Van het Centre for Research into Freemasonry aan de Universiteit van Sheffield ontvingen we een verslag van een recente studiedag rond het thema 'Can Freemasonry be Secular?', die op 2 februari 2008 plaatsvond in Londen:
'By invitation of the Grand Orient de France freemasons in the UK, a public scholarly seminar took place in London 2nd of February [...] The following abstracts give an impression of the general outline of the event:
Priest-wrought and law-protected? Approaches to the History of Secularism and Laïcité in Great Britain, by prof. Andrew Prescott
Laïcité is a French concept that has no exact translation in English. It is a term used to describe the movement to ensure the separation of church and state. The fact that this French word is not used in English might be taken as meaning that the concept has also failed to take root in Britain. However, we nevertheless think of modern Britain as a secular society. In France, Freemasonry has been at the vanguard of the movement for the separation of church and state. In the nineteenth century, a number of British radicals who thought the influence of the church in British life a bad thing were also interested in how far Freemasonry in the French tradition might be used to advance the secularisation of the British society. The best known of these radicals was the atheist Charles Bradlaugh. This paper explores how far the nineteenth-century British free-thought movement was related to parallel movements abroad, and argues that this historic dimension is important in understanding modern issues of multi-culturalism and religious tolerance.
History of Belgium's Freemasonry Progress and Secularism, by
prof. Jeffrey Tyssens
Belgian Freemasonry is a typical example of what is sometimes referred to as “Latin” freemasonry. In its confrontation with Roman Catholic clericalism, Belgian lodges developed a militant anticlerical stance at an early stage and became essential actors in liberal politics and secular counterculture. Eventually, they also became the locus where more radical ideas –socialist or even anarchist– could be discussed. If this political militancy faded away, they retained their character of thought societies with a distinctive secular flavour.
The social impact of French Freemasonry over three centuries: a global approach, by Pierre Mollier
One of the most important debates in French masonic historiography concerns freemasonry's contribution to the broader development of French social and political life. As a large number of masons were active in French politics between 1880 and 1940, historians and the general public in France have tended to assume that masonry has been, and is still, deeply involved with social and political affairs. It is therefore necessary to enquire: when did French freemasonry first develop this image and to what extent did freemasonry's many political adherents carry their masonic ideals into the public arena? Was this the outcome of historical development brought about by historical circumstance, or is there something more deeply rooted within the French craft, inherited from its earliest years?
(Quoted from logehiram.com/conf-eng/)'