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The Shriners

From U.S. Presidents to famous actors, business owners and blue-collar workers, men representing a broad range of backgrounds and life experiences have been Shriners throughout the fraternity’s 150 years. While Shriners International is an organization rich in history and tradition, it is also evolving and advancing as new generations of members with different interests and cultures join us. Our Shrine Centers encourage members to build their own membership experience, customizing their fraternal involvement to reflect their personality and hobbies. While there are a variety of existing activity-based clubs and units to choose from, that list is continuously expanding as members bring their new ideas of ways to have fun to fruition.

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A Fraternity Defined by Fun, Fellowship and Philanthropy

Shriners International is a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth. With nearly 200 local chapters and thousands of clubs on six continents, Shriners are known for their fellowship, brotherhood, compassion and generosity. The fraternity established Shriners Hospitals for Children as its official philanthropy in 1922, and continues to support it today, while striving to make the world a happier, better place.

Shriners International helps good men become better leaders, husbands, fathers, friends and community contributors. Brotherhood is the cultural foundation that distinguishes our fraternity from other groups and associations. When you become a Shriner, you join a network of nearly 200,000 brothers around the globe who are dedicated to helping and supporting each other personally and professionally.

The Founding of the Fraternity

Two Master Masons, Walter M. Fleming, M.D., and William J. “Billy” Florence, a well-known actor, founded Shriners International in 1872. Legend has it that Florence was inspired while attending an Arabian-themed party in Marseilles, France, during a time when the mystique of the near East was fashionable worldwide. He was intrigued and impressed by the colorful pageantry and suggested the fraternity adopt a Near-Eastern theme, and Dr. Fleming agreed.​Tradition and CultureThis decision influenced the imagery, attire, activities and naming conventions of the fraternity; many of which are still used today. For example, Shriners wear distinctive red fezzes as their official headgear. Local Shrine Centers have names like Egypt, Sahara, Morocco and Oasis. Images used in the fraternity’s regalia include camels, pyramids, the Sphinx and other ancient Egyptian and Arabian iconography.

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