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Removing Jesus from the Parliamentary Prayer

Updated: May 19, 2022

In 2018, Jesus was removed from the Parliamentary Prayer without consultation. The prayer had been used for 165 years and was the first debate and motion passed on 24th May 1854,

The History of the Parliamentary Prayer

Those who drafted the New Zealand constitution were emphatic that it should guarantee strict equality for all. That was accepted as an axiom. Members met therefore in a watchful mood ready to scotch any infringement of the principle. The question arose almost at once. A South Island Scot, James Macandrew, moved that the first act of the House of Representatives should be a public acknowledgment of the divine being and a supplication for his favour on its future labours. Seconded by a Scot from Nelson, this was at once challenged by a Roman Catholic from Auckland, who protested against converting the House into a conventicle. An Aucklander said that he too felt deeply grateful to providence for having brought him to New Zealand, but as members were of various denominations, he would not care to see a clergyman of any particular sect brought in to say prayer. James Edward Fitzgerald, the supreme constitutionalist, held that the very appearance of a state religion should be avoided. With that in view, when the Canterbury Provincial Council was about to meet, the Church of England members attended service in their own parish church. At this stage, Mr Weld, who later became Sir Frederick Weld, Premier, begged that nothing should be done to impair the perfect religious equality of members. Mr Weld was an English born Roman Catholic. His amendment affirming the principle of religious equality was lost by 20 to 10, and Macandrew's motion was carried. Prayers were read by the Reverend F.J. Lloyd, Church of England, who it was said to be the first clergyman to be found. The House then saw no harm in giving the assurance Weld had asked.

The Original Parliamentary Prayer

“Almighty God, 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 Amended Parliamentary Prayer used today

"Almighty God, we give thanks for the blessings which have been bestowed on us. Laying aside all personal interests, we acknowledge the Queen and pray for guidance in our deliberations, that we may conduct the affairs of this House with wisdom, justice, mercy, and humility for the welfare and peace of New Zealand. Amen."

What happened when Jesus was removed from the Parliamentary Prayer?

Hundreds of Christians descended upon Parliament to protest. This was a significant event that sparked a movement. Watch the video below.

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