NATIONAL AFFAIRS: by Paul MonagleNews Weekly
Scant media coverage of Parliamentary Prayer Service
, December 21, 2013
On October 8, 2013, more than 200 MPs and senators and their staff gathered for the traditional Parliamentary Prayer Service in Canberra to mark the commencement of a new parliament. This year’s service was held at St Christopher’s Catholic Cathedral in the nation’s capital.
At the service the new Liberal Prime Minister Mr Tony Abbott read from the Book of Wisdom, while the Labor Opposition leader Mr Bill Shorten read from Proverbs. The church leaders present included the host, Monsignor John Woods, who was joined by leaders of the Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran and Uniting Church denominations.
The service was organised by Mrs Louise Marcus, Liberal member for Mitchell, an outer western Sydney seat. Mrs Marcus is currently the chair of the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship.
There was little media coverage of this important event. It was noteworthy that most Cabinet members, ministers and parliamentary secretaries thought it important enough to attend, even though the commencement of the new parliament makes for a busy day with the first Question Time scheduled for later in the day.
Most of the news coverage gave considerable prominence to the “welcome to country” and smoking ceremonies, which are now regular features of the parliamentary commencement program.
Later in the morning, all members were sworn in as MPs or senators in the respective parliamentary chambers.
It was especially significant that almost all Coalition members swore on the Bible (most members bringing their own copies for that purpose), while most of the Labor Opposition made an affirmation.
Last year, when the ACT’s Labor/Greens government almost lost the speakership to the Liberals’ Mrs Vicki Dunne, Mrs Dunne proposed that the ACT parliament also commence the new term with a Christian prayer service.
The ACT Labor/Greens government went as far as to have such a service banned — which is hardly surprising from a government that passed the first same-sex “marriage” legislation in Australia.
This government is also proposing to introduce changes to birth certificates which will provide for the registration of males, females, transgender or “indeterminate” individuals.
Paul Monagle is president of the ACT branch of the Australian Family Association.