Anger as Jesus reference removed from New Zealand parliamentary prayer
New Zealand Anger as Jesus reference removed from New Zealand parliamentary prayer
Christians descend on Wellington to protest decision of Labour speaker Trevor Mallard to omit the name
Protesters have descended on New Zealandâs parliament this week to demand the speaker reinstate references to Jesus Christ in the parliamentary prayer.
Since taking over the role in November last year, Labourâs Trevor Mallard has dropped any reference to Jesus in the prayer which opens the start of every session.
Mallard said he wanted to make the prayer more inclusive for all parliamentarians and the tweak was a âcompromiseâ.New Zealand earthquake: 6.2-magnitude shake halts parliament Read more
A reference to âalmighty godâ remains, but it is not a specific reference to a Christian god.
On Tuesday around 1,000 people protested on the steps of parliament house in Wellington, arguing that New Zealand was a Christian nation and Mallard had no authority to axe Jesusâs name.
The protesters want Jesusâs name reinstated, and held signs reading âDishonourable Judas Mallardâ.
âHe needs a good kick in his pants, and he needs to actually be removed because this is a Christian nation,â protester Rieki Teutscher told Radio NZ. âWe donât s hare his atheism.â
Another protester, Carmel Morgan, said Mallard should have consulted with New Zealanders or announced a referendum before changing the prayer.
âThis is a land of democracy, this is a land of freedom, you know, we want to be a first world country... he took that choice away from us.â
Politicians such as Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters have said it would have been judicious for the speaker to have consulted more widely before actioning the changes.
âWell the decision as to what should be changed should be made by parliamentarians and not the speaker â" thatâs our position, I donât mind telling you publicly,â deputy prime minister Winston Peters told RNZ.
âIf youâre going to make a change letâs have parliament decide â" not one person.â
Mallard said he had consulted with parliamentarians and the majority had indicated they were in favour of a secular prayer.
Since being unanimously elected as speaker Mallard has made headlines for a slew of progressive tweaks to parliament in a bid to make it a more inclusive and family-friendly environment, as well as making it more welcoming to every day New Zealanders.
Mallard kicked off his term by minding MPsâ babies in his speakerâs chair during parliamentary debates, allowing babies to be fed in the house, banning media from photographing the prime ministerâs daughter Neve, and planning a childrenâs playground on one of parliamentâs front lawns.
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