Why is the Lord's Prayer read at the beginning of each day in the House of Representatives and Senate if Australia is a secular nation?

The President of the Senate sits in a large red chair. In front of him, the Clerks sit at a table with books on it.

The President of the Senate.

David Foote/DPS Auspic

The President of the Senate.

The President of the Senate sits in a large red chair. In front of him, the Clerks sit at a table with books on it.

David Foote/DPS Auspic

Description

The President of the Senate sits in a large red chair. There is another chair to the right. In front of the President, the Clerk and Deputy Clerk sit at a table with books on it.

At the beginning of each sitting day in the Senate and House of Representatives prayers are read. This is done because these prayers are part of the rules  – Standing Orders – of the Senate and House. Prayers are not read at the start of a sitting day in the Federation Chamber, the second meeting room of the House.

Senators and members of the House of Representatives are not required to be present or participate in the prayers. There have been several attempts by senators and members of the House of Representatives to change the Standing Orders to replace the prayers with an opportunity for personal prayer or reflection. In voting against this change, some senators and members have argued the prayers at the beginning of each sitting day are a long standing and non-partisan tradition which re-affirms their commitment to the common good of Australia.

In 2010 both the Senate and House introduced an Acknowledgement of Country before the reading of prayers at the start of each sitting day.