The testimony of former County Tyrone Orange Chaplain and Lecturer, Paul Stewart (Ireland)
My name is Paul Stewart. I come from a family which includes a long line of Orangemen. My father is an Orangeman, so was his father before him and his father before him. In fact my great grandfather built the Orange Hall in which my family lodge - "Ballynakelly Rising sons of Ulster" No. 157 now sits.
As a child, I grew up going to Sunday school, church, band parades, the "Twelfth" and the "last Saturday" (the Royal Black Preceptory parade in August). I got saved at the tender age of ten although I soon lost interest in the things of God as I followed my mates and their interests. At the age of 12, I joined a band and looked forward to the big parading days. I left the band at 16 years old and drifted, not knowing what I wanted out of life. Praise the Lord for his grace as in February 1984 I came back to the Lord.
I didn't join the Orange Order at the eligible age of joining (17 years old) because, having just come back to the Lord, Christ was the only One I wanted to serve. In April 1988 I got married. During this time the "Anglo Irish Agreement" came along accompanied with the banning of many Loyalist parades. We also seen the acceleration of the Pan-nationalist attack upon Protestantism and loyalism. Instead of looking to God in theses times I foolishly looked to Orangeism for our salvation.
However, Psalm 118 v 8 says, "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man."
I joined the Orange Order in 1990 and became immediately hooked and heavily involved. Exodus ch 20 v 3 commands, "thou shalt have no other gods before me," but, unfortunately, I was too busy to see this.
Joel Patten was the Worshipful Master of Killyman District (founder of the 'spirit of Drumcree'), so I made a point of getting to know him. My own private lodge had an alcoholic bar in it . In fact, on one particular night the men couldn't open the lodge because they were so drunk. I left the hall disgusted , intending to leave the Orange Order. However, Joel Patton persuaded me to stay so I transferred to his lodge No. 1620, a predominately Christian lodge in Dungannon, Co.Tyrone.
I was now part of, what I felt was, the best district in Ulster - "Killyman" (the biggest in County Tyrone). As a Christian I was quickly promoted to Chaplain. At our district meetings we were really doing things for Ulster but more needed to be done. I became an Orange Lecturer missing many church prayer meetings to learn the degrees. In short, the Orange had taken over my life.
Then came 'Drumcree one'. I spent most of that time on "the hill" or blocking roads somewhere at the command of my superiors. The Orange Order was revived and there seemed a greater unity in it at grass roots. Joel and a few others decided to harness this enthusiasm by creating a reform movement within the Order which he called the 'Spirit of Drumcree.' We wanted to make the Orange Order more effective against the Republician onslaught. He decided to organise a mass Orange Rally in the Ulster Hall. The rally was a great success but afterwards this man handed me a leaflet relating to the spiritual errors within the Loyal Orders, written by Paul Malcomson.
I knew this leaflet was true as, I had reached the highest degree in the Loyal Orders - the Red Cross degree of the Royal Black Institution. When I travelled through the Royal Arch Purple degree, I suffered quite a cruel and degrading initiation. I was forced to walk over holly leaves in my bare feet whilst my ankles were violently beaten with sticks. I also had to step in and out of ice cold water. I didn't know what I had done or what they were trying to teach me as I was I was half-stripped, blind-folded and totally disorientated.
The Bible says in II Thessalonians ch. 3 vv 6-7, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you"
One of the things that most disturbed me about the Royal Arch Purple initiation was the fact that when I was being prepared for my initiation a piece a purple ribbon was tied unto my trousers, later on in the ceremony I was shown the ribbon and told that I "received it in darkness and brought it forth to a marvelious light." As a committed Christian I knew I was already in the light.
This teaching mocks the teaching of Scripture in 1 Peter 2: 9 which says, about Christians only, "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light."
What was even more disturbing was the fact that countless unsaved Orangemen are given this false hope. Every Royal Arch Purpleman whether saved or not is told he has received the light or that he is in the light. This is probably one of the reasons why most Orangemen see no need of salvation.
Paul cauntions the Church in Galatians ch. 1 vv. 6-8, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed"
After reading this leaflet, I contacted Paul Malcomson about three days later. Paul showed me what he had found out from his studies on the Orange Order, Royal Arch Purple and Royal Black Institution. I wasn't one bit shocked as some of those things had troubled me for many years and I just needed someone to tell me the facts. After talking to Paul, I knew what I had to do, so within the week I verbally renounced my sinful oaths of bondage to both the Royal Arch Purple Order and the Black and resigned from both these quasi-Masonic orders. Ephesians 5:11 says, "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
However, I still remained within the Orange Order. I had a lot of Christian friends in the Loyal Orders so I decided, with Paul's help, to organise meetings in my home and in Orange Halls to inform believers about the many unscriptural practices within the Orders. We saw many men leave the Orders through these meetings. And as a direct result of coming out, we saw their spiritual lives being revived. Joel Patten (our Worshipful Master) and I (Chaplain) decided to disband our own Royal Arch Purple Chapter in our Lodge in Dungannon.
A year later I felt God calling me to separate from the Orange Order as well, so I duly resigned. The Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
I decided then to help Paul and others spread this important message. I was NOT particularly worried about the opposition to our position or the consequences that came with speaking out against these pagan cults. Although, we learned much about the importance of prayer as we were NOT wrestling against "flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).
On one particular occasion, I awoke in the morning to find the word TRAITOR painted on the road in bold print outside the front of my family house. However, such actions only served to reinforce my views on the Orders and strengthen my resolve on this subject. Anyway, God was blessing us mightily with many men leaving the Orders. Isaiah 54:17 says, "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD."
I could see that my own spiritual life was being revived as was the lives of the other men that were renouncing these devilish oaths they had taken supposedly in the name of Protestantism.
This whole experience has taught me that everything we do in the Christian life stands or falls on the infallible teaching of God's Word. We must therefore bring everything to the secure test of Scripture. I would say to all who read this, who still remain inside the Loyal Orders, don't take anything for granted but search the Scriptures to see whether these things are true or not. Don't sit in darkness any longer come out to the light and be free.
The Bible says, "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Timothy 2:19).