Most New Zealanders are religiously ignorant in contrast to the fact that 84 per cent of the world does identify with a faith or religion. New Zealand is a secular country, and as such we receive little or no religious education.
To put this in perspective, the majority of New Zealander’s have no understanding of the causes of the Troubles in Ireland, or why the Middle East in such a mess, or what on earth is Ramadan.
Why is this important?
Because we also have had an influx of immigrants over recent years which is slowly changing our way of life as they bring their traditions, religions and points of view into our society.
And so much of what we hear reported on the newscasts now requires a sound knowledge of religion – be it in Ireland, the Middle East, the Russian-Chechen or Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Even though the Orange Order was initially established in New Zealand by immigrants from Ireland, Scotland and England, the current membership is mainly composed of their New Zealand descendants who have lost those links to their parent and grandparents homelands and their religious perspective that drove them to join.
The paradox for our membership is that our younger generation receive far more international news than their parents did but have no comprehension of the fact that this outside world is so dependent on the importance of religion, such as in Ireland and Scotland.
The other paradox for the order in New Zealand is that religion is not the driving force to join the order as it is overseas.
Protestant beliefs are still very important but with the latest census showing an overall decline in all religious affiliations the pool of potential members based just on religious beliefs are very small.
The incentive to join.
So if New Zealanders no longer have the same incentive to join the order as still exists in Ireland and Scotland, what incentives would be relevant in today’s climate?
Before the Order in New Zealand fades away into oblivion the current older members need to come up with new incentives to join other than the traditional incentive of religion.
This concept will be developed over this series of articles but first we need to discuss why the order is indeed still relevant to New Zealand.
As a side issue, the order in Australia is surviving far better than New Zealand because a lot of their new arrivals are already Orange order members and keen to join the order in their new adopted country. Unfortunately this is not the case here.
This article was triggered by a parent who was concerned that her son grows up not continuing the tradition of religious bewilderment prevalent in the remainder of the world. That source article is: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11800823
This is the first article in a series about the state of the Orange Order in New Zealand. This series will continue with a brief history of the order and why it exists. Then move onto its history in New Zealand and finally attempt to predict where its heading into the future.
Watch out for the next article in this series: http://brch.me/op92