I am a little out of touch with what’s been happening in Northern Ireland over the past fortnight. However my first stop to catch up with events over the twelfth was Redemption’s Son, where Ignited and others have continued to record the marching season through the prism of their participation. In describing the twelfth parade in Ballyclare, Ignited mentions comments by Orange Order chaplain Rev Stephen Dickinson who launched a broadside against the day developing toward ‘cultural tourism’. It is, he maintains, about Protestantism and about Britishness.
I commented on the blog itself that I saw no reason why the Order should not continue to demonstrate both its faith and its culture, whilst simultaneously welcoming those who share neither to its parades and fostering a fun atmosphere alongside the more serious religious aspects of the day. Alex Kane is more forthright in his News Letter column, reminding Dickinson that the Battle of the Boyne safeguarded the Act of Settlement which enshrined liberties and freedoms which underpin the United Kingdom’s constitution to this day. These liberties and freedoms are extended to all British people, irrespective of religion or culture. He believes that the celebration should be accessible to people of all faiths and cultures.
The Orange Order places the Protestant reading of Christianity at the centre of its purpose. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this. Complaining that the Order does not admit those of other faiths is a bit like bemoaning that the Jesuits only admit Catholics. That does not preclude attempts to make the Twelfth more attractive and inclusive. To quote Kane “the Twelfth could be and should be accessible to everyone who values liberty and individual rights. Protestantism is certainly a part of it, but it mustn't be allowed to overshadow some equally relevant truths”.