Now is the time for the upper house of the Western Australian parliament to modernise its procedures by removing an imposed prayer which calls for elected representatives to “advance the glory” of a creator God.
The Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA) is calling on all secular-minded West Australians to contact their local members of the Legislative Council (known as MLCs) to urge them to replace the daily prayer ritual with something more inclusive and welcoming.
The Standing Committee on Procedure & Privileges is currently conducting a review of the Standing Orders with the view to “modernise” the proceedings of the house.
The current Standing Orders require that, at the start of each day’s proceedings in the Legislative Chamber, Christian prayers are to be read aloud before elected representatives can get on with their jobs.
The first part of the prayer calls on “Almighty God, creator of the universe, giver of life” to bless the Legislative Council’s work. It also commits the elected members of parliament to make decisions “always to the advancement of Thy glory” before then reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
RSA president Meredith Doig said the prayer rituals alienated a large number of West Australians who are not religious or who reject creationist myths.
“A modern Western Australian parliament would not impose exclusionary prayer rituals on members of parliament, their staff and members of the public who are in attendance,” Dr Doig said.
“Clearly, it is time for the parliament to modernise its Standing Orders and replace this Christian prayer ritual with something that is more inclusive, more welcoming and more reflective of the diversity of the people of Western Australia.”
The lower house of the parliament also begins its daily proceedings with Christian prayers.
With the Standing Committee on Procedure & Privileges due to report on its inquiry by 10 August, the RSA has today written to all 36 members of the Legislative Council to urge them to recommend replacing the prayer ritual.
Dr Doig said West Australians who wanted to see change should make their feelings known by writing to their elected representatives in the Legislative Council.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND INTERVIEWS
Dr Meredith Doig OAM
0403 246 544
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA) is the oldest freethought group in Australia, promoting reason since 1906. Members and supporters hold that all significant beliefs and actions should be based on reason and evidence, that the natural world is the only world there is, and that answers to the key questions of human existence are to be found only in that natural world.
RSA, along with a number of freethought organisations, is supporting the #DontDivideUs campaign against the Religious Discrimination Bill and the Census21 – Not Religious? Mark ‘No Religion’ campaign.