The Millennial Generation and Freemasonry: Part 1

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Todd E. Creason, 33°

I've heard it over and over again about the Millennial Generation (the generation born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s).  There is a prevailing idea that young people just aren't interested in Freemasonry.  Some believe the Millennials just don't share the kinds of values that Freemasons do.  Some believe they just aren't joiners.  Some believe that in the age of social media, the interests of the Millennial Generation is more introverted--they are more interested in posting selfies and living a fake life in the virtual world than they are about improving themselves and the real world.  But you can't argue with the fact that they aren't exactly beating a path to our door.

But I ran across some interesting facts about the Millennial Generation that might just surprise a few people:

81% donate money, goods and services.
They are givers.  They want to help those in need.  They want to make the world a better place.  They'll volunteer their time for the causes they believe it whether it's feeding the homeless, or helping out at a local animal shelter.  They recycle.  They donate their old clothes.  They'll run in a 5K race to support cancer research. They know that words won't change the world--it's action. 

75% see themselves as authentic and are not willing to compromise their personal values.
They know who they are.  They know what they believe in.  They know what is important to them, and they know what they want in life.  And they remain steadfastly true to themselves and those personal values. 

On track to becoming the most educated generation in American history.
Having grown up in the information age, they are smart.  They have always had easy access to information, and have a desire for knowledge.  Having easy access to information, they are curious to learn about things they don't know, and are likely to look up and learn about things they don't understand.  They have a great desire to improve themselves and know that the key is education and study.  
61% of millennials are worried about the world we live in and feel personally responsible to make a difference.
It's one thing to worry about the world we live in, and it's another to do something about it.  The Millennial Generation isn't willing to leave it to somebody else to fix.  They are willing to roll up their sleeves and participate.  They want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.  They get involved.  They work to correct the things they see as wrong in the world today. They mean to leave this place a better place than the one they found.

More tolerant of race, religion, and other minority groups than older generations.  
Millennial grew up with a strong sense of fairness and equality.  They are more likely than any generation that came before them not to even notice differences in race, religion, age, sexuality, etc.  They believe we're all created equal, and the way they interact with their fellow man demonstrates that belief.  With Millennials, it's not about being politically correct, it's who they are. 

So What Does That Mean For Freemasonry?
To be honest with you, after reading these facts, do you know how I'd describe the Millennial Generation?  I'd describe them as future Freemasons!  Has there ever been a generation that has so much in common with the things that Freemasonry stands for?  This generation was made to order for the Fraternity! 

They desire knowledge!  They want to make the world a better place and are willing to roll up their sleeves and take an active part in doing it!  They believe in character and integrity!  They believe in equality and toleration!  They have a strong desire to improve themselves . . . they're Freemasons and don't even know it yet!

In fact, look at the faces of some of the Midnight Freemasons you enjoy reading so much . . . a surprising number of our writers group here are *gasp* Millennials!  It's true!

So the real question is . . . with so much in common, why haven't more men from this Millennial Generation found their way to our doorstep?  We better figure that out because our future, without a doubt, rests with them.


Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and continues to be a regular contributor. He is also the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog, where he posts on a regular schedule on topics relating to Freemasonry.  He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and currently serves as Secretary, and is also a member of Homer Lodge No. 199.  He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL), and a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research.  He was recently awarded the 2014 Illinois Secretary of the Year Award by the Illinois Masonic Secretaries Association.  You can contact him at:


  1. I am a millennial myself, if an early one (I'm 29). One thing I've noticed among my cohort is that the idea of an all-male organization isn't particularly appealing unless one has already been forced into one and seen the benefits (I served in Iraq with an all-male unit on a FOB with, I think, two or three females with whom my platoon did not interact).

    There's also a lot of negativity from the old guard about Freemasonry. I've been an Entered Apprentice less than a month, but I did a lot of research before joining the Fraternity. I nearly withdrew my petition because of all the grousing I've seen and heard online about "reading the minutes" or unappetizing refreshment or crumbling lodges or curmudgeonly old PMs or what have you. These criticisms and the squabbling they engender should be 1) kept internal; and 2) (most importantly) acted upon! Why should a millennial want to do what he already does (charity, education, self-improvement, etc), but worse?

  2. I too am a millennial, born in 81. I never cared about the state Masonry was in, because I knew we'd have to change it. Your comments about the lack of inclusion of ladies is interesting.

    "All male orgs being unappealing", to me, sounds like your looking for love in all the wrong places. To be sure, I am staunchly opposed to "Co masonry" as I find it inhibitive to the learning process, given insecurities of the male ego. Men need to be able to "let out their gut" so to speak. And the same goes for ladies.

    To that point, I would however, support an equal body of ladies only Masonic Loges with regularity, recognition and equality. I just would not support mixing of the two.

    Great points Alan,


  3. Two ideas here. 1) Millennial brothers and brothers of the old guard have a hard time seeing eye to eye due to our generational gaps. Millennials don't get respect from the older brother because simply most of the millennial generation has never had to face a true hardship in life. Young veterans get some respect but still none like that of brothers who fought in WWII, Korea or Vietnam. The old guard feel us young men (millennials) don't have what it takes to continue the traditions of the lodge. Simply this is wrong.

    2) I see there is way too much emphasis in joining the Shrine before even petitioning and even after just being raised to a MM. We should be teaching appreciation of the craft degrees, learning more and more about how they can help us become better men. Don't get me wrong I appreciate everything the Shrine does, but lack of knowledge and training isn't going to keep strong walls erect. Sadly I will see this very point speak its truth soon enough in my lodge, whereas a FC will be raised only to turn around to join the shrine and very well possible we will only know him as a dues paying member.

  4. Thanks Robert. I want to clarify what I meant about all-male orgs and my position on them. When and where I was growing up (northern VA in the 90s) it became increasingly frowned upon to have groups within the official purview of the school system that were either implicitly or explicitly all male. (I'm sure it's only more so now.) There was (and is) a lot of rhetoric surrounding it which I believe rests on false premises: "What are you afraid of? Are you threatened by having women/girls around?" That sort of thing. Boys internalize that. I certainly did, and it wasn't until my experience overseas that I saw how, in a word, liberating it was to be surrounded by just men, without having to perform, so to speak, for the women present. It really changes the dynamic, prevents you from the kind of total opening up which is so conducive to true brotherhood. I'm sure it's the same for women.

  5. I found the article fairly accurate - also a Millennial myself!

    Personally, I also feel that behind a lot of those statistics is a particular issue. Because we are educated we realize that institutions of all kinds are often hallow, in-authentic, and hypocritical. Whether its Church, Schools, government of all levels, corporations, etc.

    We want real values - authenticity. We want total and true affirmation and we just don't see that in many public organizations.

    It is because of this we take things upon our selves - the internet not only allows us to know anything but it also allows us to short-circuit old and existing power structures to get things done.

    So why would Freemasonry be appealing? Well, if your lodge has any of those qualities you've just ruined a future Mason. However, if your lodge is authentic you will show that Freemasonry is exactly the opposite of all those institutions that we are disillusioned by.

    Your Brothers want to be there, they want to do good, they want to learn and improve themselves. Freemasonry has a significant opportunity to provide, and benefit from, a group of people who want to affirm something.

    Hopefully that rambling made some kind of sense.

    On the topic of women, I do admit that is one of the few things, if not the only, that made me question the authenticity of some of the tenets of the craft. That said, I don't disagree with Robert Johnson on how the legacy of our culture in its regards to women would impact the efficacy of the craft - "given insecurities of the male ego." I now see the advantage of it being strictly Fraternal, but part of me still feels like its a tacit admission on our part that men are not strong enough, not capable, of seeing women and truly equal. (And maybe we really can't, I'm looking at you Nietzsche!)

    But that is something that needs to change, its something that needs to be overcome. Maybe some day, but at the very least I would agree with Bro. Johnson in that a separate body should be recognized.

  6. Quote Alan " in a word, liberating it was to be surrounded by just men, without having to perform, so to speak, for the women present."

    I agree, with the caveat that we often "perform" for everyone, not just women.

    So what is it about affirming a specific brotherhood and the specific values it has, tolerance, acceptance, etc, that allows us to start to drop these performances (as much as one can)?

    Beyond the craft itself, why wouldn't we want our culture at large to also drop the performance?

    I'm not arguing, to be clear. I think its an interesting topic. Its liberating to be able to drop the performance in lodge and I would hope that is something we would want to extend to any and all.

  7. John,

    You're correct in that men perform for other men, but the way in which we perform for women and that for men are categorically different, like the way I perform when just my wife is in the room vs. how I would perform in front of 20 students on the first day of class. My theory (which I've just come up with, so feel free to pick at it) is that people are more relaxed when in similar or familiar company. (Familiar is, or should be, obvious, but I've argued plenty of things which I thought were obvious, especially on the internet.) In general (please take note of "in general"), men are or feel more similar to men than they do to women. This is why they -- we -- let their -- our -- guard down more readily with other men. When there's a woman in the room, all bets are off. There is also something to be said for being able to go off to Lodge and not have your wife wondering how you're getting along with the women there.

    I didn't want to belabor this point, because it's quite off topic, but maybe we ought to just let this one go. I don't think it's the moral failing some of the other commenters here seem to think it is to just want to go to an all-male space for a little while. It could be male ego (I'd guess that it is, in part), but it could also be what RJ said about letting our guts out. The requirement that a Mason be a man (or at least that there be mutually recognized Lodges of men and Lodges of women, which I don't see a problem with on the surface) doesn't have to be something that we let go some day as humans become more "perfect" (an arrogant assumption), but rather might just be an allowance for human nature as it is, not as we might wish it would be.

  8. I don't disagree! I appreciate your thoughtful response. Thank you for your time. You've given me some things to ponder.

  9. Thank you all for your comments. There will be a part two to this, and your comments and insights are very useful. Given me a few things to think about that I hadn't considered before. Much appreciated! ~TEC

  10. In the South, we have a huge issue with segregation. The old guard won't change their ways, and it drives a lot of young people away. The other issues are education and starting families. The young guys are either trying to finish their degrees, or just starting families and need to spend time with their young children. The older guys have usually finished their education and have established families or grown children.. It makes a difference...

  11. From the post that you've all shared, you can easily identify the generation which we respectively belong. My interest in freemasonry before (and after) my raising were initially and continously inspired by the traditionals/builders(those members born before 1946) because of their loyalty to the craft, and the baby boomers(those born between 1946 - 1964) because of their compassionate commitment to bring out the best out of us(the generation X and Y/Millenials) especially in perfecting our piece and deliver a flawless degree work. I personally consider the "builders" and the "baby boomers" as lifelines and backbones of masonic lodges because whenever a member fails to perform his responsibility in the lodge, they can readily take over and continue the lodge momentum truly depicting that masonic lodges are indeed supported by pillars, Wisdom(to contrive), Strength(to support), and Beauty(to adorn). I guess by acknowledging our generational differences, we would be able to appreciate the contribution each member and utilize our respective talents and abilities to the fullest for the betterment of our respective lodges in particular and, freemasonry in general.

    Cromwell(born in 1971 from generation X - those born between 1965-1981)
    Aviation Lodge 175, Richmond, BC

  12. I love how millienials are allegedly tolerant of diverse races or religions, but the sex-issue is strangely left out of this post! Freemasonry is way too outdated. Why is it that a mason cannot bring his wife to a meeting? Why must a woman find a male-masonic-relative just to join Eastern Star? It's for the same reason a teenager needs to find an adult to co-sign a contract to buy a car. Or that a woman needs to be traditionally walked down the aisle by her father to utter marriage vows. Women are not seen as equals who can take oaths to the order unless their oaths are 'validated' by men. Simple outdated-legal concepts in contract law are written into the structure of Eastern Star. Yet, female help is needed to throw spaghetti dinners, babysit and organize masonic family functions. Women only rise in the organization if their husband rises. For this reason, women with half a brain will not support their husbands becoming members of this sexist club. And millennials will find a hard time finding a 6-hour weekend slot wherein their wives watch their children solo while gaining no benefit from this exclusive organization. Things could be changed easily. Eastern Star could be considered 'regular', and the male masonic relationship requirement could be done away with. An exclusive female-only sorority could be formed, and a woman's status in it would be solely dependent on her service. Yet, masonry is trying to stand on one pillar (the male one), and its foundation is simply not solid enough for the future. Membership numbers are only a symptom of a larger problem.

  13. Because I can't join the Daughters of the American Revolution doesn't mean it's a sexist organization. It means I am not a woman. There are men's organizations and there are women's organizations--that's because traditionally, men and women have different interests. A fraternity is a male organization. Freemasonry is a fraternity. If an individual is bothered by that concept then don't join or support those organizations. It's as simple as that. As far as the Fraternity is concerned, our detractors have been predicting our end for hundreds of years. I'm going to predict it isn't going anywhere in my lifetime or yours. It has tremendous value, and millions of members worldwide recognize that. Men will continue to join so long as we remain true to our beliefs and our traditions.


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