How Did the Shriners Get Their Name?


Quick Answer

The name of the Shriner organization comes from a shortening of the organization's original name, the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. The organization was founded around 1870, although its current name of Shriners International was adopted in 2010.

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How Did the Shriners Get Their Name?
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Full Answer

The Shriner organization was masterminded by Masons Walter Fleming and William Florence as a way for some Masons to enjoy entertainment separately from the official Masonic fraternity. Florence first contributed ideas based on secret parties held by North African and Arabian diplomats that he attended. Fleming took these ideas and organized the rituals and symbolism that this new organization would eventually use. Florence and Fleming ended up using the Arabian themes common at Florence's parties, which inspired the organization's original name.

The members of the Ancient Arabic Order held meetings in elaborate buildings of Middle Eastern architecture called temples. However, to avoid connection with religion, the buildings were later called shrines and shrine centers. In 1920, the organization's charitable arm established their first children's hospital, the Shriners Hospital. Because of the shortened name that the buildings and hospitals use, the public usually referred to members of the organization as Shriners. This led to the official name change in 2010.

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