New assault on our cultural tradition
The Parliamentary prayer move was discussed
on Insiders this morning – see story.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives Harry Jenkins has called for a debate about the reading of the Lord’s Prayer at the opening of federal Parliament each day.
The Speaker is reported to have said that the reading was the most contoversial of parliamentary procedures. “On one end of the spectrum is, ‘Why have a prayer?’ The other end of the spectrum is where we have discussions about the words of the prayer,” News Limited papers reported him saying.
According to the report, Jenkins also questioned the relevance of the prayer to the 21st century.
“In 1901 the prayer was the form of the opening of the day. If, in the year 2008, the Federation was coming together and was putting together procedures, there may be a different form of commencement of the day.”
The move will satisfy the secularists who would like to eradicate every vestige of Australia’s Christian heritage.
A debate would also encourage those who seek to replace Australia’s Anglo-Celtic traditions with symbols and practices more deferential to multicultural ideals.
Recognition of traditional ownership
The Speaker also referred to a suggestion that would fit one politically correct paradigm of 2008: the idea floated by Independent MP Rob Oakeshott in his first speech that there could be a daily acknowledgment of Aboriginal ownership of this land.
“I ask you to revisit this question of a daily acknowledgement within this Chamber for traditional owners, a simple, symbolic but respectful act that will assist in building a better Australia,” Oakeshott said.
However, the idea of getting rid of the Lord’s Prayer is out of step with the majority of the Australian people, judging by the reaction to online media polls. Unscientific they may be, but the large differential in the result suggests little public support for the idea.
At time of writing, the Herald Sun poll had 82 per cent of respondents rejecting the idea.
The Sky News Poll asked viewers to vote on four options for the opening, with 65 per cent of respondents nominating the Lord’s Prayer ahead of the national Anthem (19 per cent), Indigenous (3 per cent) and “something else” 13 per cent.
One interesting aspect of the Speaker’s call, was the reaction of the token “conservative” on this morning’s ABC Insiders.
Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt, a secular humanist, was in the conservative chair up against the Sydney Morning Herald’s David Marr and Annabel Crabb.
Even though Bolt is not a Christian you might have expected him to uphold this traditional aspect of Australian culture. It didn’t happen.
Instead, Bolt made a vague reference to the Crusades and then, much to the amusement of the panel, recited, without attribution, a joke a reader had contributed to his blogsite earlier in the morning.
As fanciful as the Speaker’s idea might be, the idea of jettisoning the Lord’s Prayer really isn’t a laughing matter – at least, not for anyone who respects, and would like to preserve, our traditions.
There are those who are only too happy to take the idea seriously.
Greens Senator Bob Brown would like to see the prayer replaced by a period of reflection. Senator Brown has been reported to be keen to get Rob Oakeshott’s idea up in a joint motion.
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils would like the prayer to reflect the other religions in Australia.
However, the Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director Jim Wallace was reported to have said that, “It’s appropriate that we open parliaments with the Lord’s Prayer for its cultural and historic relevance.”