As of late many Masons and non-Masons alike have been asking the question: "What is the difference between the United Grand Lodge of America and other forms of Freemasonry?" It is the purpose of this paper to answer the question and to clarify the position of the United Grand Lodge of America regarding the 'Antient' state Grand Lodges.
Let's begin by looking at some key distinctions that set the United Grand Lodge of America apart from the "Antient" state Grand Lodges.
- Its stated mission is the brotherhood of all mankind under theAll-Seeing Eye of Deity as opposed to simply making good men better
- It is a union of diversity as opposed to a union of conformity
- Its charities are directly related to its stated mission as opposed to charities for the sake of being charitable
- It is a confederation of sovereign lodges as opposed to a federation of lodges under a sovereign grand lodge
- Its lodges meet and work on the first degree (Entered Apprentice) so all members can participate as opposed to working and meeting on the Master's degree
- Its lodges work the rituals of the "Moderns" of 1735 as opposed to those of the "Antients" of 1751
- Its lodges are free to choose between either the Blue or Red symbolic degrees as opposed to being forced to work only the blue
- It does not restrict what other organizations its members can belong to as opposed to restricting and controlling what other organizations one may choose to join
- It is open to working with all Freemasons as opposed to recognizing only some Masons through segregation based on either sex or race
- Its Grand Master is elected to serve for only the day the Grand Lodge is in session as opposed to one (sometimes two) year terms where he governs over the lodges and the Craft
The United Grand Lodge of America is about establishing a true and meaningful brotherhood within the Craft and then extending the same throughout the world. This begins with tolerance and equality in our lodges. It is our belief that Freemasons must lead be example and that ideals alone are without quantifiable value.
It is a common misunderstanding that the United Grand Lodge of America is opposed to our "Antient" brethren from the state Grand Lodges. We are not in any way opposed to these good brothers and hold them in the highest esteem. They are always welcome in any of our lodges. It is the injustice, racism, segregation and intolerance of some of their Grand Lodges which we find offensive and deplorable. These Grand Lodges bring shame upon their members as well as all of Freemasonry. There are, however, many good and honorable Grand Lodges within the "Antient" system and it would be unjust of us to lump them together with those who are of lesser merit. State Grand Lodges such as Vermont, Idaho, Kansas, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin are beautiful examples of how Grand Lodges should conduct themselves, and the happiness and contentedness of their members speaks more directly to this than anything else.
When attempting to understand Freemasonry and its various Grand Lodges it is important to understand that there are many differences, and that taking the time to understand these differences will be important to your future happiness within Freemasonry. These differences exist because people are different and have many diverse ideas, wants and needs. It would be difficult for any one organization to meet the needs of such diversity because it is extremely difficult to be all things to all people. Many people enjoy working with their spouses and Co-Masonry provides a means to do that. Some enjoy working in a predefined environment where conformity to the group mentality makes them feel a part of something greater than themselves. Then there are those who enjoy diversity and find strength of character through working with people who bring new and unique ideas into their organization. None of these Freemasons are right or wrong; they are just different. The United Grand Lodge of America, because it is a union of diversity, is open to working with all of them while remaining true to its mission.
It is my sincere hope that I have been able to shed some light upon the differences that make the United Grand Lodge of America what it is, and clarified any misunderstandings that you may have had. As we go forward let all Freemasons join in the noble quest for the brotherhood of man under the All-Seeing Eye of Deity.
— Bro. Jeff Peace
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