What is the Orange Institution?
It is both a religious and a patriotic association: religious in that it has its roots firmly grounded in our country’s Reformed Heritage, and patriotic through reflecting an unswerving allegiance to the British Crown.
Why does it bear the title ‘Orange’?
In memory of William, Prince of Orange, who secured our nation’s religious freedom and democratic forms of government at the Glorious Revolution in 1688.
But surely all that is past history?
Yes it is history, but if we consider that there is little liberty in many countries today, and that our own freedoms must be preserved, then we should he all the more thankful for those stirring events of 1688 - and all the more determined to maintain our liberties!
When was the Orange Institution founded?
Orange ‘Lodges’ as we know them today did not come into being until 1795 when a small group of men gathered in the village of Loughgall and resolved that at all times they would “stand together, fight for the faith of the Reformed Church, and by all lawful means support, maintain and defend the Sovereign and Protestant Succession to the throne, and to the utmost of their power keep the peace and the public safety”.
The Orange Institution was thus formed in 1795 and was very much born out of dire necessity during one of the worst times of religious bitterness and resentment in Ireland. It is not surprising that those who first assembled in Loughgall adopted the name of ‘Orange’ - since that name identified, more than any other, with the concept of civil and religious liberty at that time.
How many countries have an Orange Order presence?
Grand Orange Lodges are operational in the following countries: The home countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA and West Africa (Ghana and Togo).
What is the purpose of the Orange Order?
The Orange Order is the world’s largest Protestant organisation which exists to promote the principles of the Reformed Faith. Historically it was founded in England to celebrate King William’s victory over James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The Orange Order as presently constituted was reorganised into a lodge structure in 1795 in Loughgall, Co Armagh following the Battle of the Diamond, primarily as a defensive organisation. Today its main function is to promote the Reformed Faith and to celebrate the freedoms won following the Williamite period.
How many members belong to the Orange Order?
It is impossible to say how many members exist world-wide but the strongest concentrations are in the UK, Canada and West Africa.
What activities do members engage in?
There are a wide range of activities, most members of the Orange Order are active church members and fully participate in community activities within their locality.
Is the Orange Institution a secret society?
An organisation that annually puts thousands of its members colourfully and noisily onto the public streets could scarcely be called a ‘secret’ society! Orangemen make no secret of their membership, and the Principles and Precepts of Orangeism are an open boast. However, the Orange Institution is organised into Lodges and Lodge meetings are not open to non-members, so in this sense it might be described as a ‘society with secrets’ rather than as a secret society.
Are Orangemen expected to take oaths?
No. A candidate for membership is simply required to affirm his loyalty to the Crown, and his acceptance of the Principles of the Reformation.
How do I join the Order?
You can contact us at our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch with a Loyal Orange Lodge near you.
Why would I want to join the Orange Order?
You would need to emphasise with the key principles of the Orange Order - a firm belief in the Reformed Faith, a love of your country and an interest the historical roots of Orangeism. A more complete description of the qualifications of membership can be found in the “Qualifications of an Orangeman” document.
Can women join the Orange Order?
Yes there is a women’s Order active in all jurisdictions.
Some accuse the Orange Order of being “White supremacist” in ethos, is this true?
This is not true in any sense, members of the Order come from various racial backgrounds and are treated equally in the true spirit of the Brotherhood.
What is the structure of the Orange Order?
A typical lodge will consist of 5 principal officers, the Worshipful Master, Deputy Master, Chaplain, Secretary and Treasurer followed by rank and file lodge members.
What is the meaning of some of the terms used by the organisation?
LODGE - The name given to the branch or club that members belong to. Each Lodge is given a number and also usually adopts a title e.g. "Aughlish Heroes" Loyal Orange Lodge (L.O.L.) 74.
WORSHIPFUL MASTER - The Chairman of a Lodge.
DEPUTY MASTER - The Vice-Chairman of a Lodge.
ORANGE HALL - The building used for Lodge meetings. Orange Halls are frequently used as community centres where a variety of social activities are based.
BROTHER - Members refer to each other as Brother. This is in common with many fraternal societies.
What degree system is followed within the lodge?
Within the Grand Lodge of Ireland two degrees are recognised, the Orange and Purple degrees. There are slight variations in other jurisdictions. These degrees take the form of a simple address and a question and answer explanation. The degree system is rooted in Holy Scripture.
Why does the Orange Order engage in public parades?
This is our historical tradition of parading, it is how we publicly identify ourselves and is a public expression of our belief in religious and civil liberties for all. In Ireland parades can take the following form; the annual 12th July parade - the largest of our parades; the Somme memorial parades, Reformation Sunday parades, and numerous local church parades.
What form does an Orange Parade take?
Usually a number of lodges parade together within Districts. The parade is led by a colour party carrying the national flag, followed by a parading band, typically flute, brass or pipe band, followed by the lodge banner after which follow the rank and file members. Music played on Sunday parades will comprise of well known hymn tunes. Music played during all other parades will be mainly Orange songs following our tradition.
Are your annual Parades not a bit pointless?
People the world over love to celebrate! Our Parades are nothing more than celebrations. July is the great Orange festive month and Orange Parades are held throughout the world to celebrate the Glorious Revolution of 1688 which won an open Bible, freedom of speech and liberty of worship for all.
But your Parades are surely anti-Roman Catholic?
From time to time our Parades are accused of being ‘provocative’ to the Roman Catholic community. Orangeism is most certainly a distinctly Protestant affair, and Orange Parades reflect the determination to maintain a Protestant throne and liberty of worship, but I should be noted that all other faiths, including Roman Catholicism, enjoy the same freedoms that Orangemen celebrate each July.
So Orangeism is NOT anti-Roman Catholic?
It would be more positive to emphasise what the Orange Institution stands FOR rather than what it might be against! Orangeism means loyalty! Loyalty to church, loyalty to country, loyalty to Queen. Naturally, there is a reverse side to every coin. Orangemen love their country, and zealously promote its best interests, so naturally they will resist destructive political elements, such as Communism, anarchism and fascism from gain-undue influence over the life of the nation.
Similarly, because the Orange Institution, like the Reformed Church, has its foundations based on the Infallible Word of God - the Bible, Orangemen will unreservedly condemn not only the unscriptural doctrines of the Church of Rome, hut also the dangerous errors of modem heresies, and the godlessness of the humanists and atheists.
Nonetheless, it should be understood that Orangeism does not foster resentment or intolerance. Orange condemnation of any particular political or religious ideology is directed against the Party machine or the church doctrine and NOT against individual adherents or members.
I have heard that Orangemen don’t attend their churches.
This is an old chestnut. Non-attendance is a present-day dilemma shared by all Christian organisations. While Orangeism has its fair share of ‘black sheep’ and backsliders, the Institution does encourage all its Members to share in the public worship of God. Prayers and Scripture readings are an integral part of every Lodge meeting and many Orangemen and women are to be found serving their local congregations.
The Orange Institution is surely declining.
Far from it. A new liveliness and sense of purpose has revitalised an Association which is as relevant today as it was centuries ago.
(1) Some members of Mohawk L.O.L.99 outside their Orange Hall at Tyendinaga, Deseronto, Ontario, Canada.
(2) Members of the Womens Loyal Orange Institution
(3) An Orange parade in Togo, West Africa.