Freemasons operate many of the world's greatest charitable organizations. The best known is the Shriners with their circuses, their colorful parades and their work on behalf of physically challenged children and the 22 Shriners Children's Hospitals. Less known is that each Shriner must be a Freemason before being becoming a Shriner.
Once accepted as an Apprentice Mason of the Craft Lodge, each member works his way up through three degrees. To earn each degree, a Mason must learn certain lessons and participate in a ceremony that illustrates them. At the third degree, he reaches Master Mason after which he may then petition to become a Noble of the Shrine.
Members of the Shrine for North America adhere to the principles of Freemasonry — brotherly love, relief and truth. In contrast to the more conservative work of Freemasonry, Shriners are distinguished by an enjoyment of life in the interest of philanthropy. Their buoyant philosophy has been described as "pleasure without intemperance, hospitality without rudeness and jollity without coarseness."
Why Do Shriners Wear a Fez?
The red fez with a black tassel, the Shrine's most distinctive symbol, has been handed down through the ages. It derives its name from the place where it was first manufactured - the holy city of Fez, Morocco. The fez was chosen as part of the Shrine's Arabic (Near East) theme, around which the color and pageantry of the Shrine are developed.
What is a Shrine Mason?
Shriners, or Shrine Masons, belong to the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America (A.A.O.N.M.S.). The Shrine is an international fraternity of approximately 500,000 members who belong to Shrine Center throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and The Republic of Panama. Founded in New York City in 1872 the organization is composed Master Masons.
The Shrine is best-known for its colorful parades, its distinctive red fez, and its official philanthropy, Shriners Hospitals for Children, which is often called "the heart and soul of the Shrine." Principles of Freemasonry -- Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Members of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America are members of the Masonic Order and adhere to the principles of Freemasonry -- Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
Freemasonry dates back hundreds of years to when stonemasons and other craftsmen on building projects gathered in shelter houses or lodges. Through the years these gatherings changed in many ways until formal Masonic lodges emerged, with members bound together not by trade, but by their own wishes to be fraternal brothers. There is no higher degree in Freemasonry than that of Master Mason (the Third Degree).
Shriner are distinguished by an enjoyment of life in the interest of philanthropy. With almost 500,000 members the organization has a buoyant philosophy which has been expressed as "Pleasure without intemperance, hospitality without rudeness and jollity without coarseness."
They knew they needed an appealing theme for their new Order, so they chose the Arabic (near East) theme. The most noticeable symbol of Shrinedom is the distinctive red fez that all Shriners wear at official function. Shriners are men who enjoy life. They enjoy parades, trips, circuses, dances, dinners, sporting events and other social occasions together. Furthermore, Shriners support what has become known as the "World's Greatest Philanthropy", Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Through fellowship and philanthropy, Shrinedom strengthens the soul and adds inner-meaning to daily life. It thus spreads a glow of joy through one's entire family. Men from all walks of life and all levels of income find fun, fellowship and relaxation in their individual Shrine Temples and its activities. There are also regional Shrine Clubs in many communities, family picnics, dances and scheduled trips to near and far -- just to mention a few of the activities available. For the Noble desiring even more activity, there are various Units that he can join, such as: Cibara Motor Corp., Drum & Bugle Corps, Oriental Bands, Motor Patrols, Horse Patrols, and Clown units. Every effort is made to be sure a Noble has a variety of activities from which he may choose.
There are 191 Shrine Temples located in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Republic of Panama. And there are informal Shrine Clubs located all around the world.
What is Masonry and What is its connection to the Shrine?
In order to become a Shriner, a man must first be a Mason. The fraternity of Freemasonry is the oldest, largest and most widely known fraternity in the world. It dates back hundreds of years to when stonemasons and other craftsmen on building projects gathered in shelter houses, or lodges. Over the years, formal Masonic lodges emerged, with members bound together not by trade, but by their own desire to be fraternal brothers.
The basic unit of Masonry is the Blue Lodge, where members earn the first three Masonic degrees. There is no higher degree than that of Master Mason (the Third Degree), but for those men who wish to further explore the allegory and symbolism learned in the Blue Lodge, the Scottish Rite and York Rite elaborate on the basic tenets of Freemasonry.
Becoming a Shrine Mason
Every Shriner is first a Mason; however, in many parts of North America, Masonry does not solicit members. In these areas, no one is asked to join. A man must seek admission of his own free will. A man is a fully accepted "Blue Lodge" Mason after he has received the first three degrees, known as Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason.
After that, he may belong to many other organizations which have their roots in Masonry and which have a Blue Lodge Masonry as a prerequisite. Scottish Rite, York Rite and the Shrine.