Remarks on Orange Order & Protestants

[...] An attempt is being made, how successfully remains to be seen, of identifying Orangeism with Protestantism, of making them synonymous or convertible terms,


In charity, we absolve the rank and file of the Orange Order of evil intent; or in the words of the Divine Redeemer ask forgiveness for them — "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." But the most boundless charity cannot extend this indulgence to the leaders. They cannot plead ignorance in palliation of the mischiefs of their policy. They know what they are after, the nature of their crusade. To gratify their avarice, to advance their ambition they would convulse society to its very foundation — order. They climb the unhallowed mound by the methods of the serpent and the demagogue - pandering by inflammatory appeals to the worst passions and prejudices of their ignorant and confiding dupes.


If this country has hitherto escaped some of the worst evils inherent to Orangeism, it is because many of its members are indifferent or lukewarm brethren, who joined the organisation for a specific purpose; and when that purpose is served they abandon it, or, at least, cease to be active members. It is well-known to be a most potent factor in political appointments, the steppingstone to preferment. This consciousness lends it much of its vitality. Take away this immunity or privilege, and it would soon dwindle into a decrepid dwarf, an excrescence on the body politic. There is a well authenticated story, which happened no later than last summer of a man coming to the Capital in search of a job in the civil service. Having in vain exhausted all his resources in the fruitless effort, as a dernier ressort he announced himself an Orangeman. Forthwith the coveted prize fell into his lap.

[...] If we adopt the former or commonsense view, it follows as a logical consequence that the Christian student has but one of two alternatives to choose from — Catholicism or agnosticism. Those who cast off their prejudices and preconceived notions, and enter on the inquiry with a determination to follow truth whithersoever she leads will be driven to the conclusion that there is no middle place, no ante chamber, no standing room between the two domains; it must be Jesus or Barabbas. Nor will any intelligent observer deny that agnosticism is the goal of Protestantism. For Protestantism by the rejection of authority and adoption of individual interpretation of matters spiritual or "right of private judgment," is the negation of all religion. Fortunately for mankind that Providence proportions the back to the burthen. The redeeming feature of Protestantism is this tendency to agnosticism. It has saved civilized man from the threatened anarchy of the Reformation. For if Protestantism — were practiced up to the standard, in the spirit, preached by its missionaries and authoritative expounders, its certain fruits would wherever it found itself in a majority be a war of extermination against all who ventured to differ from it, or question its tenets.

Source: National Archives of Canada, John O. Hanley Fonds, MG29, B11, Vol. 16, File "Irish Catholics", John O. Hanley, Remarks on Orange Order and Protestants, ca. 1870.

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