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Fraternal Organizations

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Shoeless Joe, Jun 1, 2014.

  1. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    - I am starting this thread for a research project, so I ask you to please help me by keeping it serious and on topic. I need honest, legitimate answers.

    - I am asking about fraternal organizations, not college frats. By fraternal organization, I mean Freemasonry, Moose Lodge, Elks, Knights of Columbus, etc., not lunchtime business groups such as Rotary, Optimist, Kiwanis, etc.

    - It can be either all male, all female, or mixed groups. (I know “fraternal” generally refers to same-sex, but it doesn’t have to hold to the strict definition. I am more interested about the group itself more than the makeup of the group.)

    - Neither answer is wrong. I am just seeking honest input opinions. I ask this here because of the diversity of the posters. Thanks in advance.

    What is the place of fraternal organizations in the modern world?

    Do you belong to a fraternal organization? Why or Why not?

    What is your age?

    If you do not, what would make your join a fraternal organization?
  2. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    I will start by answering my own questions.

    I am 42, and I am a Mason. I have been for more than 20 years. I grew up in a Masonic family, so I have been around it since I was a child. For full disclosure, I am a fairly high-ranking Mason both at the local and state level. (No, I don’t control anything or know any lizard people. The only gold of which I know the whereabouts is in my ring and back teeth).

    The Golden Age of Fraternalism in the U.S. was during the late 1800s and early 1900s. At that time, most men belonged to one group or another. There was another huge surge at the end of WWII. Membership declined with the Boomers because of the nature of the 60s and peoples’ rejection of whatever their fathers did. Now, it seems fraternal organizations are picking back up after several years of decline in membership.

    During the Golden Age, there wasn’t an Applebee’s or whatever on every street corner for people to go to, and with a few exceptions, people worked a 9-5-type day and went home. There weren’t so many distractions and obligations at work or home to occupy peoples’ time.

    Most major surges in fraternalism have come following the discharge of large numbers of military members. My particular lodge has about 75 percent of its members who are veterans. Perhaps that is a factor in a little bit of resurgence.

    On the down side, I think many peoples’ lack of interest in fraternal organizations is in the modern world, folks want to know what they can get out of belonging, rather than what they can put into it.
  3. 41
    I am a member of the Knights of Columbus ... Been a member for about 10 years. I joined because when we moved to area I didn't know very many people and the Council home - which has a bar - was also a nice, relatively quiet - and cheap - place to drink and congregate.
  4. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    A lot of views, but only one reply really. I guess that says a lot about people's affiliation with fraternal organizations today.

    Evil, thanks for the input. I guess there aren't many of us in today's society that appreciate a place to quietly fellowship.
  5. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    I did a story on this about 15 years ago, when the chapter of a local organization (the Oddfellows) was looking to sell off its downtown building. That story led to a series on why fraternal organizations were struggling with membership.

    This won't be news to you, Shoeless Joe, but the three areas I focused on were:

    1. Men change jobs/work different hours/move to different towns more often, compared to previous generations;
    2. the role of women is different today, both in society and in families; and
    3. People are less social and connected to the community overall (I leaned on the book "Bowling Alone" for this part).

    It was a good series then and it's an important research project now, especially for groups like the Masons, KCs, Elks, etc.

    Personally, I am 42 and have been approached several times over the years to join the Knights of Columbus, but working desk hours the past 15 years (along with a few reservations about some aspects of Catholic teaching) have prevented it from happening.

    Fraternal groups do a lot of good things in the community, and it's a shame to see the decline.
  6. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    I am an Elk. Have been for nine years.

    I am not very active, though. I used to be a DMO, but we moved outside of town six years ago. If I go to the lodge and have drinks, it's a $60-$70 cab ride to get home.

    So now I'm not even a DMO. I go to the lodge maybe three-four times in a year.
  7. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    In my part of the South, the Masons are somewhat split. The older guys are mostly white and connected, the younger guys are mostly black and trying to get connected.
  8. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    I'm 44 and have never belonged to a fraternal organization in my life. I don't have a particular antipathy for them. I just never saw the need. Then again, I never joined a fraternity or the military. I've had other activities that have filled the need for community involvement and connection, I guess. Perhaps I was influenced by the fact my father never joined any of these organizations, either.

    However, in my area of Chicago, the Knights of Columbus seems fairly strong, but that's also because the Catholic church, despite its overall decline, is still very powerful and influential there.
  9. Bet those are fun meetings.
  10. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    Working at a newspaper, I avoided buddying-up with fraternal organizations because I was afraid they'd try to get me to put something in the paper that was probably self-serving and not really newsworthy. How do you say no to your "brother?"
    That said, my uncle was an Eagle ("You bet your sweet ass I am"). I went to his lodge when he was installed as the Aire president or whatever they call it. The ceremony was so hokey my real brother and I almost fell down laughing a bunch of times. Guys wearing robes and turbans and those Arabian nights shoes with the toes that curl up, dancing around in a circle. But we didn't have to buy one drink that night.
    Later, I was on a dart team and through circumstances, we wound up using a different Eagles hall as our home bar. They couldn't have been nicer to us.
    But my strongest consideration for never wanting to join was the newspaper vs. fraternity aspect.
  11. McNuggetsMan

    McNuggetsMan Member

    I thought part of the decline of the various fraternal groups was also due to the rise of the government welfare state. If the government was going to provide a safety net, there was less of a need for the safety net that fraternal organizations could provide for you.
  12. MTM

    MTM Well-Known Member

    I was invited to join the Elks years ago. As I was filling out the application, one of the questions was "Do you believe in God?"

    I do, but did not want to join an organization where that matters.

    As for SoCals' conflict concerns, I was in Rotary when I was an editor and actually got some good ideas for articles from speakers or other members. No one ever tried pushing me into publishing something that I did not deem worthy of print and I made it clear, if the club was doing something worth writing about, they had to bypass me and go through someone else.
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