Inside the Royal Arch Purple Order
June 17th 1999
Neil Johnston reports.
AN explosive new book published today reveals to the public for the first time the practices and bizarre initiation rites of the mysterious brotherhood, the Royal Arch Purple Order. Entitled Behind Closed Doors, it has been written by a former member of the order, 33-year-old Co Down man Paul Malcomson.
Paul Malcomson resigned from the order after, as he says, becoming unhappy with many of its “degrading” customs and rituals which “violate the Word of God”.
In the book, which has taken him seven years to research and write, he looks at the Royal Arch Purple Order from an evangelical point of view – he himself is a born again Christian.
In the preface, he writes: “Whilst most people today are aware of the existence of the Loyal Orange Institution and the Royal Black Institution, few have heard anything about the existence of a highly secretive institution that is sandwiched between these two – the Royal Arch Purple Order.
“This institution, which has tens of thousands of members in Ireland, in Britain, and throughout the British Commonwealth, has succeeded, where other secret societies have failed, in concealing its secrets and mysteries from outside scrutiny.
“The purpose of this research has been to break through the veil of mystery and secrecy surrounding the Royal Arch Purple Order and to examine it from an evangelical perspective.
“In doing so, we are primarily directing this publication at fellow believers, especially those within the RAP, enabling fair, open and informed analysis of the subject.” Mr Malcomson stresses that his book “is not an attack upon Protestantism, nor is it designed to undermine the traditional unionist/loyalist position.
“We have no axe to grind with any individual within the Royal Arch Purple, nor is it our intention to embarrass anyone by the publication of this book” Nonetheless, his decision to disclose what goes on behind the closed doors of the order is certain to be strongly resented within the organisation.
But Mr Malcomson says he felt that the practices of the Royal Arch Purple should not be kept secret and quotes from the Bible to support this belief.
“The Lord Jesus Christ said: ‘For there is nothing hid which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret but that it should come abroad.’ “This organisation, in its own words, describes itself as ‘an order that is soundly based on the Holy Scriptures,'” he said.
“In fact, as I have found in my researches – and the more I investigated, the more shocked I became – its sources are less in the scriptures than in Freemasonry. “Certainly, anyone who has ever gone through the degrading Royal Arch Purple initiation ceremony will never forget it.” In the book, Mr Malcomson describes the inauguration ceremony as follows: “The oath-bound Royal Arch Purple aspirant is prepared for initiation in typically Masonic manner, by being stripped of much of his clothes.
“He is divested of his coat and vest, collar and tie, shoes and socks. One shoe is then placed on the candidate’s left bare foot, and the legs of his trousers rolled up above the knee, his left breast being bare.
“The candidate is then blindfolded and a piece of purple ribbon is fastened to the front of the candidate’s shirt or other garment.
“Clearly, the Arch Purple initiate by participating in such a ceremony is aligning himself with those initiated into the mysteries throughout the centuries.
“This practice, which harmonises with the rest of the initiation, is carefully devised to caricature the humble and unworthy way a repentant sinner comes to Christ.
“This objectionable preparation serves not only to divest a man of his clothes but also of his dignity, and is designed to represent the putting off of the old garments, the old life, and the putting on of the new.” And further humiliation follows, as the ceremony becomes even more bizarre.
“The Royal Arch Purple candidate is taken round the Chapter room three times, the floor of which is covered in branches and brambles, so as to ensure the journey is one of obvious suffering for the barefooted candidate.
“During his three journeys …, the candidate (without warning) is violently whipped on his legs with brambles and branches by the assembled brethren.
“This practice normally results in varying amounts of cuts and bruises to the initiate…
“The whipping of the initiate’s legs and the barefooted travel over brambles and branches is painfully endured by the candidate, to the accompaniment of hilarious laughter from all those present, many imitating goat bleats (reminding the candidate of his impending ‘ride on the goat’).
“This deeply offensive practice is carefully designed to further humiliate the nervous candidate. Amazingly, such ridiculous buffoonery is accompanied by the reading of Holy Scripture.” Mr Malcomson is even more severe in his condemnation of a later part of the initiation which is known as “riding the goat”.
“After the gravity of his obligation is further impressed upon the candidate, the assembled Chapter gather at the back of the steps (‘Jacob’s Ladder’) and unfold a large canvas blanket.
“The blindfolded initiate, who has his back to the blanket, is then told to cross his arms whilst still kneeling upon the representation of a coffin.
“He is then asked…”In whom do you put your trust?’. The nervous candidate answers “God”, whereupon…..he receives a violent push backwards on to the blanket. Here he undergoes one of the most painful and humiliating experiences within the Royal Arch Purple chapter ceremony, when he is brutally kicked and tossed upon the blanket by the assembled Chapter for a number of minutes. This practice is known as ‘riding the goat’.
“There is no greater proof of the corrupt nature of the Royal Arch Purple Order than this demeaning farce,” writes Mr Malcomson.
“How anyone could interpret it as anything other than an organised disgrace defies belief.
“One wonders how any Christian could defend such an irreligious sham and explain how it at all promotes holy living or respect for one’s fellow man.” Mr Malcomson said he believes that there is only one true brotherhood, and that is the brotherhood of those who are born again in the spirit of God.
The Royal Arch Purple Order, with its “indecent and deeply degrading” initiation ceremony, is, he said, unBiblical and incompatible with the true Protestant faith and it was no surprise that in recent years, people had been leaving it in significant numbers. “It is, in reality, paganism in disguise,” he said.
(Behind Closed Doors is published by Evangelical Truth at £6:99 and is available through Eason’s and all Christian bookshops).