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Prayer in Parliament – “Inside the Canberra Press Gallery: Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House” – Rob Chalmers 

May 29th, 2012 · No Comments · Atheism, Australiana, Christianity, Democracy, Politics, Religion

Yet many people would believe no prayer is needed, from whatever faith. When the Federal Parliament first met after Federation, no prayer was offered. This led to a storm of protest from various Christian evangelical organisations, the Parliament gave way to the pressure and the prayer became part of proceedings. Gregor McGregor, leader of the Labor Party in the first Senate, protested that the prayer was a breach of the Constitution.

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Devout Catholic Brian Harradine, the former independent senator, objected in the Senate to other senators reciting the prayer when it was being read by the President of the Senate. ‘We are not in church,’ he noted. Harradine protested that the Senate’s Standing Orders stated the President and nobody else would say the prayer. When the President began reading the prayer, in a clear protest, Senator Peter Baume would don his yarmulke (a skullcap) and recite a Jewish prayer.

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