The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic fraternal organization that provides insurance and social services to (as of 2007) approximately 1.7 million members and their families. There is active membership in the following nations and territories: Bahamas, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guam, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, the Phillipines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Saipan, United States, and the Virgin Islands.
The Knights of Columbus was founded October 2, 1881 when the Parish Priest of the St. Mary's Catholic Church, Father Michael J. McGivney and several other Catholics from New Haven, Connecticut met together to discus the current state of Catholics. At this time, Catholics were a minority and often treated as second-class citizens. Most Catholics were given menial jobs and did not have much money. When something happened to the man of the household, often the rest of the family would fall into destitution because of the loss of money and support. The idea of support for the survivors and a kind of insurance to help the widow came together as the Knights were formed.
Initially, when a member died, each of the other members would contribute one dollar toward the "beneficiary" up to $1,000 (a large sum of money for the time). On March 29, 1882, the Knights of Columbus officially came to pass when the fraternity became officially incorporated. The formation of the Knights of Columbus also had a beneficial side effect for the members. Because it was forbidden in Can. 1374 of the Code of Canon Law for Catholics to join other fraternities , it provided a viable alternative.
In recent history, the Knights of Columbus has supported the victims of Hurricane Katrina and has donated over $10 million USD to the reconstruction/support cause. In November 2007, the order donated over $1 million USD worth of wheelchairs to veterans at four Veterans Affairs hospitals.
Membership is open to any Catholic male, age 18 or older. A potential Knight joins as a First Degree Knight, explicating the virtue of charity. The Second and Third Degrees explicate the virtues of unity and fraternity; upon reaching the Third Degree a Knight is a full member. At this point a Knight may choose to obtain the Fourth Degree (explicating the virtue of patriotism and fostering active Catholic citizenship) and would thereafter be referred to as "Sir Knight", but Fourth Degree membership is optional.
Say No To Pro-abortion Candidates
“Supreme Knight” Carl A. Anderson, the head of the Knights of Columbus declares, “It’s time we stop accommodating pro-abortion politicians, and it’s time we start demanding that they accommodate us. What candidate or political party can withstand the loss of millions of Catholic voters in this election or the next?” There are an estimated 40 million Catholic voters in the U.S.A. If American Catholics take to heart Anderson's message in large numbers, it could have a huge effect on elections at all levels.
The Knights of Columbus gave $1 million to support Proposition 8, the initiative to reinstate traditional marriage in California. As one of the first large donors for the Pro Proposition 8 position, their contribution served as a catalyst to others and eventually allowed the Proposition 8 supporters to match the record breaking donations that were pouring into the No on 8 campaign.
- Worldwide membership as of 2007: 1.7 million
- Calendar year 2006 total charity donations by the order: $143,816,004 USD
- Cumulative past ten years charity donation by the order: $1.25 billion USD
- Cumulative past ten year man-hour community service: 593 million hours
- "ONE NATION UNDER GOD": 1951-1960
- Such as the Freemasons; it should be noted that the Freemasons had no prohibition against Catholics joining their ranks.
- Knights of Columbus: ‘No’ to Abortion Candidates NewsMax.com, August 7, 2008