A Co Down man whose book fuelled Church of Ireland doubts about the Royal Black Institution has welcomed the denomination’s controversial report on the matter.
The church published its report a fortnight ago after Rev Alan Kilpatrick at Knocknamuckley parish in Portadown last year barred ‘the Black’ from using his church and questioned its theology.
Paul Malcolmson, who grew up in Dromore, Co Down, reached the highest degree of the loyal orders – passing through the Orange, Royal Arch Purple and Royal Black Institution – by age 21.
However, he said that “a personal encounter with Christ” five years later caused him to re-evaluate everything in his life and magnified his doubts about the orders.
His quest resulted in him writing three books about the orders – including ‘Inside the Royal Black Institution’ – and he claimed his website evangelicaltruth.com subsequently attracted over two million visitors. He now pastors a church on a native American reservation in Nebraska.
“I was pleasantly surprised at how direct the Church of Ireland report was,” he told the News Letter.
“They must have interviewed quite a few people and done their own research. But they also cited my book and referred to my website a number of times.
“As I was going through all these degrees, there were some things that did seem strange. My faith became stronger as I read the Bible and I began to question the rituals and teaching.”
After years of research he has come to his own conclusions.
“It has been amended and evolved but basically the loyal orders mirror the progression through freemasonry,” he said. “The first three degrees of freemasonry have been amalgamated into the Royal Arch Purple degree and the progression from there into the Royal Black Institution closely mirrors the degrees of the masonic Knights Templar.”
His primary objection is the secrecy.
“If what is contained within them is so wholesome then why has it been hidden for so many years behind passwords and threats about divulging secrets?”
He firmly rejected suggestions that he has betrayed his religion and his country.
“The only thing I have betrayed is the devil; he had me in bondage, fear and slavery – afraid to mention or question any of the things I had experienced. By contrast Christ tells us what we hear in our ears we should preach from the rooftops.
“Many people in Ireland were loyal to the Crown long before the loyal orders were created. In reality they are just a recent add-on to unionism.”
Mr Malcolmson believes that rather than drawing people to Christ, the loyal orders have the effect of “pushing them away”.
He added: “In Northern Ireland the orders create a ‘them and us’ attitude but it is clear that Christ wishes to draw all men to himself. So rather than being a vehicle to draw all people to truth and Christ, the loyal orders have been an instrument to divide and hide the truth.”