Freemasonry & Higher Education

Following on from an earlier blog, I contacted the FOI departments of 131 UK Higher Education establishments, asking each about their institution’s position on Freemasonry, with respect to their students and staff. Within 48 hours 77 acknowledgments had been received (59%), including a handful of immediate and brief replies:

  1. The University of Cambridge: “… does not have any formal ‘position’ on freemasonry, including in statements on institutional positions as released to the media. Accordingly the information you have requested is not held.”
    [N.B. The Isaac Newton University Lodge (est. 1861) is a Masonic Lodge, close by the University’s Botanic Gardens, primarily for the benefit of past and present members of Cambridge University.]
  2. University of Winchester: “Members of the University’s Board of Governors have to declare membership. Other than that, the University has no policy.”

  3. Heythrop College (University of London): “…  has no policy relating to Freemasonry amongst its students and staff.”

  4. Northumbria University: “… we have no ‘position’ on Freemasonry amongst students or staff.”
  5. Goldsmiths, University of London: “… does not have a policy or position on the matter you raise and therefore we do not hold any information relevant to your request.”

I suspect that these few responses represent the majority. If anything more interesting arises, I’ll let you know. But why should we the uninitiated (known as ‘profane’ by Masons) be concerned about recruitment of young people into ‘the Craft’, whether in universities or elsewhere?

  • No mainstream Lodge or Grand Lodge of Freemasons accepts women as full members. Sexism in universities
  • Freemasonry has atrophied into a ritualistic men’s club that promotes none of the intellectual curiosity of Isaac Newton‘s day.
  • The close and high-level connections with Royalty reinforce concerns about Freemasonry and an already too powerful Establishment dictating terms in British society.
  • The essentially secretive nature of Freemasonry fuels speculation about allegations of corruption, both nationally and worldwide: e.g.

The Met and Freemasonry

Police corruption and Freemasonry

Local political corruption and Freemasonry

Convicted sex offender and the Establishment

Convicted sex offender and the Freemasons

J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI and Freemasonry

Is Donald Trump a Freemason?

Is Vladimir Putin a Freemason?

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One thought on “Freemasonry & Higher Education

  1. Euripides Georganopoulos LGR (London Grand Rank)
    Secretary of the Lodge of Illumination, no 7746
    Hi David,
    Just a few brief comments on your bulleted findings:

    Bullet 1: Yes you are right Masonic Lodges are not mixed, largely out of immencse deference to to historic ritualistic tradition (which historical deference is central to the whole concept of the conduct of rituals and etiquette in Freemasonry anyway) since the 1700s.

    There are indeed female Masonic Lodges nevertheless, which are normally recognised by Grand Lodge.

    However there is no spirit of sexism – in my experience – no “public school” bravado or the slightest regard of women being in the least lesser animals, therefore not deserving to be Freemasons. Of course women are regarded as absolutely equal members of society (some like myself might even go further) :-)… Unless if one’s concept of sexism extends to objecting to the installation of urinals in mens’ toilets compared to ladies’ toilets.

    Addtionally, the vast majority of administrative staff, even at the highest level, are female. There are many times when I, as Secretary, have called Grand Lodge regarding formal procedure querries, only to be advised by female administrators at the other end who seem more at home regarding Masonic Constitutional Rules and Regulations than sometimes even Grand Officers themselves.

    Bullet 2: Dead right about that, it has also atrophied in membership. Nevertheless, the crucial lectures regarding the explanation of rituals and mystic/symbolic elements are limited to a specific set of lectures in Grand Lodge, usually held in June and mostly open to the public (!!!!)
    Even for the ones not open to the public, I cheerfully invite you to join the Craft, it is quite afordable to the vast majority of citizens, so that you get to know first hand instead of perhaps aimlessly speculating. I know though, there is always the sweet appeal for criticism against Freemasonry, if voiced by (deliberately) non members of the Craft, as the non-sensational truth might well disappoint and lose its negative lustre attached to it. It all depends on the integrity of your own curiocity.

    Bullet 3: The Royal or otherwise “aristocratic” connections of Freemasonry are purely ceremonial. It is like calling the institution of the Royal College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music and many many other institutions as suspect, just because their Patrons are Royals or members of the higher nobility. Yes, such are interested in Freemasonry just as much as say Princes Diana might have been interested in the goings on of her charities. Or Prince Charles attending Royal College of Music events or ceremonies. Correspondingly, the Duke of Kent is the Grand Master. Surely this cannot be perceived as “suspect”.

    Incidentally, Freemasonry is one of the largest global charities worldwide, contributing by more than 50% in international aid for world famines and other calamities.

    Bullet 4: Freemasonry is not a secret society whatsoever. Every single aspect of its running and activities is open to public scrutiny, just as much as any other organisation. It is though a society of secrets: Immense difference between the two.
    This is because its “hobby” part, ie the Rituals, are symbolic and by their nature include ceremonial secrecy. Therefore the concept of secrecy itself is purely symbolic, and refers only to Ceremonial aspects. In layman’s terms, “I choose not to tell you because it is part of my hobby not to tell you”. Nowadays, even the Rituals can readily and freely be found on line, complete. Even I have googled them in one or two emergencies.

    Regarding allegations of corruption, well, Freemasons share the same proportion of corrupt people as the rest (at worst). Albeit, symbolically, it is high morals that we should uphold, according to the “Sacred Law” and the “Constitution”.

    In a nutshell, Freemasonry is now a charitable hobby and as many other groups or even cults, has gone through many dramatic transformations through the ages. Nowadays it is really a major calibre charity, coupled by an acquired taste for symbolic ritual, pomp and circumstance (yes, silly for some), a type of eccentricism if you like. Eccentricism like birdwatching, or trainspotting, or – more to the point – like a group of “old age boy scouts”.

    In higher education? Don’t think so. Completely off the mark I would say. We are generally aiming for over 30s.

    Like

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