So your son is interested in joining DeMolay…
… and you are wondering whether it is the right thing for him to do.
Any parent who is concerned for the overall growth, development and the general well being of their son, and who may not already be acquainted with what DeMolay is all about, naturally has plenty of questions.
Since its founding, well over a million young men have become members of DeMolay. Many have gone on to become household names in their chosen profession. DeMolay provided them with skills otherwise unattainable for young men… leadership. However, as each of these young men began his association with DeMolay, there in the background was a concerned parent or guardian asking questions.
This page was prepared to give you answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about DeMolay. A few minutes to review the information provided here will give you an overview of the history, values, operation, sponsorship and activities of a chapter in DeMolay.
The questions answered here are generally arranged in categories. However, the answer to a question in one category might contain information that would generally fall into a different category. In those cases, to save reading time, the information will only be presented once.
You may have questions other than those answered here. They may be questions of general nature, or questions specifically related to the chapter your son is considering joining. Whatever your questions, please feel free to contact our Chapter. We can also put you in contact with other local chapters that can assist you with questions regarding chapter related questions.
We appreciate your willingness to learn more about how this character building and leadership development organization has supplemented the growth of thousands of boys into positive, productive men and quality citizens in their communities.
- General Questions
- 1. What is DeMolay?
DeMolay International is the world’s largest fraternal organization for young men ages 12 to 21. It is specifically designed to provide a good moral environment to young men while teaching leadership skills. The ultimate aim is to build better young men that will, in turn build better men to be better citizens, husbands, fathers, friends and leaders for the future.
It currently exists in all 50 states, District of Columbia, and nine foreign countries. In the United States, there are over 25,000 current members, which operate over 1000 chapters. In New Jersey, there are currently seventeen chapters.
- 2. What Are the Requirements to Join?
The requirements are few, but each is important. To be a member of DeMolay International, a young man must:
- Be between the ages of 12 to 21.
- Be of good character and reputation
- Have a belief in a God, Supreme Being or Deity
- Complete an application for membership
Attend a 2-part Initiation ceremony.
- 3. What Is the Initiation Ceremony Like?
The DeMolay Initiation Ceremony is the celebration of a young man’s commitment to better himself by becoming a member of DeMolay. This orientation and explanation sets DeMolay apart from other organizations, because young men present it to all new members as a chapter.
The ceremony itself contains two sections or “degrees”. The first is called the Initiation Degree. It is a solemn event, during which the young man is acquainted with the founding principles of DeMolay. The second section is called the “DeMolay Degree”. It is a play portrayed by the DeMolay members. The subject of the play is loyalty, which is introduced in the story of Jacques DeMolay who lived in the 14th century. The importance of the story for today’s youth is to always be loyal to your beliefs, family, friends and commitments. We believe this is an important lesson for today’s youth.
- 4. How do DeMolays Learn Leadership?
DeMolay prides itself on preparing young men for careers above and beyond education. Education is vitally important and DeMolay supplements it with specific training. A process of executing increased responsibilities teaches leadership skills. The chapter contains offices, which members may obtain such as president and vice-president. Here are some examples:
Master Councilor ……………………………. President
Senior Councilor ……………………… 1st Vice-President
Junior Councilor …………………………… 2nd Vice-President
Scribe …………………………………………. Secretary
Members may move through the ranks and obtain higher offices, much like business positions. Each position carries more and more responsibilities. If he participates, here are just a few things that a young man will learn in DeMolay that will prepare him for leadership. These experiences will give him a head start on his classmates in the race for scholarships and jobs.
- Public Speaking
- Appearance and Image Maintenance
- How to Plan and Execute Events Such as Banquets and Dances
- How to run a Business Meeting (Parliamentary Procedure)
- How to prepare agendas
- How to assign, utilize and execute committees
- 5. How does a young man learn good character in DeMolay?
Upon joining DeMolay, the young man will interact with other quality young men and advisors who are dedicated to upholding the aforementioned virtues. Young men act more upstanding when in the company of other quality young men. Acting in an upstanding manner becomes a habit. This habit demonstrates good character and serves to mold a mature way of thinking as he approaches adulthood.
- 6. I may think young men need these skills, but do the members want to learn them?
Few young people are mature enough to desire this type of training without some type of fun. When DeMolays tell their friends about the organization, they discuss the fun aspects. DeMolays have a great deal of fun, all the while they are learning to act with good character, and they learn leadership skills. In order for fun to be had, the members learn that they must plan it. Chapters routinely have dances, attend sports events, hold fundraisers, and play organized sports or pickup games. Planning these events appears to be fun, but they are learning as well.
- 7. How Much Time does it take to be a DeMolay?
The young man is invited to all events and can spend as much or as little time as he desires. Most chapters have two meetings per month to plan their activities. In addition to the meetings, there are the events they are holding during the month. An example of one calendar month of events is listed below. There is no requirement to attend functions; however, we hope that the parents will enforce a six-month trial period. Usually after six months, the young man is familiar with DeMolay to truly see the enjoyment and benefits and it will give him an opportunity to make some good friends in the chapter.
- 8. What types of activities does a DeMolay Chapter have?
Within certain parameters, the activities of a DeMolay chapter are limited only by the imagination of its members. Members of DeMolay chapters plan and hold social events, fundraisers, civic service projects, athletic activities and much more. Insurance restrictions prohibit chapters from engaging in dangerous activities such as tackle football; however, overall, chapters have a wide range of activities from which they can choose as they plan their activities and projects calendar.
- 9. Why Haven’t I Heard of DeMolay?
Often DeMolay chapters become so involved in planning, organizing and enjoying their activities, they overlook promoting their chapter within the community, as they should. However, in a television age, the news would rather focus on the bad acts of young people rather than those concerned about themselves and their communities, like DeMolay members.
If you have not heard of DeMolay, perhaps you have heard of some of the persons who were DeMolays as teenagers. These famous alumni include Walt Disney, actor John Wayne, comedians Tommy and Dick Smothers, pro football hall of famer Fran Tarkenton, news anchor Dan Rather, Willard Scott, owner of the San Diego Chargers Alex Spanos, and news legend Walter Cronkite. Many of these individuals and other community and business leaders credit part of their success to their DeMolay experience.
- 10. Can you Stop Being a Member if you do not like it?
Yes, you can stop participating. However, once you join DeMolay, you are a lifetime member and will remain on our membership role until they turn 21. Being on this role entitles all members to participate in the DeMolay program which means that if the members decides that he wants to come back, he is always welcome.
- 11. What is the organization of DeMolay?
DeMolay in the United States is organized by the state. Each state is under the direction of an Executive Officer. He coordinates the activities of the advisors to assist chapters in operation. Each follows the same guidelines set forth by DeMolay International in order to provide a quality experience for young men that are in harmony with moral and legal standards.
- 12. Is DeMolay is a Tax Deductible Charity?
DeMolay is a recognized 501(c) 3 Charity by the IRS. Therefore, all contributions to the organization are tax deductible. To make a tax deductible contribution contact the SPD DeMolay Office. Additionally, our adult workers may deduct certain expenses incurred by volunteering for a chapter (such as gas, tolls, lodging, etc.) For more information, contact a local chapter.
- 13. What Activities are offered on a State Level?
Jurisdiction Athletic Tournaments – In DeMolay, all members get to play in the sport competitions. These tournaments offer the chapters a chance to compete against other chapters in competitions like basketball, flag football, bowling, soccer and many more.
Leadership Training Camp – This leadership camp teaches skills such as chapter management, public speaking, program planning, fundraising, applying for college scholarships and more while allowing the members to have fun and hang out with their friends.
Annual Conclave – This is the culmination of a year’s activities. Conclave is considered the most fun to be had in DeMolay. This weekend is held in a hotel and serves as annual elections for state officers, voting on new ideas and changes to the rules of the organization complete with numerous fun events like dances, banquets, awards, sports, inflatable obstacle courses and much more!
- 14. There are Awards Given in DeMolay?
The execution of the DeMolay program teaches the members how to plan and execute events, develop and use human resources and provides them confidence and organizing skills, etc. The members are also able to earn awards and take part in training conferences that teach the successful skills of chapter management. The following can be awarded to members who put in exceptional time and effort for the good of the organization.
Merit Bars – By participating in aspects of the programs, members can earn recognition of achievements. One recognition item is the merit bars. Merit cars are linked together to form a type of medal which lists the accomplishments of the member. The bars are awarded in 16 categories with five levels of achievement in each category. The categories are as follows:
Athletics Attendance Civic Service Convention
Fine Arts Installation Journalism LCC
Masonic Attendance Masonic Service Membership Merit
Religion Scholastics Visitation Ritual
Leadership Correspondence Course – A series of 5, 50 question courses which analyze the history and organization of DeMolay. The member uses various reference materials to answer the questions. Parents, advisors and family members are all welcome to take part in the course.
Representative DeMolay – The first step to leadership development is learning the skill of self-evaluation. The Representative DeMolay (R.D.) Award is a self-evaluation test completed by the young man. The test causes the member to analyze his own progress in areas of his life, such as scholastics, religion, current events, etc.
# 1 Pin – Awarded for being the sponsor (first line signer) of one new DeMolay member.
Founder’s Membership Award – Awarded for being the sponsor of five new DeMolay members.
Blue Honor Key – Awarded for being the sponsor of 10 new DeMolay members.
Chevalier – The Chevalier is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an active or senior DeMolay. This is awarded for outstanding service to the order of DeMolay and is considered the most distinguished award presented to a Demolay. It is important to note that Adult
Volunteers can receive awards as well. The following are offered to adult workers and advisors for DeMolay:
Cross of Honor – Awarded to an advisor for three or more years of outstanding service and dedication to DeMolay.
Legion of Honor/Honorary Legion of Honor – The Legion of Honor is the highest honor given by DeMolay International. This is for outstanding service to not just DeMolay, but to the community and all of humanity. The Legion of Honor is awarded to adults who used to be DeMolays. The Honorary Legion of Honor is awarded to adults who were not previously DeMolays.
- 15. Is DeMolay a Religious Organization?
No. Among the requirements for membership in DeMolay is the belief in a Supreme Being, but not one of a particular doctrine, sect or denomination. A young man’s religious convictions are his own. DeMolay’s members include Christians, Jews, Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists, Moslems and many other religious groups.
DeMolay does not involve itself in religious discussions. It merely recognizes the importance of a faith in the lives of young men. Through the virtue of Reverence for Sacred Things seeks to remind our members to rely upon and use their own faith in life.
- 16. Why Does DeMolay Allow Members of all Religions to Join?
The value of having membership across the religious spectrum is in the opportunity it provides for members of one religion or denomination to understand the perspective of others. The diversity of this country provides opportunities to be introduced to faiths, cultures and traditions from around the world. By allowing young men of different background to participate prepares the young men to rely upon their faith and respect the faith of others. This principle will be very important as they become more active as citizens. The member will value the culture and traditions of others while standing confidently upon his own beliefs.
In addition to Reverence for Sacred Things DeMolays follow six other virtues that form the foundation of the organization.
- 17. How Did DeMolay get started?
In 1919, while employed as the social services director for the Scottish Rite bodies in Kansas City, Missouri, Frank Sherman Land hired a teenager by the name of Louis Gordon Lower to perform odd jobs around the building. As the two became friends, Land found that Lower’s father had died a short time before and that the young man missed having the guidance that a father would provide. Lower has other friends whose fathers were also not in the home (WWI had just ended a few years earlier) whether through divorce, abandonment or death. Land suggested that Lower should invite some of his friends to the Scottish Rite Temple to discuss starting a club. Within a few days, Lower brought eight of his friends to a meeting. The nine young men agreed that the idea of a club was a good one. Soon the “Order of DeMolay” was born. Within three years, chapters had been established in 39 of the then 48 states and the District of Columbia. It has now spread worldwide.
- 18. Where did the name DeMolay come from?
The name came from Jacques DeMolay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar during the Crusades. The original nine members of DeMolay selected the name in honor of his high principles and his devotion to his fellow members of the Templar.
- 19. What is the Story of Jacques DeMolay?
Jacques DeMolay was born in France in 1244. At the age of 21, he became a member of the Knights Templars, a group originally called “Poor Soldiers in Christ”. Sanctioned by the Pop and the Church Council in 1128, their purpose was to guard the road between Jerusalem and Acre (the port on the Mediterranean). Because of church sanction and for fighting valiantly in several crusades, the Knight Templars were a popular group among the people. The name Knights Templar became synonymous with heroism. Even nobles and princes sent their sons to join them.
In 1298, Jacques DeMolay was elected Grand Master of the Templars. Over the years, the organization amasses great wealth and King Phillip of France became concerned that they would use their power and wealth against him. False charges were pressed against DeMolay and the Templars by the King in order to brand them as criminals. On orders of the King, Jacques DeMolay and hundreds of members of the Knights Templar were arrested and thrown into prison. During his seven-year imprisonment, DeMolay was tortured repeatedly in attempts to get him to betray other leaders and members of his beloved Templars. He consistently refused to betray his fellow Templars and because of his refusal, he was sentenced to be burned at the stake on March 18, 1314. DeMolay died a martyr to loyalty.
- 20. Who Sponsors a Chapter of DeMolays?
DeMolay is sponsored by Masons of the community. It is one way Masonry gives back to and remains active in communities. By sponsoring this group to teach leadership, morals and good citizen character, Masons are active in preserving our future. Masons feel DeMolay helps ensure that the leaders of tomorrow are given proper guidance today. Think of it as future assurance.
Each DeMolay chapter is sponsored by a group of Freemasons, a Masonic Lodge, or some other related Masonic group such as the Scottish Rite, York Rite or Shrine. The responsibilities of a sponsoring body are:
- To provide the chapter a place to meet
- To provide adult leadership and guidance through maintaining an active advisory council
- To assist the chapter whenever and however needed.
- 21. Who Are the Masons?
Today’s Masons are men who have joined together for mutual improvement in an organization that provides basic framework in which to improve themselves morally and spiritually while giving back to the community through the conduct of various community service and charitable undertakings. Traditionally, the caliber of men who seek membership in the Masonic Order are among the most charitable and civic minded individuals in any organization. Like DeMolay, it provides a social interaction in an environment for a man that requires high morals and good character from its members.
- 22. Are the Masons a secret organization?
No. In most towns, the Masonic Hall is prominently marked. In many locations, the meeting time and day of the local lodge is published in the newspaper. Primarily, three things have contributed to the impression that the Masons are a secret organization:
- The meetings of the local lodges are restricted to members only.
- The fact that Masons have certain modes of recognizing each other such as a word or a sign that are kept confidential. This is to ensure that those involved and attending the functions are members of the fraternity and not trying to get into meetings out of idle curiosity.
- Unlike other organizations, Masons do not hold large membership recruitment drives. They choose to focus on each individual membership applicant.
- 23. How did Demolay and Masonry come to be associated?
The founder of DeMolay, Frank S. Land, was a Mason himself. As DeMolay grew and new chapters were being formed in the 1920’s, Land realized that each Demolay chapter would require a group of quality men to provide guidance and supervision for the young men. He felt that requiring DeMolay chapters to be sponsored by Masonic Lodges or a group of Masons would ensure that there would always be service-oriented men of quality and character to serve on the advisory council of a chapter.
- 24. Is DeMolay a junior Masonic organization?
No. The Masons do not sponsor DeMolay to someday obtain Masons from its members. They are merely concerned with preparing young men for the future. While in DeMolay they will interact with many Masonic members and develop and healthy, trusting relationship with Masons. They believe in helping today’s youth thought DeMolay.
- 25. Who supervises the activities of a DeMolay chapter?
Activities and projects of a DeMolay chapter are always supervised by a group of advisors who comprise the Advisory Council. Most often, this body is made up of Masons from the sponsoring organization. Furthermore, any parent who completes a DeMolay Advisor Development (DAD) seminar may serve as an advisor as well. Senior members of DeMolay (DeMolay’s who have passed their 21st birthday) may serve on advisory councils as well.
- 26. Why do the young men refer to advisors as “Dad”?
The young men who started DeMolay did not want to refer to Frank S. Land as Frank. They felt this did not give him the respect he deserved. They further felt that Mr. Land was too formal. Therefore, they decided to refer to him as “Dad” Land. This was certainly the appropriate title for the man who advised and provided a fatherly influence. The title became a habit and since then every advisor is addressed with the title of “Dad”.
- 27. What do the advisors do?
Ultimately, the advisors are responsible for overseeing all aspects of the operation of the chapter and ensuring that the chapter operates within the statutes set down by DeMolay International (the International governing body). The advisors help the members plan and carry out programs and activities while they are ongoing. The advisors are also responsible for sitting as a hearing board on disciplinary matters in the chapter. In addition, they often help the chapter by acting as the “record-keepers” and administrators of the paperwork that is required in order to keep the chapter operating. These men are respected members of the community who donate their time and money to assist the growth of these young men.
- 28. What is expected of parents?
- Keep the young man active for at least six months. Upon joining DeMolay, the young man will be unfamiliar with its procedures and methods. After 6 months, he will be able to make an educated decision about his involvement.
- We all fear and consider worthless those things we do not understand. Some young men may approach the first few events as being stupid and not “cool”. After he becomes familiar with the methods his comfort level will allow him to take part in and perhaps lead those very activities.
- 29. Is there a way for the members’ parents to be involved?
The involvement of parents is always welcome and it is highly encouraged. There are two ways for parents or family members to be involved, as a DeMolay advisor or as a Chapter Adult Volunteer, often called the “Parents Club”. An advisor is an active participating member of the Advisory Council. Parents can also be an adult volunteer on the Parent’s Club of the chapter.
Each chapter has a corps of adult volunteers, which supplement the efforts of advisors. A parent may serve as a “full fledged” advisor or serve as a special project volunteer according to available time, expertise and resources. The adult volunteers help the Advisory Council by providing occasional supervision for a chapter event, transportation or assistance with functions (such as refreshments and decorations). All parents are welcome no matter how much time they are able to commit.
- 30. Are parents allowed to attend meetings?
Parents are allowed to come to any event that DeMolay holds. Not only is this required by insurance, but also in encouraging parents to participate in DeMolay with their sons, we feel that opening all activities to the parents will present more opportunities for the parents to attend. Parents are always welcome to witness their son’s Initiation Ceremonies, and many DeMolays want their parents to attend public functions, athletic events, social events and civic service projects. In DeMolay, there is a place for any parent wishing to be active with their son.
- 31. What will be expected of a young man who joins DeMolay?
His involvement in DeMolay is intended to be both fun and rewarding. As with any organization, there are ways for him to maximize the benefit from his membership.
- Become involved. He will be expected to attend chapter meetings and activities and get involved in helping make decisions regarding the chapter.
- Approach his involvement with a positive, helpful attitude. His approach should include a willingness to learn, a willingness to help others learn and a willingness to be a part of the chapter team. Demolay members have had life experiences that have given them a unique perspective on issues. Together, the members and their advisors share perspectives and learn from each other as they make decisions that affect the operation and future of the chapter.
- Put the precepts of Demolay into practice in his daily life. Some of the guiding principles of Demolay (love for parents, reverence, courtesy, comradeship, fidelity (loyalty), cleanness and patriotism) may seem “out of fashion” in today’s society, but that does not mean that they are without merit. A young man who can impress their beliefs in this daily life will be “ahead of the game” as he approaches manhood.
- Learn about DeMolay. Part of being a good member and team player is being familiar enough with how it operates and being able to tell others about it. He will have a handbook and an “open book” course called a Leadership Correspondence Course available to help him learn about DeMolay.
- 32. What are the rules members must abide by?
- The presence and/or use of alcohol or an illegal or controlled drug are prohibited at DeMolay functions. The only exception is prescriptions from a licensed medical doctor.
- The possession of any type of weapon is prohibited
- Aggressive, disruptive or destructive behavior has no place at a DeMolay function.
- When attending a DeMolay function or going on a DeMolay-related outing, he should not try to be “Mr. Independent”. At any DeMolay function, he is responsible to the advisors in attendance.
While there are specific rules governing specific situations in chapters, it is best to use common sense when deciding what a member can or cannot do. If the action will harm the welfare of the organization, then it is prohibited. The examples mentioned above provide a general description.
- 33. The DeMolay Emblem… What is its meaning?
The DeMolay Emblem was created with symbolism in mind. The emblem has been a part of DeMolay since the very beginning and was redesigned to the Emblem above in the 1940’s. Every part of the Emblem has a symbolic significance to a member.
The INSIGNIA was designed by the founder of our great Order: Dad Frank S. Land. He designed it as a pin and symbol that recognizes us as DeMolays and their representatives. Every part of this insignia has a particular significance, and we as DeMolays should know them by heart.
The CROWN is symbolic of the Crown of Youth and constantly reminds a DeMolay of his obligations and the seven precepts of this Order: filial love, reverence for sacred things, courtesy, comradeship, fidelity, cleanness and patriotism.
The TEN PRECIOUS STONES of the crown honor our founder, Frank S. Land, and the nine youths whose ties of friendship drew them together in the formation of the Order of DeMolay. The Red Rubies honor those who have passed away. The pearls represent those living members of the original nine. When, as comes to every man, the final summons for each of this honored group, a red ruby takes the place of a pearl.
The HELMET is emblematic of chivalry, which we as DeMolays display through our courtesy and respect for womanhood and without which there can be no fineness of character.
The CRESCENT is a sign of secrecy and constantly reminds DeMolays of their duty never to reveal the secrets of our Order or to betray the confidence of a friend.
The five-armed WHITE CROSS symbolizes the purity of your intentions to always remember the motto of the Order: No DeMolay shall fail as a citizen, as a leader and as a man.
The CROSSED SWORDS denote justice, fortitude and mercy. They symbolize the increasing warfare of DeMolay against arrogance, despotism and intolerance.
The STARS surrounding the crescent are symbolic of hope and should always remind us of those obligations and duties which one Brother of the Order owes to another.