English Freemasonry Collapsing
English Freemasonry is disintegrating before our very eyes. It is currently (astonishingly) losing on average about 100 lodges a year, due to waning interest in the Lodge. The number of lodges on the register of the United Grand Lodge of England (the governing body of English and Welsh Freemasonry), has collapsed from 8,389 in 2006 to 7,401 in 2016.
Once the epicenter of Freemasonry worldwide, the English Lodge has reached an historic tipping point. Hundreds of Britain’s lodges are disappearing because the nation has lost interest in Freemasonry. The Lodge is seen as belonging to a former day. It is not relevant to today’s upwardly mobile society. It has become identified with eccentric old grandpas, who refer to themselves by the most ridiculous of office titles, and are obsessed with the most absurd of silly rituals.
While the United Grand Lodge of England had 270,000 members in 2007, the membership had fell to 192,818 by 2020. That is a massive drop of near 30% in 14 years.
No healthy organization can sustain such a downfall and not eventually go out of existence. This is such a serious dissolution, considering the Freemasonry once had 500,000 members in England and Wales alone. In years to come, Freemasonry will probably be the domain of a few elderly committed eccentrics.
Gregory Stewart [Masonic Traveler] lamented recently: “Masonry is going to change, not because it wanted to, but mostly because it will run out of the fuel that sustains it—namely people and money.”
He continued: “Freemasonry isn’t dying a natural death. Freemasonry is slowly strangling itself in the grip of suicidal inaction over the fear of its own history under the glare of modernity.”
A few years ago, the Daily Telegraph in London had a detailed look at the crumbling order and concluded: “Freemasonry, once seen as a prerequisite for business success or enhanced social status, is now being shunned by a new breed of professionals which regards the order as eccentric and irrelevant. The society, known for its secrecy and unusual initiation rituals, is currently losing up to 6,000 members a year.”
A senior Mason, who talked to the Telegraph, who asked for anonymity, admitted: “Many lodges have simply reached crisis point. Closure is their only option.”
The Telegraph explains: “The decline marks a drastic reversal in fortune for the movement, which in the late Sixties was attracting 20,000 new members a year.”
The membership crisis is most acute in big cities such as London, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle upon Tyne.
Internal documents from within the United Grand Lodge of England show that in the second quarter of 2016 alone, 37 lodges closed while only two new lodges opened, a net loss of 35.
Senior Masonic official from Berkshire, Digby Woods, hopelessly conceded: “One of our problems is that a number of our members are dying off and are not being replaced.”
So, what is their great solution for the decay? The Lodge has come to the conclusion: “Freemasons should smile more.” Why, of course! Why did nobody think about that before now?
Provincial Grand Master Peter Lowndes, second only to the Grand Master, told senior brethren recently, gathered at the Grand Temple, “There are, I suppose, some older people who do find it difficult to smile, but it doesn’t stop their enjoyment.”
The Grand Master suggested: “It’s important in Masonry to retain the dignity of what we are doing, but that shouldn’t stop the charity steward – towards the end of the lodge meeting rather than during the ceremony – making some little quip about old Fred, and everybody laughing. It’s not frowned upon to laugh. If a member says something amusing at the end of the meeting, then fine.”
This, frankly, explains why this antiquated institution is falling apart and how out of touch it is with the public’s perception of it and with reality. With this type of laughable (excuse the pun) battle plan, the disintegration will doubtless continue (or maybe even speed up), until Freemasonry finally disappears into the annuls of history.
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