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Toleration

The grand characteristic of Freemasonry is its toleration in religion and polities. In respect to the latter, its toleration has no limit. The question of a man's political opinions is not permitted to be broached in the Lodge; in reference to the former, it requires only that, to use the language of the Old Charge, Freemasons shall be of "that Religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves" (Constitutions, 17:23, page 63).

The same Old Charges say (page 68), You may enjoy yourselves with innocent Mirth treating one another according to ability, but avoiding all Excess, or forcing any brother to eat or drink beyond his Inclination, or hindering him from going when his Occasions call him, or doing or saying any thing offensive or that may forbid an easy and free Conversation, for that would blast our Harmony, and defeat our laudable Purposes. Therefore no private Piques or Quarrels must be brought within the Door of the Lodge, far less any Quarrels about Religion, or Nations, or State Policy, being only, as Masons, of the Catholic Religion above-mentioned: we are also of all Nations, Tongues, Kindreds and Languages, and are resolved against all Politicks, as what never yet conduced to the Welfare of the Lodge, nor ever will. This Charge has been always strictly enjoined and observed; but especially ever since the Reformation in Britain, or the Dissent and Secession of these Nations from the Communion of Rome.

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