The Order of the Eastern Star is not, technically, a religion (or, at least, its followers refuse to designate it as such). In the words of the present day Grand Secretary, it is "not intended to replace a religion," but to complement one. The Order is a fraternal organization that stands as an institution of history and spirituality. Affiliated with the Masonic Order, but not explicitly under it, it is a "strong right-arm of Masonry." (Bell). With one million members spread across ten thousand chapters in twenty countries, it is the largest fraternal organization in the world that both men and women are permitted to join.
Though the Order claims not to be a religion, for all intents and purposes, it is one, or, at least, an extension of one (and, it may be argued, a Christian one at that). The Order's foundation (which we will refer to as its "central tenet") lies in the following sentence, which expresses the Order's reason for existence: to "serve mankind and to help mankind serve thy Lord." ("Ritual"). The Order, then, looks upon the world through anthropocentric eyes, which means attention to the environment is given only in the context of human concern.
[...] Adoptive Rite Ritual: A Book of Instruction in the Organization, Government and Ceremonies of Chapters of the Order of the Eastern Star. Chicago, IL: Ezra A. Cook Publications Print. Robert McCoy was a friend of Rob Morris'. Morris, some years after founding The Order in the United States, wanted to branch out. He journeyed to Australia to found the chapter there (it would soon break from the General Grand Chapter's jurisdiction). Meanwhile, McCoy, a publisher, compiled all off Morris' materials into printed manuals. [...]
[...] Any Mason may join, but a woman must be the blood relative of a Mason, or have been a Job's Daughter or Rainbow Girl (which are youth organizations of the same kin as Eastern Star). The Order's man symbol is a 5-pointed star, each point of a different color and each representing an “inspiring” female figure in the Bible. The five figures, known as “heroines,” are Adah, Ruth, Esther, Martha, and Electa. Their stories are vital to The Order because they represent the Order's most treasured morals. [...]
[...] In a sense, and for some, the Order has taken on a quality of a “mystery religion” present in society centuries ago. Mystery religions were secretive cults of the Greco-Roman world, whose doings were only known to initiates (Britannica). Because they were so similar to Christianity (with more emphasis, however, on the exaggerated and the mystical), they were deemed not in keeping with it. However, some scholars argue that Christianity “took up the mythical inheritance, purifying it and elevating (Klauck). [...]
[...] By his standards, the Order of the Eastern Star fits the bill. Ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star. Washington, D.C. Published by Authority of the General Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star Print. This is the Order's “sacred text.” Stutman, Jen. Personal Interview March 2011. Jen was extremely warm, open, and informative. Though she could not obviously divulge in the secret rituals of the Order, she was very helpful in offering some general information about how to join, etc. [...]
[...] The Order does not seem to have ever asked this question, even though for many people around the world, the answer is a decisive ‘yes.' One accounting reason might be the fact that environmentalism, because of the publicity of such things as global warming, which not everyone agrees on, has become more or less a political issue. Even though there are many aspects of environmentalism that are just common sense, the term itself has become radicalized. Moreover, the most active parts of the Order are located in the South, where Chapters with more conservative leanings tend to shy away from the likes of Ralph Nader and Al Gore. [...]
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