In response to a push by some parliamentarians to end the recitation of prayer in the Victorian Parliament, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli has joined representatives of Victoria’s faith communities in writing to each member of the Victorian Parliament expressing ‘the fundamental and ongoing importance of prayer in Parliament’.

Calling on all Members of Parliament to recognise ‘the valuable role of prayer in Parliament and ensure its practice continues to play an integral part of our democratic tradition’, the letter is signed by Archbishop Comensoli; the Most Rev Dr Philip Freier, Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne; Sheikh Muhammad Nawas Saleem, Secretary of the Board of Imams Victoria; Shri Makarand Bhagwat, President of the Hindu Council of Australia (VIC); and Rabbi Ralph Genende OAM, Director of Jewish Life and Jewish Care, Interfaith and Community Liaison at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), and Rabbi of the Kesher Community.

The letter’s signatories observe that the short time of prayer with which each parliamentary sitting day opens is a ‘common tradition of the Westminster system’, and that both this tradition and the Acknowledgement of Country provide ‘a vital link to two important facets of our heritage’.

The majority of Victorians—Christian and non-Christian alike—believe in a God or a Higher Power other than themselves.

They also affirm the practice of reciting the Lord’s Prayer—a simple prayer ‘commonly held across traditions’ and ‘underpinned by crucial notions of forgiveness, gratitude, reconciliation, unity and the common good—recognising that we alone, are not the sole arbitrator of our destiny’.

While acknowledging that Victorians are ‘diverse in many ways’, the signatories point out that ‘the majority of Victorians—Christian and non-Christian alike—believe in a God or a Higher Power other than themselves’, calling Members of Parliament ‘to respect these beliefs and the rich, long-held traditions on which our parliamentary system has been built’.

‘Parliamentarians do not recite the Lord’s Prayer in Parliament because it is a workplace,’ they write, but ‘because it is an action of public acknowledgement of their responsible service to the people of Victoria.’

There are two simple ways you can support the continuation of prayer in parliament:

  • Sign this petition to the Legislative Council.
  • Write to your local state members of parliament and respectfully let them know your views. You can find out who your local MPs are here. Writing to both your Legislative Assembly member and to some or all of your five Legislative Council members is recommended.