Independent MP Bob Katter has issued a scathing rebuke to the leader of Australia’s Senate after she proposed removing the Lord’s Prayer from parliamentary debates.
It comes after new Senate Speaker Sue Lines said that as an atheist she did not want to say the prayer, which has been read before every sitting day since 1901.
“If we are sincere about the diversity of Parliament, we cannot continue to say a Christian prayer to open the day,” she told the Australian newspaper.
“Personally, I would like to see them disappear, but again, it’s not something I can decree. This is a view of the Senate,” she said, adding that removing the prayer would be “on the agenda” of the Standing Senate Committee on Procedure.
Katter, the MP for North Queensland, addressed the media in Parliament while holding up an edition of the Bible.
“This Book for 5,000 years has been the core of religious belief, a concept that there is something greater than me, but in contrast, persecutors believe there is nothing more. bigger than themselves and their opinions,” he said.
“This ongoing persecution is alive and well today. Take a look at what happened to these seven boys from Manly. They were persecuted for the sole reason that they have moral beliefs and whether or not you agree with their beliefs is irrelevant.
“And now some have told us today that we cannot say prayers in Parliament. We can show allegiance to a lady in England, but we cannot say prayers.
Rugby league controversy
Katter was referring to the recent controversy surrounding the decision of seven rugby league players to pull out of a game after they approached the team was supposed to be wearing special “pride” shirts with rainbow stripes.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler was forced to apologize to the seven players – who were of Pacific Islander descent – and the LGBT community.
“We accept your cultural beliefs and hope you can accept our apologies,” he told reporters on July 26.
“We would like to apologize to minority groups within the community who embrace the colors of the rainbow as a symbol of pride in who they are, what they stand for and their passionate advocacy.”
Around 45% of Australia’s premier rugby league competition, the National Rugby League (NRL), is made up of players from the Pacific Islands, many of whom have deeply religious Christian beliefs.
This situation contributed to the NRL being one of the few major sports leagues last year not to implement vaccination mandates.