Monday 27 April 2009

Orange Order Director calls for a cultural revival across the United Kingdom

The Director of Services of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Dr. David Hume, has told a conference in Glasgow that Protestants need to act to preserve the unique heritage of the United Kingdom and the Orange Institution.

Addressing the bi-annual conference of the County Grand Lodge of Central Scotland in Motherwell at the weekend he said that those who have promoted political agendas which have attempted to downgrade the national identity of the United Kingdom are now in danger of handing political victories to parties which would be at the opposite extreme of the political spectrum.

“Those who have promoted agendas which have attempted to downgrade the national identity of the UK are now in danger of inadvertently handing political victories to parties who are capitalising on the frustration and annoyance of ordinary people, who are now made to feel that they should be ashamed to display their British identity. The truth is that being British is not about race, or creed or culture. Being British is about pluralism not uniformity, it is about respect for difference and about difference itself,” he said.

Dr. Hume said that it had become almost embarrassing to speak about the United Kingdom in any Protestant context.

“The issue of the Act of Settlement is a case in point, with attempts to portray the present constitutional arrangements as being about bigoted outlooks best confined to the 17th century. The truth, as one leading historian put it on Radio Four recently, is very different; the issue is whether a future monarch would be taking political direction if they were Roman Catholic from the Pope, who is a temporal head of state.

“The solution to it all is very simple. The Vatican should withdraw its insistence that the children of mixed marriages must be brought up as Roman Catholics. This would allow individual conscience to prevail.

This was the very issue that so concerned Irish Unionists in the period 1886-1914 and modern Ulster Protestants believe that they were right to oppose Home Rule for the very same reasons that we have concerns over revoking the Act of Settlement today. As Ulster Scots many of us do not come from the Anglican tradition, yet we accept the particular arrangements which inform the Succession to the Throne. These issues need to be dealt with maturely and require mature discussion. Labelling people as bigots is a sign of immaturity,” Dr. Hume said.

And he said all of this political correctness was leading to a situation where ‘Middle Britain’ was switching off from political life, which would be to the benefit of no one.

“The heritage which the Orange Order propounds is a heritage of civil and religious liberty. This means that we support a pluralist society as part of the legacy of the Glorious Revolution of 1688-90. But, equally, it means that we expect to have our majority views and ethos respected and taken account of,” the Orange Order Director of Services said.

In his speech to the conference, he called for members of the Orange Institution to take the lead in a cultural, social and religious revival across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“Our challenge in this modern world is to preserve our heritage, but to do much more than that.

Our heritage is built on our culture. Our society. Our ethos. The history that has shaped us. And our faith.

What we need now in this Kingdom is a revival of our identity, for all the best and all the right reasons, a cultural, social and religious revival for the 21st century. There are people who have tried to take the Great out of Great Britain, to bring disunity to this United Kingdom. Our legacy for the future should be to take the lead in making people rightfully proud of who and what they are.

We are the very organisation which can take that lead, the very people who can hand down that legacy.

Barack Obama wrote of his beloved grandmother in the following terms; “What Toot believed kept her going were the needs of her grandchildren and the stoicism of her ancestors.”

That must be what keeps us going as well,” the Orange Order Director of Services said.

“We have been handed a flame to pass on un-extinguished. It is a flame of civil and religious liberty and amidst all storms around it, it will survive,”

No comments: