Church of Ireland General Synod Sub Committee on Sectarianism Report: April 1999

 Church of Ireland General Synod Sub Committee on Sectarianism Report:

April 1999

A3.2.1.2 The Orange Order’s claim to be the Defender of ‘Protestantism’

The Orange Order declares itself to be:

“composed of Protestants, united and resolved to the utmost of their power to support and defend the Protestant religion.”1

The Church of Ireland is strongly supportive of efforts to promote the visible unity of the Church. However, there is as yet no single body of doctrine uniting all those churches and groups calling themselves Protestant. The Church of Ireland reserves to itself the responsibility of defining, defending and interpreting in the light of Holy Scripture the Faith it has received.

A3.2.1.3 The Place of Holy Scripture

We observe that much of the representation of Holy Scripture in the Loyal Orders is of the Old Testament, with an emphasis on such things as battle, righteousness, the defeat of evil, obedience to the law. This is reflected in the bible teaching and representation of bible scenes on Orange Order and especially the Royal Black Preceptory banners.

While we affirm fully the centrality of Holy Scripture in all of life, we submit that in the Loyal Orders, insufficient emphasis is ostensibly given to the New Testament, in particular to those teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ who manifested in his earthly ministry, and in his redeeming work on the cross, God’s love for all people: and who called us to the love of God and our neighbour (St Mark 12.30,31), to love our enemies (St Matthew 5.44), and who gave us the Golden Rule, to treat others as we ourselves would wish to be treated (St Matthew 7.12).

A3.2 Ways in which the Church of Ireland may be deemed to be accommodating to sectarianism

The Church of Ireland may be deemed to be accommodating to sectarianism by association with certain aspects of Orange Order teaching and practice. The Church of Ireland responds to this suggestion by identifying clear differences between the Church of Ireland and the Orange Order.

A3.2.1 Areas where there are clear differences between the Church of Ireland and the Orange Order

  • We believe that in order to show itself a truly Christian movement it is now time for the Orange Order to show that love of God, love of neighbour and obedience to the New Testament principles take priority over mere party advancement.
  • We believe that exclusivity is contrary to the teaching and example of Jesus Christ and that inclusivity, therefore, must be the hallmark of our Christian actions as the third millennium approaches.
  • We fear that the Qualifications of an Orangeman cloak anti-Catholicism in a culture of courteous civility.
  • We believe that while it is the right of any individual to attend public worship in Church of Ireland churches such rights do not extend to participation in marches that may be deemed offensive to some.
  • We suggest that the full consequences of marching, including the cost to social cohesion as well as all economic costs, should be weighed before insisting on the right exclusively to march (which right does not exist inalienably).
  • We therefore suggest that the approach of a new millennium presents a timely opportunity for the Orange Order to address the issues identified above and to take steps towards reform and renewal