The religion of Orange politics

Protestantism and fraternity in contemporary Scotland

By Joseph Webster

The religion of Orange politics


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1379-5
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: June 2020
  • BIC Category: Social & cultural anthropology, Religion & politics, RELIGION / Religion, Politics & State, Society & social sciences / Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General, Humanities / Religion & politics


The religion of Orange politics offers an in-depth anthropological account of the Orange Order in Scotland. Based on ethnographic research collected before, during, and after the Scottish independence referendum, Joseph Webster details how Scotland's largest Protestant-only fraternity shapes the lives of its members and the communities in which they live.

Within this Masonic-inspired 'society with secrets', Scottish Orangemen learn how transform themselves and their fellow brethren into what they regard to be ideal British citizens. For many Scots-Orangemen, being British means being ultra-Protestant and ultra-unionist, but also frequently comes to be marked by pointedly anti-Catholic sentiments, and by a wider set of often deliberately sectarian political, cultural, and footballing loyalties.

It is from this ethnographic context - framed by ritual initiations, loyalist marches, fraternal drinking, and constitutional campaigning - that the key questions of the book emerge: What is the relationship between fraternal love and sectarian hate? Can religiously motivated bigotry and exclusion be part of human experiences of 'The Good?' What does it mean to claim that one's religious community is utterly exceptional - a literal 'race apart'?


'Joseph Webster here confirms his reputation as an anthropologist of the hidden orders of power, prophecy, and secrecy that lie behind the everyday world. The religion of Orange politics is a timely reminder that religion, politics, and nationalism are intertwined in our identities in complex historic knots. Above all, it is a book about people, in all their flawed and noble humanity.'
David G. Robertson, The Open University


Introduction: Orangeism, Protestantism, anthropology
1 Situating Scottish Orangeism
2 The menace of Rome
3 A society with secrets
4 Fraternity and hate
5 British together
Conclusion: 'The Good' of Orange exceptionalism



Joseph Webster is a Lecturer in the Study of Religion at the University of Cambridge

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