Hallowed be thy name

Social services are under pressure, the economy is bouncing around like a bunjy rope, and greenhouse gases are on the rise.  Yet our parliamentarians in Canberra still have found the time to create a debate as to whether the Lords Prayer should still be used to open sessions of Parliament. 

To summarise the press coverage, Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnball support the retention of the idea, and the hardworking but politically misguided leader of the Greens, Bob Brown, wants to place a thirty seconds of religiously neutral “reflective” meditative time after the prayer for those who do not subscribe to the Christian (or any) theology.

Some animated feedback has come in, particularly from non-Christian religions, which now represent about 8% of Australia’s population (in conjuction with the 20% of population with no religion). 

As a Jew I’d like to make the following comments.  I do not take offence at Parliament commencing with a prayer.   There are elements of theology within that prayer that are not consistent with my own beliefs (specifically, references to Jesus as a deity).  However I live in a predominently Christian country, and if my political representatives do subscribe to this belief, I support them to do so. 

As an aside, the Lord’s prayer, particularly in the initial verses, is essentially a translation of the Kaddish prayer, one of the Synagogues Aramaic compositions that attests the holiness of G-d.  If I translate Yitgadal veyitkadash sheme raba it means “great and holy is the great name” or, in more poetic english, “Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name……”     

Any Parliamentarian who is a Jew, Muslim, Bhuddist, or believer in another faith, is not compelled to participate in the Lord’s Prayer.  They can use their own meditative and ideological motivators to focus their decision making at any time.  They are also working in an institution that separates religion from State, therefore are not representing any one religious ideology into a political decision.  The religious beliefs of Elected Members are personal and should stay that way.  Respect and tolerance for the majority faith by non-Christian politicians should not waver, and has not posed a problem in the past.

I would far rather have political leadership that is guided by balanced religious morals and conviction than political leadership that subscribes to no faith or religious base.  We don’t have to share the same religion, but we do submit ourselves to the same ethic, mostly Abrahamic, which is built on core societal values.

In short, there should be no reason for any non-Christians to require change to Parliamentary convention.  The current tradition for opening Parliament allows the political leaders of a predominantly Christian country to commence their debate with a Christian prayer, and that is the way it should be.