A Church of Ireland minister has said that no true Protestant should be a member of the Orange Order
The Reverend David Frazer, of Laytown in Co Meath, said the order had never been an upholder of “a true Orange tradition of ‘civil and religious liberty for all’” in Ireland.
He said the order’s present “crisis” was a reason to rejoice for those wanting to see “an island of equals”.
Mr Frazer said: “It is an organisation that no longer has the leadership of the ‘big house’ and one can see that its lumpenproletariat membership has no positive conceptual ability.
“Anyone in the institution who is able to think above the tribal gut-reaction level should get out of a body that is caught in a late 18th-century and early 19th-century mindset.”
Mr Frazer was responding to comments made by the Reverent Brian Kennaway, a former senior Orangeman, during a book-signing event in Belfast, that formed part of the Féile an Phobail programme last week.
Mr Kennaway, author of The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed, suggested that “an island of equals” could be achieved by adhering to the basic tenets of both the 1916 Proclamation and the Orange tradition in Ireland.
He argued that, although the order had always stood for “civil and religious freedom for all and special privileges for none”, it needed to reassert its authentic religious values above the political, paramilitary and cultural influences currently dominating it.
“This would help bring about “a new dispensation” in Ireland”, he added.
Mr Frazer said he welcomed Mr Kennaway’s “thought-provoking comments” as reported by Daily Ireland but questioned whether the order could be transformed into a benign religious institution.
“The problem with the Orange Order is that it was set up by the gentry and clergy of the established Church of Ireland in the troubled days of the 1790s to uphold the Williamite settlement that made the British throne Protestant,” he said.
“It was never meant to be simply a fellowship of people who were united in their allegiance to the reformed tradition of western Christianity.
“The Orange Order was founded because of the fear that many Protestants were being attracted to the principles of republicanism that were being enunciated by the United Irishmen.
“In a reactionary move, the Anglo-Irish ascendancy created an institution that would uphold privilege and perpetuate division.”
“Its members are still indoctrinated into the ascendancy way of thinking.
“Its marches are territorial, coat-trailing exercises that are intended to let Roman Catholics know that Protestants are top dogs in society,” he said.
The order’s support for the union with Britain is conditional on the British throne “remaining in Protestant hands”, which also excludes Presbyterians in Ireland, he said.
“No genuine, free-thinking Protestant of any denomination who believes in democracy should belong to such an organisation.”
He added: “It is bizarre that a 17th-century dynastic struggle between an English Roman Catholic king and his usurping Dutch Protestant son-in-law (who was supported by the pope of the day) should continue to be used as a central theme of any group identity in the 21st century.”
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