Shriners vs Masons: Difference and Comparison

The term “organization” simply stands for a group of people and forms a club, business, etc., to achieve a particular goal.

Shriners and Masons are also two organizations which were formed many years ago, but they both are still existing these days too. The shrine is also called as “playground of freemasonry”.

Because to be a Shriner, one should be a Mason, but the same does not apply to Masons as it is not necessary to be a Shriner to be Mason. Or it can be said that before being a Shriner, be a Mason first. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Shriners are a fraternity within Freemasonry, while Masons belong to the larger organization of Freemasonry.
  2. Shriners focus on philanthropy and support for children’s hospitals, while Masons engage in various charitable activities and community services.
  3. Becoming a Shriner requires prior membership in Freemasonry while joining the Masons is the first step in the fraternal journey.

Shriners vs Masons 

Shriners are members of fraternal organizations that are based on certain principles. They are known for their distinctive red fezzes and their support for children’s hospitals. Masons are a global fraternity which focuses on moral and personal development, and their activities include charity, etc.

Shriners vs Masons

Shriners International is also known as the Shriners. This society was established in 1870, and Tampa, Florida, the United States, is its headquarters.

They describe themselves as a fraternity that is based on fellowship, fun, and the Masonic principles of brotherly relief, truth, and love. This organization was previously known as “Shriners North America”.  

Freemasons are commonly known as Masons. This organization was established in 1717, and San Francisco, California, is its headquarters.

They were behind everything from the planning of the nation’s capital to murder. Members of the Masonic Brotherhood consist of founding fathers, Titans of business, and prominent politicians. 

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonShrinersMasons
InterpretationSecret fraternal society’s member who is non-Masonic but for membership, only Master Masons are admitted. A member of old and large secret society specialized for men in which members communicate with each other in signs and helps to. 
EstablishedIn 1870In 1717
FoundersWalter M. Fleming and William J. FlorenceOliver Cromwell
FoundedIn New YorkIn England
HeadquarterTampa, Florida, United StatesSan Francisco, California

What are Shriners? 

Shriners International or the Shriners or AAONMS (Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine) is known by its former name.

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Shriners hospitals for children is the reason for its best-known factor, which it administers, and the members wear red fezzes.

From 196 chapters or temples, there are 350,000 members in the Philippines, Australia, Canada, Bolivia, Panama, the US, Brazil, Europe, and Mexico.  

In a Knickerbocker cottage, a group of Masons gathered in 1874 lunch in New York. The regulars among that group were M.D., William J. “Billy” Florence, and Walter M. Fleming. The talk was about for Mason to start a new fraternity.

In which fun and fellowship are its pivots more than any ritual. The new fraternity’s theme was decided to transform into AAONMS (Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine).  

Walter M. Fleming worked as a drafter and drafted the ritual, formulated a salutation, and designed the costumes and emblem. The red fez was decided to be worn by all the members.

The first chapter or temple was established in the United States with the Mecca Shriner’s first meeting on September 26, 1872. With time, this organization grew and spread out of the US.  

The York Rite or Scottish Rite systems was important to complete for a Mason to be eligible for Shriner’s membership. This system was followed until 2000, but in the contemporary world, any Master Mason is eligible for it.

In the past, hazing rituals (on bare buttocks, a jolt of electricity applied and being blindfolded) were a part of Shriners to initiate new members. 


What are Masons? 

Freemasonry or masonry is a fraternal organization that is the oldest in the world. This organization is popularly known for its arcane symbols and white aprons.

According to a report published by BBC, estimated that it has around 6 million people memberships worldwide. As the name suggests, a fraternal organization is solely for men to get mutual benefits for professional or business reasons.

But nowadays, women are too welcome to be a Freemason. When it comes to its history, it is quite mysterious and complex, with plenty of theories. During the Middle Ages, stonemasons’ guilds arose.

As language and symbols come from this era and are used in the fraternity’s rituals. The first Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1717 with four lodges in London.  

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Within thirty years, this organization spreads throughout the American and European colonies. As a result, Freemasons became famous in colonial America.

Well-known Masons consist of the founding of America are Frederick von Stuben, John Sullivan, Joh Paul Jones, and many more. The role in shaping the Supreme Court into its present form was Chief Justice, John Marshall.  

In the contemporary world, there is a decline undergoing in Freemasonry. The reason is the competition which is rising from similar service and fraternal organizations.

Another reason can be the values which are of the newer generations. The value system of this organization is at odds as compared to the previous generation.

As a result, the membership in the lodges has dropped, and some of the Masonic lodges in the US stand vacant. 


Main Differences Between Shriners and Masons 

  1. Shriner International, or the Shriners, is a spin-off from masonry or freemasonry. In 1872, Shriners International was founded, but masonry dates back hundreds of years.  
  2. Master Mason is eligible to be a Shriner. In contrast, Master Mason among the Masons should complete the 3rd and final degree.  
  3. In terms of symbols, Shriners consist of claws (philanthropy and fraternity), the sphinx (governing body), five-pointed stars (several children in each year helped by the philanthropy), and “Robur et Furor” (strength and furry). While in Masons symbols are square and compass (fraternal brotherhood).  
  4. Temples or chapters are owned by Shriners. On the other hand, Masons have a Craft lodge or blue lodge.  
  5. So, it can be said that all Shriners can be considered Masons. On the flip side, all Masons are not referred to as Shriners. 
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Last Updated : 14 October, 2023

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15 thoughts on “Shriners vs Masons: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This article is an excellent resource for anyone looking to learn more about Shriners and Masons. The comprehensive comparison table is particularly helpful in understanding the distinctions between the two organizations.

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