The Presbyterian Church is urging parliamentarians to keep Jesus’ name in the prayer that traditionally opens each sitting of parliament.
“I understand the concern around the archaic language of the parliamentary prayer and the desire to pray in Te Reo, which I heartily commend,” says Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, the Rt Rev Richard Dawson.
“However, the ‘neutralising’ of the prayer by removing Jesus’ name from it assumes that one can esteem all religions by naming none of them – that to pray in general, or only to God – whomever God may be to you – will show general respect to all, and therefore be more acceptable.
“The mistake here is to assume that we can somehow deal with religious differences by proclaiming a ‘neutral space’ where no god is named and no heaven defined, where every colour is grey and music has become one note.
“When we speak the name of Jesus, we speak of the tolerance and understanding which make room for other beliefs, even though we may not share those beliefs.
“It is, of course, true that not all Kiwis are Christian. It is also true that not all Kiwis are areligious.
“The teachings and example of Jesus are something that most of us can appreciate whether we are religious or not - showing compassion for others, helping out those that you can, being sincere, loving your enemies and not giving in to hate.
“These are good things for our politicians to keep in mind in the House in their debates and decision- making.
“Praying for the Queen is an acknowledgement of our ancestors whose communal efforts have bequeathed to us the world we now inhabit. To pray for the crown by praying for the Queen acknowledges the history of our present constitutional status, honours those who gave it to us and lifts up all who now participate in it.
“The Queen is a vital link to that past and to incorporate her in our prayer is to invite God, in a very real way, to redeem the present.
“So let’s continue to acknowledge our past in this wonderful country where people of all faiths live alongside one another in peace.”