Robson Correct Over Parliamentary Prayer

18 October 2003 12:15:01

RELIGION

Libertarianz representatives Stephen Berry and Russell Watkins have joined Matt Robson’s call to drop Parliament’s opening prayer. “It is completely illegitimate for the state to endorse any religion, and having a prayer uttered in Parliament by the speaker is just that, an endorsement,” says Berry, who admits to being a “staunch atheist,” but says that this alone isn’t the reason for his opposition to the institutionalisation of religion by the state. “There has been a clear constitutional mandate for separation of church and state for hundreds of years,” he says, “and a parliamentary prayer is a blatant violation of that.”

Berry’s colleague Russell Watkins has found just the thing with which to replace the opening prayer – what he calls a ‘secular prayer’ by Ayn Rand to remind parliamentarians why they are there:

THE CHARTER: The source of the government’s authority is ‘the consent of the governed.’ This means that the government is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of the citizens; it means that the government, as such, has no rights, except the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose.

Watkins also suggests a more suitable oath with which to usher in each parliamentary term:

THE OATH: Each individual is the owner of his own life and has the right to live it as he sees fit, as long as he respects that same right in others. Each person has the right to create or lawfully acquire property, both real and intellectual, and to control its use. All interaction among adult human beings, in all spheres of life, should be voluntary. Voluntary societies are civil societies, coercive societies are not. Physical coercion must be removed from human affairs. The only acts that may properly be banned in a free society are those that involve the initiation of physical force or fraud by one party against another. In a free society, laws protect people and property from the initiation of physical force or fraud, and uphold voluntary contractual agreements. The only legitimate function of government is to uphold these principles. The only economic system consistent with these principles is the free market.

“One would like to think,” concludes Watkins, “that the use of the ‘secular prayer’ and the new oath might together concentrate the minds of parliamentarians on what their proper job actually is. For God’s sake, something has to!”

ENDS Stephen Berry Libertarianz Deputy Leader 0210375720 [email protected]