Parliamentary Prayers

The weekend’s call by Speaker Harry Jenkins (and supported by Senator Bob Brown, leader of the extreme and often contradictory Greens Party) for the abolition of prayers in Parliament has been opposed by both major party leaders.

Most appalling was the suggestion that the Lord’s Prayer be replaced by an acknowledgement of the spiritual nature of the indigenous peoples’ relationship with the land.

It seems that prayers or acknowledging faith is not the cause for concern, it is specifically the Christian nature of the prayer that so offends the extreme deep green movement.

One newspaper reported that Parliamentary prayer was recognised as an important tradition that ‘should not be broken’. I happen to agree.

Conservative pundit and author Russell Kirk observed that ‘adherence to custom, convention and continuity’ are one of the ten principles that comprise the body of conservative thought.

Respect for convention is the basis of our laws. Generations are linked through a sense of continuity – which often gives purpose to individuals and to society. Custom enables us to live together in peace.

Yet these three important parts of our functioning society are constantly under threat by radical movements like the Greens.

Tearing down our established social institutions and deriding our established conventions means they have to be replaced with an alternative. What often emerges from this painful and slow ‘revolution’ is an inferior social order, brought about not by the interests of society but by the zeal of the radicals to ‘change anything as long as we change something’.

As a conservative, I support custom, convention and continuity because they reflect the wisdom of the entire human experience. They are, as Kirk said, ‘the result of centuries of trial and reflection and sacrifice’.

Parliamentary prayers are a reminder that our nation, our laws and our values are structured around Judeo-Christian principles. It is right that we are reminded of this at the start of each parliamentary day.

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