Grand Lodge of Ireland
hostilty towards the RAP and Black degrees
To most people today, the degrees of the Royal Arch Purple Order and the
Royal Black Preceptory
are viewed as being, and having always been, integral to the Orange Order degree system.
In the minds of those who support them, they are looked upon as bastions of the
Unionist/Protestant cause, but when examined in the light of history a different
story unfolds. Indeed, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, for most of its history, looked upon
these ritualistic bodies as being incompatible with, and contrary to Orangeism.
The history of the Orange Order is a story of perennial conflict both inside
and outside the Institution. Whilst most Orangemen today are familiar with the
long-standing external struggle with Rome and Republicanism, few know anything
about the prolonged internal battle between a group of rebellious ritualistic
Orangemen and the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. This significant conflict raged
furiously within the Orange Order between the years 1798 and 1925.
The ritualists were those renegade Orangemen who adhered to the neo- Masonic
Royal Arch Purple Order and Royal Black Preceptory degrees. Their unflinching aim was to
introduce these ritualistic degrees into the Orange Institution and as a consequence make
it a mirror of Freemasonry.
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, on the other-hand, fiercely and
consistently resisted every encroachment of these "Heathenish Rites." The Orange
Order in Ireland, from the formation of its Grand Orange Lodge in 1798 to the early
1900's, resolutely opposed all such forms of ritualism. The practises of these
orders were looked upon as both illegal and deeply injurious to the true Orange
cause. It is important to note, in their determined stand, Grand Lodge held the
broad support of the wider Orange family.
Members who succumbed to the evil advances of these ritualistic bodies were
expelled from the Orange Order by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and their names circulated
to every Lodge in the United Kingdom (which then included the whole island of Ireland).
Sadly today, Orangeism's long principled struggle against the ritualistic and
superstitious practices of the Royal Arch Purple Order and Royal Black Preceptory has
become "the forgotten history of the Orange Order."