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  #1  
Old 11-29-2020, 11:52 AM
ASTalumna06 ASTalumna06 is offline
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Freemasons Say They're Needed Now More Than Ever. So Why Are Their Ranks Dwindling?

https://www.npr.org/2020/11/28/93722...c-GZWDFx235wEo

Quote:
Freemasons have long wielded the qualities most irresistible to thriller writers and conspiracy theorists — secrecy, politics, power and celebrity. Among their members are Founding Fathers, presidents, musicians, artists and businessmen. But today, as membership plummets within one of the oldest international fraternal organizations ever to exist, a new question persists: What is the point?

The challenges facing the organization have been decades in the making. While part of the problem is that Americans simply don't join clubs or fraternities as often as they used to, some critics argue that Masons have also struggled to keep up with the changing face of the nation. Many lodges still don't allow women to join, and others have struggled to attract members of color. In recent years, membership has dropped roughly 75% from a high of more than 4.1 million in 1959 — when about 4.5% of all American men were members.

Within the organization's ranks, some members hoped the coronavirus pandemic might offer an opportunity to shed its reputation for mystery and secrecy and instead showcase the charitable work that Masons perform in communities nationwide. But that hasn't been the case. Instead, the virus continues to sweep the nation, keeping men away from their lodges and making it even more difficult to induct new members — something some say is too steeped in tradition to be attempted over Zoom.
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  #2  
Old 11-29-2020, 02:02 PM
Benzgirl Benzgirl is offline
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So many churches told their members that joining the Free Masons was devil worship including certain branches of the lutheran church and some Catholic Diocese.
IMHO, the Freemasons are competing with a lot of other fraternal and civic organizations that used to cater to men.
As the article mentions, "Many lodges still don't allow women to join, and others have struggled to attract members of color". This IS a big deal in many communities. Even brotherhoods like the Elks and civic orgs like Kiwanis and Rotary Club have open membership that prohibit descrimination based on color, sex, national origin and religion.
A lot of different organizations in my city have died out simply because people had to prioritize to which groups they belonged. But I also live in a town that is dying a slow death.
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Old 11-29-2020, 02:48 PM
naraht naraht is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benzgirl View Post
So many churches told their members that joining the Free Masons was devil worship including certain branches of the lutheran church and some Catholic Diocese.
IMHO, the Freemasons are competing with a lot of other fraternal and civic organizations that used to cater to men.
As the article mentions, "Many lodges still don't allow women to join, and others have struggled to attract members of color". This IS a big deal in many communities. Even brotherhoods like the Elks and civic orgs like Kiwanis and Rotary Club have open membership that prohibit descrimination based on color, sex, national origin and religion.
A lot of different organizations in my city have died out simply because people had to prioritize to which groups they belonged. But I also live in a town that is dying a slow death.
I get confused as to whether groups like the Moose and Elks allow for women to be full members. I *think* for the Moose, it is male only with a women's auxiliary and for the Elks and Lions it is local option. Kiwanis appears to be co-ed worldwide.
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Old 11-29-2020, 10:46 PM
Sen's Revenge Sen's Revenge is offline
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For the first time on GC (and I think maybe anywhere on the internet) I am going to discuss my masonic experience.

tl;dr: Becoming a Freemason is something I largely regret.

Longer story:

In my late 20s, I contemplated becoming a Freemason. As a Black person, I wasn't particularly interested in Prince Hall freemasonry. Being in APO and Alpha Phi Alpha by then, I felt like Alpha gave a good predominately black experience, so I wanted something that was more like APO--racially integrated. In addition, I liked the history of the lodges in my city at the time.

I went to a repast for one of the meetings, met one or two members, and then a bunch of people who had submitted petitions. The Mason I met was nice, the food was bad, and the petitioners were super stressed out and not fun to talk to. I left feeling like what I'd read about Freemasonry was important, but more casual than these guys were behaving. (Does that make sense? What I mean is that they were SUPER serious about being impressive to the members, while most websites I saw suggested than men just go and be themselves.)

Because there was that dissonance, and then unanswered questions about just how much memory was required in the process, I decided it wasn't for me at that time.

Back then, I knew there was the possibility for a One Day Class or one-day conferral of degrees. That was appealing to me because I am literally always busy. Some would argue that if I'm too busy, then it's not for me. Other jurisdictions have agreed that a way needs to be made for working professionals.

Ten years go by. I see a flyer on social media for a Prince Hall one-day class, known in that jursidiction as a Grand Master's Class. I'm like whoa, this is exactly what I said I would wait for and here it is.

(I don't intend to make this a rush story, but there is a part II coming right now, I just need a small break)
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Old 11-29-2020, 10:54 PM
Sen's Revenge Sen's Revenge is offline
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So I do the one day class. I traveled 45 minutes away to a "centralized" location and came in with like 90 or so men? I can't remember how many it was, but it was a lot.

It is true that there was no memorization involved, and that was a relief. I just don't have that in me.

There were no other redeeming qualities. I literally paid my money, then IMMEDIATELY was nickeled and dimed for extra things to buy that day that were necessary for the ceremony. Why wouldn't they just add that onto the fee? And who the heck carries a checkbook in 2019? (Apparently everyone in the room but me.)

The ceremony was not carried out with a level of care that I would have expected.

And when it was over, there was no sense of welcome. No sense of celebration. Just "Okay, you're in. Well, goodbye."

I was later to be assigned to a Blue Lodge. First they tried to assign me to one that would have taken twice as long to get to as the closest one.

Then when I got to the close one, they were "nice." Like, Into the Woods "nice."

"You're not good, you're not bad, you're just nice."

That meeting lasted until 10:30pm--at which time they served dinner. I went home. I never came back.

I tried to volunteer to do things virtually/remotely--things they needed done, like website, social media, or even just administrative things related to community service. They gave me nothing to do. Instead, they harped on how much I didn't know ritualistically. Yet, when I asked for a mentor, they gave me no one.

I haven't heard from them since I left town and I'm laregly glad about it.

I felt like the victim of a masonic fundraiser, at the end of the day.
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Old 11-29-2020, 10:56 PM
Sen's Revenge Sen's Revenge is offline
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I am grateful to be part of something that my grandfather and uncle were part of, but that's it.

I didn't find it to be demonic or the rituals to take me further from God. HOWEVER, I did find the members devotion to the ritual to be extremely off-putting.

If you are 20-25 and don't adhere to a particular religion, Freemasonry will help make you into a spiritual man.

If you are already a spiritual or religious person, or otherwise fully formed in your beliefs, becoming a Freemson feels like an incorrect step.
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  #7  
Old 11-30-2020, 09:44 AM
chi-o_cat chi-o_cat is offline
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When my father joined the Masons, he was moved up the ranks (degrees) pretty quickly to Shriner because they were glad to have someone so "young" in the group. I want to say he was in his 50s at the time.

I can't imagine my brother or husband joining.
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  #8  
Old 11-30-2020, 10:23 AM
PhoenixAttain PhoenixAttain is offline
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I was a Rainbow Girl (girls org under the Masonic umbrella) and had a grand (state) office one year. My Daddy joined the Masonic Lodge just so I could be in the Order of the Eastern Star someday. He ended up enjoying the Masons and now I have no desire to join OES. Funny how that worked out...
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  #9  
Old 11-30-2020, 10:58 AM
bevinpiphi bevinpiphi is offline
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My husband is a Mason. Their lodge tends much younger than the other area lodges. (Much younger being...a large portion of 30-40 year olds, vs. a large portion of 50-70 year olds). I looked into the OES but I would have been the youngest by over a decade, and I already experience that in my sorority alum club.
He likes it, but I don't think he would like it as much if we didn't have about a dozen friends as members of the same lodge (one joined because he was a third generation mason, then the rest trickled in after he invited them). He did burn out on leadership, and stepped out of the cycle there after two years, instead of continuing up the ranks. He's done more...degrees? but my understanding of any of that is very limited. He's also a member of the Scottish Rite.
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  #10  
Old 11-30-2020, 01:37 PM
Kevin Kevin is offline
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The masons are still pretty big in Oklahoma. There is an outstanding temple in Guthrie built about 10 years after statehood. That one aside, if you drive by their temples, most are in serious disrepair, so I'm sure it's shrinking overall. My grandfather was 32nd Degree Scottish Rite and was also a member of the Lion's Club with thirty-something years of perfect attendance. My father couldn't join on account of being Catholic, and I'm a cradle Catholic, so I had to turn it down.

Groups like the masons face a lot of the same external threats as Greek organizations do. Here in OKC, they to a degree, offer a fraternal experience to folks who never had that opportunity or never went to college. Like us, they used to be a dominate force in society, perhaps even more powerful than political parties. Now they raise money for the Shriners' Hospital, and that's about it.

At least in OKC, these groups tend to have extremely right wing membership to the extent that someone who is more of a centrist, like myself, would likely be uncomfortable, and probably not welcome.
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  #11  
Old 12-01-2020, 09:07 PM
Benzgirl Benzgirl is offline
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Originally Posted by naraht View Post
I get confused as to whether groups like the Moose and Elks allow for women to be full members. I *think* for the Moose, it is male only with a women's auxiliary and for the Elks and Lions it is local option. Kiwanis appears to be co-ed worldwide.
From the ACLU website, "Under a 1995 amendment to the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Elks, the national Elks organization, women are allowed to join this previously all-male organization." I read this to mean full members.

What I find on the Moose is confusing. In 2019, Moose International website writes, " all members, both men and women will become members in the new “One Moose” Lodge". Yet, I find information on the same website called, "Women of the Moose" which appears more like an auxilliary. I haven't looked into it deep enough other than to quote when I'm able to find at quick glance.

As for Kiwanis, AGDee is President of her local Kiwanis chapter (co-ed) andour local Kiwanis has been co-ed for at least 25 years. But civic organizations seem to differ greatly from former brotherhood lodges.
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Old 12-01-2020, 10:40 PM
Sen's Revenge Sen's Revenge is offline
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Originally Posted by Benzgirl View Post
From the ACLU website, "Under a 1995 amendment to the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Elks, the national Elks organization, women are allowed to join this previously all-male organization." I read this to mean full members.

What I find on the Moose is confusing. In 2019, Moose International website writes, " all members, both men and women will become members in the new “One Moose” Lodge". Yet, I find information on the same website called, "Women of the Moose" which appears more like an auxilliary. I haven't looked into it deep enough other than to quote when I'm able to find at quick glance.

As for Kiwanis, AGDee is President of her local Kiwanis chapter (co-ed) andour local Kiwanis has been co-ed for at least 25 years. But civic organizations seem to differ greatly from former brotherhood lodges.
When my service club was pursuing affiliation with Frontiers International (a Black civic club), we learned that the organization was coed, but still maintained its auxilliary for wives. (We didn't like that.)
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Old 12-02-2020, 03:15 PM
AGDee AGDee is offline
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Kiwanis started allowing women in 1986. I just finished my term as President of my club, but am Secretary now. Their college level club, Circle K did allow women even when I was in college. That really made no sense because women could be involved at the college level and then graduate and had no place in Kiwanis.
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  #14  
Old 12-03-2020, 06:47 AM
naraht naraht is offline
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Originally Posted by AGDee View Post
Kiwanis started allowing women in 1986. I just finished my term as President of my club, but am Secretary now. Their college level club, Circle K did allow women even when I was in college. That really made no sense because women could be involved at the college level and then graduate and had no place in Kiwanis.
Wikipedia says Kiwanis at the International Convention in 1987.

As for Circle K, it says 1971 voted by delegates to the Circle K convention and appoved by the Kiwanis International Board of Trustees in 1973.

Even if Circle K hadn't voted in 1971, it would have definitely fallen under those affected by Title IX...
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  #15  
Old 12-07-2020, 08:14 PM
aephi alum aephi alum is offline
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My husband is a Mason, as is his father. The lodge where my husband was raised no longer exists. He hasn't gotten involved with a local lodge because he just doesn't have the time.

There are lodges that accept women? This is news to me. (Not that I would necessarily pursue membership if it were open to me.)
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