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Dear Ann Landers: Shrine Records Shocking

Rotating Compass & Square

Fri, April 24, 1987
South Haven Michigan

Shrine Records Shocking

Dear Ann Landers: That glowing letter about how much good the Shriners do was only half of the story. I believe you were taken in. The issue is not how much money the Shriners pass on to the hospitals they support but how much do the temples keep for themselves.

The Orlando Sentinal did a terrific series on this subject recently. I am enclosing part one. It will tell you all you need to know.


DEAR TIPP: Thank you for your letter and part one of the series by Orlando Sentinel. John Haile, editor of the Sentinel sent me part two. I was distressed by the information contained in that prize-winning story.

Shrine refers to their hospitals as "The soul of the Shrine"" and the Sentinal cited Internal Revenue Service records showing that although the Shrine is the richest charity in the nation, it gave its 22 hospitals for children less than one-third of the gross collected from the public in 1984.

The REMAINDER was spent on food, travel, entertainment, fraternal ceremonies and fund-raising.

The Sentinel reported that in 1985 the Shriners kept a whopping 71 percent of the money raised, about $21.7 million. This went to pay for a range of clubhouse expenses, including the upkeep of private bars, restaurants and golf courses. They also used the money to pay for conventions, travel and entertainment for their 880,000 members and, again, fund raising.

The Shrine''s most lucrative source of income are the circuses throughout the country. They generate about $23 million in 1985, the paper reported. The records show that LESS THAN 2 percent, or $346,251, went to the medical care of the children. I find this shocking.

In 1922 the Shriners established hospitals for burned and crippled children. Today they operate 19 orthopedic hospitals and three burn centers. I want to make it clear that I have received dozens of letters from readers who have told me they took their children to a Shrine hospital after a terrible accident, the youngsters received wonderful care and not one cent was charged. This an extraordinary testimony and a glowing tribute.

The facts uncovered by the Orlando Sentinel''s investigative reporters in no way diminishes services performed by the Shrine hospitals. The complaint is that a great deal of money that people think is being given to help crippled and burned children never gets there. In all fairness, I want it understood that every penny sent directly to the hospitals is spent solely to help the children.

Thousands of Shriners were appalled when the Orlando Sentinel made its findings known. They had no idea as to the financial workings of their fraternity. To their credit, many Shrine leaders are now demanding that the temples make clear whether fund-raisers benefit the children or the Shriners themselves. Four cheers for them.

Further Reading:

The Royal Order of Jesters - The Shriners Secret Society Secret Society - 'Mirth is King'

The Shriners - The 'Krafty' Klowns