English -- Italiano -- Français -- Español Polski -- Deutsch -- Русский -- Português

The Order of World Scouts is NOT Masonic - and it has no connection with Freemasonry

Some questions have been asked about the use of the words "Order" "Grandmaster" "Knights Templar" and "Fraternal" on the Order of World Scout Web pages - and if the Order of World Scouts is connected with Freemasonry.

The simple answer is that Order of World Scouts is NOT Masonic - and it has no connection with Freemasonry.

The masons are really a new invention of the 1700s - which took existing terms from Christian institutions and applied it to themselves. 

In the middle ages, and after,  Monks and Nuns who were men and women who took vows (such as vows for poverty, chastity and obedience)  who followed various Christian leaders would be grouped into "Orders" - i.e. The Benedictine Order, the Franciscan Order. Two Orders of Monks emerged from the Benedictine Order - "The Order of St John of Jerusalem", based at the St John Hospital in Jerusalem, and "The Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon", based in the old grounds of the Temple in Jerusalem. Instead of using the term "Abbot" for their top man, they used the term "Grand Master" - thus this was a Christian term.

These Orders were committed to defending pilgrims coming to Jerusalem, to visit the scenes of our Lord's life here on earth. They then became known as the Knights of St John, and the Knights Templar. The latter group undertook banking facilities, to safeguard the money of people travelling to the Holy Land - and developed international banking.

After the Holy Land was lost, the Knights Templar Order settled in France where King Philip had the Pope in his power, and in 1312 the Order was abolished and the main leaders executed on trumped-up charges, so that Philip could get his hands on the money. The Order had properties in every European Country, and the various rulers happily obliged as they hoped that they could get their hands on the property. Although the "The Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon" had been abolished, the King of Portugal recognised that the charges were trumped-up, and in his domains, as a Catholic King, whilst being obedient to the Pope, and abolishing the Knights Templar, he allowed the Knights to continue, but under a modified name "The Order of Christ" - which was really the Knights Templar in Portugal. In other words, it became a Portuguese State Order - rather like the Order of the British Empire, and the other Orders awarded by the Queen.

Where the Freemasons come in!
A Scottish Roman Catholic, Andrew Ramsey lived in France in the mid 1700s. He was a freemason and claimed that the Knights Templar were part of the beginnings of Freemasonry - this of course was rubbish - but it did not stop people believing it to be true! This idea gave rise to claims that the Templars had survived via Freemasonry, and soon a grade within Freemasonry became known as the Knights Templar - nothing to do with the Christian Order of 1118-1312. As well as using the term "Order" they also used the word "Grandmaster" to equate themselves with the historic Christian Orders of St John and the Templars.

The Order of World Scouts.
Sir Francis Vane was made a Knight of the Order of Christ by the King of Portugal. He saw the Scouts as being the modern Boy-Knights crusading for a better world. Also, that being a Scout was a Christian Vocation. The theme of seeing the Scouts as modern knights was one that Baden-Powell used. For example, in Baden-Powell's organisation the Rover Scouts (over 17s) had a vigil and investiture before being "invested" - just as the Knights undertook.

Sir Francis - a thoroughly committed Christian - used the term "Order of World Scouts" not to evoke the Freemasonry, but such as the "Order of Christ" of which he was a Knight - a Christian Knight. The title "Grand Scoutmaster" was then appropriate.

Sir Francis overstretched his finances in supporting the Order of World Scouts, and so was disgraced through being a bankrupt. The leader that took over - a non-conformist Church leader - The Reverend Jones Knighton, then created "The Order of the Redeemer" for Scout Leaders - a sort of "poor mans" - "Order of Christ". The title was kept on and technically all Scout Leaders can be members. Again it is definitely not connected the Freemasonry!!!  Rather it evokes the older (and continued) use of the term "Order" meaning a banding together of Christians who operate under a shared "rule of life" and seeks to convey the image of chivalry - men and women committed to serving God, whatever it may cost them.

In the period that both Sir Francis Vane erected the title "Order of World Scouts" (1911) and Knighton invented his club for Scout Leaders "Order of the Redeemer" (1914), in England, the largest membership was that of the Free Churches - Baptists, Methodists, and Quakers. They certainly would have no dealings with Freemasons.
The moral code of the Order of the Redeemer leaves members in no doubt that it is a Christian organisation (especially clause 5);
1. I will, to the best of my ability, seek to set an example of patience, caring and unselfishness.
2. I will, as far as possible, be a true friend to all my comrades, or the young in any way entrusted to my care.
3. I will help those in need, comfort those in sorrow, and by a holy life, seek to set an example of godly living.
4. I will treat all my comrades around me, anywhere, rich or poor, with equal kindness.
5. I acknowledge that the only hope of heaven is through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ the Redeemer.
6. I will devote my life, in guiding others, away from paths of evil, into lives that are pleasing to God.

The word "fraternal" means that it is a membership organisation against being a State organisation.  There are no shortage of people who belong to such as a State Order of knights who would criticise ordinary folks claiming that they are knights, in the same way that they are, without being so - and also no shortage of people who call themselves knights as if they were knights made by the Queen, who are no such thing.
The wording "The Order of the Redeemer is legally a fraternal organisation for Scout Leaders, and is not, and does not claim to be a Royal, or a State Order of Chivalry." is a disclaimer against such charges or pretenses. The word Fraternal includes women as well as men - although it means "brother". The modern use of the word is now akin to the word "fellowship" - you do not have to be a "fellow" or "man" to be part of a Fellowship.