The Adelaide City Council has replaced the Christian prayer it used to read out at the start of meetings with a multi-faith prayer and a pledge.
It’s been a contentious issue for several months, sparking a legal threat from a councillor and a campaign by the Australian Christian Lobby to keep the Christian prayer, saying: “Prayer reminds people that our democracy was founded on Christian truth. This must not be erased from our national history. It also acknowledges our frailty and dependence on a higher power. Prayer changes things.”
In August, the Council adopted a non-denominational pledge that reads: “May we in this meeting speak honestly, listen attentively, think clearly and decide wisely for the good governance of the City of Adelaide and the well-being of those we serve.”
InDaily reports that while conceding the Christian prayer would no longer be accepted, Councillor Carmel Noon recently put forward a motion to include a multi-faith prayer before the pledge, pitching it as a “compromise” and arguing that the “prayer and pledge can live together [and] not just a heading for a council agenda item.”
“We can’t just throw out tradition because of our own personal beliefs. The council is steeped in Christianity connotations including our very own crest and Queen Adelaide herself was a deeply Christian person,” she said, adding that: “Even the welcome acknowledgement to country is spiritual and means, on many websites, deep spiritual connections to the land, and yet that is not under threat.”
Councillor Noon’s “compromise” was approved by 6 votes to 4. A separate motion to invite councillors to read the prayer and pledge aloud with the Lord Mayor if they wished was narrowly defeated.
The multi-faith prayer reads: “We pray for wisdom, courage, empathy, understanding and guidance in the decisions that we make, whilst seeking and respecting the opinions of others.”
The original prayer read: “Almighty God, we ask your blessing upon the works of the City of Adelaide; direct and prosper its deliberations to the advancement of your glory and the true welfare of the people of this City. Amen.”
Councillor Noon claimed councillors received many letters to keep the Christian prayer while she received just two against it. Councillor Henry Davis confirmed to InDaily he would drop his legal threat against the council in light of the new arrangements.