Christian reference removed from parliamentary prayer

The Archbishop of Wellington, Cardinal John Dew, in expressing his personal view about the removal of a Christian reference in New Zealand’s parliamentary prayer, says that “ While we hope that there would always be a prayer acknowledging the importance of God in our lives, it is important in today’s society to be respectful of all faiths.”

In a proposed change to the parliamentary prayer, which is said at the beginning of each session of Parliament, mention of Jesus and the Queen have been removed.

Although the consultation period for the new prayer isn’t over, the Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard, has already started using the new wording.

Friday’s Panel on RNZ reported that the while Catholics and Anglicans had no objection to the change, Baptists had expressed concern about it.

In an interview with the Jim Mora, Ian Hudson, director of the Salvation Army’s Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit, said while he hadn’t had time to have a “straw vote” on the matter, he thought many Salvationists would wish the name of Jesus Christ to continue to be included.

He said to do so recognises the “connections to our values and all the things that underpin parliament.”

Hudson said they would hate to see the spiritual element taken away from Parliament.

Senior Labour MP Damien O’Connor, a Catholic, has cautioned against change.

“They have to be careful that we don’t move too far from processes that have kept this place in good stead in an ethical, moral and principled way,” he told Radio NZ’s Morning Report.

His colleague Aupito William Sio, a Mormon, had an open mind: “In this day and age, I think there’s a strong feeling of people wanting the prayer to be more inclusive, recognising that many of my colleagues do not acknowledge the existence of Jesus Christ.”

Stuff has reported that a more extreme change – including the removal of religious references and adding more Māori references – had been proposed but was rejected.

Listen to the Panel discussion


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News category: New Zealand.

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