Freemasonry demands from its members a respect for the law of the country in which a man works and lives. Its principles do not in any way conflict with its members' duties as citizens, but should strengthen them in fulfilling their public and private responsibilities.
It is often thought that Freemasons swear to help each other regardless of the circumstances or the consequences. They do promise to help each other, but not regardless of the circumstances or the consequences. One of the principles that a Freemason is taught is that his duty to God, the law, his family and as a citizen far outweigh any duties he may feel he has to another mason.
In his Third Degree Obligation he does promise to keep his brother's lawful secrets, but there is a very large exclusion clause in that Obligation which states that "murder, treason and all offences contrary to the laws of God and the ordinances of the realm are at all times most especially excepted". His duty as a citizen must always prevail over any obligation to other Freemasons, and any attempt to shield a Freemason who has acted dishonourably or unlawfully is contrary to this prime duty.
Another misconception is that Freemasons give preference to other masons at the expense of others when giving jobs, contracts etc. The simple answer is that they should not, and as a generality, do not. It is a misuse of membership, subject to Masonic discipline, to try to obtain an advantage. On his entry into Freemasonry each Candidate is told and accepts unequivocally that he must not expect material gain from his membership. The Book of Constitutions, which every Candidate receives, contains the strict rules governing abuse of membership which can result in penalties varying from temporary suspension to total exclusion.