The Orange Order has cautioned its members not to use the term ‘R.I.P.’ to express sympathy after a death.
The instruction was made in an article in the Orange Standard, a magazine for members of the institution, which described the term as “unbiblical” and un-Protestant”.
The article was marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
The term ‘R.I.P.’ – meaning ‘Requiescant in pace’ or ‘rest in peace’ – is thought to be a form of superstition, which is connected historically to the Roman Catholic Church.
Wallace Thompson, secretary of the Evangelical Protestant Society urged Protestants not to use the term, but realised many would use it “innocently” without understanding its origins.
He told BBC Talkback: “Just observing social media we have noticed the letters R.I.P. are used a lot by Protestants, and some are evangelical Protestants.
“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.
“I think Luther, when the scales fell off his eyes, he 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.”
Mr Thompson felt there needs to be a better understanding of the issue among Protestants.