An official prayer said by parliamentarians in New Zealand has been stripped of its reference to Jesus Christ.
The prayer, said before every sitting session, asks for God’s help and guidance and used to end “through Jesus Christ our Lord”.
A new version drops Jesus’ name and also a reference to the Queen, who acts as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
New Zealand media reports say that the new version is already being used by Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard, despite the fact that consultation on the change is ongoing.
Recently appointed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, an agnostic, did not include the phrase “so help me God” in her oath of office as she was sworn in.
Similar moves to wipe God from political proceedings have been attempted in the UK.
Legal Defence Fund
In 2012, the National Secular Society and a local atheist ex-councillor sued Bideford Town Council in Devon over its practice of praying at the start of council meetings.
They claimed that the prayers were discriminatory against atheist councillors, were a breach of human rights laws, and that the council had no lawful authority to hold prayers as part of its formal meetings.
The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund supported the Council as it took the case to the High Court.
In a landmark decision, the High Court ruled against the secularists on their central argument that council prayers discriminated against atheists and breached their human rights.
The court ruled that local councils have no lawful power to hold prayers during official business. But within days of the court’s decision, the Government fast-tracked the commencement of new laws that overtook the court’s ruling and restored councils’ right to hold prayers in England.