International Organisation of Good Templars

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IOGT membership certificate, Michigan, 1868[1]

The International Organisation of Good Templars (IOGT; founded as the Independent Order of Good Templars), whose international body is known as Movendi International, is a fraternal organization which is part of the temperance movement, promoting abstinence from alcohol and other drugs.

It describes itself as "the premier global interlocutor for evidence-based policy measures and community-based interventions to prevent and reduce harm caused by alcohol and other drugs". It claims to be the largest worldwide community of non-governmental organisations with a mission to independently enlighten people around the world on a lifestyle free from alcohol and other drugs.

IOGT International works to promote the avoidance of alcohol and other drugs by supporting communities and societies around the world. Founded in 1851, their constitution claims that this will lead to the liberation of peoples of the world, this leading to a richer, freer and more rewarding life.[2] Today the headquarters of IOGT International are situated in Stockholm.


The IOGT originated as one of a number of fraternal organizations for temperance or total abstinence founded in the 19th century and with a structure modeled on Freemasonry, using similar ritual and regalia. Unlike many, however, it admitted men and women equally, and also made no distinction by race.[3]

The IOGT named themselves after the Knights Templar, citing the legend that the original knights "drank sour milk, and also because they were fighting 'a great crusade' against 'this terrible vice' of alcohol."[4]

In 1850, in Utica, New York, Daniel Cady founded one such organization, the Knights of Jericho. In 1851, a lodge of it in Oriskany Falls (then known as Castor Hollow), a village near Utica, was visited by 13 members of another Utica group. Under the leadership of Wesley Bailey, it was decided that these two lodges form the Order of Good Templars. The motto of the renamed organization was "Friendship, Hope and Charity".

Over the next year, 14 additional lodges were established. By the summer of 1852, a convention was called in Utica to establish a Grand Lodge. During this, a dispute broke out between Wesley Bailey and Leverett Coon, who had established a lodge, Excelsior, in Syracuse. Coon left the meeting and his lodge supported his actions by seceding as the Independent Order of Good Templars, with the motto altered to "Faith, Hope and Charity". They shortly merged back, the resulting group continuing under the name Independent Order of Good Templars.

Small assembly building of the IOGT lodge in Vågå, Norway. Built 1908.

The Order first grew rapidly in the United States and in Canada. In 1868, Joseph Malins returned to his native England and established a Birmingham lodge, from which IOGT spread to Europe and the rest of the world. Within three years the Order spread to Ireland, Wales, Australia, Malta, New Zealand, France, Portugal, South Africa, Bermuda, Belgium and East India. By 1876, it had established itself in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Madras, British Honduras, British Guyana, Jamaica, Malacca, China, Japan, Sierra Leone, St. Helena, Argentina, Trinidad, Grenada and the Bahamas. This was followed by lodges in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Germany and Jerusalem.

From 1900 and onwards, further groups were set up in the Netherlands, Burma, Nigeria and Panama.[5] In 1906, reflecting the International reach of the organisation the word "Independent" in its title, was replaced by "International".[6]

From its inception, the Independent Order of Good Templars "campaigned for prohibition, strove to provide social facilities that served non-alcoholic beverages, promoted education and self-help, and supported decent working conditions for working people."[4]

In an attempt to modernize its image the IOGT changed some of its titles and ritualistic features in the 1970s, the use of regalia and rituals began to diminish or were eliminated. In 1970, instead of "Order", the group became the International Organisation of Good Templars. The title of "Chief Templar" was changed to "President" and local units were given the option of calling themselves "Chapters" rather than "Lodges". Instead of three degrees, only one, the Justice degree, was worked by 1979, and the ritual is no longer secret.[7]


In 1875, after the American Civil War, the American senior body voted to allow separate lodges and Grand Lodges for white and black members, to accommodate the practice of racial segregation in southern US states. In 1876, Malins and other British members failed in achieving an amendment to stop this, and left to establish a separate international body. In 1887 this and the American body were reconciled into a single IOGT.

Women were admitted as regular members early in the history of the Good Templar. In 1979, there were 700,000 members internationally, though only 2,000 in the country of the IOGTs origin, the United States.[8]

In Europe, it had a youth division, "ACTIVE – sobriety, friendship, peace", from 1990 to 2017. Since then, youth organizations being member of IOGT International, form the group "IOGT Youth".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vignette (top): The parable of the Good Samaritan. Vignettes (clockwise from bottom): "First drink - social. Second drink at a bar. Drinking & gambling. Goes home drunk to young wife. Pawns his clothes. Poverty & delirium. Recovery - signs the pledge. Prosperity & happy home."
  2. ^ "IOGT International Constitution" (PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  3. ^ Schwalm, Leslie A. (15 July 2009). Emancipation's Diaspora: Race and Reconstruction in the Upper Midwest. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 171. ISBN 9780807894125. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b Nicholson, Helen (2014). A Brief History of the Knights Templar. Little, Brown. p. 151. ISBN 9781472117878.
  5. ^ History of IOGT, Derek Rutherford, National Council, USA
  6. ^ "Records of the International Order of Good Templars: Grand Lodge of Scotland, temperance organisation, Glasgow, Scotland - Archives Hub".
  7. ^ Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations Westport, CT; Greenwood Press pp.147-8
  8. ^ Schmidt p.147

Further reading[edit]

  • David M. Fahey, "How the Good Templars Began: Fraternal Temperance in New York State", Social History of Alcohol Review, Nos. 38-39 (1999)
  • David M. Fahey, "Temperance & Racism: John Bull, Johnny Reb, and the Good Templars" (University Press of Kentucky, 1996).

External links[edit]