SHORT TALK BULLETIN

Vol. LXVIII No. 7 — July 1990

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MASONIC RENEWAL TASK FORCE REPORTS

INTRODUCTION

In mid-1988, the Masonic Renewal Task Force, a group consisting of 21 active Masonic leaders — Grand Masters, Past Grand Masters, heads of concordant bodies — held weekend- long meetings in St. Louis and Kansas City to consider projects and programs that would benefit the Craft, improve leadership and help stem the problem of declining membership.

Early on, it was clear to all that what was needed, as a benchmark for any future planning, was professionally-conducted opinion research to ascertain the views of non-Masons and Masons alike.

The Barton-Gillet Company of Baltimore MD, was retained to manage the research program, with Mr. Dudley Davis, who was experienced in performing similar consultative services for several Grand Lodges, as the over-all project director. The field research was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton, NJ, a leading firm in this field.

For practical and financial reasons, it was decided to conduct two separate phases of research: Phase I with non-Masons randomly selected; Phase II with Masons whose names would be furnished by participating Grand Lodges.

The results of the non-Mason survey were presented to the Conference of Grand Masters of North America at its February, 1989 meeting in Crystal City, VA. The Masonic survey was completed in late 1989, and the results were given to the Grand Masters at their February, 1990 meeting in Salt Lake City.

(MSA has available, at low cost, videotapes of both presentations, sets of 35mm slides, and the detailed results in a new Masonic Digest, in addition to this Short Talk Bulletin. Both Scottish Rite magazines and several Grand Lodge publications have also published summaries of the results.) This Short Talk Bulletin will provide a brief outline of the results of each survey, highlighting the key points, but without detailed editorial comment.

PHASE I — SURVEY OF NON-MASONS

SPECIFIC QUESTIONS ABOUT FREEMASONRY

SOME SIGNIFICANT CONCLUSIONS FROM THE SURVEY DATA

PHASE 11 — SURVEY OF MASONS

Research was conducted among a random sam- ple of 1000 Masons from lists supplied by 21 Grand Lodges in the major U.S. geographical areas. Telephone interviews lasting 14-18 minutes provided reliable data with a 95% confidence fac- tor (a 5% margin for error). The sample size is viewed as being representative of the nearly 2.7 million American Freemasons.

MEMBERSHIP PROFILE

MASONIC ACTIVITY

HOW DO MASONS FEEL ABOUT THEIR CRAFT

CONCLUSIONS AND INTERPRETATIONS

As with all surveys, one takes selectively from the information generated depending on one's personal views and orientation. However, some general conclusions would seem to be clearly indicated, and are reflected in the steady membership decline of recent years.

The Masonic Service Association of the United States of America