Talk:Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks

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"Believe in God" = "Christian"?[edit]

It says in the article that in order to become a member, you have to believe in God. Does it have to be the Christian god, or could Muslims or Hindu apply? MMad 12:39, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Or Jews for that matter? 21:43, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

The order ask for a belief in *god*, which is a personal and private belief. That god could be Jewish, Islamic, or new age spiritual. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:34, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

I am a Neo-Pagan and I joined. Good times. ~~SAB —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:12, 3 June 2009 (UTC)


I note the new section added is from this site: but it is not credited. Could some Smart Person give me an opinion of the copy rights and wrongs here? [[PaulinSaudi 11:19, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)]]

I wrote to the national Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks for permission to reproduce their articles. These articles actually are originally posted on I was / am new to wikiposting so I may have jumped the permission gun. When I get their OK, which I am confident, I will post their letter here. --Crickett 02:51, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Seems awful onesided --Alohawolf 10:06, September 8, 2005 (UTC)

Discrimination towards atheists by the BPOE[edit]

Have the Elks always discriminated against atheists, or was that practice begun during the Cold War? — Coelacan | talk 16:44, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

  • 1. To distinguish: Since he was colorblind he was unable to discriminate between the blue and green bottles.
Uh... In considering someone for membership, they have always distinguished atheists from others. And the Cold War, at least, has nothing to do with it.
No, it absolutely is not a matter of Discrimination, beyond that of "Distinction".
Grye 04:18, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
And if they didn't let blacks join, that would just be "distinguishment" and not "prejudice", right? — coelacan talk — 04:48, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
No, you would be right there. Not saying that did or didn't ever happen, but to comment cites, & NPOV tone would be needed. Grye 21:52, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
So anyway, what is their reasoning for the discrimination against atheists? — coelacan talk — 08:30, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
With the freemasons, there's written reason. I'm not sure (about written reason) with BPOE, & I'm not going to give a quote...;-) I'll look for you though. Grye 21:52, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
I will say that with any group whatsoever, say the PTA to BPOE to Freemasonry, the resons for any given requirement are, of course, so that any given member can know that every other member present is of X, Y, Z history/beliefs, achievements, past officeholder, etc etc. Grye 21:54, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
What? So atheists aren't qualified to be Elks? — coelacan talk — 06:13, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
Um... no. Just as, not being a parent, nor a teacher, I'm not really qualified to join the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA).
Grye 06:32, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
I call shenanigans. What is it about atheists that makes them unqualified to join a drinking club? — coelacan talk — 06:42, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
I call POV, & I call it quits. I tried earnestly to answer your questions.
  1. I have no idea What it is about atheists that makes them unqualified to join a drinking club. BPOElks is a charitable organization which, among many other things, gives hundreds of millions of Dollars, & thousands of millions of volunteer hours, to charitable causes every year.
  2. What it is about atheists that makes them unqualified to join BPOE, is that they're atheists.
  3. If you're an atheist & can't join, get over it, & since they're just a drinking club to you anyway, Then either go drink somewhere else, or you don't drink, and no big loss.
Conversation's over. Grye 07:33, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
And this is what I don't understand. Why are you bringing up that they are a charitable organization? What does this have to do with theism or atheism? You gave the example of a PTA, and yeah, it makes sense that you can't join a PTA unless you are a parent or a teacher. But there's nothing that stops atheists from being "benevolent" or "protective". So the discrimination can only be described as prejudice. Try this one: "What it is about blacks that makes them unqualified to join BPOE, is that they're blacks." The prejudice and hatred is obvious there, but you're saying the same thing about the BPOE and atheists and yet saying that it's not prejudice. I can't see what the difference is. You're not making any sense. — coelacan talk — 08:26, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
OK. Try this one: An (say-take any variant) African-American is born an African-American; an Irish is born an Irish. They can't change that, for love or money. are you saying all atheists will always be atheists? A Muslim or Catholic will never be an atheist? That being an atheist is unchangeable? That an Athiest cannot find god(s)? That a devout [X, Y, or Z] cannot lose their faith?
It isn't that I am not making sense, it is your inability to discern sense from my simple statements, & descry the same meaning from them which I intended in writing them, despite references & links added. Which is your problem, not mine. I cannot force you to understand.
Sincerely sorry,
Grye 21:06, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
Of course people's beliefs do change. But like catching influenza or winning a door prize, it is something that happens, not something one does. If one can simply change one's beliefs at will, prove me wrong: stop believing in your God right now, for five minutes. When you've done it, you can change right back and start believing again, since it's just a matter of choice, according to you. The fact is that you can't do it, no more than you can choose to believe that your keyboard is actually an apple pie. If you wanted to become an atheist, you could investigate the evidence, but if or when your beliefs actually changed, it would be an occurrence that you experienced, not something you did. It is prejudicial to deny membership to a person based on something that is beyond their control, and it is bigoted to say "you can't be in our club because you're incapable of believing what we do without sufficient evidence." And it is shameful to imagine that atheists are unable to act charitably and contribute positively toward the community, which can be the only legitimate criterion of membership for the Elks. It is truly sad that you are so eager to make all these excuses in defense of bigotry. To deny that prejudice is prejudice is to contribute further to it. — coelacan talk — 22:28, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
I nor anyone else here except you said "atheists are unable to act charitably and contribute positively toward the community". No BPOElks that I know actually dislike atheists, nor would disclude them from a BPOElks charitable event, either in attendance or help. I don't know what some BPOElk(s) has done to you, but I nor anyone here has done anything to cause you to be uncivil & make personal attacks. The goal of everything Wikipedia involves a neutral point of view, & that's how it'll be. Grye 23:29, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
continued to User talk:Coelacan[edit]
I just asked why the BPOE discriminated against atheists. I was hoping for some answers that would be included in the article. You started using rhetoric to explain it all away and I disagreed with your premises. My intent was to clarify the issue as readily as possible so that it can be discussed in the article. I'm sorry if you felt I was soapboxing. I do not believe I have been at all incivil or made any personal attacks against you. The only thing I have said directly to you in any regard was that "It is truly sad that you are so eager to make all these excuses in defense of bigotry." That is not a personal attack. And I'd appreciate it if you stop altering my talk page posts to add wikilinks that I did not add. It's very misleading. — coelacan talk — 00:32, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
Yaknow, that apple pie was incredible.... had to go get a new keyboard though. Grye 18:56, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

Just another bunch of bigots. If a similar organization banned Christians from membership, it would become a national outrage and the cable news networks would be covering this 24-7. Of course, they're just discriminating against atheists, so no one cares and the general response is "get over it." Biggest Pigs on Earth. Benfea 01:12, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

To answer one user, it does not matter which god you believe in. It was explained to me that the reason for the requirement was that part of becoming an Elk involves swearing before god, if you did not believe in god how could you keep that oath. 21:47, 15 September 2007 (UTC) George 1746 15 September 2007 EDT

The candidate's obligation requires a statement of belief in God. "I, ________, in the presence of God and this Lodge of Elks, do solemnly promise and swear ..." The ritual further explains why a belief in God is required. It points directly to the Obligation. "Exalted Ruler: Why were you asked if you believed in God? Esquire: Because had I not so believed, I would not have been permitted to take the Obligation." The candidates definition is never questioned. Quoted text taken from the Ritual of Subordinate Lodges 2011 --Tomhung357 | Talk —Preceding undated comment added 21:49, 25 March 2011 (UTC).

Actually, religion is a key reason why people do not swear oaths. See Oath#Refusal to swear oaths. There's actually some interesting history of the contract involving the Phoenicians, Tyre, Melqart/Baal/Beelzebub/Herakles etc. but I digress. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wnt (talkcontribs) 13:50, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

The Elks Lodge ceremonies, rituals, and rites all include references to "God", the after-life, eternal nature of the soul, etc. An atheist would not prefer to be exposed / subjected to these offensive ceremonies. Thus atheism is completely incompatible with almost all official proceeding of the Elks Lodges. Here a list off the top of my head.

  • Opening and closing prayer for all meetings, ceremonies, and rites
  • Pledge of Allegiance is recited in almost all meetings and rituals
  • Bible open on the alter symbolizing "The Book of Law" which Justice is founded.
  • Swear to "God" during the obligation. "I, ________, in the presence of God and this Lodge of Elks, do solemnly promise and swear ..."
  • Funeral service of members (in lodge and at grave site). Littered with reference to "God", the after-life, eternal nature of the soul, etc.
  • Memorial service for all deceased members. Littered with reference to "God", the after-life, eternal nature of the soul, etc. "And may the Grace of God enable us to derive from this ceremony renewed confidence that beyond the shadows there is life everlasting."
  • Singing of "God Bless America" in several rituals
  • Flag day ritual. "It has linked its destiny with the destiny of our country and made this Flag its symbol of self-dedication to God, to country, and to fellow men."
  • Flag retirement service. "These Flags have nobly served the cause of brotherhood that this Nation under God is dedicated to, the Golden Rule of loving one another and doing unto others as we would they should do unto us"

This is about as incompatible as an Atheist wanting to join the local Lutheran church without any belief in "God". I myself and many others I know are agnostic and are not offended by these inclusions. So we are no excluded from membership. Tomhung357 (talk) 17:10, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

Race/Sex issues[edit]

Interesting that God issue was discussed so much at length. On that subject, you should note that much of the Elks rituals makes reference to God. I don't agree with the policy, but I wanted to explain why.

When my father belonged to the Elks, in the 60s and 70s, the race issue was a big one. The by laws specifically stated that the BPOE was a club for white men.[citation needed] I see that this has changed but I am suprised there is no discussion on the page of how that got changed. I do know it was very controvertial.

In their defense, I want to say, a significant aspect of the Elks was charity work, which often benefitted people who were racial minorities.

Come up with something in print that The by laws specifically stated that the BPOE was a club for white men
Grye 04:45, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Due to interest here, I've added two sources about the issue of religion, but it needs a deeper explanation. Sources in Oregon and Vermont each mention state "Public accommodations act"s, but there is also a federal component. If there's still an interest, someone should track down these cases and go into more detail. Wnt (talk) 13:42, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

The issue over women being member was resolved through a Supreme Court case of Bonnie Orendorff -vs- NY Rome Lodge #96. In 1995 the Grand Lodge settled the case and changed their Constitution to not discriminate based on Sex. ACLU Memorandum of Law in Support of Orendorff's Petition ACLU Blog post about case Tomhung357 | Talk —Preceding undated comment added 21:59, 25 March 2011 (UTC).

All my research has shown that this type of discrimination has never been officially sanctioned via by-laws or constitution. However in practice this conduct was and can still exist. This is due the the fact that members can "black ball" who ever they like without reason. I know of a current lodge that has no women. This is completely due to the lodge members "black balling" any female candidate. This is within their rights as the vote for candidate is silent. --Tomhung357 (talk) 17:45, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

The Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World[edit]

Why is there no mention in the article of The Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World, an organization for Blacks? clariosophic (talk) 12:59, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Becuse it's a different organization. Needs it's own page. --Manway (talk) 17:38, 20 June 2010 (UTC)

US citizenship and Elks membership[edit]

The BPOE are also very active in Canada...US citizenship not required.

No. Different organization. The USA BPOE has no authority over Canadian Elks, nor the other way around. See for information. Would you write an article about the Canadian Elks? --Manway (talk) 17:44, 20 June 2010 (UTC)

(The above was transferred to it's own header from a wrong format by --Manway (talk) 17:44, 20 June 2010 (UTC) - original contributor was an IP address.)

More on Canada's Elks: They are not known as the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. The are called Elks of Canada. See - they need their own article, as it is a separate organization. Also see - "Prior to 1912 an Elks organization flourished in the USA. The Elks of Canada are not affiliated with the American Elks, but share a common history and enjoy a friendly relationship." (bolding mine) --Manway (talk) 19:03, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
Okay, the current situation, having just one Elks article and having multiple editors arrive and, in good faith, adding Canadian-related items like prominent Elks members, only to have their contributions deleted, is bad for editors, bad for readers. I do see from its webpages that Elks of Canada is different. Starting that article now. It would be great if informed Elks of any type can help out, either in its article or in adding suitable links from this article. Thanks. --doncram (talk) 20:36, 26 October 2010 (UTC)


Do your Fraternal Groups buildings lists include Turners? I'd guess not as they were not as big as the others. In any case I have the Lancaster PA building photo. Smallbones (talk) 20:26, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

Babe Ruth[edit]

Shouldn't Babe Ruth be mentioned as a past member? According to the New York Times dated February 13, 1928, he was made a member at the B.P.O.E. Lodge 1 in New York on February 12, 1928 and presented with antlers. (talk) 02:04, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

I found the newspaper article. I added him to the Sports Figures because I located the citation. --Tomhung357 (talk) 17:39, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Omission of 1949 Convention info[edit]

Is there any reason why the 1949 Convention was excluded from the spread sheet? The Elks webpage shows that a convention was held that year. (talk) 02:02, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

I believe this was an omission. I have updated the table to include 1949: Cleveland, OH, Emmett T. Anderson as mentioned on --Tomhung357 (talk) 16:58, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

Missing Grand Exalted Rulers[edit]

Since the sections is about the National Conventions and the presiding Grand Exalted Ruler we are missing the GER's from previous years without a national convention. I propose a change to this section to be Grand Exalted Rulers of the BPOE and their National Convention. Then we can go back to the beginning for the GER's. We should also include their home lodge information and links if found. Past Grand Exalted Rulers --Tomhung357 (talk) 17:21, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

Since there was no objections to this "talk", I have updated the table with the PGER's listed on the website. An interesting note is there were some years with multiple GER's and other years with no GER.--Tomhung357 (talk) 22:05, 3 April 2013 (UTC)


I propose a new section about the BPOE charities both past and present.

BPOE Programs --Tomhung357 (talk) 17:30, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

I added this section since there was no Objections in the Talk. --Tomhung357 (talk) 23:07, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Traditions subsections[edit]

I propose new subsections under traditions on the Initiation Ritual, Memorial Service, Flag Day Ritual, Funeral Service, and Mother's Day Ritual.--Tomhung357 (talk) 23:16, 3 April 2013 (UTC)


I am curious why under famous Elks, Eisenhower is not listed as a President of the United States, but rather a general? --MJHankel (talk) 00:44, 9 April 2013 (UTC)

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