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Free-Will and Accord

by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota

Free-Will and Accord.

There are a lot of fine guys in Freemasonry; men who are just a lot of fun to know and hang-out with. Most lodges have this kind of men, and all it takes is the interest to get to know these men a little bit to find out how enjoyable it is.

I was at a rehearsal for a second degree which was going to be part of a one-day to Masonry class. I was the Senior Deacon for both sections of the degree. During this rehearsal I happened to be escorting an extremely nice brother who is one of these fun people to be with; (he was acting as the candidate in the rehearsal) he is also a Past Master, and a 33° in the Scottish Rite. During the rehearsal, when we came to the Master’s station, the Master asked if it was of his own free-will and accord, and he answered, (of course,) “No, my dad’s making me do it.” We all had to smile at that answer, and it was good that it was a rehearsal.

One of the outstanding peculiarities of Freemasonry that is unique among practically any and every group that could be named is the rule that no man may be asked, invited, solicited, or pressured in any way, to enter Freemasonry. This is a good rule, which is just the opposite of most other organizations. Possibly this rule is one reason Freemasonry has had the growth it has had throughout the world, and maybe it is the reason why most Freemasons remain in the fraternity for the rest of their lives. Contrast Freemasonry’s prohibition against proselytism; the custom of some religious groups, societies, or groups, to proselyte, invite, and to urge people to come to this or that particular organization or house of worship.

In contrast to those other kinds of groups; Freemasonry, which is a society of over 4,000,000 in the United States alone, all of whom have petitioned of their own free-will and accord, ‘would be regarded as a phenomenon if it had not existed for such a long time, and which has become so familiar to so many people in the communities of the world.’ Also when you think about it; Freemasonry is evidently quite interesting and intriguing to a large number of men, otherwise we would not have as many men petitioning the lodges as we do, nor would it be so interesting to non-Masons, which it obviously is; consider the popularity of the stories portrayed in books and movies based on the Masonic fraternity.

Mackey when commenting on a man coming to Freemasonry of his own free-will and accord said: "This is a settled landmark of the Order," but, he did not include this ‘settled landmark’ among his list of 25 Landmarks. In his article on Proselytism, Mackey states; “Freemasonry is rigorously opposed to proselytism.” He also wrote: “Nay, it boasts as a peculiar beauty of its system, that it is a voluntary institution.” He also says in his article on proselytism that Freemasonry differs from every other association in the world in its rule against proselytism. His article is well worth the time it takes to read it: you can find his article in the Clegg edition of Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry.

Another peculiarity about the principle of requiring petitioners to come of their own free-will and accord is that no one knows when this rule or custom originated. Even so, there are good reasons for a man to come to Freemasonry on his own without being pressured by friends and associates. When he comes to Freemasonry on his own, if for some reason he decides Freemasonry is not for him, he has no one to blame. But if he were pressured in some way to take the degrees of Masonry, and it turned out not to be for him for some reason, it might result in an injured or broken friendship. Brother Mackey also has said that coming of our own free-will and accord means that Freemasonry is, in the most positive way, a truly voluntary association of men, and that this is where the saying ‘Once a Freemason always a Freemason’ comes from, and has meaning.

Interestingly a man who attends a lodge for an open house, or an informational night, or is merely asked the question about why he never got involved with Freemasonry, and then subsequently fills out a petition after he learns he must ask, and that we don’t invite men to join, can truthfully say he did come of his own free-will and accord.

“You mention your name as if I should recognize it, but beyond the obvious facts that you are a bachelor, a solicitor, a Freemason, and an asthmatic, I know nothing whatever about you.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes – The Norwood Builder Brother Doyle was raised in 1893 in Phoenix Lodge #257 - Portsmouth

From the Great light of Masonry = “May the Lord, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised.” Deuteronomy 1:11 NIV

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Last modified: March 22, 2014