Appeal to tradition fail

27 10 2008

From ABC News Online:

The Federal Government and Opposition have both given the thumbs down to calls to change or abandon the Lord’s Prayer recited at the beginning of each day of federal Parliament. [. . .]

A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said the Prime minister viewed the prayer as an important tradition that should not be broken. [. . .]

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace said Christianity had had a profound impact on shaping our laws, culture and democracy.

“It’s appropriate that we open parliaments with the Lord’s Prayer for its cultural and historic relevance,” he said. [. . .]

I have never yet heard a non-fallacious argument for the retention of this particular artefact of religious sectarianism in a constitutionally secular democracy, and as you can see, we are still waiting for one. Malcolm Turnbull claims that the opening prayer “is an important reminder of our shared humanity.” Whose shared humanity, Malcolm? Large numbers of humans don’t share your religious beliefs. Do they not count as human?

For the fundies, the issue is crystal-clear. The ACL’s Lyle Shelton opines: “we need to decide, do we appreciate the values of our society, (or) are we saying we want to reflect a different set of ethics in the way that we run our country?” Got it? Take God out of the parliament, and the result is fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes . . . The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria! And whatever one thinks of the merits of Jim Wallace’s bald assertion that Christianity (whose Christianity? Jim’s Christianity?) had a role to play in “shaping our laws, culture and democracy,” why does it follow that Parliament should open with a Christian prayer? What does one thing have to do with another?

In a liberal democracy, the legislature should open to all believers and non-believers. Opening parliament with a Christian prayer grants a Most Favoured Religion (TM) status to a particular religion, and there is no place for that in a liberal democracy. Nor do I really see a need for the “moment of quiet reflection” proposed by Bob Brown. MPs sitting in nervous silence while their colleagues mutter incantations to their sky-daddy is a waste of taxpayer’s money. Just get on with it. Parliament House is not a church.

See also: Matt’s Notepad.

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3 responses

28 10 2008
Grumpy

Hear, hear

26 04 2011
Teresa Jones

the key reasons why

23 05 2011
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