Thursday, May 31, 2007

Prayer and Parliament

Margaret Wilson is asking MPs to consider scrapping Parliament's daily prayer. The issue has cropped up before, and as I pointed out last time, we are a secular country, not a Christian one. While individual MPs can have whatever religious beliefs they like, having our legislature officially pray to the Christian god before commencing its business smacks of state religion and violates the principle of a religiously neutral state. And the same would apply to an official observance of any other religion. It is long past time it was done away with, and religion put firmly where it belongs: between individuals and their consciences.


As a pastafarian, I recommend the following new prayer for our parliamentarians.

Our spaghetti
Who art in the colander
Hallowed be thy sauce
Thy serving come
Thy strands be wrung
On forks as they are on spoons
Give us this day our daily meatball
And forgive us our starchiness
As we forgive those who are starchy against us
And lead us not into Kraft parmessan
But deliver us from Chef Boy Ardee
For thine is the garlic
And the onion and the bay leaves
For ever and ever.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 08:02:00 AM

I would much prefer a system where any religious group can ask to be added to the list, and they're simply worked through in order, with a representative of the group performing the opening prayer on the day.

Perhaps just because there are people that I would like to see performing their prayers in parliament :)

Posted by Moz : 5/31/2007 10:32:00 AM

The thing about the Parliamentary prayer is linked to our Christian heritage and whether we should have a state reltition,

Im not so fussed whether we have a state religion or a prayer in parliament, but denying our Christian heritage is akin to denying that Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand.

Posted by Swimming : 5/31/2007 10:39:00 AM

Hey Dave,

You can stick your imginary man in the clouds up your ass!


The Bible is a crock of shit, Jesus was just a carpenter who the Pharisees didnt like, and Adam and Eve didnt exist. (How > 6 billon people got here from 2 is beyond me).

Man and scicence rules. People like you are destined for the scrap heap.

Bring on a secular socialst society in which people enjoy like and have heaps of fun and not kowtow to a "Father".

Brendon "Millsy" Mills.
Man of Science, Reason and Good times!

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 11:07:00 AM

Myself – I’m quite keen on buddha.

Western philosophy has been buggering around for thousands of years in order to get to the point of saying exactly the same thing that buddha was saying 2000 years ago.

Also - he is fat and he laughs a lot.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 12:02:00 PM

Dave: Im not so fussed whether we have a state religion or a prayer in parliament

Well, if you want the right to practice your religion in peace without interference by the state, you ought to be. Because that is what both of those things attack.

Freedom of religion necessarily entails a neutral state which does not support some beliefs over others. Parliament opening every day with a Christian prayer clearly flies in the face of that principle. And if you can't grasp that, think of how loudly you'd be screaming if they opened every day with a black mass instead.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/31/2007 12:22:00 PM

Milsy - fuck off.

I/S - this may surprise you,but I couldn't care less whether they opened parliament with a black mass, if MPs treat the black mass like the current prayer with the irrelevance they currently do.

I don't need backup of a state religion to recognise or restrict any practice of my belief system. I believe you can have freedom of religions along with an acknowledgment of our Christian heritage - and should do, actually.

Posted by Swimming : 5/31/2007 02:02:00 PM

At Millsy:
Using a growth rate of 0.5% per year it is possible to get to 6billion in about 4000years from an inital population of 8 (post flood).
Of course this does pose other problems such as where Moses got 599,637 men to follow him during the Exodus and many others.

Posted by Unknown : 5/31/2007 02:18:00 PM

Millsy: I prefer the theory that Christianity was invented by the Romans as a means of social control.

They looked at the social coherence of the Jewish people and decided that "Judaism 2.0" was an ideal replacement for their hard-to-handle pantheism (where if you didn't like what your god told you, you could find yourself a better god).

Posted by Rich : 5/31/2007 02:34:00 PM

I think the original intention of the prayer is as valuable as ever: that MPs, before debating, acknowledge they are gathered for higher purposes than partisan politics. However, a specifically Christian prayer is clearly inappropriate. And spoken prayers that attempt to be completely indpendent of any tradition don't tend to satisfy anybody.

We have an alternative tradition in some public gatherings that provides a similarly prayerful and reflective attitude without creating complications: shared silence. I'm not aware of any faith that forbids people to pray silently, and those who don't believe in a higher power can still use the time to contemplate why they're there. Shared silence also carries an implicit message of collective responsibility: any one person could ruin it, so when it happens it's at least one thing the group is capable of working together on.

I would like to see Parliament begin with a few minutes of silence.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 03:01:00 PM

denying our Christian heritage is akin to denying that Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand

Well I might suggest that our heritage has more than Christianity in it, even if we limit ourselves to religious influence. And as statement of fact, it doesn't by itself tell us anything about what we should be doing now.

And, (speaking as godless) I don't actually see anyone denying it.

As it happens I think it's part of our (enlightenment) christian tradition that we have a state that doesn't explicitly support any religion. Or, according to the Statement, explicitly doesn't, which is really all that business is about.

Incidentally, as Russel Brown notes, the prayer thing isn't really news in that its an expected part of a process that's been running openly for a while.

Hope you don't feel too unwelcome, Dave.

Posted by Lyndon : 5/31/2007 03:14:00 PM

Issac - well said. Seconded.

Posted by Lyndon : 5/31/2007 03:16:00 PM

As I said at Kiwiblog (although since the site is so slow, the post isn't on the main page yet):

I would transform it into a reminder that MPs are there to serve the people of NZ and removing all the religion crap. Hence:

As representatives of the people of New Zealand, we lay aside all private and personal interests, and conduct the affairs of this House and of our country to the benefit of all New Zealanders, ensuring the maintenance of justice, and secure the public welfare, peace and tranquillity of New Zealand.

Posted by G7 : 5/31/2007 03:25:00 PM

As usual Isaac is right. Shared silence is an excellent idea.


Posted by Anonymous : 5/31/2007 06:23:00 PM

Isaac: good idea. Though as a rabid democrat and republican (something which makes perfect sense to non-Americans), I'm quite partial to G7's suggestion as well. Reminding them that they're there to serve us, the voters, would not go amiss.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/01/2007 12:08:00 AM

Excellent suggestion, G7 - MPs are there to represent we the people, and a formal reminder wouldn't go amiss. As for examining their consciences in silence, let them do that in their own time. En masse it'd be an exercise in pious pomposity.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/01/2007 12:52:00 AM

Millsy: I know the shutdown of the sewer has left you without a home, but if you'd like to comment here, I'd prefer you to show a better standard of behaviour. If you're incapable of that, I suggest you confine your trolling to Kiwiblog.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/01/2007 02:38:00 AM

Poor old Millsy. Big hugs Brendon.

Love and may God bless you and keep you.

Posted by Muerk : 6/01/2007 09:15:00 AM

Millsy - grow up. There is nothing to gain by insulting someone's beliefs. You could try a rational argument, but resorting to such sewer-talk just shows how petty you are. Learn to be respectful.

The idea of a one minute of silence is also a good idea. But it would be rather odd given that one minute silence is usually reserved for remembering a tragic occurrence (although I suppose for libertarians and anarchists it would be appropriate).

Posted by G7 : 6/01/2007 09:30:00 AM

Im sorry, its just that I find the notion of a "God" and his "Son" right up there with the notion of a "Tooth Fairy" or "Santa Claus". I mean really, I am amazed that adults actually still belive in this crap. We can send men to the moon, and plumb the ocean and use radio waves to communicate with people all over the world, but we still belive that we go here by some guy waving a magic(k) wand (and thats what it effectively is). Imagine how people people killed because of this? Remember it was men of "God" who burned a man at the stake because he dared suggest that the earth revolve round the sun.

Anyway, if anything, we should be worshipping the Greek and Roman gods, because it was from them that we derived pretty much most of our modern day instiutions, the calendar and our system of goverment being one of them. (I dont seem a month named Jesus, or Moses, do I?). After all they are way more fun. I mean, who would pass up a steamy evening of great sex, great wine and good times during a religous festival...

Brendon "Millsy" Mills
Blogosphere troll, Atheist, and Hip Cat...

Posted by Anonymous : 6/01/2007 10:16:00 AM

Sorry - but you can't be a "hip cat" while also having the nickname "millsy". One or the other.

Someone with the nickname "millsy" is a "hip cat" in the same way that John Key is when he tries to appeal to the younger generation.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/01/2007 10:41:00 AM

"I mean really, I am amazed that adults actually still belive in this crap."

Surely you realise that there is something innate in the human psyche that wants to believe in this crap.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/01/2007 10:46:00 AM

Millsy - I am an athiest too. But I still think that if people want to hold weird ideas about the universe being created in 6 days around 10,000 years ago, that they can.

What I get annoyed about is when people force their religion on to me. At that point, they're the ones who have broken the barrier and I let my floodgates open.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/01/2007 11:28:00 AM

"I find the notion of a "God" and his "Son" right up there with the notion of a "Tooth Fairy" or "Santa Claus". I mean really, I am amazed that adults actually still belive in this crap."

You'll be an adult someday too, Millsy. The early symptoms will likely manifest as a dawning realisation that you don't have all the answers.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/01/2007 11:28:00 AM

Millsy: "the calendar"

And that calendar would be... the Gregorian calendar? After Pope Gregory XIII? And yes, I know that the Gregorian was an improved version of the Julian, but still - LOL.

Anyways, as to why people believe? Science can answer questions that are measurable and quantifiable, but it's no good at those existential issues.

Science won't tell us why you're a troll for example.


Posted by Anonymous : 6/01/2007 03:35:00 PM

Muerk: And that calendar would be... the Gregorian calendar? After Pope Gregory XIII?

Yes. But I'd hardly rank calendar reform as one of the church's achievements, given that people had been telling them that it was busted for 800 years. As usual, the church had responded to empiricism with persecution...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/01/2007 03:58:00 PM


You're being a prat. Even the confirmed atheists (like me) think so.

Please either stop it or go away.

Posted by Mr Wiggles : 6/04/2007 11:58:00 AM