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Greens move to end NSW Parliament prayers

The NSW Greens were scheduled to move a motion in State Parliament yesterday calling for the scrapping of the traditional Christian prayers, including the Lord's Prayer, recited at the beginning of parliamentary sitting days.

Instead, they want a short period of silence for members to "pray or reflect on your responsibilities to the people of NSW and their environment".

"The Parliament of NSW is supposed to represent everybody who calls this state home, yet there are an increasing number of NSW residents who don't belong to the Christian faith," Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said.

President of the NSW Council of Churches the Rev Chris Moroney said the proposal, if adopted, would be the first step in a process that would eliminate God from public life and would ultimately discriminate against all people of faith.

"While Census figures do show an increase in the number of people listing no religion, the clear reality is that a majority of people in our society still believe in God, and still pray," he said. "It may sound reasonable to let everybody reflect in the way they choose. But if we take this step, it will start us on the path of removing any reference to God, religion or faith from our Parliamentary process."

Supporting the Greens' motion at yesterday's press conference, progressive Uniting Church member, Rev Dr Dorothy MacRae-McMahon, said that if she advocates religious freedom as a Christian, she must fight for religious freedom for everybody.

Individual Churches, including the Catholic Church, have not commented on the issue. Many Christians are ambivalent towards prayer in Parliament for the reasons Rev Dr McMahon supported the Greens' motion. However Pope John Paul II has been vocal in his opposition to the removal of traces of Christianity from the constitutions and procedures of the government of the European Union.

NSW Council of Churches

Greens move to end prayers in NSW Parliament (ABC)
NSW Parliament
NSW Council of Churches (offline?)
Prayers (motion moved in 2001) | continued

3 Sep 2003