The reciting of prayers in parliament may be unconstitutional, and has yet to be tested in the High Court.
The National Secular Lobby backs the latest call to remove prayers from parliament, and calls on all politicians who support a ban to deliberately absent themselves from chambers when prayers are being read, in order to make it clear that they object to this outdated practice.
Reason Party MP Fiona Patten recently raised the issue in an interview with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, saying:
"In a secular institution like the parliament we should be doing something different [because] it makes it a bit like a Christian club. We should be looking for an alternative. My personal preference would be a minute’s silence where we think about what we’re going to do for the day, [or] let’s have a pledge that we will do the best that we can for our community that we’re here to represent.”
National Secular Lobby ambassador and former Labor Senator Chris Schact says:
“It’s clear that this issue is here to stay until we get it fixed. Late last year we had the same debate in the Federal parliament and that’s because a great many Australians – including many politicians – think that beginning each day with a Christian prayer is inappropriate in a secular society."
“Our parliaments are secular places and as such, they should not endorse or promote one particular religion. Saying the Lord’s Prayer excludes and devalues those who are not Christian.”
The issue extends to the United Kingdom where just last month, British MP Crispin Blunt called for prayers to be abolished in both Houses saying that they are “not compatible with a society that respects the principle of freedom of, and from, religion.”
The NSL support’s Fiona Patten’s suggestion for a minute’s silence or a secular pledge. Chris Schact says:
“Our Constitution states that Australia is founded on a clear separation of Church and state and we know from a 2016 Ipsos poll that 78% of Australians support that. Let’s make the separation clear, by removing prayers from the business of government.”
National Secular Lobby