Things You Won’t Hear an American Politician Say, Part 3298423

In Australia, politicians make sense:

A LABOR MP has described parliamentary prayers as an “archaic practice” and a waste of time, angering fellow politicians.

Legislative Council backbencher Ian Hunter wrote a letter to The Advertiser after it was reported he was reading a book during prayers.

“Of course, as an atheist, I don’t say prayers,” he said.

“I see them as just one more example of an archaic practice which wastes the time of MPs.

“However, I am a polite fellow generally, and rather than cause a fuss for my colleagues who may take some comfort in such practices at the commencement of each parliamentary session, I prefer to improve my mind by reading.”

So he lets others pray if they choose but opts to do his own thing. Sounds pretty good to me.

Of course, you can guess what his religious colleagues have to say about this…

(via NoGodBlog)


[tags]atheist, atheism, Australia, Ian Hunter, The Advertiser, NoGodBlog[/tags]

  • http://groundedinreality.blogspot.com Bruce

    “I think it is important to continue having prayers in Parliament because they offer MPs the opportunity to reflect on the history and tradition and importance of the decisions they are making and the debate they will be undergoing.”

    Or, instead of wasting your breath on some prayer to an imaginary being, you could simply remind everyone at the beginning of the session of the importance of the decisions they are making. You know, cut out the middle-man.

  • Emma

    “In Australia, politicians make sense:…”

    Only occasionally!

    While we aren’t as badly afflicted by religion in politics as the USA, there still aren’t many openly atheist politicians here. Its nice to see one prepared to go on record against these archaic traditions.

  • Maria

    Why did they get on his case for reading and then get mad at him when he told the honest truth about why he was reading? They can’t have it both ways.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    But an American politician has already said things like that and in much more detail. And I believe he was what some here would call a “theist”

    Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?

    In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation.

    The establishment of the chaplainship to Congs is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles: The tenets of the chaplains elected [by the majority] shut the door of worship agst the members whose creeds & consciences forbid a participation in that of the majority. To say nothing of other sects, this is the case with that of Roman Catholics & Quakers who have always had members in one or both of the Legislative branches. Could a Catholic clergyman ever hope to be appointed a Chaplain? To say that his religious principles are obnoxious or that his sect is small, is to lift the evil at once and exhibit in its naked deformity the doctrine that religious truth is to be tested by numbers. or that the major sects have a right to govern the minor.
    James Madison, Detached Memoranda

    However, as co-equal branches of government, the House and Senate can set their own rules. Apparently there have been a majority who didn’t agree with Madison on this point. I think you can put your anti-religious minds at ease since from the subsequent history of both bodies that the impact exercise has been nugatory.

  • http://humanistsforlabour.typepad.com/ The Labour Humanist

    If you wanna see another international comparison – an internal humanist caucus of the British Labour Party has just published a policy survey of candidates standing for the deputy leadership vacancy of the party. Some of the answers are very disappointing, some encouraging, but I the language they use might be an interesting comparison for you;
    link:
    http://www.labourhumanists.org.uk/

  • FromUpNorth

    However, as co-equal branches of government, the House and Senate can set their own rules. Apparently there have been a majority who didn’t agree with Madison on this point.

    You don’t seemed to understand Madison’s Constitutional argument. It is true that the House and the Senate can set their own rules, but they are not permitted to violate the Constitution of the United States in the process. As Madison noted:

    The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as of the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation?

    In other words, by enacting a law providing for the appointment of chaplains and their payment out of Treasury funds, Congress violated the First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,

    Had the two houses of Congress simply decided to open their daily proceedings with prayer, there would have been no reason to object on First Amendment grounds.

    I think you can put your anti-religious minds at ease since from the subsequent history of both bodies that the impact exercise has been nugatory.

    However that may be, one would think that a reversal of such an unlawful exercise would be equally nugatory. One would not have been able to deduce that, however, from the howls of outrage that greeted the 9th Circuit Court’s opinion a few of years ago that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance violate the First Amendment.


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