Well regulated institutions all have certain rules of order in place to facilitate their meetings and conduct of business. Simply put – rules of order provide a framework for meetings that, if properly subscribed to, ensures that deliberations do not fall into chaos and the harmony between the attendees of the event is thus preserved. Freemasonry is no different in this aspect and may potentially possess a more rigid set of rules of order than most other organizations.
In South Carolina, the Constitution and Code of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons – along with the by-laws of the individual lodges – provide rather detailed rules of order and an order of business. Everything from how motions are handled, to who can address who, to how many times an individual may speak on a subject are addressed. The authority of the presiding officer – normally the Master of the lodge – is also rather well spelled out. Anyone somewhat familiar with parliamentary rules would recognize the general structure of the rules of order used by the Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina.
As already alluded to, an adherence to these rules of order makes it almost impossible for members present at a Masonic communication to become embroiled in arguments within the confines of the meeting. These rules can easily be viewed as a version of the due bounds that Masons are so familiar with and – by staying within these due bounds – harmony has very little choice but to prevail.
Note for members of A.F.M. of S.C.: Reference Articles 148-158 of the Constitution and Sections 82-83 of the Code as contained within the 2007 Edition of the Ahiman Rezon.