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Grand Lodge Grand Lodges and Grand Orients are independent and sovereign bodies that govern Masonry in a given country, state, or geographical area termed a jurisdiction. There is no single overarching governing body that presides over worldwide Freemasonry; connections between different jurisdictions depend solely on mutual recognition.

The largest single jurisdiction, in terms of membership, is the United Grand Lodge of England with a membership estimated at around a quarter million. Each Grand Lodge maintains a list of other Grand Lodges that it recognises. When two Grand Lodges are not in amity, inter-visitation is not allowed. There are many reasons one Grand Lodge will withhold or withdraw recognition from another, but the two most common are Exclusive Jurisdiction and Regularity. If two Grand Lodges claim jurisdiction over the same area, the other Grand Lodges will have to choose between them, and they may not all decide to recognise the same one.

In , for example, the Grand Lodge of New York split into two rival factions, each claiming to be the legitimate Grand Lodge. Other Grand Lodges had to choose between them until the schism was healed. Regular Masonic jurisdictions Regularity is a concept based on adherence to Masonic Landmarks , the basic membership requirements, tenets and rituals of the craft. Each Grand Lodge sets its own definition of what these landmarks are, and thus what is Regular and what is Irregular and the definitions do not necessarily agree between Grand Lodges.

Essentially, every Grand Lodge will hold that its landmarks its requirements, tenets and rituals are Regular, and judge other Grand Lodges based on those. If the differences are significant, one Grand Lodge may declare the other "Irregular" and withdraw or withhold recognition. The Grand Lodge should be established by an existing regular Grand Lodge, or by at least three regular Lodges.

A belief in a supreme being and scripture is a condition of membership. Initiates should take their vows on that scripture. Only men can be admitted, and no relationship exists with mixed Lodges.

The Grand Lodge has complete control over the first three degrees, and is not subject to another body. All Lodges shall display a volume of scripture with the square and compasses while in session. There is no discussion of politics or religion. Masonic bodies and List of Masonic Rites Blue Lodge Freemasonry offers only three traditional degrees, and in most jurisdictions, the rank of past or installed master.

Master Masons are also able to extend their Masonic experience by taking further degrees, in appendant bodies approved by their own Grand Lodge. This system is popular in North America and in Continental Europe. Templar and Cryptic Masonry also exist. Ritual and symbolism Main article: A moral lesson is attached to each of these tools, although the assignment is by no means consistent. The meaning of the symbolism is taught and explored through ritual. During these three rituals, the candidate is progressively taught the meanings of the Lodge symbols, and entrusted with grips, signs and words to signify to other Masons that he has been so initiated.

The initiations are part allegory and part lecture, and revolve around the construction of the Temple of Solomon , and the artistry and death of his chief architect, Hiram Abiff. The degrees are those of Entered apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason. While many different versions of these rituals exist, with at least two different lodge layouts and versions of the Hiram myth, each version is recognisable to any Freemason from any jurisdiction.

These painted depictions of Masonic themes are exhibited in the lodge according to which degree is being worked, and are explained to the candidate to illustrate the legend and symbolism of each degree. Accordingly, Masons swear at each degree to keep the contents of that degree secret, and to support and protect their brethren unless they have broken the law. In Progressive continental Freemasonry, books other than scripture are permissible, a cause of rupture between Grand Lodges.

History of Freemasonry Origins Goose and Gridiron, where the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster, later called the Grand Lodge of England was founded Since the middle of the 19th century, Masonic historians have sought the origins of the movement in a series of similar documents known as the Old Charges , dating from the Regius Poem in about [38] to the beginning of the 18th century.

Alluding to the membership of a lodge of operative masons, they relate a mythologised history of the craft, the duties of its grades, and the manner in which oaths of fidelity are to be taken on joining.

The theory had also been postulated in by German professor; J. Many English Lodges joined the new regulatory body, which itself entered a period of self-publicity and expansion.

However, many Lodges could not endorse changes which some Lodges of the GLE made to the ritual they came to be known as the Moderns , and a few of these formed a rival Grand Lodge on 17 July , which they called the " Antient Grand Lodge of England. The Collector for the port of Pennsylvania, John Moore, wrote of attending lodges there in , two years before the formation of the first Grand Lodge in London.

Grand Lodges developed within each state. Some thought was briefly given to organising an overarching "Grand Lodge of the United States," with George Washington who was a member of a Virginian lodge as the first Grand Master, but the idea was short-lived. The various state Grand Lodges did not wish to diminish their own authority by agreeing to such a body.

In , an African American named Prince Hall , [56] along with 14 other African-American men, was initiated into a British military lodge with a warrant from the Grand Lodge of Ireland , having failed to obtain admission from the other lodges in Boston.

When the British military Lodge left North America after the end of the Revolution, those 15 men were given the authority to meet as a Lodge, but not to initiate Masons. This lodge is not to be confused with the various Grand Lodges in Africa.

As with the rest of U. By the s, such discrimination was a thing of the past. Grand Lodges recognise their Prince Hall counterparts, and the authorities of both traditions are working towards full recognition. From France and England, Freemasonry spread to most of Continental Europe during the course of the 18th century. Briefly eclipsed during the French Revolution , French Freemasonry continued to grow in the next century, [61] at first under the leadership of Alexandre Francois Auguste de Grasse , Comte de Grassy-Tilly.

A career Army officer, he had lived with his family in Charleston, South Carolina from to the early s, after leaving Saint-Domingue now Haiti during the years of the Haitian Revolution. Schism The ritual form on which the Grand Orient of France was based was abolished in England in the events leading to the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in However the two jurisdictions continued in amity mutual recognition until events of the s and s drove a seemingly permanent wedge between them.

In the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of the State of Louisiana appeared in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, recognised by the Grand Orient de France, but regarded by the older body as an invasion of their jurisdiction. The new Scottish Rite body admitted blacks. The resolution of the Grand Orient the following year that neither colour, race, nor religion could disqualify a man from Masonry prompted the Grand Lodge to withdraw recognition, and it persuaded other American Grand Lodges to do the same.

The new constitutions read, "Its principles are absolute liberty of conscience and human solidarity", the existence of God and the immortality of the soul being struck out. It is possible that the immediate objections of the United Grand Lodge of England were at least partly motivated by the political tension between France and Britain at the time.

The result was the withdrawal of recognition of the Grand Orient of France by the United Grand Lodge of England, a situation that continues today. In , lodges favouring the compulsory recognition of the Great Architect of the Universe formed the Grande Loge de France. For the Continental lodges, however, having a different approach to Freemasonry was not a reason for severing masonic ties.

The United Grand Lodge of England does not communicate with any of these jurisdictions, and expects its allies to follow suit. This creates the distinction between Anglo-American and Continental Freemasonry. Freemasonry and women and Co-Freemasonry The status of women in the old guilds and corporations of mediaeval masons remains uncertain. The principle of "femme sole" allowed a widow to continue the trade of her husband, but its application had wide local variations, such as full membership of a trade body or limited trade by deputation or approved members of that body.

The French officially abandoned the experiment in the early 19th century. Having failed to achieve acceptance from any masonic governing body, she and Georges Martin started a mixed masonic lodge that worked masonic ritual. Meanwhile, the French had re-invented Adoption as an all-female lodge in , only to cast it aside again in The lodges, however, continued to meet, which gave rise, in , to a body of women practising continental Freemasonry.

While they were not, therefore, recognised as regular, they were part of Freemasonry "in general". Anti-Masonry alternatively called Anti-Freemasonry has been defined as "opposition to Freemasonry", [84] [85] but there is no homogeneous anti-Masonic movement.

Anti-Masonry consists of widely differing criticisms from diverse and often incompatible groups who are hostile to Freemasonry in some form. Critics have included religious groups, political groups, and conspiracy theorists. These often lack context, [86] may be outdated for various reasons, [87] or could be outright hoaxes on the part of the author, as in the case of the Taxil hoax. The political opposition that arose after the " Morgan Affair " in gave rise to the term Anti-Masonry, which is still in use today, both by Masons in referring to their critics and as a self-descriptor by the critics themselves.

Opposition to Freemasonry within Christianity Although members of various faiths cite objections, certain Christian denominations have had high-profile negative attitudes to Masonry, banning or discouraging their members from being Freemasons. The denomination with the longest history of objection to Freemasonry is the Catholic Church. The objections raised by the Catholic Church are based on the allegation that Masonry teaches a naturalistic deistic religion which is in conflict with Church doctrine.

The Code of Canon Law explicitly declared that joining Freemasonry entailed automatic excommunication , and banned books favouring Freemasonry. Unlike its predecessor, the Code of Canon Law did not explicitly name Masonic orders among the secret societies it condemns. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.

His writings represented his personal opinion only, and furthermore an opinion grounded in the attitudes and understandings of late 19th century Southern Freemasonry of the USA. Notably, his book carries in the preface a form of disclaimer from his own Grand Lodge. No one voice has ever spoken for the whole of Freemasonry. Roberts was a vocal opponent of Freemasonry in the mid 19th century. Roberts opposed the society on moral grounds and stated, "The god of the lodge is not the God of the Bible.

Freedom from secret societies is one of the "frees" upon which the Free Methodist Church was founded. In recent decades, however, reservations about Freemasonry have increased within Anglicanism, perhaps due to the increasing prominence of the evangelical wing of the church.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury , Dr Rowan Williams , appeared to harbour some reservations about Masonic ritual, whilst being anxious to avoid causing offence to Freemasons inside and outside the Church of England.

In he felt it necessary to apologise to British Freemasons after he said that their beliefs were incompatible with Christianity and that he had barred the appointment of Freemasons to senior posts in his diocese when he was Bishop of Monmouth. This has been generally affirmed throughout the whole Eastern Orthodox Church. The Orthodox critique of Freemasonry agrees with both the Catholic and Protestant versions: However, countries such as Turkey and Morocco have established Grand Lodges, [] while in countries such as Malaysia [] [] and Lebanon [] there are District Grand Lodges operating under a warrant from an established Grand Lodge.

Lodge buildings were confiscated by the government. However, the position changed following the revolution, and all lodges were forced to close in In the wake of the French Revolution , the Unlawful Societies Act banned any meetings of groups that required their members to take an oath or obligation. This continued until , when the obligation of the provision was rescinded by Parliament. Reports of the "Morgan Affair", together with opposition to Jacksonian democracy Andrew Jackson was a prominent Mason , helped fuel an Anti-Masonic movement.


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