Well done David Carter.
The Speaker of the House has announced that the traditional prayer he uses to open daily sittings of Parliament will remain as it is, with its Christian references.
He undertook a very low-key consultation process with MPs and offered an alternative that would remove religious references to “Almight God” and “Jesus Christ our Lord” from the English version.
However his alternative prayer included lines in Maori – E te Atua Kaha Rawa – that translates to “Almighty God,” something Assistant Speaker Trevor Mallard described as “almost dishonest.”
As well as that, the Speaker would have included a daily acknowledgment to the local tribe Te Ati Awa.
Mr Carter would entertain no debate on an alternative; it would be either the current prayer or the alternative he proposed.
He refused any comment, clearly seeing it as a matter only for MPs.
Today he issued a statement saying:
“A substantial majority of members expressed a view to retain the existing prayer. I intend to respect that wish.”
This means we MPs have stuck with the present prayer which reads:
Humbly acknowledging our need for Thy guidance in all things, and laying aside all private and personal interests, we beseech Thee to grant that we may conduct the affairs of this House and of our country to the glory of Thy holy name, the maintenance of true religion and justice, the honour of the Queen, and the public welfare, peace, and tranquillity of New Zealand, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The alternative that has been rejected would have read:
E te Atua Kaha Rawa
(Translation: Almighty God)
Ka whakamanawa taua hunga katoa kua riro atu i mua i a tatau – moe mai okioki
(We honour those who have gone before us – rest, slumber on)
We recognise the mana whenua, Te Ati Aawa, the kaitiaki of this region, Te Upoko-o-Te-Ika-a-Maui.
We acknowledge the need for guidance and lay aside all private and personal interests so that we may conduct the affairs of this House for the maintenance of justice, the honour of the Queen and the public welfare, peace, and tranquillity of New Zealand.
Much too PC for Alf.
He recalls a previous attempt in recent years to change the daily prayer.
Back in 2007 the Standing Orders Committee considered Dr Anthony Hochberg’s petition to amend the wording of the parliamentary prayer, It decided to retain the current wording.
This followed the outcome of a survey of MPs conducted by the Speaker, Margaret Wilson in those days, on behalf of the committee.
Alf is pleased to say he was on the side of a strong majority in favour of the status quo.
MPs voted to retain the parliamentary prayer at the start of each House sitting day. Seventy-four members or 84 percent of respondents agreed in the survey that a prayer should continue to be recited at the beginning of each sitting.
Fifty-five members or 63 percent of respondents who thought a prayer should continue to be recited, considered that the wording of the current prayer should not be reconsidered.
The Standing Orders Committee said the survey showed the prayer was a tradition that Members generally wished to retain in its current form.
However, the Committee said it was important to recognise that some members of the House did not agree with that position or identify with the prayer.
The Speaker’s suggestion that she conduct a survey to determine if there was a mood among Members favouring a change had been made while the Committee was considering the petition from Hochberg and nine others, which had gathered a bit of dust by then because it was presented on 3 December, 2003.
The petition asked that the House continue to open its sittings with a prayer, but with amended wording.
The effect of the proposed wording would have been that the prayer would no longer be specifically Christian in nature.
Much the same thing would have been the outcome this time, too, except for a reference to The Almighty in the Maori language.
Why He couldn’t be mentioned in English is odd, because Maori would not have known about Him if it hadn’t been for the missionaries who came here in the 1800s.
This is noted by Ewen McQueen on his blog:
These sorts of changes may seem minor to some, but they are not. They are decisions about our national identity – about the foundational values that define who we are. In this context, the rituals and symbols of Parliament are important cultural touchstones. Changes to them should not be made lightly. They should certainly not be made after a short consultation with a few MPs and no public input.
What is even more disappointing however, is the continual drive to expunge all traces of Christianity from our culture. This move comes at a time when we are about to celebrate 200 years since Te Harinui, glad tidings of great joy, was first preached on these shores. The bicentenary of Samuel Marsden’s famous service at Rangihoua on Christmas Day 1814 is just two weeks away. This is a time we should be reflecting on our spiritual heritage with gratitude – not seeking to further secularise our nation.
Indeed we wouldn’t even have the nation we enjoy today were it not for the influence that Christianity had on early New Zealand. Te Harinui completely transformed these islands and laid the foundation for the Treaty (refer my ODT article from Waitangi Day this year). The secularists may not like it but the historical reality is that New Zealand was birthed out of the Judeo-Christian faith. It is in our spiritual DNA.
Alf’s mate The Whale expresses things more robustly:
He was commenting on Trevor Mallard’s railing against all the religion in the new prayer being in the Maori part so the vast majority of listeners would not be aware they are listening to a prayer.
“In a way it is almost dishonest.”
But The Whale said the problem isn’t whether there is a prayer by stealth – the problem is the apparent secularisation of parliament.
This is to pander to those that are “uncomfortable” or “offended” by a Christian prayer.
And this, my dear reader, is how it starts. This is the first step.
The future: No more Christmas celebration at the mall. Instead: Holiday celebrations.
Removal of any Christian symbology, such as crosses, nativity scenes, and so on.
The next step? After removing most of the traditions of our own culture, we need to “even it up to make it fair” by also allowing other cultures to have their traditions integrated into our every day life.
The rot is slow. The rot is insidious.
And it happens in government and councils. All you have to do is study how it all started in Europe 3 or 4 decades ago.
He is disconcertingly correct.
A mate of Alf has received a card from some PC-infected tossers at the ANZ Bank.
It wished him Happy Holidays.
Presumably the ANZ Bank’s staff will be sitting down to a Holidays dinner instead of Christmas dinner and their kids will be receiving Holidays presents from Father Holidays.