ORANGE ORDER members have been urged to stop using the term 'RIP' as it's 'unbiblical', 'un-Protestant' and a 'form of superstition connected to Catholicism'.
In an article in the Orange Standard, an Orange Order subscription newspaper, members who considered themselves Protestant were cautioned against writing 'RIP' on social media posts following deaths.
The article said the term is "unbiblical, un-Protestant and a form of superstition connected, historically, to Catholicism".
'RIP' is an abbreviation of the Latin 'requiescat in pace' ('rest in peace' in English) and is used in Christian funeral services and on headstones.
Commenting on the matter on BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback, Secretary of the Evangelical Protestant Society, Wallace Thompson, said he considered 'RIP' to be a prayer and he did not encourage prayers for the dead.
"I'm conscious that this issue is a sensitive one, because when we use these letters, we're doing so at the time of a death, and in all of these things there's a sense for the suffering and bereavement," he said.
"Just observing social media, we have noticed that the letters RIP are used a lot by Protestants and by Evangelical Protestants.
"I don't think they should use [RIP]. From a Protestant point of view, we believe that when death comes, the person either goes to be with Christ for all of eternity, or into Hell."
He added: "I think there's carelessness in the use of it. I think when Protestants use these terms on social media, they're simply not thinking."
'From the human heart'
Also speaking on Talkback, Presbyterian moderator Dr Ken Newell said that people don't realise the issues with it and it's a message that comes "from the human heart".
"If folk in the Orange Order want to take this line, that's perfectly up to them, they're making a good point," he said.
"I think ordinary people haven't worked out the issues. What they're really saying is, like Presbyterian ministers at the start of a service, the souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and may it go well with you.
"This comes from the human heart. It's just a desire, a hope, a prayer and a good wish."
In a statement to the programme, the Orange Order said: "The article clearly explains why as Protestants and members of the Orange institution, we should not use the term RIP.
"It also reminds us that if we need guidance on any of these matters we should refer to what the Bible teaches."