Formally recognizing a Masonic lodge

Great care must be taken when joining a Masonic lodge in order to determine whether the lodge you intend to receive membership into is truly a recognized and “regular” Masonic lodge or whether it may, in fact, be “clandestine”. The Secretary of your chosen lodge will be able to provide you with a printed directory of all of the lodges, worldwide, that your particular Grand Jurisdiction recognizes. Obviously, you should be able to find your lodge listed among the lodges that your state’s Grand Lodge recognizes as “regular”.

Masonic lodges receive their charter from a constituted Grand Lodge, usually from the Grand Jurisdiction in which they reside. In the case of New Mexico, however, the earliest Masonic lodges in the territory, long before statehood, received their charters from the Grand Lodge of Missouri. Once the first four lodges in New Mexico (Montezuma No. 1, Chapman No. 2, Aztec No. 3, and Union No. 4) were formed and established they sought to form their own Grand Lodge jurisdiction within the territory. Upon forming, and thereby being formally recognized as a Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge of New Mexico was granted the ability to allow new Masonic lodges to form and conduct Masonic work.

The question naturally follows that if a Grand Lodge jurisdiction may allow a Masonic lodge to be chartered, who charters a Grand Lodge jurisdiction? The simple answer is that another Grand Lodge jurisdiction may grant another jurisdiction the right to conduct Masonic work, but they must first follow a strict set of rules. In the case of all of the Masonic lodges we recognize as “regular”, and Grand Lodge jurisdictions to which they belong, they adhere to the basic principles of the United Grand Lodge of England (the UGLE) which are spelled out in the Book of Constitutions and accepted in 1949.

The excerpt below states the core beliefs of a regularly constituted lodge of Masons and is the standard by which the Grand Lodge of New Mexico judges all Grand Jurisdictions seeking recognition from the Grand Lodge of New Mexico. The full text of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Book of Constitutions may be found by following this link: http://www.ugle.org.uk/about/book-of-constitutions. If any particular lodge cannot conform to these principles, or a brother violates them, he may be found to be guilty of un-Masonic conduct and the lodge possibly labeled as “clandestine”.

AIMS AND RELATIONSHIPS OF THE CRAFT
Accepted by the Grand Lodge, September 7, 1949

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:

1. From time to time the United Grand Lodge of England 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 organized body in 1717, and also to define the principles governing its relations with those other Grand Lodges with which it is in fraternal accord.

2. 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 emphasize certain fundamental principles of the Order.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. While English Freemasonry thus 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, not at any time in his capacity as a Freemason, is he permitted to discuss or to advance his views on theological or political questions.

7. 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 any 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.

8. 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 England refuses absolutely to have any relations with such Bodies, or to regard them as Freemasons.

9. The Grand Lodge of England is a Sovereign and independent Body practising Freemasonry only within the three Degrees and only within the limits defi ned in its Constitution as ‘pure Antient Masonry’. It does not recognize or admit the existence of any superior Masonic authority, however styled.

10. On more than one occasion the Grand Lodge has refused, and 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 England is founded. The Grand Lodge does not admit any such claim, nor can its views be represented by any such Association.

11. 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 recognized as Freemasons by the United Grand Lodge of England.

The Grand Lodge of England has been asked if it still stands by this declaration, particularly in regard to paragraph 7. The Grand Lodge of England replied that it stood by every word of the declaration, and has since asked for the opinion of the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland. A conference has been held between the three Grand Lodges, and all unhesitatingly reaffirm 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.

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