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Call to resist prayer ban in Parliament

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A motion to remove the Christian prayer from the NSW Parliament’s upper house will not be about inclusivity, say critics.

Opposition against a plan to ditch public praying of the Our Father is growing

Faith and civic leaders are furious at a fresh push to scrap the Our Father prayer from the NSW Legislative Council, calling it a calculated move to exclude religion from the public square.

Greens MLC Abigail Boyd said she would introduce the motion to remove the Our Father, or Lord’s Prayer, which is traditionally recited at the opening of sittings, in favour of moments of silent meditation for members to “stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities”.

It is a year since the Greens tried to remove the prayer from the opening of the Australian Senate, with a committee report finding there was no “momentum for change”.

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Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP urged people of faith to write to their upper house MPs urging them vote against the proposal. “We must resist any move to exclude religion from the public square in an increasingly secular culture,” he said.

Australian Christian Lobby NSW Director Kieren Jackson said the move was an attack on Christians, Australia’s heritage and the traditions of Australia’s oldest Parliament.

“This Greens attempt to rewrite history and attack tradition isn’t about inclusivity at all, it’s misguided hostility towards Christianity, a faith which is about love, peace and humility,” he said.

“The Lord’s Prayer encourages elected representatives to be humble, selfless and aware of a power greater than themselves at work in our world.

“Time and again the Greens prove that their end game is the complete secularisation of Australia. The Christian ethos underpinning western civilisation has fostered free and prosperous societies, including our liberal democracy.

“We call on the members of the Legislative Council to vote against removing the Lord’s Prayer from the Parliament.”

Several MPs including NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and One Nation leader Mark Latham expressed their opposition to the plan. “It’s a debating chamber – it’s not a silence Trappist monk-type set up where you just stand there meditating to yourself,” Mr Latham said.

“I’m not a Christian, I don’t pray but I respect those who do and it’s meaningful to them and a good tradition of the chamber. If the Greens were serious about preaching diversity and tolerance we should tolerate it.”

Mr Perrottet said attempts to remove the prayer is aligned with an ideological agenda “to remove any sense of Christianity from public life”. “They are certainly not pushing for other welcomes to be removed, only the one that relates to Christianity,” he said.

“This ‘year zero’ type of mentality that Christianity is a backward religion that has no place in modern society, well it’s our Judeo-Christian ethos that set up the western civilisation for the success we see today, that set up the schools, set up the hospices, set up the universities.

“If we’re going to understand where we’re going as a state and a country it’s also important we have an appreciation of where we’ve come from.”

Other MPs including Shooters, Fishers and Farmers NSW leader Robert Borsak and Labor’s treasury spokesman Walt Secord also said they will oppose a change.

Ms Boyd told media that the state’s multicultural society “must be reflected in an inclusive parliament”. “In no other workplace are you required to participate in the Lord’s Prayer before working. Parliament should be no different,” she said.

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