The Shrine was established in New York City in the 1920s as the fun part of the Masonic movement. The group adopted a theme of the Middle East and soon established "Temples" meeting in "Mosques" across the continent. An earlier Masonic group, the Grotto had adopted a similar theme in 1890.
It must be empathized that this decorative theme, now perceived as "politically incorrect," was adopted in an earlier time. The Shrine is not Islamic, nor is it in opposition to Islam.
The Shriners often participate in local parades riding comedy versions of cars and motorcycles. They are recognizable by their elaborate red fezes.
The Shrine's charitable arm are the Shrine Hospitals for Children a network of twenty-two hospitals in the United States, Mexico and Canada. They were formed to treat young victims of Polio, but as that disease was controlled they broadened their scope.
They now deal with all pediatric cases, most especially with orthopedic injuries and disease and the damage caused by burns. The Shrine has pioneered new treatments for these conditions.
There is never any charge for treatment at a Shrine Hospital. There is no requirement for religion, race, or relationship to a Freemason. Patients must be under the age of eighteen and treatable. Local Shrine temples most often provide free transportation to the nearest hospital
To learn more, call 1-800-237-5055 in the United States. In Canada, call 1-800-361-7256.
Some famous Shriners include: