Australian Senate defeats move to abandon Lord’s Prayer at start of day
CANBERRA, Australia, February 13, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In only 24 seconds the latest effort to have the Lord's Prayer removed from the start of the Australian Senate's day was defeated, with senators from both the coalition government and the opposition Labor Party voting against it.
Under the Senate’s standing order, the president of the Senate is required to read the parliamentary prayer upon taking his chair at the start of the day, regardless of adjournment or suspension from the day before.
The motion against the reading of the prayer, advanced by Greens Sen. Richard Di Natali, was to have the Senate officially refer the matter to the procedure committee, which is already tasked with reviewing the existing standing orders. The Greens party has a member on the committee and a spokesman told LifeSiteNews the issue would be actively pursued. They wish to have the prayer replaced with an invitation to a minute of silence for personal reflection, perceiving the existing prayer as undermining the separation of church and state.
In Australia, settled in 1788, it was only at the time of federation (and the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia) in 1901 that the Presbyterian Church of Australia sent a petition calling for Senate proceedings to be opened with a daily prayer. The prayer had not been included in the temporary orders for the running of Parliament. With the support of other organizations, who sent communications endorsing the idea, the Senate adopted the petition with a standing order drafted in 1901. It was formally adopted with all other standing orders in 1903.
The latest attempt to remove the prayer continues a long campaign by the Greens party, with now-retired Sen. Bob Brown attempting to do so in 1997.
Sen. Eric Abetz, leader of the government in the Senate, strongly supports the saying of the Lord's Prayer at the beginning of each parliamentary sitting day. Abetz commented, “The latest Green attack is part of their ongoing attempt to rewrite our history and deny our heritage.”
“Two thirds of Australians identify as Christian and the vast bulk of the other one third accept our heritage and practices without the divisiveness injected by this latest Green outburst,” he said. He added that the freedoms and wealth that Australia enjoys are due to the Judeo-Christian worldview, making Australian society the envy of the world.
The Australian Christian Lobby's Lyle Shelton agrees. “The Christian ethos underpinning western civilisation has fostered free and prosperous societies, including our liberal democracy. … It’s disappointing that Senator Di Natale wanted to take away something of Australia’s cultural heritage,” he said.
Tasmanian Liberal MP Andrew Nikolic views the Green's campaign in a worse tone. Speaking to the ABC, he called it an act of discrimination. “What is wrong with this reminder that Australia is a country with a rich Christian heritage?” he asked. “[The Greens are] proposing discrimination of the very worst kind; discrimination against the majority.”