The Orange Order - a Tradition Betrayed
Now there's a book for the weekend. Quite seriously. At the launch of Rev Brian Kennaway's tome this week David Trimble took the opportunity to express his opinion that elements of Unionism joined forces with the rougher members of the Order to stimulate confrontation and break the Belfast Agreement. I'm no Unionist insider, but I'd say the man's spot-on.
Put any prejudice aside for one moment. At the heart of Orangeism was the desire to uphold the doctrine of post-Reformation Christianity in a predominantly pre-Reformation country. It was an organisation aimed at encouraging men in their faith and their Christian walk and building them up into men able to provide strong, Godly leadership in their families. Fair enough.
Today's flavour of Orangeism east of the Bann is a long cry from the declared tenet that a member is to be "ever abstaining from all uncharitable words, actions or sentiments, towards his Roman Catholic brethren". The fact that I can't see this or the other "Qualifications of an Orangeman" on the Order's website is perhaps an indication of the irrelevance those qualifications have now become.
My father was an Orangeman in the days when Orange parades were like the one I described in a post last September. My father had respect for everyone, and even in his days I think the Order fulfilled a worthwhile purpose. But no more. It's been infested by sectarianism fuelled by Tony Blur's appeasement of Republican terrorists.
That said, there is an active political conspiracy at work in Ireland to malign the Orange Order and stymie the Biblical truths of Reformation theology, many of which are now fully accepted by Catholic churches in mainland Europe (e.g. salvation not by 'works', i.e. anything we say or do, but purely by God's generosity in response to our faith alone).
Groucho Marx once said he'd never want to join any club that would accept him as a member. For my part, I'd never want to be part of anything sectarian, and unfortunately that's what Orangeism has become. It's time the Order either disbanded or applied its true values faithfully to the modern age.