AP, October 27, 2008
The speaker of Australia’s Parliament has called for a public debate about whether the country’s lawmakers should end the practice of starting each session with the Lord’s Prayer.
Lawmakers have started every day of Parliament with the Christian prayer for more than a century—a tradition inherited from Britain during colonial rule.
But some are now questioning whether a prayer adopted by the first Australian Parliament in 1901 remains relevant in an increasingly secular and religiously diverse nation.
Dumping the prayer is unlikely to happen any time soon, though, as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull said Sunday said they wanted to keep the prayer.
More than 65 percent of Australians still identify as Christians, and there are no Muslims or Aborigines among Australia’s 226 federal lawmakers. The only two Jewish lawmakers, both members of the government, did not return calls by The Associated Press on Monday.
Ikebal Patel, Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president, said he did not object to the prayer, but supported Brown’s proposal as more inclusive.
“There should be an attempt to try and be a little bit more generic and inclusive,” Patel said.
Aborigines and other religions should be acknowledged, he said.