Orange Duplicity

What happened to speaking freely?
One of the great values of a democratic state is that the individual can freely express their ideas without the threat of imprisonment.
A conventional standard of debate in any civilised society is that there can be discussion, and even a robust argument, without resorting to a personal attack on the individuals involved.
It is unfortunate that the two contributions to the debate (David Brewster, News Letter February 9 and Wilfred Breen, News Letter February 10) have stooped to the level of argumentum ad hominem (argument against the person) with the use of such language as “carping” and “snipe”.
Neither of these contributors have addressed the substance of the issues raised in my opinion piece (February 6), nor responded to the duplicity clearly exposed. That is “condemning the Government for the ‘liberalisation of betting and gaming legislation’ on the one hand and taking lottery money with the other“ failing to exercise discipline against law-breakers within your own organisation yet condemn the Government for failing to do the same, refusing to enforce moral standards within your own organisation and then proceed to blame the government for “declining moral standards” in the nation. Such behaviour surely amounts to “not seeing the beam in your own eye”.
Recent attempts to present the Orange Institution as a ‘cultural’ organisation, even exclusively in terms of the Ulster-Scots culture is not an accurate reflection of the make-up of the Institution, either at its foundation or in the present day.
At the end of the 18th century, the Orange Society was made up of the two main religious/social groups. The Anglo-Irish represented the Anglican religion of the English settlers, while the Ulster-Scots (Scots-Irish) represented the religion of the Scottish Presbyterian settlers from lowland Scotland.
Members of the Institution can presently largely trace their origins to either one of these two groups. It is wrong to associate the Institution exclusively with only one of these groups, ie. the Ulster-Scots.
The culture of these two groups has a strong religious base. On this basis, religion plays a significant rather than a symbolic role in culture. Modern observers of the Orange Order might be forgiven for thinking that religion plays only a symbolic role in the Institution, particularly its public expression.
The real challenge facing the Institution is the challenge of the future, not the past, and it remains the same. It is to display, in its public manifestation, the virtues which it has so vocally declared to be its own, “…a Christian organisation… Christ-centred, Bible-based, Church grounded.”
I assume these are still the values of the Orange Institution, as they are still displayed on the Grand Lodge of Ireland website.
If so, then these are the values to be upheld by the membership as a whole, and in particular those in leadership at all levels of such an organisation, professing such virtues.Rev Brian Kennaway,
Crumlin.

This letter appeared in the Belfast News Letter on 16th February 2007
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