In a stunning move at the opening of last night’s Adelaide City Council meeting, the Lord Mayor, Jane Lomax-Smith, changed the practice of reciting aloud Christian prayers at the opening of proceedings.
Instead, Lord Mayor Lomax-Smith (pictured) invited councillors to “read the prayer as printed or reflect in a manner appropriate to their beliefs on these issues”.
The assembled councillors stood silently for about eight seconds before moving on to the next item of business.
Following the meeting, Lord Mayor Lomax-Smith posted a video of the moment on her Facebook page.
She argued that the meeting procedures had not changed but that now every councillor had a choice of reading the prayer or reflecting in their own way.
“In response to media reports about the City of Adelaide ‘dumping’ the prayer – our meeting procedures have not changed and the prayer remains. I am giving people a moment of reflection in which they can either read the Lord’s prayer as shown on our monitors or read another text important to them,” she said.
According to the agenda, item ‘3. Prayer’ requires that the Chief Executive Officer ask “all present” to pray the following:
“Almighty God, we ask your blessing upon the works of the City of Adelaide; direct and prosper its deliberations to the advancement of your glory and the true welfare of the people of this City. Amen”.
In recent weeks, supporters of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) have bombarded Adelaide councillors with hundreds of emails urging them to retain the Christian prayer at the opening of meetings.
On Tuesday, 7News Adelaide reported on the ACL campaign and a likely proposal to put a motion on the prayer issue within coming weeks.
Last week, the Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA) urged councillors to not be intimidated by the mass letter-writing campaign.
One councillor, Keiran Snape, was concerned that the ACL’s campaign could “scare off” his colleagues from making the reform.
Earlier in the month, RSA president Meredith Doig reminded councillors that the majority of their citizens – 51.6 per cent – were not religious and argued that the council should modernise proceedings to better reflect the diversity of the community.
The Adelaide development shows that momentum is continuing to build across the country for prayer rituals in parliaments and local governments to be replaced with more secular and inclusive practices.
Image: Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith (Facebook)