Removing Prayer from National Parliament


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Removing Prayer from National Parliament

3 August 2022 Hits:1716

You may have caught the news that the Senate’s new president, Sue Lines, has said she would like to see the practice of opening the houses of Parliament with Christian prayers ‘gone.’

A Tradition

The custom of saying the Lord’s Prayer to open Parliamentary sessions in the Upper and Lower House of Federal Parliament has been a tradition since 1901. In recent years, an acknowledgement of traditional owners has also been included, the one Senator Hanson walked out of last week.

When the tradition of reciting the Lord’s Prayer began, over 90% of Australians identified as Christian; at the last census, 43.9% acknowledged the Christian faith. And an increasing number of Australians, 38.9%, report having no religion.

Compelled to Pray

Senator Lines told The Australian, “On the one hand we’ve had almost every parliamentary leader applaud the diversity of the Parliament and so if we are genuine about the diversity of the Parliament we cannot continue to say a Christian prayer to open the day.” Some leaders in the Labor Party, such as senators Penny Wong, Don Farrell and Katy Gallagher, have said the recital of Christian prayers should stay.

As Senate President Sue Lines, an atheist, is compelled to recite Christian prayers, I reflected on this from personal experience. As an atheist, which I was until I converted to the Christian faith, how would I have felt about being compelled to pray? The answer was simple. I wouldn’t have appreciated it.

Furthermore, if Christians protested and said that I should pray, it would make me think even less of Christians. I empathise with Senator Lines’ position.

A Solution

I believe an excellent way forward is a statement to be crafted and read that is based on the Golden Rule rather than the Lord’s Prayer:

“In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”

The Golden Rule is one of the oldest life truths known to the human race. Jesus taught it, but it predates him by almost two thousand years and is found in all twelve traditional world religions, including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity.

The Golden Rule was first found in ancient Egyptian literature and quoted by some of the greatest philosophers, including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca and Philo. The age-old truth has now also been embraced by psychology. Modern social psychology refers to it as The Law of Reciprocity. When someone does something agreeable for you, you will have a deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice in return.

Inclusion and Diversity

The principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated is the ultimate key to a fruitful and satisfying life. So why not create a statement encapsulating that truth and read it as an affirmation to open Parliamentary sessions in the Upper and Lower House of Federal Parliament? It would be a thoughtful framework for all decisions, and it makes a powerful statement of inclusion and diversity.

As much as I love The Lord’s Prayer, I wonder if this has become tokenistic or irrelevant to many people. I wonder about the efficacy of a prayer uttered by rote (or reluctance) rather than from the heart.

And Christians, let’s unite in prayer for Australia and our politicians ~ even those you didn’t vote for and don’t like. And more than anything, do to others what you would have them do to you.

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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5 replies on “Removing Prayer from National Parliament”

Philip Huntsays:

Good solution, Rob. Parliamentary prayer is only accidentally Christian. It’s main function is to validate State religion, that is, the worship of the State (Nationalism rather than Following Jesus). Since Constantin, it’s been a convenient validating tool for political power. Christian politicians who wish to pray for their work should go into an inner room, close the door and pray. The Lord’s Prayer will be fine.

Rob Buckinghamsays:

I agree, Philip. The context of the Lord’s Prayer is private prayer, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Lorraine Baileysays:

If my people which are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray.(u know the rest)
It is up to us (Christ’s church) to humble ourselves and pray for our land and parliament not leave it to people who don’t even believe in the power of prayer.
I also think that if first land people’s recognition should be mentioned in parliament or anywhere else, then all other nation’s people’s that have made our country into what it is today should also be recognised and honoured…. let’s move on people into our future in unity, love and
acceptance for all that is good, honourable and just.

David Wilsonsays:

An excellent solution Rob. I agree wholeheartedly.

Laurayn Sneatonsays:

If politicians that don’t have faith in God and don’t want to be a hypocrite then I think they should be given the grace to remain silent but still let those who believe in God be able to pray. We are experiencing so much violence on our streets and in homes with young people as well as middle aged folk and I believe that it is because so many families don’t have the road map on how to behave which the Holy Bible holds – God speaking to His people through the prophets of the old Testament and Jesus Himself in the New Testament. Without Gods guidance a nation will slowly fall into degradation. There are many examples of this in the Old Testament. When God’s people turned away from Him they were taken captive by nations who worshipped false gods and entered into slavery under those nations. God created the earth and the cosmos,He then created man/women to live on the earth with all its beauty. He gave humans gifts and over the years since He created all this humans have shown how creative they have been – God the Creator – we are created in His image God created us and He gave us a world to use the creative gifts He gave us.It saddens me and all Christians to see Australia- once a majority Christian country – once know as The Great Southern of the Holy Spirit, to now seeing our Nation falling into decay. Christians are praying for Revival in this once believing Nation – Come Lord Jesus Come.

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