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Abolish official prayers in the Australian Parliament

This petition had 16 supporters

Both Houses of the Australian Parliament start each sitting day with official prayers. The standing orders of the House of Representatives and the Senate require the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate to read two prayers: the Lord's Prayer and another prayer based on 'A Prayer for the High Court of Parliament' from the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer.

Australia is a religiously diverse and multicultural nation. It is inconsistent with the diversity of our nation for the Parliament to have official prayers based on one particular religious denomination.

The Australian Parliament should not officially endorse particular religious denominations or beliefs. Doing so sends a message to non-adherents of the favoured religious denomination that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favoured members of the political community. The Australian Parliament should not play favourites among religious denominations or between religious citizens and non-religious citizens.

Official prayers are also inconsistent with Australia's constitutional values. Section 116 of the Australian Constitution prohibits laws for imposing religious observances such as prayers or making religion relevant to holding public office.

The time has come to abolish official prayers in Parliament. The Senate and House of Representatives should amend their standing orders to abolish official prayers.

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