First Qualifications of an Orange man drafted 1798
“Confident pride, rather than an insecure vanity”
On the 9th April 1978 the first meeting of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland was held in Dublin’s Dawson St. On the 20th November 1798 the original hand written minutes contain, “qualifications requisite for an Orange man”, which read as follows.
“He should have a sincere love and veneration for his Almighty Maker, productive of those happy fruits, righteousness and obedience to His commands; a firm and steady faith in the Saviour of the world, convinced that He is the only mediator between a sinful creature and an offended Creator. Without these he can be no Christian of a humane and compassionate disposition, and a courteous and affable behaviour.
He should be an utter enemy to savage brutality and unchristian cruelty; a lover of society and improving company; and have a laudable regard for the Protestant religion, and sincere regard to propagate its precepts; zealous in promoting the honour of his King and country; heartily desirous of victory and success in those pursuits, yet convinced and assured that God alone can grant them; he should have a hatred to cursing and swearing.
And taking the name of God in vain; and he should use all opportunities of discouraging it among his brethren. Wisdom and prudence should guide his actions; honesty and integrity direct his conduct; and honour and glory be the motives of his endeavours. Lastly he should pay the strictest attention to a religious observance of the Sabbath, and also of temperance and sobriety. “
What stands out? Are the clear focus of the early Orangemen on wanting to bench-mark their Protestantism against their own character and good citizenship rather than focusing on looking at Catholicism as a yard-stick to measure their reformed faith and cultural disposition? In other words, these orange men where highly confident in the communities which they lived and their place as Irish Protestants in the Kingdom of Ireland.
Remembering that at the time of drafting the first orange obligation there was no concept of “Celtic Irish Nationalism which came about in the 1890s, with the Gaelic revival neither was there an Ulster Nationalism in the 1790s.
On reflection this first obligation says to the reader ‘judge me on my own Christian faith and how I hold oneself up within wider society’. In addition to our own community this is something our orange obligation badly needs in 2015. Is a drive to promote self analyses and growth without seeking to bench mark ourselves to those of non-reformed faiths?
In the words poet laureate W.B Yeats “The battle of the Boyne overwhelmed a civilisation based on religion and myth and replaced it with intelligent laws” So in 2015 let us not be benched-marked against myth but be confident as Protestants and good citizens. This move will result in building within every Orangeman a confident pride, rather than an insecure vanity.
Bro Chris Thackaberry