What is a Shriner?
What kind of organization attracts physicians, Lawyers, Truck drivers, Dentists, Contractors, Heads of state, movie stars, generals, clergymen and accountants?
Someone might answer: “Shriners are those guys who have those parades with the wild costumes and funny little cars.” Another might think of circuses and clowns. The fellow next to him might interject, “No, Shriners are the guys who wear those funny hats — like flowerpots — and have those big conventions.”
“I don’t know about that,” a passerby might add. “But I do know my little girl was born with clubfeet and now they are straight, and she can walk, thanks to Shriners Hospitals for Children.”
“She can walk?” questions still another. “I thought the Shriners ran those fantastic burn hospitals. I’ve read stories about them saving kids with burns on 90 percent of their bodies.”
All those people are right. Each has experienced an aspect of Shrinedom. What they cannot experience, unless they are Shriners, is the camaraderie, deep friendships, good fellowship and great times shared by all Shriners. What they may not know is that all Shriners share a Masonic heritage: Each is a Master Mason in the Freemasonry Fraternity.
Historically, Masons had to become members of the York or Scottish Rite Bodies before becoming a Shriner. However, at the Imperial Council Session in July 2000, an amendment to Shrine law changed that requirement, allowing Master Masons to become Shriners directly.
Shriners International describes itself as a fraternity based on fun, fellowship, and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth. There are approximately 245,000 members from 196 temples (chapters) in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, the Republic of Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Europe, and Australia. The organization is best known for the Shriners Hospitals for Children that it administers, and the red fezzes that members wear.
The organization was previously known as “Shriners North America”. The name was changed in 2010 across North America, Central America, South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.
Shriners Hospitals for Children is a network of 22 non-profit medical facilities across North America. Children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patients’ ability to pay.