each Grand Lodge in each territory must be in amity with the Grand Lodges of England, Scotland or Ireland to be recognised as regular Freemasons. so Freemasonry is internationally spread but regulated independently by a Grand Lodge in its own country, state or territory. A regular Freemason would never visit any irregular lodge, and especially he would never visit a clandestine lodge under any circumstances.

These articles are written by W Bro Steve Froggatt PPJGD, current Chaplain of Neptune Lodge No 5150 EC. Steve was initiated into Freemasonry in 1986.They do not represent the view of any Grand/Provincial Grand Lodge.

© Copyright 2019 Al-Khabar/Stephen Froggatt all rights reserved

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About Steve

Steve is part of the publishing team of Al-Khabar. He was initiated into Neptune Lodge 5150 EC In 1986 and completed his third degree by being exalted into Neptune’s Royal Arch Chapter in 1989; he also enjoyed two successive years in the Chair of KS in 1993/4. He has also enjoyed being a Mark Master Mason and a Royal Ark Mariner. He has been honoured with the position of Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon. All the articles are his own and represent no Official Masonic Body

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