New Delhi, December 02, 2022: Both the houses of the Western Australia Parliament, Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly, have turned down requests to have Hindu opening-prayer in one of their sessions.
On taking the chair at each sitting, Western Australia Legislative Council President and Legislative Assembly Speaker reportedly read the Lord’s Prayer, a well-known prayer in Christianity.
Responding to prayer request from distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed via email; Paul Grant, Acting Clerk of the Legislative Council, wrote: “…the Legislative Council is unable to accommodate your request”; and Kirsten Robinson, Legislative Assembly Clerk, wrote: “…we are unable to accommodate your request”.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, and who wrote to Legislative Council President and Legislative Assembly Speaker requesting that he be scheduled to read opening-prayer in one each of their sessions and received the denials; feels that it is simply a case of blatant unfairness, exclusionary attitude, discrimination, favoritism, imposing one kind of religious observance; and does not speak well of a democratic society.
Adherents of minority religions and non-believers, who had made a lot of contributions to Western Australia and Australia and continued to do so and paid their share of the taxes, thus felt left out by this monopoly on prayer. Not allowing prayers of minority religions in the Western Australia Parliament seemed like efforts at belittling these faiths under government patronage; Rajan Zed pointed out in a statement today.
Democratic governments should not be in the business of promoting one religion and excluding others and non-believers and thus infringing upon the human rights of minority religions and non-believers; Zed, who has opened both the United States Senate and US House of Representatives in Washington DC with Hindu prayers, emphasized.
Rajan Zed further said that Standing Orders handling the prayer in the Western Australia Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly needed to be urgently changed as we were well into 21st century and Western Australia was much more religiously diverse now.
Zed suggested that it was time for the Western Australia Parliament to move to multi-faith opening prayers. Since Western Australia Parliament represented every Western Australian irrespective of religion/denomination/non-belief, it would be quite befitting in this increasingly diverse state to do a rotation of prayers representing major religions and indigenous spirituality and including slots for the thoughts of non-believers.
Rajan Zed was of the view that existence of different religions was an evident symbol of God’s generosity and munificence. Western Australia Parliament should quest for a unity that hailed diversity.
Parliament of Western Australia, located in Perth, consists of Legislative Council with Alanna Therese Clohesy as President, which has 36 members; and Legislative Assembly with Michelle Hopkins Roberts as Speaker, which has 59 members.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.2 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.