Councillor Puts a Stop to Local Government Prayer in New Zealand March 13, 2012

Councillor Puts a Stop to Local Government Prayer in New Zealand

For 170 years now, the Wanganui District Council and its predecessors in New Zealand have been saying a prayer at meetings. Since 2004, the prayer went something like this:

Eternal God, source of all wisdom; As we reflect upon all those good things that we enjoy in this city and district, help us to make and keep our community a good place to be for all who live and work here.

Grant that through our deliberations and decisions we will provide wise and positive leadership, seeking to solve problems effectively and justly, so that with courage and compassion, vision and energy, we may instil in our community aroha and harmony.

Amen.

But they won’t be praying during their meetings anymore. They’re not even going to pray before the official meetings begin. The reason? They know they’re going to get sued over it and lose, and the cost of defending themselves is just too much:

[Councillor] Philippa Baker-Hogan said such a challenge [against the prayers] would likely succeed, and the council could not afford to spend any more ratepayers’ money on the issue, having already shelled out almost $24,000 in legal advice.

“Times change and traditions change. The time is right to make a pragmatic decision and move the prayer out of the agenda.”

The best part about all this?

The threat of a lawsuit came from one of the councillors 🙂

The picture I previously posted of Solomon wasn't nearly as pleasant as this one, so I switched them

Councillor Clive Solomon, who first raised an objection to the prayer back in April, tabled the new information.

Dr Solomon indicated he would mount a legal challenge if his request to remove the prayer was defeated yesterday.

American, can we elect some leaders like him?

(Thanks to Steve for the link!)

"I think that's what Deadbabyjoke calls him sometimes."

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Matto the Hun

    Don’t you just love the “scary-angle” photo of Councillor Solomon?

  • Sam

    In a country that has no seperation of church & state in it’s constitution (because it has no constittution).
    In a country that has a head of state that is also the head of a church.
    In a country that 6 years ago, one third of the population declared themselves to have “No Religion” in a census. (Can’t wait for next years census to see how much that number has grown)

    One of these statements seems to lead to common sense. Guess which one?

  • XXXY

    I was starting to become interested in what this post had to say, but I’m beginning to realize that atheists are a pushy, whiny, seld-centered lot. You guys are not even graceful winners!

    Were many of you hall monitors when you were kids? Did you Stop pick-up ball games because someone broke the rules?  Did you Raise your hand to tell the teacher that someone was cheating on a test?

  • Dbaker13

    Yep. Pushy, whiny, and self-centered lot who fight for equality of others when their, and our, rights arent respected.

    Lolwut?

  • Slow Learner

    Please point out how, specifically, this is ungraceful winning?

    Because you sound awfully like a tone troll.

  • Edmond

    Were you a frequent rule-breaker or test-cheater?  Did you resent the hall monitors for doing their jobs?  Do you often try to shame people away from doing the right thing by calling them names?

    Atheists believe that government meetings should actually focus on the GOVERNMENT, rather than waste time with rituals.  We believe that governments should reflect the diversity and plurality that are present in the people they govern.  They shouldn’t be making any citizens feel like outsiders by promoting one religious view over another.  They shouldn’t be promoting religion AT ALL.

    It’s not as if anyone is forbidding these people from praying.  They have plenty of time for that at home, in the car, or before starting the meeting.  They haven’t been assembled to showcase their piety.  They’re there to do a job.

  • Ndonnan

    Yes they are there to represent the diversity of the people and they have plenty of Mouri people[new zealand natives]and if most want to pray before a meeting,so be it, hardly wasting time [30 seconds anyway] It is another petty complaint that isnt going to win any votes for the councilor,on the contry he will be voted out at the next election

  • Slow Learner

    They are there to represent the diversity of the people. So they can’t have a prayer that shuts some people out. Given that the prayer ends with Amen, it doesn’t represent any follower of any faith except the Abrahamic three.
    Way to undermine your own argument…

  • Edmond

    Then the next guy, who DOES want to force EVERYONE (adherents and non alike) to listen to the prayers and rituals of his favorite religion, can pay for the legal fees for the inevitable lawsuit.

    They are NOT THERE for “church services”, which is where prayers belong.  How about if they all went to church, stopped the sermon, and said, “Pastor, could we have a few minutes to go over the district budget?”  Obviously, church is the wrong place for that.  And the district council chambers are the wrong place for church matters.

    Let one guy do it for 30 seconds, and soon it will be a minute, then 2, then 10.  Soon they’ll be using their prayer time to preach and proselytize and warn of hellfire and damnation.  It’s just inappropriate to do it at all.

    Religion is a personal thing, different for each person.  Let each person pray or worship in their own way, on their own time.  Allotting time to make it part of government business ostracizes people whose religion isn’t represented.

  • Ndonnan

    who are you kidding really,fighting for others oh please dont kid yourself. stop a prayer,take down a banner,oh no a nativity scene, real scary threat, keep up the fight for the down trodden