It is the general usage in the United States of America, and may be considered as the Masonic law of custom, that the application of a candidate for initiation must be made to the Lodge nearest his place of residence. There is, however, no express law upon this subject either in the ancient landmarks or the Old Constitutions, and its positive sanction as a law in any Jurisdiction must be found in the local enactments of the Grand Lodge of that Jurisdiction. Still there can be no doubt that expediency and justice to the Order make such a regulation necessary, and accordingly many Grand Lodges have incorporated such a regulation in their Constitutions; and of course, whenever this has been done, it becomes a positive law in that Jurisdiction.
It has also been contended by some American Masonic jurists that a nonresident of a State is not entitled, on a temporary visit to that State, to apply for initiation. There is, however, no landmark nor written law in the ancient Constitutions which forbids the initiation of nonresidents. Still, as there can be no question that the conferring of the Degrees of Freemasonry on a stranger is always inexpedient, and frequently productive of injury and injustice, by foisting on the Lodges near the candidate's residence unworthy and unacceptable persons, there has been a very general disposition among the Grand Lodges of the United States to discountenance the initiation of nonresidents. Many of them have adopted a specific regulation to this effect, and in all Jurisdictions where this has been done, the law becomes imperative; for, as the landmarks are entirely silent on the subject, the local regulation is left to the discretion of each Jurisdiction. But no such rule has ever existed among European Lodges.
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