First, for a little history . . .
According to the Lion's Club website, the organization began in 1917 with a 38 year-old Chicago businessman named Melvin Jones who once asked his distinguished colleagues: "What if these men who are successful because of their drive, intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?"
That question was the beginning of the Lions Club which is now the world's largest service club organization with 1.35 million members in 46,000 clubs around in 191 countries.
Much of the focus of Lions Clubs International work as a secular service club organization is to raise money for worthy causes. Blindness became a top priority in 1925 after Helen Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, and challenged the Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." However, they are also very active in hearing- and cancer-screening projects in communities.
In addition, the Lions were one of the first nongovernmental organizations invited to assist in the drafting of the United Nations Charter in 1945 and they have supported the work of the UN ever since.
Interestingly, the Club was not open to women until 1986.
Membership is by invitation only, and members are expected to attend meetings on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. This is a very hierarchical club, which allows members to advance from local clubs to an office at the zone, district, multiple district or international levels.
So what connection, if any, do Lions Clubs have with freemasonry?
For starters, Melvin Jones was a Mason who was a member of Garden City Lodge No. 141 in Illinois. You'll find his name on this list of famous masons under the title of "Civics."
While there is no direct link between the Lions and the Masons, they are certainly on a very chummy basis, as evidenced in this speech delivered in 2004 to a Lions Club by a Mason named James F. Kirk-White. The topic of the talk was "Sharing Freemasonry Within Your Community."
As Kirk-White explains, masons are welcome in Lions Clubs, and vice versa. That Masons recruit from fraternal organizations such as the Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc. is also well-known. I have seen some statements claiming that these clubs are actually part of the Mason network - sort of like front groups - but I have yet to find any credible evidence to support these claims.
Our radio listeners wrote in with other concerns about the Lions Clubs that you should be made aware of:
MS wrote: I wanted to tell you and the listening audience that the Lions Clubs are listed in The Boycott List of Life Decision International (www.fightpp.org). They are listed in Section IV in the Dishonorable Mention section because the Lions Clubs allow local chapters to fund Planned Parenthood."
A copy of this list is available on Facebook.
However, NS wrote in to say that the notation on LifeDirect.com specified that a couple of chapters had made donations to Planned Parenthood, and one chapter had a member who worked with the abortion giant.
"These events took place back in 2007, and after a detailed search of their websites, I found no other association between these chapters and Planned Parenthood," NS writes. "In fact, one of the chapters has disbanded. I brought this before our Board, and they in turn contacted the main office of Lions Club International. I know that our chapter has never, and would never, associate itself with Planned Parenthood. I hope this information is helpful."
Apparently, other Lions Clubs have some connection to Planned Parenthood or other anti-life organizations because their name is still appearing on the Life Decision's list - which I know from experience to be meticulously maintained.
It's also important to point out that the Lions are connected with UN agencies that promote abortion around the world, such as UNAIDS and UNICEF; however their association with UNICEF seems to be specifically focused on their School-in-a-Box program.
If anyone has further information on this subject, please e-mail me at email@example.com.