Lions Clubs International

Lions Clubs International
Motto "We Serve"
Formation June 7, 1917 (1917-06-07)
Founder Melvin Jones
Type Secular service club
Headquarters Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S.
Robert E. Corlew

Lions Clubs International (LCI) is an international secular, non-political service organization founded by Melvin Jones in 1917. As of April 2015, it had over 46,000 local clubs and more than 1.4 million members in over 200 countries around the world. Headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, United States, the organization aims to meet the needs of communities on a local and global scale.


Bust of Melvin Jones in Madrid, Spain.

Lions Clubs International, a service membership organization of over 1.4 million members worldwide (as of April 2015), was founded in the United States on June 7, 1917, by Melvin Jones,[1] a Chicago businessman. Jones asked, with regard to his colleagues, "What if these men who are successful because of their drive, intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?" Jones' personal code, "You can't get very far until you start doing something for somebody else," reminds many Lions of the importance of community service.[2]

The Lions motto is "We Serve." Local Lions Club programs include sight conservation, hearing and speech conservation, diabetes awareness, youth outreach, international relations, environmental issues, and many other programs.[3] The discussion of politics and religion is forbidden. The LIONS acronym also stands for Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nations' Safety.[4]


The stated purposes of Lions Clubs International are:

Analysis of data

Much of the focus of Lions Clubs International work as a service club organization is to raise money for worthy causes. All funds raised by Lions Clubs from the general public are used for charitable purposes, and administrative costs are kept strictly separate and paid for by members. Some of the money raised for a club’s charity account goes toward projects that benefit the local community of an individual club.

Service projects

Lions Clubs plan and participate in a wide variety of service projects that meet the international goals of Lions Clubs International as well as the needs of their local communities. Examples include donations to hospices,[5] or community campaigns such as Message in a bottle, a United Kingdom and Ireland initiative which places a plastic bottle with critical medical information inside the refrigerators of vulnerable people.[6] Money is also raised for international purposes. Some of this is donated in reaction to events such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) where Lions and LCIF provided disaster relief locally and from around the world, with donations and commitments surpassing US$1 million.[7] Other money is used to support international campaigns, coordinated by the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), such as Sight First and Lions World Sight Day, which was launched in 1998 to draw world media attention to the plight of sight loss in the third world.[8] Lions take on all sorts of various fundraisers to fund these projects. For example, the Dublin, Virginia Lions Club host two flea markets a year, and sell their famous Lion Dog, a fresh prepared variation of a corn dog.[9]

Lions focus on work for the blind and visually impaired began when Helen Keller addressed the international convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, on 30 June 1925 and charged Lions to be Knights of the Blind.

Lions also have a strong commitment to community hearing- and cancer-screening projects. In Perth, Western Australia, they have conducted hearing screening for over 30 years and provided seed funding for the Lions Ear and Hearing Institute established September 9, 2001, a center of excellence in the diagnosis, management, and research of ear and hearing disorders.[10] In Perth, Lions have also been instrumental in the establishment of the Lions Eye Institute. In Brisbane, Queensland, the Lions Medical Research Foundation provides funding to a number of researchers. Ian Frazer's initial work, leading to the development of a HPV vaccine for the human papillomavirus which could lead to cervical cancer, was funded by the Lions Medical Research Foundation.

Lions Clubs International has supported the work of the United Nations since that organization's inception in 1945, when it was one of the non-governmental organizations invited to assist in the drafting of the United Nations Charter in San Francisco, California.

Lions Club Bridge, a symbol for International Friendship and Cooperation (location: Aachen-Lichtenbusch, German-Belgian Border checkpoint)

Lions Clubs International Foundation

Lions Clubs International Foundation is "Lions helping Lions serve the world".[11] Donations provide funding in the form of grants to financially assist Lions districts with large-scale humanitarian projects that are too expansive and costly for Lions to finance on their own.[12] The Foundation aids Lions in making a greater impact in their local communities, as well as around the world. Through LCIF, Lions ease pain and suffering and bring healing and hope to people worldwide. Major initiatives of the foundation include the following:


Upon endorsing the biggest ever collaborative disease eradication programme called the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases launched on 30 January 2012 in London, the organization has implemented SightFirst program by which it aims to eradicate blindness due to trachoma, one of the neglected tropical diseases. It has allocated over US$11 million in 10 countries for eye surgeries, medical training, distribution of Zithromax and tetracycline, and sanitary services. It has also announced US$6.9 million funding to support the Government of China for the same cause.[14][15]


Membership in the Lions Club is by "invitation only" as mandated by its constitution and by-laws. All member applicants need a sponsor who is an active member and of good standing in the club they intend to join. And while sponsorship may be obtained by an applicant in order to become a legitimate member, there is no guarantee of this. Acceptance of membership are still subject to the approval of the majority of the club's board of directors. Several clubs are even difficult for applicants to join in. A Lions Club chooses its members diligently as it requires time and financial commitments. Prospective applicants must be a person of good moral character in his or her community. Attendance at meetings is encouraged on a monthly or fortnightly basis. Due to the hierarchical nature of Lions Clubs International, members have the opportunity to advance from a local club to an office at the zone, district, multiple district, and international levels.

In 1987 the constitution of Lions Clubs International was amended to allow for women to become members.[16] Since then many clubs have admitted women, but some all-male clubs still exist. In 2003, 8 out of 17 members at the Lions Club in Worcester, England, resigned when a woman joined the club.[17] Despite this setback the club is now flourishing with 19 members, 7 of whom are women. Women's membership numbers continue to grow throughout the association.

Among the famous and noteworthy members of Lions International include former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter;[18] Her Royal Highness Sophie, Countess of Wessex is a member of the Wokingham Lions Club and Royal Patron of the Lions Clubs of the British Isles and Ireland;[19] and Murray M. Silver, Jr, an American rock music writer, photographer and author, who belongs to Savannah Lions Club in Georgia.[20]


Lions Clubs International gives various awards for outstanding merits.[21]

Medal of Merit

The Medal of Merit (MM) is the highest award from Lions Clubs International to non-members for outstanding contributions to Lions Clubs International and its goals.

District Governor Award

The District Governor Award (DGA) is one of the highest awards from Lions Clubs International to its members having done exceptional services.

President's Appreciation Award

The President's Appreciation Award (PAA) is the highest award that can be awarded to an outstanding club.

Melvin Jones Fellow

The Melvin Jones Fellow (MJF) Award is the highest recognition from the Lions Clubs International Foundation being given to members who have rendered outstanding community services.

Spread of Lionism

International Lions Club Hong Kong

Lions Clubs around the world

Map showing Lions Clubs involvement around the globe.

The organization became international on 12 March 1920, when the first club in Canada was established in Windsor, Ontario. Lions Clubs have since spread across the globe and have a current membership roster of 1.4 million members worldwide.[22]

Extensions of the Lions family

In addition to adult Lions Clubs, the Lions family includes Lioness Clubs, Leo Clubs, Campus Lions Clubs and Lion Cubs. These divisions are important parts of Lions Clubs International. They allow service-minded individuals the opportunity to build better communities at the high school and college or university level.

Lioness Clubs

Lioness Club Membership is generally for service-minded women, with exceptions of men also becoming Lioness members nowadays. They are formed under a parent Lions Club. The Lions Club thus becomes the Parent Club for the Lioness Club. Naming of the Club is also like that of the Lions Club—e.g., Lions Club of Vadodara (Race Course Circle) Dist 323F-1 forming and sponsoring a Lioness Club of Vadodara (Race Course Circle) Dist 323F-1. In many areas, particularly the United States, Lioness clubs have disbanded and merged into their parent clubs to make a more effective club as a whole.

Leo Clubs

Main article: Leo clubs

Leo Clubs are an extension of the Lions service organization which aims to encourage community service and involvement from a young age. Leo Clubs much like Lioness Clubs are sponsored by a parent Lions Club. Leo Clubs are a common school-based organization with members between the ages of 12 and 18 from the same school, these are commonly referred to as Alpha Leo Clubs. Community based clubs also exist, these generally cater for 18- to 30-year-olds and are referred to as Omega Leo Clubs. Leo Clubs are required to have a Leo Club Advisor, a member of the sponsoring Lions Club who attends meetings and provides general advice to the club. Lions International includes more than 144,000 Leo club members in 139 countries.[23]

Campus Lions Clubs

Many Leos join a Campus Lions Club if they attend a university or college after high school graduation. There are more than 600 Campus Lions clubs in the world including nearly 13,000 members on college and university campuses in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uganda, United States, Venezuela, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Legon Lions Club in University of Ghana and Ghana-Lions KNUST. Campus Lions Clubs empower their members to create meaningful change in their communities while developing leadership and professional skills.[24]

Lion Cubs

Lion Cubs is a youth service organization for the elementary aged students (ages eight to twelve).[25] The first club was chartered in the Owen J. Roberts School District in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, United States. It was developed for students in 4th through 6th grade, and therefore too young to be a Leo Club member. The clubs (one club in each of five elementary schools) started their meetings and activities in September 2008 and were officially chartered March 24, 2009. The club is sponsored by the Coventry Lions Club of District 14P. The Lion Cubs first year (2008–09) had 179 charter members.[26]

International convention

An international convention is held annually in cities across the globe for members to meet other Lions, elect the coming year's officers, and partake in the many activities planned. At the convention, Lions can participate in elections and parades, display and discuss fundraisers and service projects, and trade pins and other souvenirs. The first convention was held in 1917, the first year of the club's existence, in Dallas, Texas. The 2006 convention was due to be held in New Orleans, but damage sustained during Hurricane Katrina meant that the convention had to be relocated to Boston.[27]

Conspiracy theories

The Lions have been accused of being involved in the "New World Order" plot, along with the Freemasons, for the supposed purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. The most prominent of these claims came from the thirty-four-article Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), released in 1988, defining its goals, objectives, and world view. The Lions Clubs are mentioned twice (in Articles 22 and 28[28]) as a Zionist front, clearly perceived as an enemy of Islam.[29]

Indonesian Islamic hardliners have called for a ban on the Lions Club,[30] saying it is part of a Zionist conspiracy. The club has been called an "infidel" front for Freemasonry and the world Zionist movement and threatened Islam in the world's most populous Muslim country.

Given that many Freemasons are members of Lions Clubs, and its founder, Melvin Jones, was also a Freemason,[31] modern conspiracy theories have claimed that the Lions are connected to and act cohesively with Freemasonry. One example is found on Martha F. Lee's Conspiracy Rising: Conspiracy Thinking and American Public Life. It says that the "Freemasons are apparently in cahoots with the Lions Clubs and involved in plots ranging from the distribution of aspartame to control the human mind, to the death of John Paul I, to an apparent plot to spread Zionism."[32]

This perception, according to a Freemasonry website, can be traced to John Robison and the Abbé Barruel's unfounded writings on the causes of the French Revolution, Léo Taxil's late 19th-century hoax and the debunked Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The charter's current status within Hamas, the Masonic website claims, is unclear.[28] It has never been formally adopted since Hamas was elected as the Palestinian government in 2006.

While there is no direct link between the Lions and the Masons, they are compatible and may have overlapping membership, as evidenced by a speech delivered in 2004 to a Lions Club by a Mason named James F. Kirk-White.[33] The topic of the talk was "Sharing Freemasonry Within Your Community". That Masons recruit from fraternal organizations such as the Lions among others. Their compatibility, moreover, is evidenced by the Masons in Albion, New York offering space for the Lions at a Masonic Lodge.[34] Others also believe that the Lions Clubs actually are a "secret society" that has a great deal of secret ritual within its structure.[35] According to them the Lions are one of those social groups belonging to a secret society that demand an oath of allegiance to join.[36]

Controversial German Author, Jan Udo Holey, often known by his penname Jan van Helsing, wrote in his 1995 book Geheimgesellschaften und ihre Macht im 20. Jahrhundert (Secret Societies and Their Power in the 20th Century) that the Lions was founded by the B'nai B'rith in Chicago in 1917 and that, like the Freemasons and other secret societies, 90% of its members are used by the elites and have no inkling of what happens in the upper echelons. Holey explained that in the lower degrees of the hierarchy these organizations are much into social work and present really good programs.[37]


  1. "Melvin Jones biography". The Points of Light Foundation. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
  2. "Melvin Jones Biography". Archived from the original on 2007-09-19. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  3. 1 2 "Leadership Development Programs". Archived from the original on 2007-09-10. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  4. "Association Name and Symbol". Lions Clubs. 1917-06-07. Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  5. "Lions share flower carpet riches". BBC News. 25 August 2005. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
  6. "Scheme not bottling out of aid". BBC News. 31 January 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
  7. "In the News: Lions and LCIF Provide Relief in Philippines from Around the World : The Lions Blog". 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  8. "Webcast fights blindness". BBC News. 13 October 1999. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
  9. "dlprojects". Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  10. "About The Institute". Ear Science Institute Australia. Retrieved 2007-06-23.
  11. 1 2 "LCIF Grants & Programs". Archived from the original on 2007-11-02. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  12. "Case Study: Lions Club International Foundation". Financial Times. July 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-03.
  13. "Lion Cubs". Coventry Lions. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  14. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (30 January 2012). "Private and Public Partners Unite to Combat 10 Neglected Tropical Diseases by 2020". Press Room, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved 2013-05-30.
  15. Uniting to Combat NTDs (2012). "Endorsements (endorsing organizations)". Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases. Retrieved 2013-05-30.
  16. "Women in Lions". 2009-11-29.
  17. "Club members quit when female joins". BBC News. 23 May 2003. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  19. "Stories and history | Lions Clubs International". Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  20. "Lions Club Presidents". Lions Club of Savannah. Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  21. Auszeichnungen – Lions Club International, Homepage des Multidistrikts 111 Deutschland
  22. "PR799 EN Fact Sheet" (PDF). May 7, 2013. Retrieved 2014-04-08.
  23. "Leo Clubs". Retrieved 2010-03-19.
  24. "Campus Lions Clubs News". Archived from the original on January 3, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  25. "Coventry Lions Cubs Roar with Pride". 2015-07-15. Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  26. "Coventry Lion Cubs Roar with Pride". 2013-02-16. Retrieved 2016-10-17.
  27. Yoder, Glenn (March 5, 2006). "Lions will be roaring into town". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
  28. 1 2 Hamas and Freemasonry, Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon
  29. "Palestine Center – The Charter of the Hamas". The JerU.S.lem Fund. 1988. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
  30. Retrieved March 18, 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. Melvin Jones, Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon
  32. Martha F Lee, Conspiracy Rising: Conspiracy Thinking and American Public Life, Praeger, 2011, p 22, ISBN 9780313350139
  33. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-05-22. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  34. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-10. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  35. Adam Parfrey, 7 Fascinating Secret Society Photos, Huffington Post, April 6, 2012, retrieved April 8, 2014
  36. Steven Heller, The Secret History of Secret Societies, The Atlantic, April 26, 2012, retrieved April 8, 2014
  37. "Secret Societies and Their Power in The 20th Century - 9". Retrieved 2016-10-17.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/29/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.