Freemasons collectively; Also called: Masonry.
The beliefs and practices of a group of linked national organizations open to men over the age of 21, united by a common code of morals and certain traditional “secrets”. Modern freemasonry began in 18th-century Europe. Freemasons do much charitable work, but have been criticized in recent years for their secrecy, their male exclusivity, and their alleged use of influence within and between organizations (for example, the police or local government) to further each other’s interests. There are approximately 6 million members.
Freemasons believe in God, whom they call the “Great Architect of the Universe”.
Freemasonry is descended from a medieval guild of itinerant masons, which existed in the 14th century and by the 16th was admitting men unconnected with the building trade. The term “freemason” may have meant a full member of the guild or one working in free-stone, that is, a mason of the highest class. There were some 25 lodges in 17th-century Scotland, of which 16 were in centers of masonic skills such as stonemasonry.
The present order of Free and Accepted Masons originated with the formation in London of the first Grand Lodge, or governing body, in 1717, and during the 18th century spread from Britain to the us, continental Europe, and elsewhere. In France and other European countries, freemasonry assumed a political and anticlerical character; it has been condemned by the papacy, and in some countries was suppressed by the state. In Italy the freemasonic lodge P2 was involved in a number of political scandals from the 1980s.
A natural or instinctive fellowship between people of similar interests: SYN. Free Masonry, Freemasonry