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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Job's Daughters Adults Behaving Like Children


I REALLY don't want to touch this one with a ten foot pole, but I will mention it and let those with a vested concern handle it as they see fit.

Apparently, there is a growing mess going on internally within the ranks of the purported adults in the Job's Daughters International youth group. Someone called my attention to a long article on the Freemasonry Squared blog site posted earlier in the week, Trouble Stirring About in Job's Daughters International. Additionally, the ongoing drama is being played out in part on at least two Facebook pages, Occupy Job's Daughters and Jobie Truth

Much of the origin of the trouble seemed to turn around the organization's tight control of its trademarked logos and parents trying to create and sell products using them. Other Masonic-related organizations have occasionally done this (Amaranth and the White Shrine of Jerusalem both come to mind), but this time it's gone into the sausage grinder of the courts. 

Job's Daughters is so insistent about their exclusive trademark that their Constitution and Bylaws contain wording about it, and their policy even has its own entire web page devoted to the topic. They have an exclusive deal with a single supplier. That prevents any Bethel from independently creating any sort of crafts, cups, shirts, or any other tchotchkes with their logo on it without first formally requesting permission from the national office. That appears to have uncorked the initial genie and now the griping from the trenches on other topics is spilling out. Unfortunately, it's the girls who suffer the most from this kind of backbiting among their parents. According to one post I came across,
At every Supreme Session the girls continually say they want to have more input in Constitution, Bylaws, Ritual and selection of the adult leadership. No youth have a vote in the legislation or leadership of the organization and strategic planning is done entirely by adults.
More posts are alluding to a move underway to give the Daughters themselves an actual role in the decisions and rules that affect them for the first time in 97 years. If true, and if it really happens, that would ultimately be a good development. Youth groups of all types have generally suffered hardest at the hands the adults, whether it's Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or little league teams. This current wave of unrest may ultimately do some good internally. 

Job's was started in 1920, and is open to any young ladies between 10 and 20. According to its website, "Girls must have a Masonic relation or sponsor, or be related to a Majority Member to be eligible for membership."  Nevertheless, Freemasons hold positions on Job's Board of Trustees, the Executive Supreme Guardian Council, all Grand Guardian Councils and Bethel Guardian Councils, as well as attend many local Bethel meetings. Masons generously support their fundraisers and events.

Fortunately for Craft Freemasonry, no one owns the trademarked copyright to the square and compass symbol (although a specifically designed version can be in some instances). While that has permitted unscrupulous groups to misuse it over the years, lawsuits over it haven't been attempted for many decades. But when I was writing Freemasons For Dummies, the publisher and I ran afoul of some of these other Masonic related groups with such limitations. I had wanted to place a logo for each different one next to the explanatory sections in the book when I talked about a group, so people who encountered them could identify with whom they were associated. I had to fight just to be permitted to use tiny versions less than 1/2 inch tall collected onto a single chart, and even that was looked askance at by the attorneys. Larger individual versions were not permitted, specifically because Job's, Amaranth, and the White Shrine would not grant permission to the publisher.

All of that aside, if you actually read the entire Freemasonry Squared posting and the many events cited in it, this has gone far beyond just the topic of merchandise licensing now. The stories are starting to snowball from adults who have been shunned or prevented from participating at several levels of the organization in a variety of situations - many of whom were the most excited members themselves when they were younger. National and state leaders in volunteer organizations ignore these types of complaints at their peril, because treating such groups as a personal fiefdom and removing critics kills from within. Members - in this case, the Daughters themselves - don't have to come back next week or pay their dues in December. Youth groups in this country are shrinking in popularity anyway, and exponentially so in Masonic affiliated ones because of our own membership losses. Keep stabbing the most active and excited participants and you'll only create a sales force against you. When their friends ask about it, their answer will increasingly become, "Don't bother."

(Note: The photo above is of Bethel No. 8 of Caldwell, Idaho and is from a 2013 article on the Idaho Press Tribune website. It has NOTHING whatsoever to do with this particular story or controversy, and neither the girls depicted nor the adults involved in Bethel No. 8 are involved in any way. I simply used it because I thought it was a pleasant photo that is of a typical Job's Daughters gathering. So there.)

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