The Foundation Of Universal Freemasonry
Annual Communication & Feast ~ Ft. Lauderdale FL ~ March 16-17-18, 2018
Master Masons of all Jurisdictions and Obediences are invited to join us at this very special event.
Our cause is the intellectual, spiritual and social advancement of humanity.
To accomplish these aims we have established the following guiding principles for Free-Masonry:
- We believe in the absolute freedom of conscience of all people, and that it is an essential component of liberty, equality and fraternity.
- We believe in and support the separation of religion and government, and promote religious and spiritual tolerance among all people.
- We believe in and support the freedom of the press as a necessary component of maintaining the inalienable rights of all human beings, and that among these are life, liberty,and the pursuit of happiness.
- We believe in and support the need for higher education and life-long learning.
- We believe in and support an impartial judiciary system as essential to guaranteeing the preservation of human rights.
- We believe in and support the arts and sciences as essential elements in the progress and evolution of humanity.
- We believe in and support efforts that work towards global environmental and ecological sustainability as essential to the survival of the human species.
What is Freemasonry?
“Freemasonry, in its broadest and most comprehensive sense, is a system of morality and social ethics, and a philosophy of life, all of simple and fundamental character, incorporating a broad humanitarianism and, though treating life as a practical experience, subordinates the material to the spiritual; it is of no sect but finding truth in all; it is moral but not pharisaic; it demands sanity rather than sanctity; it is tolerant but not supine; it seeks truth but does not define truth; it urges it votaries to think but does not tell them what to think; it despises ignorance but does not proscribe the ignorant; it fosters education but proposes no curriculum; it espouses political liberty and the dignity of man but has no platform or propaganda; it believes in the nobility and usefulness of life; it is modest and not militant; it is moderate, universal, and so liberal as to permit each individual to form and express his own opinion, even as to what Freemasonry is or ought to be, and invites him to improve it if he can.”
“Freemasonry is a traditional symbolic and esoteric initiatory order that works for the improvement of man and society.”
“Freemasonry is a system of ethics and brotherhood, making men better not just to themselves but to each other. It teaches the meaning of life and death, with the search for the lost word, the attempt to find God’s truth in our lives. We should act towards others as we want them to act towards us, with faith in the social, eternal, and intellectual progress of mankind.”
“Freemasonry is a special way of living expressed through symbols and dramatic stories. It points the way to self-improvement through service to others, as well as leadership skills.”
“There is no single, official definition of Freemasonry. In fact, there is no single or official leader or ruling body of Freemasonry. In the United States, in each state there are one or more Grand Lodges, each of which can define Freemasonry any way it wishes, and the same is true in most countries in the world. Many Grand Lodges do not even define Freemasonry, but allow each of their members to define Freemasonry anyway they wish.”
“Generally Freemasonry 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 and women 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.”
“Freemasonry is a fraternity including men and women of every race, nationality and religion. Wishing to do away with all cause for division and strife, it continually seeks the means which to help all human beings to unite and work together for the perfection of Humanity.”
“In its outer form, Freemasonry is an organization of persons for study, for charitable and social cooperation and betterment, and for mutual support. In its inner form, however, it seeks, through the working of ancient rituals, to develop and integrate the individual Freemason in a balanced way, to bring about an inner realization of the link we each have with the Life force of the universe, to form a working unit for the evolution of humanity as a whole, and generally to serve the well being of the planet and our fellows.”
“Freemasonry is an organization whose goals include: (A) Helping its members improve themselves through education and improved through education and improved knowledge of themselves and others. (B) A Brotherhood of all people and tolerance of differences among people. (C) The support of democracy, freedom, individual rights, and the dignity of all people. (D) Mutual assistance, including helping fellow members’ families. (E) Charity and assistance to the community, especially those in need.”
“Freemasonry is a system of ethics, showing each man the way toward a new birth of his nature as symbolized in the Hiram Abiff drama, bringing divine power to bear on each individual.”
In short, Freemasonry is a way of life.
A Brotherhood Without Boundaries
Bro. Jeff Peace
I had the distinct honor and pleasure of sitting with the brothers of Lafayette Lodge No. 89 [in Bethesda, Maryland] of the Grand Orient of France this past weekend, and meeting with many brothers and sisters from around globe. There were a number of different bediences in attendance, all wearing the respective regalia of their orders. I couldn’t help but think about Free-Masonry in much broader terms than I had in the past. In this lodge Free-Masonry existed without any boundaries; all were accepted and equal. The warm spirit of fraternal camaraderie was everywhere apparent.
The Grand Orient of France’s perspective of Free-Masonry is very different from that of the American Grand Lodges to which I was accustomed. They try to be a unifying force within the fraternity by bringing diverse groups of Masons together for the benefit of all Free-Masonry.
In the past I had always felt there was something wrong with labeling other people as “irregular” or “clandestine”, but at the time this concept was purely philosophical and theoretical to me. When you say that someone is “irregular” it is akin to claiming that they are illegitimate or a bastard. “Clandestine” implies that they are working to accomplish something nefarious in secret. There is simply no way to morally justify the use of these egregious and alienating terms when it comes to brothers and sisters of the greater Craft throughout the world. Anyone using these terms to define or describe good and honorable Masons is not themselves worthy of being called a Mason.
It is now clear to me that there is no such thing as the “mainstream” Craft. The idea that the Craft is divided is an illusion created by those who wish to separate and divide Masonry into opposing factions. These are not the actions of people who understand the meaning of tolerance or fraternity, but of those who wish to replace brotherly love with fear and misunderstanding.
There are many groups of Free-Masons throughout the world who share the same goals but have spent years struggling over the nature of the “Landmarks” of the Craft. My brothers and sisters THERE ARE NO SUCH THINGS AS ANCIENT LANDMARKS. Bro. Anderson mentions the existence of “Ancient Landmarks” in his Constitutions of 1723, but he never said what they were. Fighting among ourselves over what some believe to be Ancient Landmarks is a waste of both time and energy. We need to get past this kind of thinking and begin working together for the common good of the Craft and humanity.
I am appealing to all Masons (brothers and sisters alike), and to their respective Grand Lodges, to begin the process of thinking outside the box that we have created around ourselves, and to seek amelioration among all Masons. We must find a way for all Masons to work together while allowing them the freedom to continue with their unique obediences. There is a real need for male lodges, female lodges and mixed gender lodges. People need to have the freedom to work in the ways in which they are most comfortable and confident. One size or shape does not fit all, nor will it ever.
The present path of mutually assured destruction is not in the best interest of Free-Masonry or Free-Masons. It doesn’t have to be this way because we can choose a more positive path of mutual cooperation and assistance that will lead to a new era of Masonic leadership in our communities and the world. We need to have a vision of a brother/sisterhood without boundaries; one where all Masons work together in peace and harmony.
Make no little plans
“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.”
What is The Foundation Of Universal Freemasonry?
The Foundation Of Universal Freemasonry is a Confederation of Independent Masonic Lodges incorporated in the State of Wisconsin as a 501(c)10 Domestic Fraternal Society. It operates under the lodge system but differs significantly from typical Masonic Grand Lodges, Grand Orients and other Obediences. Organizational decisions are made by a corporate Board of Directors, however all Masonic authority is devolved back down to the individually chartered Lodges. There are no positions such as Grand Master, Grand Senior Warden, Grand Junior Warden, etc.
Lodges may be chartered upon application by any three Master Masons who can provide evidence that they possess the basic requirements of forming a new Masonic Lodge. Lodges may be religious or secular, masculine, feminine or mixed gender according to the desires of the Lodge members. Lodges may choose their own Ritual and work in any language. Charters are issued and renewed on an annual basis as the Lodge continues to operate in a productive and harmonious manner.
The primary purpose of The Foundation Of Universal Freemasonry is to hold an Annual Communication in a non-academic and un-tyled setting where individuals and representatives of the various Masonic Jurisdictions and Obediences may meet informally to discuss their common objectives and means of mutual cooperation.
The secondary purpose of The Foundation Of Universal Freemasonry is to become an alternative path of Initiation toward a truly Universal Freemasonry.
Article 1. The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry hereby unilaterally declares itself and its members to be in a state of amity and solidarity with all Freemasons whithersoever dispersed around the globe, regardless of reciprocation.
Article 4. All Freemasons are entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Statement of Principles, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Article 5. All Freemasons have the right of freedom of association, freedom of visitation and freedom of membership in any and all organizations as their interests guide them.
Article 7. All Freemasons have the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 11. As the Lodge is the fundamental organizational unit of Freemasonry, Lodges chartered by The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry shall operate according to their own adopted By-Laws free from interference.
Article 12. Lodges chartered by The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry shall be religious, secular, masculine, feminine or mixed-gender according to the desires of its members.
Article 16. Lodges chartered by The Foundation of Universal Freemasonry shall be open to visitation by all Master Masons regardless of their Jurisdiction, Obedience, or Constitution, subject to a pledge of silence regarding the business of the Lodge.
A Universal Masonry?
Bro. Conrad Hahn
A newly-made Mason is told about the universality of the Institution, but it cannot be said that he receives very much instruction about this concept. To the average initiate the idea of Masonic universality is a geographical impression, like the one conveyed by Mackey’s poetic prose “Wherever the wandering steps of civilized men have left their footprints, there have our Temples been established.”
When he first observes the globes surmounting the pillars in the Fellowcraft Degree, the initiate is told that they “denote the universality of Masonry.” Haywood emphasizes the usual geo graphical interpretation of this phrase in commenting on the globes: “They were reminders to Masons that though the Fraternity was in England, and had originated there, it was not England’s private possession, but was to become established everywhere across the terrestrial globe; it was to be universal.”
(How the celestial sphere fits into this geographical explanation of Masonic universality has never been clarified. “Space Age” explorations may lead to its inclusion!)
In the ritual of the first degree, the initiate is given a more profound, a more mystical explanation of this term in the description concerning the dimensions of a Lodge. Its stupendous proportions, he is told, “signify the universality of Masonry.”
From this instruction an alert and philosophical Brother may be inspired to reflect on the deeper meanings of the phrase, as it applies to Masonic customs, traditions, tenets, and ideals. Too little attention is given to it.
Yet it is this approach to the idea of universality which leads the contemplative to realize that Masonic universality is a moral ideal, the consciously pursued development of a world-wide tolerance based on knowledge, appreciation, and understanding between men, their creeds, and institutions.
Present world conditions and attitudes are not favorable to the development of confidence in such an objective. Men are dominated more by their fears than by their hopes and spiritual aspirations. Masonic universality is labeled “just a dream.” Like the phrase, “the pursuit of happiness,” it is dismissed as one of those quaint rationalizations of our ancestors. A Universal Masonry? “Let’s not be fantastic!” say the “realists.”
In the words of one Masonic encyclopedist, “We may as well admit that the progress made by the Fraternity in attaining or preserving universality has over the past two centuries been nil if, indeed, it has not been in reverse.”
It must be admitted that the Fraternity has itself contributed to the difficulties which make its- laudable doctrine of universality so difficult to inculcate, to say nothing of achieving it. Differences in rules of procedure, lack of unity in the fundamental definition of what Freemasonry really is, the intrusion of religious concepts and political prejudices, the excessive size of many Lodges which has robbed the individual member of his importance as a Mason-all these have helped to erode the universality of Freemasonry which is summed up in the fraternal shibboleth, “the Brotherhood of Man.”
Almost every initiate is led to believe that Freemasonry is a world-wide, a “universal” fraternity, which admits to its membership and privileges worthy men of every country, sect, and opinion. He also presumes that Masons everywhere are motivated by the same ideals and that fraternal intercourse is always and everywhere possible.
In 1935 Carl Claudy wrote, “Only occasionally does the average Mason come in contact with the absence of universality; then it is usually with something of a shock that he learns that while a Brother from a neighboring state may visit and hold Masonic intercourse with a certain foreign Lodge and Brother, he is forbidden the same privilege, or vice versa.”
However, World War II and the challenges of world leadership since then have sent millions of Americans to almost every quarter of the globe. Many of them are Masons, and most of them have been bewildered by the absence of universality in Masonic recognitions of other Masonic bodies. To young men engaged in programs of international significance, the explanations given for such Masonic “non-acceptance” are “ancient prejudices.” They actually believe that knowledge, good will, and brotherly love can cut such Gordian knots very quickly!
The theory of Masonic brotherhood leads a man to suppose that, if he has been regularly made a Mason, he has the “right of visitation” in any symbolic Lodge in the world. He believes that every Brother Mason must recognize and accept him as a Brother, regardless of race, nationality, or religion. One of an idealist’s most serious disillusionments about the disparity between Masonic teaching and practice is the checkered patterns of recognitions and non-recognitions between the Grand Lodges of Freemasonry.
It takes some sympathy and much knowledge of the history of the Craft to understand the reasons for such imperfection. It takes some faith in Masonic education to hope for the eventual “universality” of Masonic recognitions. An objective evaluation of the work of the Commission on Information for Recognition of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America reveals a growing appreciation and understanding of Central and South American Freemasonry by North American Grand Lodges. The Inter-American Confederation of Central and South American Grand Lodges has authorized a similar commission.
In the words of Grand Master Hipolito Marcano of Puerto Rico “…the fundamental aim of the Confederation should be to contribute to the growth and consolidation of ideal universal Freemasonry, by not only deciding on rules for recognition between groups in Latin America but also by applying those rules to all Latin American Grand Lodges.”
A Universal Masonry? It is still a “dream” of dedicated Masons, even though it has never existed in all the relationships which have developed between various groups of the Craft. Are “they” regular? That’s a question which still suggests how lacking in universality Freemasonry is.
But this is not to suggest that such universality can be immediately achieved by merely desiring it. There are some fundamental differences in philosophy and beliefs which still stand in the way. There is real disagreement as to what Freemasonry actually is and what it stands for.
Language barriers have been a real difficulty. Doctrines like “exclusive territorial jurisdiction” have not been everywhere accepted. The proper relationships between Symbolic Lodges and other rites took a long time to be settled satisfactorily, and even today are not thoroughly understood by the average Mason.
The classic example of the differences of opinion which prevent a truly universal Masonry is the non-recognition of the Grand Orient of France by practically all English-speaking Grand Lodges.
In 1868 the Grand Orient of France, which had never acknowledged the doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction, recognized in Louisiana a “Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in and for the Sovereign and Independent State of Louisiana,” a body which also claimed control over the Symbolic degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry, as well as over those of the Scottish Rite.
The Grand Lodge of Louisiana protested strongly against this invasion of its territory and prerogatives. It called on its sister Grand Lodges, especially in the United States, to support it by withdrawing recognition of the Grand Orient of France. In 1869 fifteen American Grand Lodges did so, and by 1876 all but three of the United States Grand Lodges had broken off relationships with the Grand Orient as a protest against its “invasion” of Louisiana.
When the Grand Orient amended its constitution in 1877 to remove the requirement of a belief in God and immortality and to make the use of the Bible optional with the Lodges, the re sult was to make the “excommunication” of the Grand Orient of France almost complete in the English-speaking Masonic world. This time, the United Lodge of England called for severance of Masonic relationships to protest the French innovations. United States Grand Lodges had, for the most part, never reestablished fraternal relations with the Grand Orient, even though that body had discontinued its invasion of Louisiana, so they merely continued their non-recognitions or issued restatements of their policy of non-intercourse and non-recognition.
English-speaking Freemasonry is in agreement in its insistence upon belief in a G.A.O.T.U. and the presence of a V.S.L. on the altar as indispensable to a Lodge at work. Even though the Grand Orient of France gave a philosophical explanation of its constitutional amendment in 1877, and showed that it was more responsive to the real situation in France I the Roman Church, Anglo-Saxon Freemasonry turned a deaf ear to the doctrine of “absolute freedom of conscience,” especially the freedom to believe or not to believe in a Supreme Being.
As a result, the Grand Orient of France is still not “recognized” by most of the Grand Lodges of the world. Other European Grand Lodges have had difficulty in “getting recognition” from English-speaking Grand Lodges in direct proportion to the relationships they had developed with the Grand Orient or its satellites.
But such technical or “doctrinal” differences are only the surface manifestations of the absence of universality in Masonic thinking and purpose. There is a great difference between Freemasonry in England and the Craft in the United States. There are even greater differences between the practices of Freemasonry in South and North America.
In fact, there are distinct differences in Freemasonry in various regions of the United States, and these differences have very little to do with the ritual and the ceremonies. They are differences of interpretation and definition about what Freemasonry really is and what its most important purpose should be. Some of the Ancient Charges and Constitutions are interpreted in opposite directions; some are given lip service; some are merely ignored.
A universal Masonry? One has to admit that it is still a “dream.” The very human limitations of all men, including Masons, is responsible for the slow progress toward the goal of the Brotherhood of Man.
Yet every Master Builder had to dream to raise an edifice of lasting beauty. He had to envision the structure of all its glory in order to lay designs upon the trestleboard for the Craftsmen to execute. When he knew that they were well trained, true, and skillful, he could dream his dream with confidence and joy. He built well because he dared to dream well.
No Speculative Mason can deride the dream of a universal Masonry, a universal Brotherhood of Man, without undermining the one common and universal aspiration of the fraternity which has appealed to men in every age and climate. The Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God is the universal dream of men of good will everywhere who call themselves Masons.
To abandon that dream is to abandon Freemasonry. To abolish those tenets is to abolish Freemasonry. A Mason must dream if he is to continue his speculative building.
A universal Masonry? Keep dreaming and building; it’s on its way!