Since 1901, Parliamentary Standing Orders have compelled the House & Senate to open daily with a recital of this exclusively Christian prayer:
“ALMIGHTY God, we humbly beseech Thee to vouchsafe Thy blessing upon this Parliament. Direct and prosper our deliberations to the advancement of Thy glory, and the true welfare of the people of Australia. Our Father, which art in Heaven: Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. AMEN.”
We at the University of Melbourne Secular Society believe strongly that our national Parliament should be a democratic house of inclusion, and not a house of forced worship. Mandatory Christian prayer alienates and excludes those who are of a different faith, or those who choose no faith at all. Our national parliament should be secular in both law and practice, and should represent the Australian people as a whole, rather than the religious opinions of some.
In October 2008, speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, Harry Jenkins MP, called for debate about the use of the Lord’s Prayer at the opening of the House. Major party leaders Kevin Rudd (Labor) and Malcolm Turnbull (Liberal) were quick to undemocratically snuff out the debate on grounds of tradition.
This month, former Labor premier of Western Australia and a former federal minister Carmen Lawrence called for Australians to stand up and keep God out of our democracy. Today, a petition to remove this prayer from both the House of Representatives and the Senate has been administrated by Brendan Lloyd from the University of Wollongong, and will be presented by Greens Senator Bob Brown when complete.
UMSS will be printing these petitions and collecting signatures at all our major events this semester. We encourage you to come along and sign it.
Also, to get involved on Facebook please join this group.