What is DeMolay International?
DeMolay is an organization dedicated to preparing young men to lead successful, happy, and productive lives. Basing its approach on timeless principles and practical, hands-on experience, DeMolay opens doors for young men aged 12 to 21 by developing the civic awareness, personal responsibility and leadership skills so vitally needed in society today. DeMolay combines this serious mission with a fun approach that builds important bonds of friendship among members in more than 1,000 chapters worldwide.
DeMolay alumni include Walt Disney, John Wayne, Walter Cronkite, football Hall-of-Famer Fran Tarkenton, legendary Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne, news anchor David Goodnow and many others. Each has spoken eloquently of the life-changing benefit gained from their involvement in DeMolay.
The namesake of the Order of DeMolay was born in Vitrey, Department of Haute Saone, France in the year 1244. At the age of 21, DeMolay joined the Order of Knights Templar.
The Knights Templar was an organization sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church in 1128 to guard the road between Jerusalem and Acre, an important port city on the Mediterranean Sea. The Order of Knights Templar participated in the Crusades and earned a name for valor and heroism.
With many nobles and princes sending their sons to join the Knights Templar, the Order also became very wealthy and popular throughout Europe.
In 1298, Jacques DeMolay was named Grand Master of the Knights Templar, a position of power and prestige. As Grand Master however, Jacques DeMolay was also in a difficult position. The Crusades were not achieving their goals. The non-Christian Saracens defeated the Crusaders in battle and captured many vital cities and posts. The Knights Templar and the Hospitalers (another Order of Knights) were the only groups remaining to confront the Saracens.
The Knights Templar decided to reorganize and regain their strength. They traveled to the island of Cyprus, waiting for the general public to rise up in support of another Crusade.
Instead of public support, however, the Knights attracted the attention of powerful lords, who were interested in obtaining their wealth and power. In 1305, Philip the Fair, King of France, set about to obtain control of the Knights Templars. They had been accountable only to the Church. To prevent a rise in the power of the Church, and to increase his own wealth, Philip set out to take over the Knights.
The year 1307 saw the beginning of the persecution of the Knights. Jacques DeMolay, along with hundreds of others, were seized and thrown into dungeons. For seven years, DeMolay and the Knights suffered torture and inhuman conditions. While the Knights did not end, Philip managed to force Pope Clement to condemn the Templars. Their wealth and property were confiscated and given to Philip’s supporters.
During years of torture, Jacques DeMolay continued to be loyal to his friends and Knights. He refused to disclose the location of the funds of the Order and he refused to betray his comrades. On March 18, 1314, DeMolay was tried by a special court. As evidence, the court depended on a forged confession, allegedly signed by DeMolay.
Jacques DeMolay disavowed the forged confession. Under the laws of the time, the disavowal of a confession was punishable by death. Another Knight, Guy of Auvergne, likewise disavowed his confession and stood with Jacques DeMolay.
King Philip ordered them both to be burned at the stake that day, and thus the story of Jacques DeMolay became a testimonial to loyalty and friendship.
The Order of DeMolay was founded in 1919, in Kansas City, Missouri, by a young man named Frank S. Land. Land was a community leader who, at the age of 28, already had a successful business career as a restaurateur behind him.
The main event that lead to the founding of the DeMolay movement was World War I. This was a time when the nation was caught up with a passion and desire to bring democracy to the world. When the United States joined in the fight against German power, every resource of men and materials was poured into the war effort. America suffered not only the loss of its men who had fallen in battle, but on the homefront as well. A positive response to this critical situation came about with the development of many charitable organizations. Frank S. Land was selected to act as the director of the Masonic Relief and Employment Bureau of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. This charity would come to help hundreds and hundreds of families.
Near the end of the war, Land became concerned with the problems of boys who had lost their fathers. He thought “how lonely it must be for a boy not to have a man to talk with, or a man to provide some type of inspiration and direction.” Frank decided there was a need for an organization where boys would have the opportunity to associate with other boys, a place they could share common interests, learn responsibility and other skills that would benefit them throughout their lives. His ideal model for this organization included having business or professional men, Masons, taking interest in the young people, being a friend to them, advising them, and perhaps even providing them with employment opportunities.
In March, 1919, Land met with young Louis Lower. Louis’ father had died, leaving the young man without a father figure in his life. Land took the time to listen to Louis, learn about his dreams, and to help him. He learned that others, like Louis, sought companionship, leadership, inspiration and competition. He asked Louis to invite some friends to a meeting, the original group of nine DeMolays: Louis G. Lower, Ivan M. Bentley, Edmund Marshall, Gorman A. McBride, Jerome Jacobson, William W. Steinhilber, Elmer Dorsey, Clyde C. Stream, and Ralph Sewell. At the second meeting, there was a total of 31 young men present. They were excited about their new club!
The group needed its own identity and its own name. After Dad Land related the story of Jacques DeMolay, the group decided to name itself for this historical figure connected with Masonry.
Dad Land, as he came to be called, provided the philosophy and principles to be embodied. As interest in DeMolay spread, Land answered many requests for information and authority to start chapters. Initiations and ceremonies took place in all locations. By the fall of 1920, Mother Chapter had developed activities for its members as well. These included an outstanding baseball team, a DeMolay marching unit, and even a 100-piece band!
By the end of 1921, Dad Land realized he had to devote full time to this new organization and become a full time DeMolay employee. As DeMolay chapters grew in numbers and strength, the organization as a whole grew in prestige. With this greater prestige, interest developed in the Masonic fraternity. Official recognition and approval by Masonic groups began giving their seal of approval to foster DeMolay in their states. Many distinguished organizations endorsed DeMolay including the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, Grand Lodges, Knights Templar, etc.
A devoted champion of Freemasonry and of its teachings, Land would become a figure of international prominence within Masonry, eventually becoming Imperial Potentate of the Shrine of North America. He counted among his friends U.S. Congressmen, state governors, movie and radio stars, military leaders, leaders of industry, Presidents of the U.S. and a veritable legion of young men in their teens.
Dad Land worked tirelessly for the Order of DeMolay until his death on November 8, 1959. Hundreds of other devoted workers aided in the creation and extension of the Order of DeMolay, but looked to one man for guidance. Frank S. Land was the charismatic leader of the Order. Frank S. Land was truly a great man, a proud American, and a person who came to be known by millions, simply as “Dad”. Frank Land’s life touched, and continues to impact generation after generation of young people, young men looking to better themselves by emulating the lessons and examples by which he himself lived.
Requirements to join DeMolay
DeMolay is an organization for young men, between the ages of 12 and 21 who…
-Believe in God
-Are of good moral character
-Are recommended by a member
-Apply to a local DeMolay Chapter
-DeMolay members stand for high standards and principles. When joining DeMolay you will be asked to take vows and promises (called “obligations”) to uphold these principles.
-To strive to be a good son.
-To be faithful to confidences and trusts placed in you.
-To live a clean and moral life.
-To love and serve God according to the teachings of your family’s faith tradition.
-To be a loyal and patriotic citizen, and to defend the interests of your country.
-To remember the example of Jacques DeMolay, and strive to be faithful and trustworthy in all your commitments.
-To be loyal and supportive to other DeMolay members.
-To honor and respect all women.
-To be tolerant and understanding in your opinions of others.
Additional information and ways to join can be found at the following links: