The Orange Order – as it presently exists – more correctly the Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland, came into existence after the Battle of the Diamond, near Loughgall, on 21st September 1795. This ‘Battle’ was instigated by a Roman Catholic revolutionary brotherhood known as the ‘defenders’ who were part of the ‘ethnic cleansing’ programme of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the attempt was to remove the Protestant witness from the Island of Ireland.
The purpose of the Orange Order was to bring together the ‘Protestants’ of various denominations – Episcopalian – Presbyterian – Independents – Huguenots – Quakers – into one homogenous grouping to maintain their Protestant religion and way of life and as a distinctive affirmation that they intended to hold fast to the FREEDOM of religion won at such a high cost at the Reformation.
The Orange Institution became an INTERNATIONAL Organisation as the benefits of a religious and fraternal organisation became obvious. Military Warrants were issued from the earliest years of the Institution and this may have added to the growth of Orangeism as serving soldiers carried their culture and identity throughout the Empire. Orangeism spread to Montreal in 1818, Australia in 1845, Togo in 1915 and Ghana in 1928.
The Orange Order is fundamentally a CHRISTIAN organisation, as the BASIS of the Institution states:-
The Orange Institution therefore unites Protestants of all the Reformed denominations, in opposition to Biblical error and the encouragement of Scriptural truth.
According to the ‘BASIS’, to which all members must assent before admission into the institution, “It is exclusively an Association of those who are attached to the religion of the Reformation.” The religion of the reformation is both spiritual and moral (BELIEF & DUTY).
The Institution stands in the reformed tradition as the various statements contained in the ‘Qualifications’ illustrate:-
The Orange Institution emphasises this in the BASIS OF THE INSTITUTION which states:- “and will not admit into its brotherhood persons whom an intolerant spirit leads to persecute, injure, or upbraid any man on account of his religious opinions.”
IF YOU ARE A PRACTISING PROTESTANT IN THE TRULY RELIGIOUS SENSE;- REGULARLY AT YOUR PLACE OF WORSHIP, MORALLY UPRIGHT IN YOUR LIFE, AND IF YOU DISPLAY A TOLERANT SPIRIT TOWARDS THOSE WITH WHOM YOU MAY DISAGREE, THEN YOU WILL BE WELCOME WITHIN THE ORANGE INSTITUTION.
The Institution is composed of Protestants, united and resolved to the utmost of their power to support and defend the rightful Sovereign, the Protestant Religion, the Laws of the Realm, and the Succession to the Throne in the House of Windsor, BEING PROTESTANT; and united further for the defence of their own Persons and Properties, and the maintenance of the Public Peace. It is exclusively and Association of those who are attached to the religion of the Reformation, and will not admit into its brotherhood persons whom an intolerant spirit leads to persecute, injure, or upbraid any man on account of his religious opinions. They associate also in honour of KING WILLIAM III, Prince of Orange, whose name they bear, as supporters of his glorious memory.
By the Education Committee of The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland July 1997.