KATE: THIS happens weekly in our parliament.

Kate Hunter.

I read online yesterday morning that the Greens want Parliament to quit saying The Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each sitting day.

This from Fairfax:

The Lord’s Prayer in Federal Parliament is an anachronism, according to Greens senator Richard di Natale, who is calling to have the prayer scrapped.

The acting Greens leader announced on Tuesday that when Parliament returns in February, he will move to end the reading of prayers at the start of each sitting day.

He will ask the Senate’s Procedure Committee to amend the standing orders and look to his Greens colleague Adam Bandt to do the same in the Lower House.

Frankly, I was shocked. Not that the Greens want the practice scrapped, but that IT’S STILL HAPPENING AT ALL.

Is this our parliament or have we been teleported to St Annunciata’s Catholic Primary School, 1952?

It’s 2014. As 49.8 per cent of Australians identify as non-Christian (22.3 per cent say they have no religion at all) it seems silly to recite a Christian prayer in a parliament that’s meant to represent everyone. I think it’s a bit rude too. It’s an exclusive act in a place that should be a shining example of inclusive.

Personally, I like the Lord’s Prayer. I know all the words and so do my kids. We also know the Hail Mary and, on a good day, the Angelus. That’s because we identify as Catholic. We’re not every-week mass-goers, and we’re not submarine Catholics either (surfacing for the holidays) but it’s who I am and it’s how we choose to educate our kids. Choose being the operative word.

Of course, there are people who send their kids to Catholic schools and object to their kids being taken out of class to go to church. Seriously, they do.  Look, plenty of times I’ve  found Mass boring and I know my kids do, but it’s a Catholic school. Surely objecting to mass is like signing your kid up for AFL and getting upset when they won’t let him score tries.

Anyway, this is not about me. And it’s not about Catholic (or Christian) bashing.

This is about our government and growing up. And, we are, like it or not, a largely secular country. Sure, a shade over half the population ticked the Christian box on the census form, so if you want to be nitpick about it, you could argue we’re a Christian country. But it would be a tenuous argument and one I bet you won’t win in a couple more years. Let’s get on the front foot.

A friend of mine, let’s call her Devil’s Advocate, said to me, ‘Yes, but Kate,  if you were invited to join a Jewish family for dinner on a Friday night would you ask them to ditch the prayers  and the candles because they aren’t relevant to you? Would you ask for a bacon sandwich because you don’t like fish? No, you wouldn’t.’

Church and State should be friends, but not partners

Devil’s Advocate is right, but only because in that situation, I’d be a guest. I’m interested in and respectful of other faiths. Sometimes I’d prefer them to my own.

The 49.8% of Australians who identify as non-Christian aren’t guests, they are citizens. They shouldn’t have to accept tradition in the name of good manners. I believe our traditions should change along with our population – in the name of what’s right.

‘But so much of what we do is symbolic,’ Devil’s Advocate went on, ‘What about the welcome to country ceremonies that happen all the time now? You love them. I’ve seen you get teary.’

Yes, yes I do. But it’s not the same thing at all. When an indigenous elder welcomes people to his land, it’s a host-guest thing. He says welcome, I say thanks for having us, it’s pretty simple.

This is simple too. Church and state should be friends but not partners. Particularly in Australia, where when we say, ‘church’, no one  knows exactly which faith we’re talking about. There are so many and it’s wrong to suggest one is more important than any other.

There’s talk of a general, non-denominational prayer replacing the Lord’s Prayer. Like the non-denominational grace Gen Xs will remember from Romper Room – for our family our friends and our food, we say, thank you. (Who? Who were we thanking? Mum? She chopped the fruit.)

The one prayer-fits-all idea is nice enough idea, I guess, but really, why bother? Imagine the time, energy and brainpower that will be wasted on writing and approving such a prayer. A prayer that 20 percent of Australians believe would be about as effective as reading Possum Magic out loud.

It might be a tradition, but it’s an outdated outdated one. Let’s rip the bandaid off. I bet there won’t even be a scar.

Do you think the Lords Prayer should be said in Parliament?