Orange Order wants members to stop using 'RIP' phrase

Wallace Thompson says he does not encourage prayers for the dead

Orange Order wants members to stop using 'RIP' phrase

Female members of the Orange Order on the march in Belfast in 2012 | Image: Paul Faith / PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Orange Order in Northern Ireland has asked its members to stop using the term 'RIP' to express grief or sympathy after a death.

It said the phrase - an abbreviation of 'Rest In Peace' - is unbiblical, un-Protestant and a form of superstition connected to Catholicism.

In a publication marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the order called on Protestants to stop using the phrase.

Wallace Thompson, secretary of Evangelical Protestants Northern Ireland, told the BBC's Talkback programme: "Observing social media, we have noticed that the letters RIP are used a lot by Protestants, and by some evangelical Protestants."

Mr Thompson said that for him, 'RIP' is a prayer and he did not encourage prayers for the dead.

"From a Protestant point of view, we believe, when death comes, a person either goes to be with Christ for all eternity, or into hell."

"That's what we believe the gospel to be and in this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, I think Luther, when the scales fell off his eyes, realised that it was all by faith alone, in Christ alone, the decision is made during life, on this earth, so that when death comes it has been made and no decision has been made after death," he said.

The Orange Order is the largest Protestant organisation in Northern Ireland with at least 75,000 members.

The group has recently completed its annual marching season, which is normally fraught with tension.

This year's events passed off peacefully.

However a bonfire tradition drew criticism, with a number of hate crimes being reported.