RSA asks NSW Premier to address prayer issue in new parliament

Si Gladman / 08 May 2023

The Rationalist Society of Australia has urged new Premier Chris Minns to replace Christian worship in the New South Wales Parliament with practices that better reflect the state’s multicultural community.

With the New South Wales Parliament set to return tomorrow, RSA president Meredith Doig has written to Mr Minns and new multiculturalism minister Steve Kamper on the need to make parliament’s practices more secular and inclusive.

Dr Doig argued that starting each day’s proceedings with the recital of Christian prayers, including the Lord’s Prayer, failed to acknowledge or appreciate the diversity of the New South Wales community.

“New South Wales is, indeed, a proudly multicultural state, made up of people from all kinds of religious and non-religious backgrounds, and many different cultures,” she wrote. 

“Yet each day in the New South Wales parliament, all in attendance – members, staff and members of the public – are asked to observe acts of Christian worship, including the recital of the Lord’s Prayer, at the opening of proceedings.

“This practice privileges one faith to the exclusion of all others, and imposes religious observance on non-religious people. It symbolises the supremacy of one faith and sends a message that those of a different faith or a non-religious worldview are less worthy.”

Dr Doig noted that the percentage of citizens now identifying as not religious had surged in the state, with 33.2 per cent marking ‘No Religion’ at the 2021 ABS Census – up from 25.5 at the 2016 Census.

Last year, upper house member Abigail Boyd tabled a motion to have prayer removed in the New South Wales Legislative Council.

At a meeting of faith leaders representing different religions in late January, Mr Minns said New South Wales was “proudly multicultural and proudly multifaith”, and argued that his party supported “egalitarianism in creating a society in which everyone has equal access to opportunity”.

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Image: Chris Minns (Facebook)

All the more reason.