Retaining creationist prayer would be a ‘missed opportunity’ for WA parliament to modernise: RSA 

Si Gladman / 09 September 2021

The upper house of the Western Australian parliament appears set to continue with the imposition of a prayer to a creationist God, despite a committee spending the past three months considering ways to modernise proceedings.

Tasked in early June with modernising the Standing Orders, the Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Procedure & Privileges has, in its newly published report, recommended that the prayer ritual remain.

The report describes the committee’s view of ‘modernisation’ as referring to making procedures of the house “characteristic of the present time, with a view to removing obsolete or antiquated practices, procedures and traditions”.

At least one member of the upper house queried the appropriateness of including the prayer as part of each day’s opening procedure.

In a submission published in the committee’s report, Brian Walker MLC (pictured) seemed to suggest that the prayer was something that “may no longer meet public expectations”.

As we reported in early August, the imposed prayer in the state’s upper house calls on elected representatives to “advance the glory” of a creationist God before ending with the Lord’s Prayer.

At that time, the Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA) wrote to all members of the Legislative Council (known as MLCs) to urge them to replace the ritual with something more inclusive and welcoming.

RSA president Meredith Doig said today that, if the Legislative Council were to continue with the exclusionary prayer ritual, it would be a missed opportunity for the parliament to become more inclusive and reflective of the community.

In his submission to the committee, Dr Walker, of the Legalise Cannabis Party, wrote that he had “no particular view” about the prayer, but suggested that other parliaments were also considering the issue.

“If by modernisation we mean the updating of that which may no longer meet with public expectations, then I note that our colleagues in Victoria are currently in the midst of a debate over whether or not they should continue with the Lord’s Prayer,” he wrote.

Dr Walker also noted that only a small number of members paid attention during the reading of the prayer in the chamber.

“And I wonder if this is perhaps reflective of a more general societal shift?”

Si Gladman is Campaigns & Communications Coordinator at the Rationalist Society of Australia. You can contact him at sigladman@rationalist.com.au or follow him on Twitter at @si_gladman

Image: Hon Dr Brian Walker MLC – Legalise Cannabis WA (Facebook)

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