Monday 4 January 2010

Religious Freedom

The Orange Order is "committed to the cause of Civil and Religious Liberty for all" and frequently defends its actions, beliefs and parades on the grounds that it is a "Christian organisation". Yet elsewhere it claims to be "both a Protestant and a patriotic association pledged to uphold civil and religious liberty".

Amongst its rather convoluted self-justifications it seems that that the Orange Order believes that civil and religious liberty is in some way dependent upon the maintenance of Northern Ireland's link with Britain.

Article 44 of the Constitution of Ireland states quite categorically that:

"Freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are, subject to public order and morality, guaranteed to every citizen".

The Orange Order appears not really to believe this, and continue to insist that their religious freedoms can only be guaranteed in the UK.

A recent report from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life casts doubt on the position of the Orange Order. The Pew Forum is a project of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan US "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.


Its Report, released in December 2009, is entitled "Global Restrictions on Religion" (Full report)

The report is a fascinating examination of the state of religious freedom in the world today – and as might be expected, it shows how many countries in the Middle East and elsewhere are extremely illiberal in terms of religious freedom. Its methodology is amply explained in the report.

However, for the narrow interests of this blog it is extremely interesting to note that, amongst European countries, Ireland ranks significantly better than the UK, both in terms of government restrictions and social hostilities.

Although both countries score well in the Government Restrictions Index, with low scores in terms of state restrictions, Ireland's score, at 1.0 is considerably better than the UK's 2.2. In terms of the Social Hostilities Index Ireland with a score of 0.7 is much better than the UK, which scores 2.5. The UK's score on the Social Hostilities Index is, in fact, high enough that in does not even fall into the most free category (low), but is, instead, in the 'moderate' category.

So it seems that the Orange Order has backed the wrong horse. In order to defend "Civil and Religious Liberty for all" it has backed the inclusion of Northern Ireland in a country that has worse religious liberty than Ireland.

On the other hand, the actions of the Orange Order may be easily understood if that organisation was not so much committed to 'religious freedom' as to sectarian domination. In that case, like Muslims in Saudi Arabia or Iran, it might be quite happy with a lack of freedom as long as its side was dominant. If this is the case, though, it should be a bit more honest and admit that it is a bigoted organisation, and not an "association pledged to uphold civil and religious liberty". If it were the latter, it would support the reunification of Ireland and the extension of the Constitutional freedoms enjoyed in the south to all in the north.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

A citizen of a nation known throughout the world for it's subscription to a bigoted bunch of mumbo jumbo beliefs and child rape feels free to criticise The UK for it's record of religious tolerance. Hmmmm...

"Come into the confessional box little Shamus, this won't take long and your Mammy won't need to know..."

Anonymous said...

The Orange Order exists and always has existed to maintain Protestant hegemony in Ireland. The organization banned Catholics from membership (as if any would want to be members of this bigoted sectarian organization--any more than a negro would join the Ku Klux Klan).

The idea that this organization exists or has ever existed to promote religious freedom is a joke.

If the leopard has changed its spots, officially, let's have chapter and verse. It's little more than the Taliban in bowler hats, or worse.

Anonymous said...

In response the first comment:

Your bigotry toward Catholocism avails you naught; it is the majority Christian religion, subscribed to by more than 1.2 billion people, including most of the people of Ireland. It is not some weird little cult, unlike, say, the Orange Order. It does not expel members for attending services of another denomination.

Besides, if you read the post properly you'll find that the assessment of religious liberties comes, not from the South, but from an independent non-denominational organization based in the United States.

Your sneer about the illegal actions of some individuals doesn't change the fact that British law is sectarian to this day -- and when the present Queen dies it will be changed. Prince Charles has no desire to be King of a sectarian state and I predict you will not change his mind about this. Later we'll see the exclusion of Protestant bishops from the House of Lords and the end of the prime minister appointing bishops.

Sooner or later the UK will join the modern world, in which the state and the church are separate.

Anonymous said...

"Sooner or later the UK will join the modern world, in which the state and the church are separate."

I'm pretty sure ROI hasn't got a seperation of church and state. In fact, didn't the Catholic Church basically write the Irish constitution?

Also the new Irish law against blasphemy belongs in dark ages of Christain Age. Hardly a great step towards enlightenment.

Nordie Northsider said...

Democrats shouldn't be afraid to call the Orange Order precisely what it is: a Protestant supremicist group. I see many generous nationalists who feel that by going easy on the Order they are somehow extending a friendly hand towards Protestant culture in Ireland. And so the late Cardinal Ó Fiaich's party piece was 'The Auld Orange Flute' or else the Dublin government gives grant aid to various Orange-themed cultural projects. The impulse is a generous one, but trying to placate or flatter the loyal orders is a big mistake: their leaderships have long since conflated Irishness with Catholicism and make no secret of their hatred of both. The irony of a Catholic Primate of All-Ireland singing an Orange ballad is lost on them. Their loathing of 'rebels' and 'Fenians' poisons towns like Larne and Coleraine, makes possible attacks like those on Kevin McDaid or the unfortunate Quinn children in Ballymoney. 'The Auld Orange Flute' may seem to be a jocular folk song but look again: it's about the great crime of a Catholic/Protestant mixed marriage. 'One of our lads made a comment upon it / which caused them to move to the province of Connaught' goes the song. I wonder what the 'comment' was: a beating, a brick through the window, a death threat? Loyalist violence has always been expressed in such mealy-mouthed euphemisms - a get-out clause for the respectable leaders of the loyal orders.

If we want to celebrate Protestant culture in Ireland (as we should) there are more noble and truly cultured figures than these. Sam Hannah-Bell, John Hewitt, Robert Lynd and many more. Not all of them can be claimed for Nationalism and some of them were as hostile to Rome as any Orangeman.

ModernMan said...

Anonymous Retard said:

"The Orange Order exists and always has existed to maintain Protestant hegemony in Ireland. The organization banned Catholics from membership (as if any would want to be members of this bigoted sectarian organization--any more than a negro would join the Ku Klux Klan)."

A 'negro'? What century are you living in pal? Black people haven't referred to themselves in America as 'negros' for decades now! Perhaps you're a member of a Klan yourself, I here they have RC members these days (although I don't know if that includes Irish RCs - Klansmen love their children too).

Come on Horseman - get a grip on these clowns, they're making Ireland look even worse than it actually is...

Anonymous said...

> I'm pretty sure ROI hasn't got a seperation of church and state. In fact, didn't the Catholic Church basically write the Irish constitution?

Also the new Irish law against blasphemy belongs in dark ages of Christain Age. Hardly a great step towards enlightenment.

The Irish state does indeed have a separation of church and state: the head of state is not the head of an established, state supported church. There are no bishops appointed to the legislature. While the population is predominantly Catholic the country has had Protestant heads of state, starting with the very first.

Try to get your facts right.

And, no, the Catholic church didn't write the constitution. That is something you pulled out of your ass.

Anonymous said...

BTW The law against blasphemy is a misguided attempt to be entirely even-handed to all religions. It will not survive. It is certainly nothing to do with "the dark ages of Christain age" --sic--(whatever that is supposed to be).

Not Nordie Northsider said...

Nordie Northsider said:

"it's about the great crime of a Catholic/Protestant mixed marriage."

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa......

The RC Church in Ireland was one of the main forces involved in reducing The Protestant numbers in The 26 Counties from 11% to 2% by insisting that all mixed marriages had to bring up the children RC.

Take yourself off, you bigoted green slime...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"And, no, the Catholic church didn't write the constitution. That is something you pulled out of your ass."

I'm more concerned about what Catholic churchmen push into other people's asses...

Anonymous said...

> A 'negro'? What century are you living in pal? Black people haven't referred to themselves in America as 'negros' for decades now!

If the word was good enough for Martin Luther King it's good enough for me sunshine. I lived in America in the 80s and the word, as well as the derogatory variant, was entirely current. It's possible that the word 'negro' has fallen out of favour since, but a Google advanced search on US web pages in the past year shows 58+ million hits. This suggests that you have no idea what you're talking about. What a surprise.

Anonymous said...

Piss of you bigott.

Anonymous said...

> "And, no, the Catholic church didn't write the constitution. That is something you pulled out of your ass."

I'm more concerned about what Catholic churchmen push into other people's asses...

First you simply invent a slur, that the Catholic church wrote the constitution, when challenged you revert to your usual obsessions.

Did you have too much or too little punishment during your toilet training?

Anonymous said...

> Piss of you bigott.

Your response to disagreeable fact is, as always, abuse and illiteracy.

The expression is "piss off", that's with two fs, and the last word is spelled bigot, with one t.

Nordie Northsider said...

I'm not sure that there's any point replying to 'Not Nordie Northsider'. For what it's worth I know about the 'Ne Temere' decree and the role of the Catholic church in the matter of mixed marriage. I deplore it, just as I deplore the bigotry of the loyal orders. I pity any couple who had the misfortune to come up against either or both of these negative, reactionary infulences on Irish life. If I didn't say so in my post it's because (1) one can't qualify every statement one makes and (2) I thought it deprive you of a pretext to write some hate mail. But feel free to keep on spitting poison - it's better out than in.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

" "And, no, the Catholic church didn't write the constitution. That is something you pulled out of your ass."

I'm more concerned about what Catholic churchmen push into other people's asses...

First you simply invent a slur, that the Catholic church wrote the constitution, when challenged you revert to your usual obsessions."

Nice dog, but wrong hare. It was someone else who brought up The Republic's constitution.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"Your response to disagreeable fact is, as always, abuse and illiteracy.

The expression is "piss off", that's with two fs, and the last word is spelled bigot, with one t."

Look, you were caught out using a clear racial slur. Take it on the chin, clean up your language and move on...

NNN said...

Nordie Northsider said:

"I'm not sure that there's any point replying to 'Not Nordie Northsider'. For what it's worth I know about the 'Ne Temere' decree and the role of the Catholic church in the matter of mixed marriage. I deplore it, just as I deplore the bigotry of the loyal orders. I pity any couple who had the misfortune to come up against either or both of these negative, reactionary infulences on Irish life. If I didn't say so in my post it's because (1) one can't qualify every statement one makes and (2) I thought it deprive you of a pretext to write some hate mail. But feel free to keep on spitting poison - it's better out than in."

Wonderful words NN, but as always, too little, too late. You exhibit all the tactical nous of the typical Irish Nationalist (THAT IS NOT A COMPLEMENT). Next time bring up the shortcomings of The RC Church, or Irish Nationalism first - it is you with a proposal to sell, not me.

Or are you like most of The Irish - just a dreamer?

Anonymous said...

Compliment, as in an expression of praise, is spelled with an i. A complement is something that goes with something else.

One can't compliment many graduates of the British educational system on their spelling, alas.

> you were caught using a clear racial slur

That is entirely debatable, as I pointed out. At best the word is out of fashion, possibly archaic, though less so than the PC would like to pretend. Your record of non-debatable and contemptible slurs here gives you no entitlement to make any such pronouncements.

Anonymous said...

What I find curious is that there are Protestants all around the world, but the Orange order is only in N.I. (to my knowledge). This is very telling.

Anonymous said...

An appeal:

Can we please have less vulgarity and name-calling and general ignorant, inapropriate comments on this blog.

Nordie Northsider said...

NNN wrote: 'Next time bring up the shortcomings of The RC Church, or Irish Nationalism first - it is you with a proposal to sell, not me.'

I always think it's a good idea to write posts about the matter in hand. I have written other posts on this blog critical of anti-Protestant sectarianism - when that was the subject under discussion. I know that there are some, Eoghan Harris et al, who maintain that Nationalists are duty-bound to criticise their 'tribe' only. I disagree, because to do so is to let Unionism off the hook.
But can I add something to the appeal by 'Anonymous' for less personal invective in these posts: not only should we avoid name-calling (are you really proud of calling me 'green slime', for instance?) but we should take each others' posts at face value. When I say that I deplore anti-Protestant sectarianism I wonder what gives you the right to characterise my views as 'wonderful words' or 'tactics'? As one who grew up in a mostly Protestant town, and as the product of a mixed marriage, I assure you that my position on this is sincerely held. Public discourse would improve massively if people stopped ascribing motives to each other e.g. if one makes the slightest criticism of Israel one is anti-Semitic, any doubt about American foreign policy springs from hatred of the USA etc. The truth is that one can disagree profoundly with partition without hating or disrespecting Protestants or individual Unionists.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:

"What I find curious is that there are Protestants all around the world, but the Orange order is only in N.I. (to my knowledge). This is very telling."

Oh no! Own goal of the century! There are Orange Lodges in many countries - try Google! There are plenty of black people in The Orange, even in places like Liverpool. There are even Canadian Native American members...

Anonymous said...

Yes, loads of them! not, how many fingers do you have?---Grow up, get a life and smell the roses. The futures green, democratic and inclusive.


MPG .....

dairishguy said...

the the above , dont you mean the future is Green, and Orange [dont forget white] anyway fuck the orange and get rid of the dam lot of them there a bunch of traitors and commit treason to ireland
the people who dont want to live in a Federal United Ireland should leave and goto England where they claim to give there alligence [they wouldint be wanted by the english and will soon relise that]


anyway im not a irish republican persay, im more of An Irish Nationalist who does believe in some sort of Union between Ireland and Britain [but not political]
that difference is that Ireland [the whole island] and Britain would be friends in Friendship and Harmony,