Orange Order And Christianity


Sir, - It was with considerable dismay that I read the article "Clergy is getting weary of poor advice" (Opinion, July 1st) by the Church of Ireland rector Dr Michael Kennedy, who is saddened by the unfavourable public perception of Ulster Protestants. The vast majority of men in his parishes are members of the Orange Order and the article highlights the acceptance of the Loyal Orders which exists within this church and seeks to validate the worship of "what are intended to be Christian organisations".

While I fully accept that members of the Orange Order have many admirable qualities, the notion that it is a Christian organisation must not go unchallenged.

What is the raison d'etre of any truly Christian organisation? Surely it is to bring glory to God and by word or deed to point others to Jesus Christ. Do the Orange parades in any sense accomplish these aims? Christ calls His followers to love all people. Again, do the parades communicate Christ's love to the members of the nationalist community? Christ and his followers overcame major ethnic and cultural barriers to bring the gospel to others. Has the Orange Order advanced the gospel across cultural lines in the North of Ireland?

These questions are not intended to be humorous, but their irony underlines the disparity between real Christianity and this group.

Where is the biblical apologetic for an overtly political Christian organisation? We search the scriptures in vain for either command, sanction, example or precedent of any kind which could validly support such a group. It is founded on the sands of human tradition and not commanded by Christ. What we do find repeated in scripture are warnings against mixing the gospel with any such tradition.

By their acceptance of the Orange Order, Protestant churches have allowed their testimony to Christ to be polluted by a political agenda. If their leaders are to be loyal to Christ, they must break the illegitimate link forged between loyalism and scripture. The prophetic voice must be heard in these churches again, disallowing man-made tradition and driving politics outside church to where it belongs. Christ choose a nationalist zealot and a tax collector as apostles. In His church, political persuasion should mean nothing. - Yours, etc., Ian Kennedy,

Ferrybank, Waterford.