Freemasonry is practised under many independent Grand Lodges with principles or standards similar to those set by the United Grand Lodge of England throughout its history.
To be recognised as regular by the United Grand Lodge of England, a Grand Lodge must meet the following standards:
There are some self-styled masonic bodies which do not meet these standards. For instance, they might not demand a belief in a supreme being, or they might allow or even encourage their members to participate as Freemasons in politics. These bodies are not recognised by the Grand Lodge of England as being masonically regular, and masonic contact with them is forbidden. This, put plainly, merely means that members of lodges under the United Grand Lodge of England cannot attend their meetings and they cannot attend ours, nor, for that matter, associate together in a quasi-official way (eg setting up some sort of group with a name such as The Pan-Masonic League for the Improvement of Goodwill Around the World). Obviously enough in ordinary conversation Freemasons are free to talk to anyone.
From time to time some Grand Lodges which we have previously not recognised find themselves able to meet the above requirements and masonic contact with them is then allowed. Likewise, other Grand Lodges fail to meet some or all of the above requirements and recognition has to be withdrawn.
Regularity is a fact. Relations between regular constitutions (ie Grand Lodges and their lodges) follow recognition which is a bi-lateral act decided by the Grand Lodges concerned. Without regularity, there can be no recognition. Without recognition, there can be no relations between Grand Lodges or Freemasons in their lodges. Recognition, once granted by Grand Lodge 'A' to a regular Grand Lodge 'B' can be withdrawn. This does not affect the regularity of Grand Lodge 'B', but it does mean that Freemasons under Grand Lodge 'A' cannot, in masonic circumstances, meet Freemasons under Grand Lodge 'B'.
An up to date list of recognised Grand Lodges can be found in the Masonic Year Book. Some also have their own home pages.
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