• Freemasonry is a charitable, benevolent, educational and religious society.
  • Its principles are proclaimed as widely as men will hear. Its secrets are in its methods of recognition and of symbolic instruction.
  • It is charitable in that it is not organized for profit or for the financial benefit of any individual and it is devoted to the promotion of the welfare and happiness of mankind.
  • It is benevolent in that it teaches and exemplifies altruism as a duty. It is educational in that it teaches by prescribed ceremonials a system of morality and brotherhood based upon Sacred Law.
  • It is religious in that it teaches monotheism, the Volume of Sacred Law is open upon its altars whenever a Lodge is in session, reverence for God is ever present in its ceremonial, and to its brethren are constantly addressed lessons of morality; yet it is not sectarian or theological.
  • It is a social organization only so far as it furnishes additional inducement that men may forgather in numbers, thereby providing greater opportunity for its primary work of education, worship and charity.
  • Through the improvement and strengthening of the character of the individual man. Freemasonry seeks to improve the community. Thus it impresses upon its members the principles of personal righteousness and personal responsibility, enlightens them as to those things which make for human welfare, and inspires them with that feeling of charity, or good will, toward all mankind which will move to translate principle and conviction into action.
  • To that end, it teaches and stands for the worship of God; truth and justice; fraternity and philanthropy; and enlightenment and orderly liberty, civil, religious and intellectual. It charges each of its members to be true and loyal to the government of the country to which he owes allegiance and to be obedient to the law of any state in which he may be.
  • It believes that the attainment of these objectives is best accomplished by laying a broad basis of principle upon which men of every race, country, sect and opinion may agree rather than by setting up a restricted platform upon which only those of certain races, creeds and opinions can assemble.


Source:  The Preamble to the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, rev. May 2005


Key Tenets

  • Brotherly Love: A true Freemason ought to show tolerance and respect for the opinions of others and be kind to and understanding of his fellow human beings.


  • Relief: Freemasons are taught to practice charity, not only for their own, but also for the community at large.


  • Truth: Freemasons are taught to search for truth, requiring high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives.

How and When Freemasonry Began: One Account

It is not known where Freemasonry began. The earliest recorded ‘making’ of a Freemason in England is that of Elias Ashmole in 1646. Organized Freemasonry began with the founding of the Grand Lodge of England on 24 June 1717, (St John’s Day), the first Grand Lodge in the world. Ireland followed in 1725 and Scotland in 1736. All the regular Grand Lodges in the world trace themselves back to one or more of the Grand Lodges in the British Isles.

There are two main theories of origin. According to one, the operative stonemasons who built the great cathedrals and castles had lodges in which they discussed trade affairs. They had simple initiation ceremonies and, as there were no City and Guilds certificates, dues cards or trade union membership cards, they adopted secret signs and words to demonstrate that they were trained masons when they moved from site to site. In the 1600s, these operative lodges began to accept non-operatives as “gentlemen masons”. Gradually these non-operatives took over the lodges and turned them from operative to ‘free and accepted’ or ‘speculative’ lodges.

The other theory is that in the late 1500s and early 1600s, there was a group, which was interested in the promotion of religious and political tolerance in an age of great intolerance when differences of opinion on matters of religion and politics were to lead to bloody civil war. In forming Freemasonry, they were trying to make better men and build a better world. As the means of teaching in those days was by allegory and symbolism, they took the idea of building as the central allegory on which to form their system. The main source of allegory was the Bible, the contents of which were known to everyone even if they could not read, and the only building described in detail in the Bible was King Solomon’s Temple, which became the basis of the ritual. The old trade guilds provided them with their basic administration of a Master, Wardens, Treasurer and Secretary, and the operative mason’s tools provided them with a wealth of symbols with which to illustrate the moral teachings of Freemasonry.


Source: The Freemason at Work by Harry Carr

Generally Freemasonry (or Masonry) is one of the world's oldest and largest secular fraternal organizations, whose members are concerned with moral and spiritual values. The Fraternity aims to unite men of differing beliefs into a harmonious and productive community through the application of Masonic moral values and the practice of benevolence, intellectual development, and mutual respect. The necessary prerequisite for acceptance into the Masonic fraternity is the belief in a Supreme Being and membership is open to men of all races and religions who profess belief in deity and are of good repute.

Freemasonry