In Ireland, members of the Dáil (the Irish House of Representatives, if you will) voted 97-18 yesterday to force all members to stand up during a daily recitation of Christian prayer, followed by another 30 seconds of silent reflection.
The prayer, read before the start of business, usually by the Ceann Comhairle [a.k.a. the Speaker of the House — Hemant], states: “Direct we beseech Thee O Lord, our actions by Thy holy inspirations and carry them on by Thy gracious assistance; that every word and work of ours may always begin from Thee and by Thee be happily ended. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.”
Atheist Ireland is urging the representatives (TDs) not to stand for this forced prayer:
Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Labour Party all supported this vote, which breaches the human right to freedom of conscience of our TDs, and creates an unconstitutional religious test for the position of Ceann Comhairle.
Solidarity, People Before Profit, Independents 4 Change, the Social Democrats, the Green Party, and some Independents voted against. Sinn Fein abstained.
Our TDs should literally refuse to stand for this prayer, and we should all refuse to stand for the integration of Church and State that has allowed it to happen.
In a nation where the Catholic Church still has a lot of power, this is just the latest example of religion pushing its way into public policy.
It should be noted that there was pushback from some of the TDs. They proposed three separate amendments to the bill — to get rid of the prayer altogether, to force everyone to stand only for 60 seconds of silent reflection, and another to do it for just 30 seconds — but all of those were defeated.
The new rule will go into effect starting Tuesday.
Any politicians who refuse to stand will face disciplinary action, presumably in the form of giving up a day’s salary each time they remain seated, which is the current punishment for breaking the rules.
Note to the Irish: Don’t do what my country’s Republicans would love to do if they could get away with it. Trust me on this one.
(Thanks to Matt for the link)