Thoughts and prayers: examining religious practices in parliament

A stained glass window in a church

Caitlin Young

A stained-glass window in St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, across the road from federal parliament in Canberra.

Since 1901, parliamentary sittings have been opened with a reading of the Lord’s Prayer.

But as the balance begins to shift in Australia towards a majority non-Christian population, religious practices embedded within our parliament are increasingly being called into question.

The ACT Legislative Assembly is the only parliament in Australia that does not use the practice. Instead, it has an opening statement as an invitation to pray or reflect in silence.

Caitlin Young talks to those on both sides of the debate about the connection between church and the state.