Criticism of Orangeism

Dear Sir,

May I be permitted to respond the letter of William Brown (Irish News 30/3/06) in which he makes reference to my lecture on Orangeism.

Mr Brown, though present, at the lecture referred to, fails to grasp “the main assertion of that lecture” – which was “Orangeism a Presbyterian Perspective”.

It was only by way of introduction that I established the religious foundation of Orangeism by pointing out four things:

● The original Orange Qualifications make no reference to Roman Catholics.

● William McKenzie, who insulted Roman Catholics, was disciplined.

● The discussion of politics in Lodge was prohibited.

● Orangemen could marry Roman Catholics.

Mr Brown further states, “the main thrust of his lecture that the Orange Order needs to get back to its original religious, non-sectarian and non-political roots.”  While I agree with many of Mr Brown’s sentiments, this was not the “main thrust” of the lecture which was, as the title suggests, the relationship between Presbyterianism and Orangeism over the past 300 years.

When Mr Brown says in his letter, “All historians tell us,” I ask myself – ‘Has Mr Brown read all historians?’

As Dr. Samuel Johnson put it: “Prejudice, not being founded on reason, cannot be removed by argument”.  I do hope Mr Brown and others will read my forthcoming book without prejudgement. Or is this “Hope triumphing over experience”?

Brian Kennaway (Rev)


This letter appeared in the Irish News on 31st March 2006