The English Churchman

 

ENGLISH CHURCHMAN

 

A PROTESTANT FAMILY NEWSPAPER

(December 1999 Issue)

This book has stirred up bitter controversy in Orange circles and beyond. Initiation into the Royal Arch Purple Order is by the Royal Arch Purple degree, which is not officially recognised by the Loyal Orange Institution (LOI) in Ireland although many members of the LOI in other countries. It is also recognised by the Independent Loyal Orange Institution (ILOI). The alleged details of the ritual are revealed in the book.

The author seeks to show that the ritual of the Royal Arch Purple degree is derived from Freemasonry, that some of the symbolism is demonic, that the oaths taken and the ensuing obligation to secrecy are wrong, that the ceremonial is physically and spiritually degrading, that it offers an alternative method of salvation and that Christians should therefore have nothing to do with it. The reader is even provided with a sample resignation letter.

The Royal Arch Purplemen reply that the details as described in the book are selective and inaccurate and that such are the dangers facing Protestants today that binding oaths are not wrong. Mr. George Dawson, Imperial Grand Master of the ILOI, accuses the author of peddling in “half truths, fairy stories and blatant nonsense.” Mr. Dawson tells of a man converted through the degree. He argues that what the symbols mean to Royal Arch Purplemen is not decided by what they mean to some other people. The fact that certain aspects of Orangeism are alleged similar certain aspects of Freemasonry, which in turn are alleged to be similar to certain aspects of witchcraft, does not prove that Orangeism is witchcraft. Alleged similarity is not proof of identity.

The statements in the book are startling but we get the impression that the side people take in this controversy is decided as much by what they feel about the Orange Order as by any revelations in the book.

Readers will decide for themselves.

Rev Dr Paul Ferguson

The Rev Ferguson is the pastor of Cornerstone Church, Singapore. He was born in Northern Ireland and brought up in the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, where his father served as a Minister in the London congregation. Having read Biochemistry at Queen’s University of Belfast, and Law at King’s College, University of London, he was then admitted as an Advocate and Solicitor at The Law Society of England and Wales, and practised Corporate Law for five years at Hogan Lovells, an international law firm, in London.