"Semi-Silly Men's Organizations"

I’m curious about those “Semi-Silly Men’s Organizations,” as a writer in a SD book put it in a question about the Masons. My question deals with organizations that are not tied to religious or quasi-religious overtones, such as the Masons or the Shriners, but is more to the point about organizations such as the Elk’s Lodge or the Rotary Club. To wit:

  1. What exactly do these organizations DO? Are they basically a Phi Kappa Gamma for grown men-- i.e., you pay the dues, and all the men in your “chapter” become your friends by virtue of signing up?

  2. Does anything besides drinking, card-playing, and hokey ceremonies go on in these clubs? I mean, are there civic or philanthropic issues being adressed by these clubs?

  3. What are the dues like? I’m guessing something in the range of $1-2,000/year, but I honestly have no idea.

  4. Would a young man (I’m 29) stick out like a sore thumb? These clubs seem to be the domain of old geezers.

  5. Would I have to wear a silly hat and adress the leader as “Grand High Hokie-Phenokee,” as Fred Flintstone did?

Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. I’d be especially grateful to hear from someone who is a member of such a club.


Fred Flintstone was a member of the Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo, IIRC, and the leader was the Grand Poobah.

But levity aside, William Poundstone did a fairly thorough examination of some of the fratenal organizations in his several “Big Secrets” books. For what that’s worth.


There’s always a bigger fish.

I was a member of the Order of DeMolay (kind of a junior Masons). It was based to a degree on Masonic rituals and structure. We also had our meetings at the local Masonic temple and interacted with the adult orders (Masons, Knights Templar, Order of Eastern Star, Shriners) and the young ladies’ organizations (Order of Rainbow, Job’s Daughters).

For the most part, these organizations were philanthropic in nature. Each had its pet cause (e.g., Knights Templar supported research of eye diseases/injuries), and held fund-raisers to support them.

Dues for my DeMolay chapter were a one-time $35. As a group, we held fund-raisers to pay our bills to the Temple (rent, utilities, etc.). We didn’t have the time or resources to support a cause financially. Rather, we either helped the adult orders with theirs, or we did local volunteer work (filling sandbags during floods, grunt work at historical sites, etc.).

In DeMolay, we had a group of officers, the top-most elected semi-annually, the remainder assigned by those elected. We had weekly meetings which opened and closed with small rituals. The meetings themselves were run by parlimentary rules. (By association, I assume the other orders had similar meeting structure.)

We were religious to a degree; we had a chaplain who recited prayers at meetings and other gatherings. (They were monotheistic,
but obviously Christian-influenced.)

Memberships to any of these orders was by invite only, so any newcomers were usually about the same age as their friends who invited them. Occasionally, senior members from DeMolay, Job’s, or Rainbow would be invited to join the adult orders just after they were too old for their orders, usually those youths who were distinctive in their service.

Lastly, anything sinister rumored about Masonic orders is frankly laughable. Besides the rituals, they were just like any other community service organization. (After I saw the inside of the Elks’ Lodge my dad belonged to, I remarked how similar their arrangement was to Masonic meeting chambers.)

Thanks for the help, fellas. I’m not really concerned with the secrecy involved, but rather the “fraternity” aspect. To put it bluntly, I never pledged in college and I’m curious if I can get similar results by going the Elk’s Lodge route.

The only reason I want to avoid organizations with religious overtones is that my denomination would be horrified if I joined the Masons (or the Shriners). I’m well aware of the fact that their religious leanings are not taken seriously, but I could still risk losing my standing in the church, so I want to restrict this thread to organizations that are totally secular.


rastahomie: The only reason I want to avoid organizations with religious overtones is that my denomination would be horrified if I joined the Masons (or the Shriners). I’m well aware of the fact that their religious leanings are not taken seriously, but I could still risk losing my standing in the church, so I want to restrict this thread to organizations that are totally secular.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Elks are quasi-religious too. (My dad was chaplain of his lodge one year.)

Pardon my curiosity, but what denomination is so ansi-Mason?

I wouldn’t say it’s “anti-Mason”, but the Catholic Church has problems with all the secrecy and the weird quasi-religous stuff. The Masons are also perceived to be very anti-Catholic, but how true this is I don’t know.

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

IIRC Cecil wrote a column which mentioned the Masons and it touched upon how thy are perceived by the Catholic church.

Anyone carse to search for it?

Yer pal,

I can’t speak for the others, but Rotary is strictly philanthropic in nature. It varies a lot from club to club exactly how meetings are run, so some are more “old boys clubs” than others. The members are usually pretty active in the community in some way. Members are sponsored in by other members, and must be voted on by a committee.

One requirement is that members actually attend meetings, so if you’re on vacation or whatever, you can always stop in a Rotary meeting in whatever town you’re in. Some of them are pretty weird.

The one I belong to (and yes, there are quite a few women!) is very focused on working on community needs. We raise a lot of money for local organizations and charities, and some international. The most recent support went to a project in Africa that helps rural communities bring fresh water supplies to the village. One of the other organizations we support (with money and volunteer time, in name of the club) is a center for ajudicated youth, i.e. the last chance for teenaged boys before prison.

As far as religious overtones, the meetings start with a prayer, but they vary widely in nature. Quite a few of members are Jewish, and deliver the prayer in Hebrew, then translate into English.

I’m not a joiner by nature, and only joined Rotary at first because of my job. But I do enjoy the people, the speakers are interesting, and it gets some valuable assistance to people who need it.

That’s not a very complete description, but if you would like to know more, please email me.


I joined the local chapter of the Loyal Order Of the Moose this year, and I have never regretted it.

Having also pledged a national fraternity in college, I can assure you that there is no hazing of any sort associated with membership. If you are looking for chance to experience what you think you might have missed out on in college, forget it; there is very little comparison.

As far as hokey rituals, the induction ceremony is more like a Boy Scout Court of Honor, if you are familiar with that. They do say prayers and invoke God’s name, but it is all very generic and non-denominational.

The Moose Lodge has two national charitable organizations that it raises money for; Moose Heart, a school for orphaned and neglected children, and Moose Haven, a retirement home. In additional, local chapters are very active in the charitable causes of their communities, and contribute both time and money to a variety of causes.

Our dues are very reasonable, only $35.00 per year. We have a restaurant and a bar with very low prices; I have saved many times the cost of my membership just by having lunch there several times per week.

I would estimate that the average age at our chapter is about 35-40, but there a plenty of members in their twenties. Our membership is composed of men and women by the way; the Moose Lodge, while technically a fraternity, has a women’s auxiliary with all the rights and priveleges accorded men.

We also pride ourselves on being the “Family Fraternity”, with many activities for families and children. We sponsor a Boy Scout troop and hold events like annual bicycle rallies and easter egg hunts that attract lots of families.

And no, you don’t have to call anybody by a hokey title; we are all just an association of regular folks that enjoy socializing and participating in our communities.


“Believe those who seek the truth.
Doubt those who find it.” --Andre Gide

You’re right; the Elks are semi-religious, because (drumroll, please)…The Lord ‘Elks’ those who ‘Elk’ themselves!

Pause for big laffs!

We have met the enemy, and He is Us.–Walt Kelly

Surprisingly, no one here has mentioned the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal order for Catholic men. My father was once a member but he’s pretty much dropped out of it.

Anyway, most fraternal orders serve four purposes. 1) They are a social organization for networking with other members of your community. 2) They are a recreational group for gathering together and playing cards, shooting pool, drinking beer, etc. 3) They are a philanthropic organization for supporting various charities. 4) They are a conspiracy dedicated to the secret goal of ruling the world while wearing silly hats.

Most of the “fraternal organiztions” mentioned so far seem to be dwindling and dying, at least in most larger cities. Here in Austin, TX, groups like the Masons, Elks, Knights of Columbus, etc., would have died off long ago if they didn’t have large, plush facilities to rent out for parties, dances, and wedding receptions! Their membership tends to be elderly white men- and young men have no interest in joining ! The only people who DO seem to want to join these groups are ambitious feminists, who seem to believe these clubs are hotbeds for networking and moving up in the business world.

Now, it’s entirely possible that, in some rural areas or small towns, such lodges are STILL very powerful, and membership in one or more of these associations is still crucial to anyone who wants to succeed in business. If, for the sake of argument, all the major merchants in Tuscaloosa are Masons, you may HAVE to join the Masons in order to thrive in business. But on a large sclae, in today’s high-powered, high-tech business world, it’s hard to imagine that membership in such a society has any real advantages (you think a secret Elks handshake will get you a job at Microsoft or Dell? Guess again!). Old-boy networking isn’t dead, but it isn’t what it used to be.

My husband was a founding member of the " Men Who Love Women Who Shit On Them" Club. After he met me, he lost his secret decoder ring. There is only one member of the group left.

These Lodges just sound like Cub Scouts for big people. With less knot-tying and tents.

I know for a fact that, at the very least, the Kiwani’s Club of Santa Monica, California sponsors an annual junior high school and high school solo classical singing competition.

I know this because I came in third place my sophomore year. :wink:

Visit the Internet Stellar Database at www.stellar-database.com

No, wait, that was my Junior year, not my Sophomore year. (Yeah, like you really care.)

Sorry, Satan, couldn’t find it. This is as close at I could find…