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Prayers in Parliament Should be Replaced

New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists (Inc)
Media Release

Prayers in Parliament Should be Replaced


The New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists supports Matt Robson's attempt to replace the Parliamentary prayer with a statement reflecting New Zealand's secular state.

The prayer read in Parliament is out-dated and offensive to the many people in New Zealand who do not hold religious beliefs. The prayer asks for guidance from God in conducting the affairs of the House and the country, to glorify his name and maintain "true religion". This prayer does not reflect the nature of New Zealand. Ours is a country with a large proportion of non-believers: in the 2001 Census, over a million respondents stated they had no religion, the largest single group in the Census results. According to comparative surveys of opinion polls and census results, New Zealand is one of the most atheistic countries worldwide.

The prayer is also inappropriate because New Zealand is a secular state, where government, administration and law are carried out without reference to religious authority. Our institutions manage to do their work without guidance from any god.

Since the prayer was initiated in 1854, many rationalists and free-thinkers have served in Parliament, including John Balance, Robert Stout, Michael Joseph Savage and John A Lee, who was a long-standing member of the Auckland Rationalist Association. New Zealand has a strong tradition of rationalism in Parliament and the country, which continues today. Free-thinkers in Parliament should not be obliged to assent to a prayer which speaks only for a religious minority. The aims of Parliament should be stated in a form which all members can affirm, without reference to any religious belief.

NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists

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