Following negative reporting recently about Freemasonry in the Guardian newspaper and also seen in other media outlets, the CEO of United Grand Lodge of England, Dr David Staples has responded by taking out a full-page advertisement in leading national newspapers to publish a letter, refuting the inaccurate and misleading claims that have been made.
Explaining the reason for this unprecedented action, Dr Staples said: “This is a first for us, but necessary under the circumstances. For too long we have been unjustly singled out. We are an organisation whose whole tenet is about helping individuals become better people, with values of honesty, integrity and service to others. Membership of Freemasonry is not only positive for them as individuals, but also for society at large.”
He further commented: “Sadly, too many Freemasons have to exercise caution in response to prejudice and discrimination they fear they will face. We want the day when every Freemason can proudly declare themselves a member of our great and historical organisation without fear of retribution, suspicion or damage. We’re open and happy to talk about anything and today we are announcing a series of sessions up and down the country too and to answer any questions people may have. I am also welcoming any queries from individuals myself.”
He concluded by saying: “Such is the frustration amongst our members about the level of prejudice, that I have also written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to make a case with regards to these issues.”
The full letter, which has been published in The Times, Guardian and The Telegraph is reproduced in full below.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
At the United Grand Lodge of England, we value honesty, integrity and service to the community above all else. Last year we raised over £33 million for good causes. As an organisation we welcome individuals from all walks of life, of any race, faith, age, class or political persuasion. Throughout our 300-year history, when people have suffered discrimination Freemasonry has embraced them into our lodges as equals.
The United Grand Lodge of England believes that the ongoing gross misrepresentation of its 200,000 plus members is discrimination. Pure and simple. Our members shouldn’t have to feel undeservedly stigmatised. No other organisation would stand for this and nor shall we. I have written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to make this case.
I appreciate that you may have questions about who we are and what we do, so why not ask those who know? Over the next six months our members will be running a series of open evenings and Q & A events up and down the country. These will be promoted in the local media and on our website.
I am also happy to answer any queries directly. Please feel free to write to me here at Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ and I will come back to you.
“We’re open and happy to talk about anything and today we are announcing a series of sessions up and down the country too and to answer any questions people may have. I am also welcoming any queries from individuals myself.”
Dr David Staples
The United Grand Lodge of England