The Loyal Orders
The title “The Loyal Orders” is a popular term used to describe the various “Protestant” secret societies in Northern Ireland (Ulster) and other countries of the British Commonwealth. The Loyal Orders designation is essentially a composite name used to allude to the following secret societies: the Orange Order, the Royal Arch Purple Chapter, the Royal Black Institution, the Independent Orange, the “Protestant” Knights of Malta (senior order of the Independent Orange) and the Apprentice Boys of Derry. The Loyal Orders term is primarily an umbrella term to describe these different (varyingly connected) underground brotherhoods.
The Loyal Orders designation principally refers to their loyalty to the throne of England – providing it remains Protestant. Protestants in Ulster are commonly known as Loyalists – again referring to their commitment to the Queen and her role as head of state of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
Whilst it is commendable to make outward affirmations of loyalty to the head of state of the United Kingdom, as these Orders do, the question that arises is: does their outward boasts match the internal reality? The thick secrecy of the Loyal Orders alone should raise red flags of warning. No matter how respectable it may appear outwardly, or how honourable their declarations we must not “judge the book by its cover” but we must probe much deeper in order to ascertain its true inner character of the Orders.
With a little digging behind the scenes one finds practices and procedures that are anything but loyal and respectful to the very Monarchy the Loyal Orders purport to support. For example the Royal Charter.
Use of the “Royal” title legitimate or not?
The Royal Charter is an honour sparingly given by the Monarch recognising the exceptional standing and achievement of an incorporated body. It is the highest recognition that a grouping can receive from the State and it gives a special status to the body receiving the honour. It emanates from the good pleasure of the Sovereign and is designed to recognise and reward the special position of a body or institution. By the award of the charter there is an acknowledgement that the conduct and the affairs of a body receiving it are in the public interest and can stand up to scrutiny at the highest level.
The criteria for using the ‘Royal’ prefix is outlined in The Royal Encyclopaedia, which simply states: “Permission to use the title ‘Royal’ in front of the name of an institution or body… has long been a mark of royal favour. These honours, which are sparingly granted, are valued marks of royal recognition… the grant of the title ‘Royal’ is a matter of royal prerogative.”
This makes it so much more amazing that the “Royal” Arch Purple Chapter and “Royal” Black Institution should claim this cherished title as their own. The monarchy has never bestowed such a favoured title upon the Arch Purple or Black. Arch Purplemen and Black Knights have arrogated and conferred this decoration upon themselves without the slightest warrant or legal ground for doing so. The Orders openly use the Royal prefix and employs the title as if they somehow enjoy a special status or regal favour as a body, even though it is impossible for this illustrious title to be self-conferred by any organisation. If this were so, then countless organisations would surely follow the example of the Loyal Orders by doing the same.
It is remarkable that Arch Purplemen and Black Knights can so shamelessly parade with a title that has been dishonestly mis-appropriated from the owner. This is even more pronounced when one considers the loyalty the Loyal Orders profess to the British establishment in general and to the Royal family in particular. Regardless of how proudly they hold it, how deeply they believe it, or how loftily they parade it, they have absolutely no right to this title. It has been stolen and should be given back to its Sovereign owner. This certainly places a question mark over the socio-religious standing of the Loyal Orders.
There are four hundred British organisations with Royal Charters, but the “Royal” Arch Purple Chapter and “Royal” Black Institution are not among them. It must concern every devoted Royalist how so-called Protestant institutions like the Arch Purple and Black can take such an eminent Royal title and then parade it about as if it were their own. The usage of such a select title certainly gives the false impression that they somehow enjoy Royal approval – but we know that is not true.
Knights of Malta historian Thomas Henry Gilmour in his history Knights of Malta: Ancient and Modern describes two old surviving certificates belonging to different Black societies that are surmounted by the Royal Arms. These would have been typical of those used by the Black movement in the early 19th century. The first refers to Grand Black Order of Orangemen and is dated 30th August 1814, the second relates to the Royal Black Association in Scotland issued on 24th June 1831. This illustrates how convinced the Black is in claiming to enjoy Royal favour. It also reveals how long this tradition of assuming Royal privilege really is.
Their Knighthood – legal or not?
Appointment to the ancient Royal orders comes in the form of knighthood. Knighthood is an honour exclusively conferred by the Monarch in recognition of outstanding personal merit. British honours are awarded to acknowledge exceptional achievement or service. These special awards are bestowed upon both men and women and involve the title Sir or Dame according to gender. The title is prefixed to the first name of the beneficiary.
The Black Order also mimics the Royal conferment with its self-styled status of Royal knighthood and its own peculiar type of knighting. This involves the large-scale bestowal of the knightly title upon all its members, when initiates are awarded a certificate of achievement on reaching the summit of their degree journey in the Black. In the final address of the opening Black degree candidates are assured: “you have been knighted.” In keeping with the Royal pattern, they are honoured and recognised by prefixing their first name with the title “Sir.” This can be seen on any Red Cross certificate or Black Lecturer’s certificate. Such accolades give the candidate a real sense of attainment and importance even though the awards are spurious, unlawful and counterfeit.
Confirmation of this elevated recognition is found in the Black Institution’s Red Cross certificate, which reads: “It has been duly certified to us that our well beloved Brother Sir (John Smyth) Knight of our Magnanimous and Invincible Order and a Member of Preceptory No. (123) … has regularly gone through the several Degrees and Colours recognised and allowed by the rules and regulations of this Grand Chapter and has been lawfully Initiated, Installed and Confirmed in all the Rights, Titles and Ceremonies thereunto belonging.”
The Black Lecturers certificate also states: “This is to certify that our trusty and well beloved Brother Sir (John Smyth) Preceptory (123) has by his zealous labour acquired great skill in the Ceremonies, Secrets and Mysteries of our most Noble Ancient and Christian order of Royal Black Knights.”
Despite these notional accolades, the Black Knights carry no stately or legal warrant to confer these honours, for these are marks of distinction which can only be awarded by Her Majesty the Queen. Stealing titles, positions and authority which do not belong to the organisation is an activity which is totally unacceptable. The Royal Black Institution should immediately remove the Royal prefix from its name and amend the spurious practice of secretly conferring knighthoods upon its members.
This is just a small example of the duplicity that often exists within the Loyal Orders. It is as if they say one thing, yet privately practice another. It is even more prononced when it comes to spiritual matters. Whilst they outwardly purport to be Christian, Protestant and biblical, when one pentrates their tight wall of secrecy they are seen to be the complete opposite. Whilst outwardly portraying Protestantism, the Black inwardly practises paganism. Their whole elitist structure is extra-biblical. The New Testament church did not operate behind a wall of secret passwords, funny handshakes, dorr knocks and death threats but was open and outward reaching to all that would hear the good news. With the Loyal Orders, only Protestants are welcome.
Religious Royal Priesthood?
Mr James Molyneux (the then Sovereign Grand Master of the Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth ), speaking to the faithful at the Black demonstration at Scarva in July 1981, told his members, “Apathy may be a luxury in which some races can indulge but you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation and a people claimed by God for Himself” (Orange Standard, August 1981, p. 8).
The New Testament knows nothing of any earthly priesthood outside of the priesthood of believers. Scripture teaches that every born again believer is a spiritual priest today. One enters into this favoured position through salvation. This is confirmed in 1 Peter 2:5-9. Speaking of the body of Christ, we learn, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ … ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”
Whilst it is wrong and illegal to steal the natural “Royal” title from the Monarch it is worse to steal the spiritual “royal” title from the Lord. He applies it exclusively to His redeemed. The reference to royal here is simply a description of the kingly spiritual authority enjoyed by true Christians upon conversion. The redeemed are a kingly (or a royal) priesthood today. They are a “holy nation.” Citizenship belongs to people of all races and all tongues – all that know and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their own and personal Saviour. They are an elect people that have been called out of “darkness into his marvellous light.” This spiritual company can be found anywhere that there are committed believers. It is the community of redeemed, irrespective of colour, race or birthplace.
These secret societies therefore arrogate this status to themselves as though they have the sole right to it, whereas it relates to born again believers everywhere, and to them alone. Anyone who has belonged to the Order will know that the vast bulk of the Black’s members make no claim to being saved. They have not entered into the realisation of being called out of darkness into His marvellous light. So whatever way you look at it, the Black has no authority to identify its membership with a scriptural priesthood – whether natural or spiritual, earthly or heavenly, old covenant or new covenant. The Institution’s claim to the title is spurious.
The spiritual priesthood described in 2 Peter 2:5-9 applies only to those who are holy and sanctified. In the New Testament age the term pertains solely to blood-bought believers. This has been the accepted evangelical Protestant position from the Reformation. There is no record of the Reformed fathers recognising unregenerate men as priests. On the other hand there are many accounts of them opposing the Roman Catholic system. This places a large question mark over the Protestant credentials of the Royal Black Institution and the Independent Orange Order’s Knights of Malta. How can these secret fraternities claim the Reformed title with such anti-Protestant practices and beliefs?
Martin Luther, whose heroic stand against the errors of Rome precipitated the Protestant Reformation, and whose writings deeply influenced the doctrines of Protestantism, wrote that “as priests we are worthy to appear before God to pray for others and to teach one another divine things …Thus Christ has made it possible for us, provided we believe in him, to be not only his brethren, co-heirs, and fellow-kings, but also his fellow priests” (The Freedom of a Christian). That great pioneer of truth John Wycliffe (considered the main precursor of the Protestant Reformation in England), who gave us the first translation of the Bible in the English language, said: “Every pious man, predestinated to life, is truly a priest ordained of God.” Another great Reformer, martyr of God, and English translator of the Bible, William Tyndale said: “Jew or Gentile… in Christ they are made priests to offer themselves to God.”
John says in Revelation 1:5-6, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father.” God’s people are kings and priests today, but Scripture nowhere teaches that this priesthood of all believers is Levitical or Melchizedekian, or both. Christians are spiritual priests, and have become such by way of salvation when they enter into all the riches of Christ and His glorious power. We become joint-heirs with Him in His current reign and marvellous glory. We are a kingdom priest by virtue of the fact that we are members of Christ’s kingdom – which we enter by means of being born again (John 3). We become imitators of Him in His humble and contrite earthly ministry. The meek servant-hood of the true believer and his self-sacrificing walk is connected to his priestly position, whereas his reigning in spiritual power and authority is related to his kingly office. These spiritual realities continue on after death when we reach heaven (Revelation 5:5-10 & Revelation 20:6).
Questions that Christian Orangemen should consider
A Biblical Analysis of the Royal Arch Purple degree
The Orange Order and British Israelism
A Biblical Analysis of the Royal Arch Purple degree