Parliamentary prayer: You say “yes” I say “no”

parliamentary prayer

Speaker Trevor Mallard does not have any plans to revisit the parliamentary prayer, even though it was less popular among MPs and in public feedback than the previous one.

The majority want change. It is just that they were split about what the change should be.

Mallard appeared before the governance and administration select committee at Parliament on Wednesday morning to speak to the petition, from John Trezise, to remove religion from the parliamentary prayer, oaths, and national anthem.

He told committee members that it would be impossible to get consensus on the matter.

“There were submissions to me from both sides, people saying ‘how dare you in a secular country have God in the opening of Parliament?’ and people who wanted to revert to something that was strictly a Christian prayer.

“We won’t satisfy everyone but I am satisfied that the balance is about right.”

Mallard said he thought Parliament should be an inclusive place, “and we have people of different religious beliefs who were not comfortable as MPs with the prayer as it was.”

He said replacing the word “Jesus” with “god” would allow people to “respect the particular god in which they believed but without an Anglican prayer which excluded groups of Christians and all non-Christians.”

After the meeting, Mallard said feedback:

  • largely fell into three groups: supporting the former Christian prayer, the current one with a reference to God but not Jesus Christ, and those wanting no reference to God.
  • About 40 per cent of MP in favour of the Christian prayer, 30 per cent supporting the new prayer, and 30 per cent who wanted no religious references.
  • Email feedback strongly favoured keeping the former Christian prayer
  • Religious leaders were much more supportive of the new prayer because it was more inclusive.


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News category: New Zealand.

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