Shriners

From Academic Kids

A member of the Syrian Corvettes group of Shriners participates in a Memorial Day parade
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A member of the Syrian Corvettes group of Shriners participates in a Memorial Day parade

The Shriners, or Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, are an Order appendant to Freemasonry. Until 2000, one had to complete the Scottish Rite or York Rite degrees of Masonry to be eligible for Shrine membership, but now any Master Mason can join.

The Shrine was established in New York City in the 1870s as the fun part of the Masonic movement. The group adopted a theme of the Middle East and soon established "Temples" meeting in "Mosques" across the continent. Another Masonic group, the Mysterious Order of the Veiled Prophet of the Enchanted Realm (known colloquially as the "Grotto") had adopted a similar theme in 1890. The theme was the rage at the time and eluded to the mystery and ceremony of the "Arabian Nights" with its elaborate parties and frolic. The basic idea was an organization of fun.

It must be emphasized that this decorative theme, now perceived as "politically incorrect", was adopted in an earlier time. The Shrine is not Islamic, nor is it in opposition to Islam. The Shrine shares the basic requirement with the Freemasons that a petitioner must profess a belief in a supreme being. Therefore, men of countless creeds and nations have joined the fraternity throughout its history. However, the word "Temple" has now been replaced by "Shriners" when refering to the local Shrine Centers. (Example: Mahi Temple is now Mahi Shriners) This is to help the public understand that the Shrine is a men's fraternity rather than a religion or religious group. There are 500,000 Nobles belonging to 191 Shrine Centers in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Panama.

The Shriners often participate in local parades riding comedy versions of cars and motorcycles. They are recognizable by their elaborate red fezzes. If one researches further, it will be discovered that the Shriners have been instrumental in community projects throughout its domain. Countless public projects have been supported by the local Shriners who are committed to community service.

Once a year, the fraternity meets for the Imperial Council Session in a major North American city. It is not uncommon for these conventions to have 20,000 participants or more, which generates a handome revenue contribution to the local economy.

The Shrine's charitable arm is the Shriners Hospitals for Children, a network of twenty-two hospitals in the United States, Mexico and Canada. They were formed to treat young victims of polio, but as that disease was controlled they broadened their scope. They now deal with all pediatric cases, most especially with orthopedic injuries and disease and the damage caused by burns. The Shrine has pioneered new treatments for these conditions.

There is never any charge for treatment at a Shriners Hospital. There is no requirement for religion, race, or relationship to a Freemason. Patients must be under the age of eighteen and treatable. Local Shrine temples most often provide free transportation to the nearest hospital.

Until 2003–4, the Oscars were held at the Shriners temple/auditorium in Hollywood / Los Angeles. Legendary silent film comedian Harold Lloyd was a Shriner and served as Imperial Potentate in 1949. He did much to promote the fraternity within the entertainment industry.

Some famous Shriners include:

In 2002, a mascot named Fez Head Fred debuted, primarily to visit their children's hospitals.

Imperial Potentates

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