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The Nature of Freemasonry

José A. Filardo, P.´. M.´.

In our series of articles and researches published in the Review, we sought to clarify the influences and background to the formation of the Institution that we now know as Freemasonry.

First, in we show what was the Operative Masonry in Europe as the main element that informs our structure and symbolism.

Then we showed what were the English Guilds also called Livery Companies.

Then, we particularized the Stonemasons Guild as all indications have been that our founders based on it to structure the new institution.

In our research, however, we came with a crucial information about the political environment of the time that may have determined the formation of the first Grand Lodge and its diffusion henceforth – the Riot Act of 1715.

Social control

In our post about the Riot Act, we developed the theory that Freemasonry represented a reaction to an oppressive and dictatorial environment existing at the time that subjected British citizens to the threat of capital punishment in case 12 people met.

I wish …

We must remember and keep in mind that England, since 1533, with a brief interval in the reign of Mary Stuart (1553 – 1558) was a Protestant country, and we could say that the Reverends Desagulliers and Anderson enjoyed prestige with the House of Hanover. We cannot also forget the tension between Catholics and Protestants, making religion an expression of political differences, once the Jacobites were Catholics, and the Hanoverian were Protestants.

The Riot Act of 1715, a draconian measure did not establish exceptions. It simply suspended the right of assembly, and caused a situation of oppression to which the British was not accustomed. And, of course, the discontent increased.

Besides, the fact that the situation that caused the release of the Riot Act lasted for the next 30 years, until the Jacobites finally lost strength and accepted their fate.

However, how to legalize the right of Assembly to a limited extent and only between the chosen ones?

The Crown’s strategists soon found a brilliant solution. A disciplined organization in which the political and religious discussion was prohibited. Alternatively, it offered discussions about the sex of angels and other most important discussions about symbolism and esoteric tradition, that changed the course of the conversation and satisfied the longing of the British for the right of Assembly.

This turns the Protestant pastors Desagulliers and Anderson into agents of a Government that offered a limited freedom to the thinking portion of English society.

They shaped the institution from a long-standing tradition, the Operative Masonry which, in England, were the Livery companies heirs of the operative phase of the guilds; they molded the assembly space based on the structure of the plenary of the House of Commons (giving  the feeling to the freemasons whom participated in important discussions);

Plan of the House of Commons in the British Parliament

and added an esteemed institution of the British – the Gentlemen’s Club that had appeared not long ago (1693),

Gentlemen’s Club Brooks

of which they took the voting system with black and white balls and exclusively male admission rule.

“We can now no longer be in doubt that the Freemasons’ Lodges which arose in 1717 were nothing else but a new sort of Clubs : does not the the Book of Constitutions state that the newly initiated found in a Lodge a safe and pleasant relaxation from intense study or
the hurry of business, without politics or party. ” (Cramer, B. – The Origin of Freemasonry – AQC vol 2, p. 106 )

By banning the discussion of politics and religion in the lodges, they disarmed the spirits and “framed” the unhappy or potentially discontented, thus avoiding the aggravation of the Jacobite crisis.

It also seems to have been their agenda to sabotage the Catholic Church because they were Hanoverian Protestants. They attacked simultaneously the two most important points of the political environment of their time, Politics and Religion.

The Jacobite reaction came through a conflict between the Antient and Modern masons. This conflict, although occurring in terms of differences related to the Masonic Constitution and the aspect of the Freemasons’ religion, it masked the interests of Protestants and Catholics. The retreat of the Moderns was evidently a tactical retreat that leveraged the diffusion of the new institution.

The Catholic Church soon reacted to the evident intention of the new institution of fighting the obscurantism and the ruling of the church over the society of the time. One should consider that from the papal point of view, England escaped completely from the control of the Church since Henry VIII (1533) and freemasonry was a huge threat to his authority. They needed to prevent its dissemination among its “customers.”

Pope Clement XII in 1738, issued the papal bull that excommunicates Catholics who become Freemasons. This sentence is valid till our days, in spite of the alienated American Freemasons and some Englishmen sticking to the letter from Cardinal Sepe who tried to relativize the excommunication and claimed that American Freemasonry did not fit in the hypothesis of the bull, as it does not conspire against the Church. However, several popes reiterated the excommunication, including the current pope Benedict XVI.

The hope of Freemasons who profess the Catholicism is vain. The excommunication will never be raised, for the simple fact that the Church has as dogma the papal infallibility and the revocation of a bull would mean admitting that Pope Clement XII was wrong.

Church and Freemasonry are, in fact, two sides of the same coin. One has the dogma of papal infallibility, and the other has the Landmark # 25 of Mackay, according to which nothing can be changed in the institution.

However, there is a fundamental difference. Freemasonry is the Church without superstition, and it seeks to save the physical body of humanity using the reason, while the holy mother says that it wants to save the soul by manipulating fear and ignorance.

So, the Church continues controlling society through the confessional box, while Freemasonry makes it through the control of the behavior of the freemasons and of the lodges, and increasing its numbers with the recruitment of the ruling elite of society. They are two complementary institutions that the Establishment uses for social control. Those who escape the control of the Holy Mother Church and take refuge in Freemasonry are equally controlled.

The British Crown’s agents who invented Freemasonry sought to make it as comprehensive as possible, thus covering the entire range of religious preferences, and ensuring their domain.

They were men of their time, but they showed extraordinary insight.

However, they did not dare to achieve what only later the French – traditional iconoclasts – achieved: to eliminate the divine. For the English founding fathers – and they were absolutely correct in their analysis – an atheist cannot be a Freemason. And the reason is very simple: If someone is capable of denying the maximum limit, he will be able to deny anything. Therefore, he is a free and uncontrollable individual. He is unsuitable  for Freemasonry. It needs conformists.

A recent example (1929) of this social control is evidenced by the text on the New Welcome Lodge 5139, published in

In summary, it is the creation of a lodge, especially for members of the English labour party, because the Grand Master – the Prince of Wales – was of the opinion that the members and party officials were blackballed in their applications for Freemasonry.

So far, all well, an opportunity is being offered to those who need it, and it is being denied.

What is interesting is the end of the text of brother Sir Rockliff:

“In addition, the promoters feel strongly that Freemasonry would exert a stabilizing influence (“as citizens of the world”) on those who are brought into it and helps make inoperative any disturbing influence that may exist at work in factories and in other places.

The men who make up the main association of army and Navy lodges belong to the industrial classes, and they made an oath of allegiance.

One expects to imbue in their civilian colleagues the same spirit of loyalty through citizenship Lodge” (emphasis added).  

(Note: The Citizenship Lodge was the name initially given to the lodge, and later changed to New Welcome.)

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