STANDARD OF MASONIC CONDUCT
This Short Talk
Bulletin has been adapted from a paper of the same title
prepared by the Committee on Masonic Research and Education
of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Minnesota.
It has been
said that the purpose of Freemasonry is the pursuit of
excellence. All of the teachings of Masonry are directed to
excellence in performing our duties to God, our country, our
neighbors and ourselves. The continuing effort to improve
oneself is the true mark of a Mason. This principle was
stated well by Grand Master Donald J. Flood at the annual
communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.
constantly remember that in every moment of our life - in
public - at work - at pleasure - with our families - even
when you are alone - You are a Mason!
who know us will judge each of US, and Masonry itself, by
the way in which we conduct ourselves. We have in trust the
reputation of Masonry. Let us not betray that trust! Masonry
will flourish if we follow these precepts.
“Before we can
expect to attract good men to the fraternity by our conduct
and reputation in public, we must learn to conduct ourselves
with propriety in the Lodge. One of our first duties shall
be loyalty to the fraternity and obedience to its laws. This
is a fundamental requirement.
not the result of law, but rather of tradition, custom and
usage. Like good manners, it has behind it only the force of
opinion. While there (may be) no penalties for breaches,
there are tangible rewards for observance of the rules and
ceremonies of good manners!”
philosopher advised “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
This also applies to your actions when you are visiting
another Lodge, particularly in other states or countries.
While the principles and ideals of Masonry are universal,
social customs and Masonic traditions and laws differ from
place to place. For example, all Masonic Lodges open with a
prayer and it is not surprising that the words of the prayer
may vary from place to place. When we go to other states in
our country we find that the attitude of prayer is not the
same everywhere and in other countries the name of Deity may
even be different. Likewise we find that the customs
concerning such things as the proper way to address a
Brother or a Lodge officer, the appropriate dress for a
lodge meeting, proper topics of conversation, and even the
working tools and the Grand Masonic Word change as we go
around the world. But wherever you may be, you can be sure
that respect and honesty toward Masons and Masonry, as
taught by the square and com-pass, will be the fundamental
guide for your conduct.
In this paper
we will discuss the principles, traditions and ideals that
should guide our con-duct as Masons. This paper does not
present a list of Masonic do’s and don’ts. Such an attempt
would fail for at least two reasons: first, no one would
read it, and second, as Masons, each of us is expected to
apply the tools and principles of our Craft to our own
One of the most
interesting experiences in Masonry is to visit a Lodge in
another Grand Jurisdiction. Whether it is in a foreign
country or just in another state, there will be interesting
and surprising differences. But, a word of caution, you must
comply with the laws and customs of the Masonic Jurisdiction
in which you are traveling! Therefore, before you visit,
find out what to expect. The List of Lodges Masonic, found
in every Lodge, give the names and locations of all the
Lodges in the world that are recognized by the Grand Lodge.
Since there are clandestine Lodges, it is essential that
this book be consulted. Finally, if you are in a foreign
country, you should consult the Grand Lodge office in that
In the United
States and Canada, a current dues card is required as proof
of membership. However, there are countries where a dues
card will not be accepted. In these cases a letter of
introduction from your Grand Lodge is necessary.
appropriate dress, a dark business suit is often acceptable
for a Lodge meeting. But, in some Grand Jurisdictions,
for-mal dress is required even for side-liners. Outside of
North America you will usually be expected to have your own
apron, so carry it with you. Regarding Masonic pins, rings,
etc., these are often worn only within the Lodge. Some Grand
Lodges even have rules that prohibit wearing these in
public. And then there are countries which have outlawed
Freemasonry. It is not prudent to even carry a pin into
Between Masons - While this is not an area of strict Masonic
regulation, it is a sub-ject addressed by ritual, traditions
and Masonic law. Our ritual states that “no contention
should ever exist” between Master Masons. Tradition has
interpreted this to include the subject of law suits,
requiring that Brothers make every at-tempt to resolve such
differences without recourse to the courts.
Advertisements and Contacts - The general rule in these
matters is that you should not seek financial benefit from
your Masonic membership. To do otherwise is considered to be
in poor taste at the best and unmasonic or even criminal at
the worst. Lodge membership lists cannot be used for
business mailings. Masonic membership cannot be used in a
commercial or political advertisement or sign. The square
and compasses cannot be used for any commercial purpose, as
a symbol or a design. This point has been tested in the
courts and Masonry has the exclusive use of this emblem.
Respect - Every
person has a basic need for both self-respect and the
respect of others. When our friends show, by word or deed,
that they hold us in low regard, we may react as strongly as
if we were threatened. On the other side, we would do almost
anything for a person who holds us in high esteem. Thus,
respect is both the least honor that we require and the
highest honor that we can hope for in our dealings with our
“respect” includes courtesy, tolerance, kindness, sympathy,
prudence, temperance, and a host of other concepts that
refer to our relationships with people. It encompasses our
words, our actions, our appearance and even our thoughts.
Inside the Lodge and outside of it, we should strive to
demonstrate in every way our respect for a Brother’s honor,
feelings, efforts, hopes and any other part of his life that
we may contact.
within the Lodge is the concern of all Masons, it is
especially important for the officers of the Lodge. Once
again we quote from Brother Flood’s comments:
expect our Brothers to know these principles if we don’t
teach them and practice them. This is Masonic education in
its finest sense.
“It is not from
the lack of desire to learn that the Craft suffers, but
rather from the lack of instruction.
not exist for the mechanics of ritual alone. Just as
important is the learning, interpretation and
exemplification of that ritual and of the basic principles
of our Order. Equally important, too, for the candidate and
for every member is the need to fully understand these
principles, as well as our responsibilities as Masons.
required of every single one of us is the dedicated and
devoted application of the high moral principles of Masonry.
By these simple methods, we develop the character that
guarantees our own self-improvement and discharges the
duties of God, our country, our neighbors and ourselves.”
set the example for the whole Craft, before seeking or
accepting a line position a man should be certain that he is
willing to demonstrate the highest standards.
Dress - In many
Jurisdictions there is no mandatory dress code, but this
does not mean that we should disregard our appearance.
Al-though as Masons “We regard no man for his worldly wealth
. . . . “, human society everywhere considers a man’s
outward appearance to reflect his inner self and attitudes.
Your manner of dress reflects the respect that you have for
the dignity of Masonry, its work, its goals, and its
members. At all times your apparel should be appropriate for
the occasion and those attending, remembering that the altar
of Masonry is the altar of God. Thus the clothes you would
wear for a golf tournament or a degree in an underground
mine may not be appropriate for work done in the Lodge
Meetings - At the sound of the gavel in the East, the
officers and brethren take their places and the Lodge comes
to order. This means that everyone is seated unless called
up by the Worshipful Master or unless rising to ad-dress the
Worshipful Master. In most introduc-tions all speaking is
directed to the East. Therefore it is improper for two
Brothers to speak to each other during an open discussion,
unless directed by the Worshipful Master, and it is never
proper for two Brothers to hold a private conversation
(whispered or otherwise) in a Lodge at labor.
at each degree is instructed in the proper way to salute. He
is also told that he should salute when rising to address
the Worshipful Master and when entering or retiring from a
Lodge while it is at labor. These instructions remain in
effect even after we have completed our degrees. Always rise
when speaking, even if you are only giving a second to a
motion. Give salutes that are accurate and precise. A
sloppy salute is actually a sign of disrespect! Finally,
when referring to a Brother or when ad-dressing him,
courtesy requires that we use the term “Brother” followed by
his last name. Of course, “Worshipful Brother Jones,” “Right
Worshipful Brother Smith,” or “Most Worshipful Brother
Flood” are also proper forms.
The proper way
to enter or retire from a Lodge is not always clear to new
Masons. When entering or leaving a Lodge at labor, the
proper place to stand, while giving the salute, is at the
west of the altar. Not at at the door or at your seat. The
salute is normally given to the East, but the Worshipful
Master may direct these salutes to be given to the Senior
Warden. Of course, everyone should enter through the Tyler’s
door. The preparation room door is for candidates only.
Every member guards that door, and the ballot is the key
that locks or unlocks it.
probably no other topics of discussion that have caused as
much ill will, alienation and contention as have politics
and religion. In the interest of harmony among Brothers, it
is considered un-Masonic to introduce any religious,
political, or other divisive topic into a Masonic
A final word
for the officers of the lodge. The flag of our country and
the Great Light of Masonry merit our utmost respect, both in
their care and their handling. The Bible should be handled
with reverence and care, the flag should be treated with
honor and should fly freely when being carried. The other
jewels, furniture, and regalia should be cared for and kept
in good repair to demonstrate the high regard we hold for
our Craft and its work.
- One of the most solemn and meaningful events in a Mason’s
life is the time of his raising. Yet we often see this
degree marred by laughter and inappropriate comments. The
Grand Lodge of Arizona requires the following to be read at
the beginning of the second section of the Master Mason
“A candidate is
about to be raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason.
The Lodge room will be used as a stage to enact a drama
which, symbolically unfolds the great lesson of the
immortality of the soul.
impress the candidate with the seriousness of this ceremony,
there must be no talking, whispering, laughing or other
commotion during the conferring of the degree. Bear in mind
the fact the Temple, for this portion of the degree, is
supposed to be silent and unoccupied.
participants in the drama are to speak, and they are
instructed to make no facial expressions, gestures or other
unusual deliveries which might induce levity. The
cooperation of each one here present is EXPECTED.
to these instructions will help serve as an impressive
climax to the candidate’s progress in Freemasonry and this
section of the degrees could well be one of the richest
experiences of his life.”
contained in this statement are equally appropriate for all
degree work, lectures, preparations and gatherings connected
with the degrees. Nowhere does Masonry give any man license
to take liberties with another. Comments that are intended
to arouse a candidate’s concern for his personal dignity or
safety are among the most discourteous acts that can be
inflicted upon a candidate. Such actions are a gross
misrepresentation of the Craft and are disrespectful to all
of its members.
There is one
form of disruption of degree work which comes from the best
of intentions - side-line prompting. How often have we seen
a forgotten word, or even a dramatic pause, produce an
uproar as a number of concerned Brothers attempt to help the
speaker. Prompting should be done only by the Worshipful
Master or the one designated by him. The Masonic virtues of
silence and circumspection are nowhere more appropriate than
in this situation.
points of our entrance, as reflected in the four cardinal
virtues of temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice,
provide us with a complete guide for truly Masonic action.
It behooves each of us to periodically evaluate ourselves
against these four standards, to see where we have those
rough corners to which the common gavel can profitably be
Am I temperate
in my relations with others, or have I been excessive in my
actions toward someone? Have I displayed fortitude in
pursuing the excellence I can achieve, or have I chosen to
do as everyone else does? Do I direct myself wisely and
prudently, or do I sometimes go beyond the bounds of
courtesy and good taste? Have I given to each Brother,
candidate, friend, and associate the consideration, help,
and respect which they justly deserve, or have I let my own
pride, comfort, and desires blind me to their needs?
These are the
standards of Masonry. It is not easy to apply them to
ourselves. But then, being a master of any craft is never
easy, and being the Master of oneself is perhaps the most
difficult of all.