Victoria May Remove Lord’s Prayer from Parliament Sittings

By Alfred Bui
Alfred Bui
Alfred Bui
Alfred Bui is an Australian reporter based in Melbourne and focuses on local and business news. He is a former small business owner and has two master’s degrees in business and business law. Contact him at
February 6, 2023Updated: February 7, 2023

The Australian state of Victoria may soon remove Lord’s Prayer from its upper and lower houses’ procedures as politicians return to the parliament from the new year break.

The long-standing tradition, which was started in 1918, is now at risk as several political parties have committed to having it scrapped when the state parliament resumes on Feb. 7.

In 2021, then-crossbencher Fiona Patten, who is an atheist and the leader of the Reason Party (previously known as Sex Party), proposed a motion to replace the prayer in the upper house with a moment of silence for politicians to reflect on their responsibilities to the people of Victoria.

Patten said her initiative was “pro-religion” and “pro-Christianity” and that the change was necessary at a time when there were significant shifts in religions and beliefs in Australia.

“This is about disadvantaging no one and making space for everyone,” she said.

“Our heritage is important. But it is not immutable, and I think it is certainly insufficient grounds to reject a simple change that reflects the changing nature of our community.”

Epoch Times Photo
Fiona Patten of the Reason Party speaks to the media outside Victorian Parliament in Melbourne, Australia, on Oct. 26, 2021. (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

The Age reported that following the motion’s announcement, Labor struck a deal with Patten to have it delayed to focus on health and economic issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, in exchange, Labor had to commit to removing the Lord’s Prayer in both houses if re-elected in November 2022.

At the time, Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes, a Labor MP, said if Labor won the state election, the party would come up with a replacement model that was “purpose fit for Victoria.”

In another political spectrum, Liberal MP David Davis, the opposition leader in the upper house, criticised the motion, saying it was “part of a culture war” and “an attack on Western tradition.”

Renewed Calls for the Prayer to be Scrapped

While Patten lost her upper house seat after the November 2022 election, she has started a petition to call on Premier Daniel Andrews and Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes to keep their promise.

In the week ending Feb. 5, over 20 Victorian councillors wrote to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, the premier, and other ministers to ask the state government to introduce new rules that remove single-faith prayers from council sittings.

Patten, who is working with newly-elected upper house MPs from the Legalise Cannabis Party, said the crossbench had not discussed a replacement to the prayer nor any timeline with the Labor government.

“I suspect that now with the petition and the (councillors’) letter that this will initiate those conversations,” she said in comments obtained by AAP.

Deputy Victorian Greens Leader Ellen Sandall said it was surprising for the Lord’s Prayer to remain part of the parliament’s procedure of both houses and that she would table a motion in the lower house to replace it.

“Our parliament should reflect the diversity of the whole Victorian community, not just those of one particular faith,” she said.

Meanwhile, Andrews said a replacement model for the prayer was likely to be considered via a parliamentary committee.

“There are parliamentary committees that could do that important work,” he told reporters on Feb. 5.

“And make sure that perhaps that prayer changes to be more reflective of the fact there are many different faiths across our Victorian community, not just the Christian faith.”

The Lord’s Prayer is currently recited in both houses of the federal parliament and other states and territories at each opening sitting, except for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which replaced it with an invitation to pray or reflect in 1995.

However, there have been many attempts to remove the prayer from state and federal parliaments in recent years, with the latest one struck down by the federal Senate in July 2022.

Christianity in Decline

The renewed call for removing the Lord’s Prayer in Victoria comes as Australia sees a sharp drop in the number of people following Christianity.

According to the 2021 Census, Christianity still remained the most common religion in the country at 43.9 percent, down from 52.1 percent in 2016 and 61.1 percent in 2011.

Epoch Times Photo
Parishioners pray at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Sydney, Australia, on Oct. 25, 2020. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

In addition, there was a fall of over one million people in the Christian population compared to the previous Census.

Among the Christian denominations, Anglican reported the most significant decrease at 604,900, followed by Catholic at 215,900 and Uniting Church at 196,900.

At the same time, the percentage of people with no religious affiliation rose substantially from 30.1 percent to 38.9 percent in 2021.

Among the states, Tasmania had the highest proportion of non-religious citizens at 50 percent, followed by South Australia at 45.8 percent and ACT at 44.2 percent.

The Epoch Times has reached out to the Liberal Pary and the Liberal Democratic Party but has not received a reply at the time of publication.