"Nowadays peoples visual
imagination is so much more sophisticated, so much more developed, particularly in young
people, that now you can make an image which just slightly suggests something, they can
make of it what they will."
Robert Doisneau (b. 1912), French photographer. Weekend
Guardian (London, 4 April 1992).
Some religious intolerants, in attempting to show even more 'evils of
Freemasonry', point to the red fez worn by North American Masons who are members of the
Shrine. Because of their choice of headgear, Shriners are supposedly 'worshipping Satan'.
Where does this charge originate? Anti-Masons have fabricated a story that
in the 8th century, Muslim hoards overran the city of Fez in Morocco and butchered 50,000
Christians - and that the streets ran red with blood. The claim further states that the
murderers dipped their caps in the blood to honor Allah and that the blood-stained caps
were called 'fezzes' and became idols dedicated to Satan.
The facts, however, are far different - and come from four different
The Shrine was founded in 1872 in New York City. It arose from a
luncheon group which included a physician and an actor and from which a huge,
philanthropic group grew. The history of the Shrine became somewhat clouded in its early
years as some attempted to ascribe actual connections of the organization to places such
as Mecca and elsewhere in the Middle East while others recognized it much as it was: an
organization founded for the purpose of 'having fun' which adopted fanciful theatrics from
a little-known part of the world. (1) With a name such as
"Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine" as well as some past
controversy about origin and a history of 'fun' which in some cases perhaps bordered on
rowdiness, the Shrine is in a unique position for charges which would present it in an
Historically, there is no basis in fact for the charge. The city of Fez was founded by
an invader, Sultan Idris I. Idris, who won a war against resident pagans at the very end
of the eighth century. All of the conquered were converted to Islam and if there were any
Christians, history does not record this. The cap itself wasn't begun until after the
second sultan, Idris II, expanded the town to the other side of the river as he attempted
to encourage local craft industries. It is important to remember that the dyes of that
time were not particularly bright colors but the Moroccans had several good dyes whose
formulas were secret. One of these was a bright red and was used in the manufacture of
that brilliant red cap which was named after the city of its manufacture, Fez.
Blood, particularly in the hot Middle East, dries particularly fast. The concept of
'running blood' almost defies imagination. Further, any material (particularly the felt
type of material used in the fez) when dripped in blood would turn a deep, dark color of
red bordering on the brown. With the prevalence of flies and other insects, does it make
sense that anyone would dip a piece of headgear so essential to protect oneself from the
elements into a fluid which would subject them to all sorts of pestilence - and ruin a
piece of clothing vitally necessary? The simple facts obviate the foolishness of this
The jealousy surrounding the wonderful Shriners'
lead some to revel in the opportunity to present those who perform such good works in an
evil light. Rather than build something up, they attempt to make themselves look large by
love to repeat again and again this horrid claim. We've yet to see any of them
produce proof of their charge. The claims about the fez are simply more lies in the arsenal of the
wear their fez proudly knowing that it represents a century of good works and
1. Referring to Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry,
for example, it is somewhat easy to overlook the fact that some of the descriptions about
the history of the Shrine are preceded by the comment that "...it is difficult to say
with precision how much or how little confidence should be placed in the any claims made
for an exclusively foreign origin of the institution."
Shriners believe in God and that He created man to serve His purposes, among
which is service to others in His name.
We believe that care for the less fortunate, especially children who suffer from
burns and crippling diseases, is our institutional calling.
We are patriots, each willing to serve his country with fidelity and courage. We
cherish independence under law and freedom with responsibility.
We honor family. We respect our parents, wives and children. We should instill
in our children the tenets of this creed, and the heritage from which it
As individuals we pledge ourselves to integrity, virtue and nobility of
character. Our intentions will be honorable, our relations will be trustworthy
and our spirits forgiving of each other.
As brothers we offer each other fraternal affection and respect. Together we
will support each other in adherence to this creed, so that we and our
communities will be the better because of our fraternity and its principles.
As Shriners we look beyond ourselves to serve the needs of others, especially
children who cannot help themselves. We believe Shriners Hospitals to be the
world's greatest philanthropy, and we covenant with each other to support its
"temples of mercy" with spirit, time, talent and means.
don't miss these: