American Freemasonry in Crisis
The decline of global Freemasonry in recent years has been notable, unprecedented, unrelenting and historic. Nowhere is that better demonstrated than in American Freemasonry, which is in complete crisis. Masonry’s own Masonic Service Association of North America reports that its national American membership is crumbling at an alarming rate. It has plummeted from 4,103,161 in 1959 to 1,161,253 in 2015. That is an incredible 71 1/2% decrease. This is a startling decline by anyone’s standards. Since 1959, the Masons’ membership has declined every single year without fail – a continual decline of over 50 years. Amazingly, over this past 10 years, there has been a 24% crash in numbers. That is a fall from 1,525,131 to 1,161,253. Nearly 400,000 members have disappeared from Masonic ranks. The Masonic Lodge cannot surely sustain such a wholesale disintegration.
In 1930 2.66 per cent of the population belonged to the Masonic fraternity. When women and kids, and men under 21 are taken out of the equation, as they are ineligible to join the Lodge, that percentage rises substantially. One would imagine you could multiply 2.66 per cent by 4 to ascertain how many male adults over 21 were Masons in 1930. That would be over 10% of the male population over 21. By 2016, Masons represented 0.35% of Americans. To put it in its proper perspective, less than 1 in every 300 Americans you meet today are Masons. Masonry is clearly not as strong and influential as it pretends. The Masonic Lodge has become an increasingly marginalized grouping in today’s modern society, and is struggling to make itself relevant in the 21st century.
Why is this happening?
The continued widespread exposure of the Order, its obscure teaching and its unseemly practices, on the media, through TV, books and the internet is crippling it, like it is other secretive orders. The secrets that were once scrupulously protected by blood oaths, verbal threats, handshakes and passwords have now been exposed for the world to observe.
Senior Mason Stephen Dafoe wrote a very detailed article on the decline called There’s a Hole in Our Bucket, which was essentially a battle cry to the apathetic membership to wake up before it is too late. He is (ironically) said to have resigned disenchanted after completing his research. This is poignant for one who was actually a motivational conference speaker for the Lodge on this subject. At one time, he held the position of Grand Steward of the Grand Lodge of Alberta. He was also the former publisher of the Masonic Magazine and the author of several books on the Knights Templar and Freemasonry. He therefore had his finger on the pulse of the internal state of Masonry.
Dafoe practically explained how the demise was happening. He did so by addressing the higher degree Knights Templars Order. He testified: “Membership statistics from the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar show that between 2004 and the end of September 2008, 17,470 American Freemasons have become Templars, while 9,576 have taken a demit and another 21,706 have been suspended for non payment of dues. Add to this the 22,546 Templars who have gone on to join their creator, and you have 36,358 fewer Knights Templar marching about.”
Dafoe concluded in his report: “It will not be an easy task fixing this half-century old hole in our Masonic bucket; but it will not be possible at all until we accept that a failure to do so is the cause of our decline and the harbinger of our demise.”
With the average age of Masons creeping up from 60 years of age towards 70, the future looks far from rosy for Freemasonry.
The Masonic Traveler addressed this concerning state of affairs from a Masonic perspective in 2007, asking (in an artice): So What? The Dynamic of Masonic Membership. It depressingly concluded: “So what? So what can we do about this? The most effectual answer I can come up with, individually, to the “SO WHAT” question is nothing. We can, at this point in time do nothing to turn this trend around. No matter how many open houses, public lectures, marketing campaigns, sports sponsorships, television commercials, radio spots, billboards, or finite programs promoted by individual lodges or Grand Lodges will stem the hemorrhage. Even if the blue lodge started giving away memberships, it’s doubtful that we could find enough people who even remembered who the Freemasons are, and even fewer who would want to become one. The damage is already done, and we are now in a free fall that threatens to erase the remains of North American Freemasonry. This means the closure and roll back of individual state Grand Lodges. This will mean the selling of more Masonic properties and assets, and the selling or divesting publicly of our privately funded billion dollar institutions. This means the end of Freemasonry as we know it today.”
It finished by saying: “In the next 30 years the landscape of what we call Regular Freemasonry will be radically different than what we see today. The sooner we come to see that NOW, to talk about it, and confront it head on – the sooner we can start planning on what we want to do about it. Burying our heads in the sand is not the answer and if we continue to insist on doing nothing about it WE will only further hasten OUR demise. Our generation, RIGHT NOW, is the unwilling inheritor of the future of Freemasonry – what we do NOW dictates how our sons will come to know this ancient institution. If we ignore the problem, there won’t be any institution left.”
Please check out the facts: Masonic Membership Statistics
Order of Elks
The Mason decline is mirrored by other fraternities. Amos McCallum, a chairman of the past national presidents of the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, says his group has under 900,000 members today, down from 1.6 million in 1980. This is also a stark fall! But the reality is, the Elks are grossly exaggerating their current strength. They have nowhere near 900,000 members, and haven’t for decades. Secret societies are notorious for inflating their numbers to give the false impression of strength. The Elks are another secret fraternity that are on the ropes!
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