(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 pastor of Larne Mission Hall. 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. He was pastor of Cornerstone Church, Singapore.

For more information, please William Schnoebelen’s enlightening book Masonry Beyond the Light

Protestant/Evangelical opposition to the Loyal Orders

United Protestant Council initial report into the Royal Black Institution application
United Protestant Council exhaustive report into the Royal Black Institution application
The Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland report on Loyal Orders
A Theological Report by the Church of Ireland – on the RBI
Reformed Presbyterian Church and the Orange Order
The Covenanter Witness (Reformed Presbyterian)
The Burning Bush – A Publication by Rev Ivan Foster, a Free Presbyterian minister.
Baptist Magazine
Rev. Norman W McAuley (Presbyterian Church in Ireland)
Independent Methodist Pastor Paul Johnston
The English Churchman (Rev Dr Paul Ferguson)
Church of Ireland General Synod Sub Committee
Ulster Christian
Omega Times – Newspaper of New Zealand Evangelist, Barry Smith
Take Heed Ministries (Cecil Andrew)
British Churchman (Johnny Larner)

Former Royal Black Deputy Grand Chaplain (Rev. Canon Brian T. Blacoe)
Former Royal Black Lecturer, Orange Worshipful Master and Royal Arch Purple Worshipful Master (Malcolm McClughan)
United Protestant Council Chairman (David Carson)
Former County Down Orange Treasurer, Worshipful Master, Deputy Master, and Chaplain – Jackson Blakely
Former County Londonderry Orange and Royal Arch Purpleman Andrew Evans
Former County Armagh Orange, Royal Arch Purple and (Red Cross) Blackman Alex Newell
Former County Tyrone Orange Chaplain and Orange/Small Purple Lecturer Paul Stewart (also former Red Cross Blackman)

Lodges Examined by the Bible by John R. Rice