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Boroondara, no more Council Prayer

This petition had 1,058 supporters

The City of Boroondara Council starts meetings with a prayer. “Almighty God, we humbly seek your blessings upon this council. Direct and prosper its deliberations to the advancement of your glory and the true welfare of the people of the City of Boroondara. Amen”

The Mayor calls on a Councillor to read it and asks all to stand, as in the picture. When it’s read, the Mayor says “you may be seated” and an Acknowledgement of Country is read.

The prayer is an anachronism that should arguably have never been introduced. Council chambers are not churches. Most Australians, 57% according to an IPSOS survey in 2016, believe it’s very important to separate personal religious beliefs from the business of government, with another 21% believing it’s somewhat important.

Council says this has been happening since the 1960s, but it may be earlier. There was a push by Christians for this to happen in Councils in the mid 1950s. It was controversial even then. 

The prayer is not inclusive of the community: In 2001, 19% of people from Boroondara said in the census that they had no religion. In 2016, it was 37%. In 2001, 63% identified as Christian. In 2016 it was 46%. If this trend has continued, now, when the census is being done, there will be more without religion than who are Christian. 

Then, of course, there are increasingly people of other faiths. The prayer is not inclusive of other religions, even if religion were held to be a fit and proper part of Council proceedings. It is a Judeo-Christian prayer. It’s origins are in the Christian Common book of prayer.

Council says the prayer serves to centre them on their duty to the people, but this can surely be done by a secular ceremony like an affirmation, which reminds them of their oath of office.

Councillors, if you wish to pray, you may best do it before you enter the chamber. 

A new Councillor, Victor Franco, moved on May 24th to remove the prayer from the Meeting Procedures but he only got one other vote. Councillors said the prayer is fine, no-one had said to them it should go. However, the meeting procedures are being reviewed so a petition with a lot of signatures may convince them that the people do not like a prayer at Council.

Please sign, especially if you live in the City of Boroondara - covering Ashburton, Balwyn, Balwyn North, Camberwell, Canterbury, Deepdene, Glen Iris (Shared with the City of Stonnington), Hawthorn, Hawthorn East, Kew, Kew East, Mont Albert (Shared with the City of Whitehorse), and Surrey Hills (Shared with the City of Whitehorse).

Please also make a submission. They close on June 25th.

We want to present this petition to Council at the meeting at which they will decide on the meeting rules on Monday 26th July at the 6:30 meeting.

So please sign up now and send this to your like-minded friends.

We, the undersigned, petition the Mayor and Councillors of the Boroondara City Council to remove the reference to the Council Prayer from the Governance Rules, and cease its use at Council meetings.

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