The new President of the Senate, the Honourable Sue Lines, wants to abolish the praying of the Lord’s Prayer before the beginning of proceedings each day.
She is reported to have said
“Personally, I would like to see the prayers gone. I’m an atheist. I don’t want to say the prayers. It is not something I can decree. But it is “certainly on the agenda and would be raised with the Senate procedure committee.”
I would like to remind everyone that Senators and Members are not required to be present or participate in the reading of the Lord’s prayer.
On 6 July 2011, I tabled a petition when this issue was raised in the House. I asked the late Bishop John Wilson to write a preamble to the petition and this is what he wrote:
“We the undersigned as citizens of Australia ask that the use of the LORD’S PRAYER BE RETAINED by Parliament as integral to good government and Australia’s national heritage.
The prayer acknowledges our shared and common humanity under a caring God, in a context of humility and respect;
It asks God to fulfil his just purposes for the earth;
It seeks from God the provision of our daily needs and requires by implication generosity on our part;
It confesses our need to be forgiven and to forgive;
It recognises the lure of corruption and our entanglement with evil, from which we need to be delivered;
Finally, it places our lives and actions in an eternal perspective.
Even for those who do not pray to God, the recitation of these words at the beginning of the Parliamentary day allows a few moments for quiet reflection on our shared humanity, our daily dependence on the good things of the earth, our need to forgive and be forgiven, the temptations of office, and the broader perspective against which our efforts must be judged.
Such a time is not wasted.”
As I said, being present or participating in the reading of the Lord’s prayer is not required so why abolish the prayer?
Respect for others of faith is much needed.
There are many in the Senate and House of Representatives who will see this as another attack on our Christian heritage.
The Creator God of all knows how much we need divine wisdom and perspective.