The Rationalist Society of Australia is calling on the Greens to move swiftly to have prayers replaced with more inclusive practices at the opening of each day in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.
Last week, RSA president Meredith Doig wrote to Greens leader Adam Bandt to urge his party to take the opportunity, with the opening of the new parliament in Canberra, to make the parliament more modern, more inclusive and more reflective of the Australian community.
In a dissenting report to the 2018 Senate inquiry into the prayer issue, the Australian Greens argued that the practice of reciting Christian prayers was “outdated and no longer reflective of Australia’s religiously diverse and secular society”.
The inquiry examined the Greens’ proposal to replace the prayer ritual in the Senate Standing Orders with an invitation for Senators to a moment of silent prayer or reflection.
But the inquiry also reported there was “no momentum for change”.
“It is clear that the Lord’s Prayer is no longer appropriate for the representative body of a religiously diverse society. Nor is it appropriate for a proud secular society,” said the Greens’ dissenting report.
“It is the Greens’ strong view that the Australian Parliament should uphold our secular values, and not have those important values undermined at the beginning of each sitting day with the Lord’s Prayer.”
Speaking on the opening of parliament today, Dr Doig said the Greens should now move swiftly on the issue.
This month, almost 6,000 people have signed Dr Doig’s petition calling for the prayer ritual to be replaced with something more inclusive.
“There is, clearly, now momentum from the Australian public for the national parliament to modernise and become more inclusive and reflective of all Australians,” she said.
“We agree with the Greens that a more appropriate way to open the parliament each day would be to invite members and senators to pause for a moment of silent reflection.
“We urge Mr Bandt and his Greens colleagues to take this opportunity to push for the change they want to see on this issue.”
The RSA has also raised this issue with a number of Labor MPs, new independents and the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, Milton Dick, and the new President of the Senate, Sue Lines.
Si Gladman is Campaigns & Communications Coordinator at the Rationalist Society of Australia. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @si_gladman
Photo: Adam Bandt (Facebook)