What Is the Shriners' Religion?


Quick Answer

The Shriners do not require members to be of any particular religion, as long as they are already Freemasons. Most Masonic lodges require members to hold belief in a supreme deity, but make no distinctions regarding which deity that might be. Some Masonic lodges require members to be Christian, while other chapters do not require members to be religious at all.

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Full Answer

The Shriners are an adjunct organization associated with the Freemasons. Organizations such as the Shriners are known as appendant bodies. To join the Shriners, one must already be a member of a Masonic lodge in most cases. One exception are Shriners chapters in Arkansas, where any male can become a member.

While much of the Shriners' iconography, such as the scimitar, crescent moon and fez cap, are strongly associated with the Middle East and Islam, this is purely a stylistic choice and has nothing to do with the actual religions to which members subscribe. The Shriners once called their meeting places "temples" and "mosques," but these names have since been replaced with the less-charged term "shrine center," sometimes shortened to just "shrine."

Most of the Middle Eastern symbolism came from two of the organization's founding members, Billy Florence and Walter Fleming. Modern Shriners believe that Fleming likely came up with the Middle Eastern theme after touring ancient Islamic sites in Spain.

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