MEDIA RELEASE – 4 December 2014 (Updated 12 Dec)
UPDATE (12 December) – media have reported that the Speaker of the House has decided to retain the current prayer.
Concern over Parliamentary Prayer Decision
New Zealand Christian Network director Glyn Carpenter has raised concerns ahead of a decision on the prayer used in parliament.
Parliament’s speaker Rt. Hon. David Carter has written to all Members of Parliament seeking their views on an alternative prayer by this Friday.
Carpenter has written to MPs supporting the updating of language and inclusion of te reo Maori, but stating that if it’s an either/or choice between the current Christian prayer and the proposed alternative, there are good reasons to retain the status quo.
“This Christmas Day we mark 200 years since the Christian message was first preached in New Zealand” says Carpenter, “highlighting the fact that New Zealand is in many ways still a distinctively Christian country, even if many people no longer practise the faith.
“We’ve had many supportive responses, but also a couple that are hard to understand. One MP said that the House of Representatives must reflect the various faiths of all New Zealanders so that all New Zealanders feel represented by their Parliament, regardless of their religious beliefs”.
Carpenter says this is simply impossible. “How can the proposed new prayer that starts with “E te Atua Kaha Rawa (Almighty God)” make the 40% of New Zealanders who do not claim a belief in God feel included? How can a prayer not offered in the name of Jesus Christ make Christians feel included?
“It is a mistake to believe that all Christians will feel represented by a prayer that is made to some generic deity.
“If they want to get rid of the Christian prayer, then they should have the courage to be upfront and say so” says Carpenter. But let’s not pretend there’s a way to satisfy everyone on this matter”.
The Christian prayer should be retained in Parliament, reflecting our heritage, culture, and the faith that is foundational in our society, and still claimed by nearly 50% of New Zealanders.
New Zealand Christian Network is a broad-spectrum network of churches and Christian leaders, with a Board of Reference that includes leaders from all the main denominations. It seeks to present a biblically orthodox position on issues, reflecting the views of the majority of Christians in New Zealand. For queries or further information contact : Glyn Carpenter
National Director, New Zealand Christian Network