Aims & Relationships of the Craft
This Statement, approved by Grand Lodge on the 4th of August 1949, is required to be read aloud at the Annual Installation Meeting of every Lodge within the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
In August 1938 the Grand Lodges of England, Ireland and Scotland each agreed upon and issued a statement identical in terms except that the name of the issuing Grand Lodge appeared throughout. This statement, which was entitled “Aims and Relationships of the Craft”, was in the following terms:-
- From time to time the Grand Lodge of Scotland has deemed it desirable to set forth in precise form the aims of Freemasonry as consistently practised under its jurisdiction since it came into being as an organised body in 1736, and also to define the principles governing its relations with those other Grand Lodges with which it is in fraternal accord.
- In view of representations which have been received, and of statements recently issued which have distorted or obscured the true objects of Freemasonry, it is once again considered necessary to emphasise certain fundamental principles of the Order.
- The first condition of admission into, and membership of, the Order is a belief in the Supreme Being. This is essential and admits of no compromise.
- The Bible, referred to by Freemasons as the Volume of the Sacred Law, is always open in the Lodges. Every candidate is required to take his obligation on that Book, or on the Volume which is held by his particular Creed to impart sanctity to an oath or promise taken upon it.
- Everyone who enters Freemasonry is, at the outset, strictly forbidden to countenance any act which may have a tendency to subvert the peace and good order of society, he must pay due obedience to the law of any state in which he resides or which may afford him protection, and he must never be remiss in the allegiance due to the Sovereign of his native land.
- While Scottish Freemasonry 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.
- 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 an action however humanitarian it may appear to be, which infringes its unalterable policy of standing aloof from every question affecting the relations between one Government and another, or between political parties, or questions as to rival theories of Government.
- 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 Scotland refuses absolutely to have any relations with such bodies or to regard them as Freemasons.
- The Grand Lodge of Scotland is a sovereign and independent body practising Freemasonry only within the three Degrees and only within the limits defined in its Constitution. It does not recognise or admit the existence of any superior Masonic authority however styled.
- On more than one occasion the Grand Lodge has refused, and it will continue to refuse, to participate in conferences with so-called International Associations claiming to represent Freemasonry, which admit to membership bodies failing to conform strictly to the principles upon which the Grand Lodge of Scotland is founded. The Grand Lodge does not admit any such claim, nor can its views be represented by any such Association.
- There is no secret with regard to any of the basic principles of Freemasonry, some of which have been stated above. The Grand Lodge will always consider the recognition of those Grand Lodges which profess and practise and can show that they have consistently professed and practised, those established and unaltered principles, but in no circumstances will it enter into discussion with a view to any new or varied interpretation of them. They must be accepted and practised wholeheartedly and in their entirety by those who desire to be recognised as Freemasons by the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
A conference was held in 1949 between the three Grand Lodges, and all unhesitatingly reaffirmed the statement that was pronounced in 1938; nothing in present-day affairs has been found that could cause them to recede from that attitude.
If Freemasonry once deviated from its course by expressing an opinion on political or theological questions, it would be called upon not only publicly to approve or denounce any movement which might arise in the future, but would sow the seeds of discord among its own members.
The three Grand Lodges are convinced that it is only by this rigid adherence to this policy that Freemasonry has survived the constantly changing doctrines of the outside world, and are compelled to place on record their complete disapproval of any action which may tend to permit the slightest departure from the basic principles of Freemasonry. They are strongly of opinion that if any of the three Grand Lodges does so, it cannot maintain a claim to be following the Antient Landmarks of the Order, and must ultimately face disintegration.