A final stand (1925)
The most profound exposure of the Royal Arch Purple, relates to a little known small pamphlet published in 1925 by the ‘Protestant Truth Society’ called ‘Orangeman or Christian: Which?’ It was written by the former Deputy Grand Chaplain of Grand Orange Lodge of England – Rev. Alexander Roger and was a condemnation of the Royal Arch Purple degree. It was a limited internal document, being circulated solely within the Orange family. This booklet was a final appeal from evangelicals within the Orange Order in England to purge the Royal Arch Purple degree out of Orange Institution of England, after its introduction into the Order in 1913.
Leaven at work
Rev. Roger testifies, “The procedure at these Royal Arch Purple initiations became a byword in Protestant circles in the City of London, and more than one leading Protestant worker expressed not only condemnation of it, but surprise that I, as a Christian minister, and a Grand Lodge Officer, should countenance it. Up to that time I had no definite information as to the procedure other than strange rumours afloat concerning it. But when I discovered that an eye-witness could be found…it became comparatively easy to glean the facts recorded.
At the next meeting of my own Lodge I described what I had heard, though I at that time I had not had the facts verified by the eye-witness. Of course the RAP men flatly denied that such things could have occurred. Unfortunately they will deny anything reflecting on the degree.
It appears there had been in existence for some years an Organisation known as the Royal Arch Purple Degree which the Grand Lodge of England refused to recognise in any form as being not only illegal in itself, but also outside the scope of the Institution as a loyal Order.”
The former Deputy Grand Chaplain relates how he was warned in his early days, “If I valued peace and comfort in the Institution, I must never interfere or oppose them (Arch Purplemen) in their aims or work.”
He then declares, “My readers will see the Royal Arch Purplemen occupied a position similar to that of the Ritualistic Party in the Established Church; in fact, some Orangemen have called them the ritualists of the Order. Whatever may be said against them one fact is pre-eminent. However much they disagree with each other at times, they stand shoulder to shoulder to resist any attack upon and criticism of their methods.”
Rev. Roger testifies, “Once a man has taken the Royal Arch Purple it seems to impart a ‘fatal twist’ to his nature and especially to his veracity. I could give instance after instance of deliberately uttered falsehoods – in fact, the principles of truth or fair play are discounted in order to injure those known to oppose the degree.”
An internal exposure:
At the commencement of the night the candidate is required to take an oath binding himself never to disclose any matter pertaining to the Royal Arch Purple Order. He also swears not to have any unlawful carnal knowledge with the female relatives of his brother Royal Arch Purplemen. The oath concludes with the candidate swearing to “keep and conceal the secrets of my Royal Arch Purple brethren” within his breast “murder and treason excepted.”
Commenting on the oath the Rev. Roger states: “If clerics aid and abet a contravention of the Law of the Realm what is to be expected of the ordinary lay Orangeman?”
He then exposes the initiation, “The Candidate, duly prepared for the ceremony of initiation, waits in the adjoining ante-room. He has been divested of his coat, vest, collar, boots and socks. He stands barefoot, with his trouser-legs rolled up to the knees, his shirt open at the breast, and blindfolded by a bandage around his eyes.
The oath taken, the candidate is branded with the Seal of the Lodge upon his bare chest- the seal, if a metal one, having been previously heated for the impression.
Before he enters the lodge-room, the reverent master warns the brethren present in these terms: “Now brethren, you must try to control your risibilities tonight, if you can” – a warning doubtless necessary, but alas! impossible to heed.
Accompanied by the harmonium all join in singing the hymn ‘Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire’ followed by a prayer and reading of a Scripture portion by the Chaplain.
The Candidate is ushered in, in the condition already described, bearing a wand or staff in one hand.
The journey through the wilderness then commences. Three times is the blindfolded candidate conducted round the leaf strewn path in the hall, being whipped upon the bare legs with switches made of small branches of twigs by five or six of the brethren during the circuit of the hall. The Chaplain during this portion as other portions of the ceremony, is engaged in either reading portions of Scripture or certain prayers.
During the first circuit the unfortunate candidate stepping upon the coke and cinders uttered exclamations of pain and surprise. He fell to the floor upon coke-amid renewed laughter. The coke was imported into the ceremony (so the Master said) as a ‘special treat’ for the unfortunate candidate.”
As the candidate is led round the room the first time he sustains a fall, and is raised up, on the words “O death, where is thy sting?” He is then led round again and receives the second fall, and is raised up, on the words “O grave, where is thy victory?” The Royal Arch Purple here apply this text in 1 Corinthians 15, which relates alone to God’s people, to all its initiates (saved or unsaved).
The Rev. Roger explains how the candidate is “made to lie upon his back each circuit at a selected spot, whilst the Chaplain said certain prayers over him.”
On the third and final lap round the Chapter room, the initiate sustains his third and final fall, which results in him being raised by the five points of fellowship. First – foot to foot…Second – knee to knee…Third – hand in hand…Fourth – breast to breast…Fifth and last – left hand behind back…
The blindfolded Royal Arch Purple candidate is led over to within four or five feet of the front of a purpose-built three-stepped ladder, symbolising ‘Jacob’s ladder’. The candidate then steps ‘two and a half’ paces forward towards the ladder, in an observance called ‘the advancement’. This ‘two and a half’ paces represent the secret mystical number of the Order.
The Rev. Roger says, “They (the Royal Arch Purple Order) claim to be representative of the two and a half Tribes that led the vanguard of Israel to the Promised Land, and the numerals two and a half are to some extent the badge of their Organisation.”
“He (the candidate) is made to mount the three steps to the platform (representing Faith, Hope and Charity) and bidden to stand on the topmost step, about five feet above the ground level. Next he is turned round with his back to the strong sheet, and with a dexterous push backward by the clerical Master of the Lodge, is thrown into the sheet upon his back. In this position he is carried round the hall, various sly kicks being administered en-route – the candidate vigorously protesting against the kicks.” This is the infamous ‘riding the goat’.
The lecturers ask the blindfolded candidate: “What do you stand most in need of?” The answer is “Light.”
He continues, “When the bandage over his eyes is removed, his first view is the points of two swords held in dangerous proximity to the breast and the pistol at his head.
Finally he is made to stand in front of the coffin, skull, pistol and swords, whilst he takes the oath adminstered by the Master, the skull being placed in his hands during the oath-taking.”
He is informed of the consequences of disloyalty to the Royal Arch Purple – that of having his throat cut across from ear to ear, his tongue torn out by its roots and his left breast torn open, his heart and vitals taken therefrom, etc. etc.
“The ceremony now concludes and the candidate, after being permitted to resume his divested clothing, returns to the Lodge room and is welcomed as a duly accredited member of the Royal Arch Purple degree.”
An informative read:
Blasphemous and undignified
Rev Roger asks, “Can you picture a more discreditable parody of Sacred things, conducted as it was amid efforts of the onlookers to restrain inordinate laughter? Does not this introductory invocation to the Holy Spirit bring it within very close proximity of blasphemy? Think of so-called ministers of the Gospel taking part in such a scene! To countenance it at all is to disgrace their profession and bring discredit upon themselves. How can it be designated a ‘sublime degree?’ ”
The Rev.Roger testifies, “I have heard of ‘accidents’ occuring as a result of a fall when a candidate was ‘tossed’ in the canvas sheet.”
He then refers to a fatality in the early 1900’s, when one of its members, Samuel Tweedie of Newry, was charged with causing the death of a candidate in that town by a pistol wound.
“It appears that Tweedie was unaware that the pistol used in the ceremony was loaded with other than blank cartridge. The jury acquitted him of culpable homicide under the circumstances.”
The former Deputy Grand Chaplain concludes: “The chief aspect is the position of a Christian man regarding it. Is it becoming to a Christian man and the self respect of any gentleman to appear in this half stripped condition? Is it necessary in order to secure his adherence to the maintenance of the Protestant Faith in Church and State to enforce submission to what after all is a degrading ceremony bordering upon the blasphemous? That it should be deemed necessary to blindfold the Candidate until nearly the close of the initiation is strongly suggestive.
My connection with the [Orange] Order has brought me into contact during a period of years with a number of well-known London and provincial clergymen and laymen associated in membership, but the majority have dropped out. The unseemly RAP business has reached their ears and they have quietly resigned rather than countenance it.
Is it too late for Grand Lodge to retrace its steps? By doing so it would prevent an ultimate stranding on the rocks and the discredit which must attach to association with a method of procedure not only questionable on legal grounds, but also on those of Christian morality. If these lines in any way help to attain this end, no one will be more gladdened than the writer.”
This godly appeal by the Rev. Roger for the, now ritualistically controlled, Orange Order in England to purge the Royal Arch Purple degree out of the Institution sadly failed. Their foolish dismissal resulted in many believers resigning from the Orange Institution, including the writer of the pamphlet the Rev. Roger, minister of Immanuel Church, Putney. Editing the booklet was J.A. Kensit, whose father founded the Protestant Truth Society and who, in the end, was killed by Romanists because of his work for Protestantism. He was not afforded the opportunity to resign, but was expelled by the Orange Order for his part in this just publication.
The Orange Order in England, as predicted, has reaped a very painful dividend ever since following its wilful rejection of these many able evangelical warnings.
Read a detailed exposure:
Grand Lodges opposition to RAP and Black degrees