WHEN parliament returns from its winter recess, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has vowed to renew her push for the Lord’s Prayer to be ditched from Federal parliamentary proceedings.
She describes the opening of each day of parliament as “insulting”.
“Considering there’s many people who aren’t religious, there’s many people of different faiths, it’s time we started having an institution that is relevant to twenty-first century Australia,” Senator Rhiannon told ABC TV’s Insiders on July 2.
“The debate’s been around for a long time.
“It’s just time we won it.”
Reciting the Our Father at the beginning of each sitting day dates back to 1901.
Senator Rhiannon would like to see the prayer replaced with a quiet moment for members to “reflect on your responsibilities to the constituents”.
The Greens last tried to scrap the Lord’s Prayer from parliamentary proceedings in 2014, while in Queensland a report in The Courier-Mail noted mixed reactions from Labor members about a similar idea to ditch the Our Father.
Leader Richard Di Natale called the push to remove the prayer from Federal parliament “an anachronism” and argued its removal would emphasise the separation of Church and state, especially as a small, but significant minority of the population holds to “no religion” or to a non-Christian religion.
The results of the latest census found that 30 per cent of Australians identify as having no religion; 22.6 per cent of Australians list Catholicism under religious affiliation.
However, does that strengthen the Greens’ campaign to ditch the Lord’s Prayer?
Liberal Senator Eric Abetz described the move back in 2014 as: “The latest Greens attack as part of their ongoing attempt to rewrite our history and deny our heritage.”
Amid heated debate at that time, author and historian, and a founding director of the Centre for Public Christianity Dr John Dickson wrote a compelling opinion column for the ABC’s The Drum in which he turned to the time-honoured practice of using a sporting comparison to make his point.
Dr Dickson wrote: “Imagine the reaction of the residents of Bowral to a NSW Government planning decision a hundred years from now to discontinue all capital grants to the Don Bradman museum and reclaim the land for a casino.
“If it is the will of the NSW public to go ahead with such a renovation, of course it should go ahead, but they shouldn’t think the locals strange for lamenting the demise of what they consider a national treasure,” he wrote.
“… I hope I am not being sacrilegious in another sense here – the teaching of Jesus has influenced Australian society infinitely more than has the Don.”
Dr Dickson proffered an additional reason Christians would mourn the loss of the Lord’s Prayer from the seat of national power.
“Whatever else prayer might be, it is an act of humility,” he wrote.
“There is something beautiful and noble about our leaders acknowledging they are not ‘top dog’ in the universe – expressing out loud that they are accountable to Something higher than themselves and that, despite their commitment to using every faculty of human reason, they could do with some outside assistance.
“There aren’t many marks of humility in our society anymore. The Lord’s Prayer would be missed.”