From a wise Editorial in the Australian…
NO book has had a greater impact on Western civilisation than the Bible. Believers or not, few would disagree. The Bible has shaped our language, art and institutions. Its Christian teachings have informed our development from exploration to enlightenment, through customs to laws, forging countries and cultures. So the practice of beginning deliberations in federal parliament with the Lord’s Prayer is not the imposition of a narrow religious code but rather a continuing thread of responsibility and respect for the burden of democratic decision-making.
The Greens move, by acting leader Richard Di Natale, to scrap the tradition is another demonstration of their disconnect from the mainstream. Senator Di Natale contends ditching the prayer will reinforce the separation of church and state when this separation is the very endowment of the traditions it reflects. He suggests it is not attuned to a pluralistic and multicultural society when that, too, has been bequeathed by these traditions. He even verballed curriculum reviewer Kevin Donnelly, suggesting his reference to the prayer hinted at a formal preoccupation with Christianity, when Dr Donnelly argued the need to teach about all great faiths.
To be sure, the prayer sparked debate when it was introduced at Federation. The then member for Kooyong, William Knox, moved the motion saying the prayer was “unsectarian in character” and could be accepted even by members of “the Hebrew faith”. The current member for Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg – Jewish, as it happens – agrees. Back in 1901, West Australian senator George Pearce argued that the principles of the prayer were worthy of senators “even if uttered by atheists” and would do no harm. He was right, and prescient.
Greens senators are free to restrict their spirituality to addressing “fellow Earthians” about Gaia. We think most Australians are comfortable with the Lord’s Prayer. Australia even bolstered the prayer’s global renown when in the 1970s Adelaide singing nun Sister Janet Mead sent it to the top of the pop charts. The Greens might be more comfortable heeding the words of the only transported convict elected to federal parliament; in 1901, William Groom declared the prayer “socialistic” and ascribed it to “the greatest social reformer that the world has ever known”. Amen.