Auckland Islam leader OK with parliamentary prayer to Jesus

An Auckland Islamic Shia leader says he is not offended by the mention of Jesus in the parliamentary opening prayer.

Parliament’s speaker removed reference to both Jesus and the Queen in the prayer read out at the start of each sitting day.

Mr Mallard says he removed reference to Jesus to make the prayer more inclusive.

He has since reinstated mention of the Queen.

But Auckland Islamic Shia leader Seyed Mohammad Taghi Derhamy disagrees.

He says he thinks the speaker is trying to marginalise rather than appease all faiths.

He suspects the government is trying to make people “forget” about religion.

Mr Derhamy is a trustee of the Islamic Ahlul Bayt Foundation.

He says putting all faiths into an ambiguous prayer reduces them “all to zero” in a sense.

He says if all religions are equal then they are equal to nothing.

Mr Derhamy says his Islamic community does not resent the presence of Jesus in the parliamentary prayer.

“The word Jesus, they love it, especially if it is pronounced by the person who believes in it,” he says.

He says he doesn’t mention Jesus in his own prayers. But he loves to hear Christians being honest and sincere in their love for Jesus.

The National Party caucus wrote to the speaker, concerned at inadequate consultation.

They object to the removal of Jesus Christ from the prayer for its importance to Parliament’s history.

Cardinal John Dew says he hopes there would always be a prayer acknowledging the importance of God in our lives.

But he says it is important in today’s society to respect all faiths.

For Mr Derhamy, the historical parliamentary prayer didn’t need to speak for all faiths.

He says it’s rubbish to try to summarise all faiths, from beliefs to non-belief in a prayer that mentions none of them.


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