At 7.30am on the 6th February 2023, the opening day of parliament for 2023, the first thing that the Governor-General, the prime minister and the leader of the opposition did was to attend an ecumenical church service at St Paul’s Church in Manuka, ACT, to receive the blessing of the church for the parliamentary year.
On 25 February 2023 the prime minister, (who affirmed rather than swear on the Bible at his swearing in July 2022) marched in the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney.
But in the Anglican Church on 6 February, the prime minister read a lesson from Book of Psalms, 24, 1-5:
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Saviour.
After the service, the members and senators returned to parliament and at 10am the Speaker of the House of Representatives commenced business with the following prayers:
Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee to vouch safe Thy blessing upon this Parliament. Direct and prosper our deliberations to the advancement of Thy glory, and the true welfare of the people of Australia.
This was followed by the Lord’s Prayer, Luke 11, 2-4.
The annual church service is organised by the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship (PCF) and the ACT Churches Council.
They also organise an annual ‘Prayer Breakfast’ held in the Great Hall of the parliament, with a guest speaker and say, ‘The PCF hosts a number of events throughout the year, some of which are open to the public.’
So, what are these events occurring in the federal parliament, that are not open to the public?
What compels the Governor-General, the prime minister, and the leader of the opposition to attend a church service to mark the opening of the parliament when no such service occurs for the opening of the state parliaments — or the parliament of New Zealand?
The 2021 Census found that citizens identifying as Christians had slipped to 44 per cent. Therefore, they are no longer a majority in Australia.
Why do we still have Christian prayers in the supposedly secular parliament and why does government defer to Christianity by participating in a religious service prior to the opening of parliament?