Prayer reintroduced at Baw Baw Shire Council meetings
 Baw Baw News   By // 16:44, Thursday 15 November 2012

The Church of Baw Baw: The opening prayer has been reintroduced at Baw Baw Shire Council meetings. Image: William Kulich.

BAW Baw Shire’s new councillors have chosen to reintroduce the opening prayer at council meetings.

The prayer, read last night at the 2012 Council’s first meeting, follows the Recognition of Traditional Custodians and the reading of the Affirmation.


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Mayor Murray Cook told The Warragul Citizen the decision to reintroduce the prayer was unanimous among councillors and was to accommodate the area’s Christian majority.

“The main reason why was that all of a sudden… the Lord’s prayer disappeared and an affirmation came on board and we really didn’t know what was behind that,” Cr Cook said.

“We know that over 62 per cent of the population at the last Census put themselves as being Christian so we thought only fair to represent everyone [and] reintroduce a prayer, but at the same time allow for those who wanted the affirmation.

“Basically it’s 50 cents each way so that all bases are covered.”


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Cr Cook said all councillors were “extremely happy” with the change and explained the prayer is not the Lord’s Prayer.

“It’s a prayer, a more contemporary prayer, that I think has been run past some religious people, ministers or whatever, and it seemed to be appropriate.”

Only one 2012 councillor chose to take the Affirmation of Office at last month’s swearing in, with eight choosing to take the Oath of Office.

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16 responses to “Prayer reintroduced at Baw Baw Shire Council meetings”

  1. 62 per cent of the population at the last Census put themselves as being some type of Christian – of which we have lots of different brands for that product so thats not really a good number to use as what one brand sees as a fit payer wont work for another brand- but anyway Cr Cook thought he would “represent everyone [and] reintroduce a prayer” – so the 38% who don’t fit under that faith also don’t fit under the mayors term of everybody!

  2. Graeme says:

    How about just doing your jobs without fear or favor.
    sine timore aut favore

  3. Matt says:

    Credit to the council for making a sensible decision that is obviously going to upset some people. For the record Wombat Lyons, the Affirmation that is still being read covers your 38% that feel missed out. Council has simply chosen to represent everyone now, not just the 38%.

  4. Harold says:

    Matt, the Affirmation covered everyone.

  5. Julie Grant says:

    So much for the separation of church and state, one of the cornerstones of Australian democracy. I attended the Council chambers on Wednesday and thought I had walked into a prayer meeting. There is a place for prayer, but I doubt it’s in the seat of government as Australia is a secular country.

  6. Hans van Meurs says:

    Prayer is a religious rite practiced by many non-christian religions and belongs in their private worship place. Some governments and organisations like scouting use generic prayers in public to appeal to a wider section of their community. Many authorities believe that a wall of separation should be maintained between government (and it’s agencies) and religion to safeguard democracy. While elected representatives may believe that prayer might guide them in their duties this doesn’t seem to have worked well with clergy in charge of children for example. Some clergy even blame their god for their sins because of the way they were made.

  7. jack says:

    We should be keeping church and state separate. and what sort of a strategic policy decision is this by the new council? Yeah sure tackle the BIG issues first why dont you?

  8. frank says:

    It appears that the councillors that didn’t like saying the prayer all got voted out, Democracy at work; Western Government is based on Christian principles,and has served us well in the past.

  9. Hans van Meurs says:

    Western government is not based on christian principles at all. In fact, the christian church has mostly been against progressive democracy in the past 2000 years. Does anybody need reminding that christians opposed the women’s vote, votes for all races, different creeds, and republican movements. Many christians have been strongly in favour of slavery, apartheid, wars waged against other religions, the monarchy and dictatorships. It is only in recent history that secular governments have been installed under secular constitutions e.g. France, United States, Australia. I do not agree that religion or the lack of it was an election issue for many people. Most religious scholars are respectful of the separation of church and state because of the protection and freedom that is provided for all people. “In your face” religion of any kind is an affront to the majority of voters. The link between the progressive democracies and christianity is simply a coincidence and more likely the result of the advancement of reason and science resulting in the growth of wealthy middle classes and the abolition of many early traditions. I am not against people with religious beliefs but I am against pushing it in public.

  10. Julie Grant says:

    Frank, I daresay (former Cr & Mayor) Di Blackwood would be very offended by your comment, but then again I have encountered very few “Christians” who care about who they offend, apart from my brave former fellow Councillors who acknowledged this very point in agreeing to move to a general affirmation.

  11. Roger Marks says:

    Like most people that insist on separation of church and state, they do not know what they are talking about.

    Put simply, it means that the government will not prevent the free exercise of religion and secondly, the government will not sponsor a state church like they do in the UK with the Church of England.

    It has NOTHING AT ALL to do with whether the Council prays before a meeting or not. That is just a red herring for people who want to gripe about something happening that they do not agree with.

    And, dear Julie, I have encountered many people who are not Christians who do not care who they offend.

  12. Roger Marks says:

    As for Hans Meurs last post, in the words of John McEnroe, “You can’t be serious.”

    Western democratic government has always based on Judeao-Christian Law. As for the church being against progressive democracy, just what is “progressive democracy?” Is it killing 100,000 babies in the womb each year? if it is, no thanks.

    The women’s suffragette movement was lead by Christian women.

    Denying the Aboriginals a vote was a government decision. It had nothing at all to do with the church.

    Your religion has no bearing on your right to vote.

    As for opposing the republican movement, anyone is free to oppose it and there are many who are not Christians who do.

    Many people who are not Christians are in favour of slavery, especially today with sex slavery rampant worldwide, and it was Christians that succeeded in having slavery abolished.

    As for war against other religions that was a 1,000 years ago. Since then, more people have died at the hands of atheistic government than any other form of government. 317 million to be precise. In addition, Islam is the biggest aggressor today.

    The Monarchy in the UK is supported by Christian and non-Christian alike. In fact the Queen has had the highest level of support for many years.

    The church has never supported atheistic and despotic dictatorships.

    And history shows that atheistic (secular) governments are wrecking society.

    We are not talking about religion. We are talking about praying before the Council meetings. The only thing religious about that, bearing in mind that non religious organisations pray, is the way the atheists and secularists religiously oppose other peoples wishes when they can’t get their own way.

    “Most religious scholars…” A typical throw away line used when you have no evidence.

    Praying before Council meetings “in your face?” You have got to be joking.

    “An affront to the majority of voters?” No Hans. You are affront to the majority of voters because they asked for it.

    The advancement of reason and science was for hundreds of years the product of Christianity. The church founded many of the noteworthy universities in Europe and the USA.

    Unfortunately, they have been dumbed down since the atheists got control of them. Even Liberal atheists who have written books about it admit to this fact.

    Al atheists are against people with religious belief. That is why, particularly in the USA, they spend an inordinate amount of time trying to oppose anything Christian in any sphere of life…just like you Hans.

    One final word Hans. If you don’t like people exercising their democratic right to elect people who are happy to pray before Council meetings, all you have to do is get yourself and a few atheist mates elected and then you can ignore the wishes of the people and stamp out the “in your face” prayer before the Council meetings.

  13. Hans van Meurs says:

    Why argue with Roger Marks last post when he is so anti-atheist, intolerant and quotes his beliefs as facts.
    “Killing 100,00 babies in the womb”? Judeao-Christian Law is the basis of democracy? Exclusion of women and members of other races from government. Slavery still exists today (and in Australia what’s more). 317 Million deaths due to atheists TO BE PRECISE (+- 1 Million implied). The church? (which one) has never supported atheistic and despotic dictatorships?
    Obvously each statement is able to be discussed with various points of view with factual evidence.
    Prayer assumes belief in a deity not shared by all, belongs in the privacy of the religious sect’s temple and not in a government chamber, and if I were to be elected I would work to that end.

  14. Roger Marks says:

    “Why argue with Roger Marks last post when he is so anti-atheist, intolerant and quotes his beliefs as facts.”

    Interesting isn’t it. Your intolerant if you don’t accept what atheists and homosexuals say, but if you don’t accept what Christians say you are fighting for your rights.

    “Prayer assumes belief in a deity not shared by all, belongs in the privacy of the religious sect’s temple and not in a government chamber, and if I were to be elected I would work to that end.”

    Obviously, the majority do not agree with you and who says prayer is restricted to religious buildings? Only you and your atheists friends. The last time I looked, prayer is happening in homes, schools, parks, workplaces, in cars, in the street, in cafes, in parliament, in refugee camps, in prisons, in trains, in buses, in universities to name a few.

    Unfortunately the world according to atheists does not match up with reality. if you want to believe in the religion of nothing, go right ahead, but please don’t assume that everyone else shares your bland and lifeless beliefs and that you have the right force them on other people against their will.

  15. Hans van Meurs says:

    Tip to commentators:
    If you choose to argue with a friend, approach it as a sharing of beliefs and not a clash (see my comment of 24 Novemeber).

    I find my friend’s attitude offensive and think things are becoming too emotional, so I’ll gently end here. Goodnight and good luck.

  16. Roger Marks says:

    Hans I am not your friend and the offensive remark is standard response for atheists when they are devoid of any rational comment or response to the truth.

    I am NEVER offended by what atheists say because you take the good with the bad when you enter the public domain. If you are offended by what people say, the public domain is is not the place for thin skins.

    Apart from the fact that I don’t accept your atheistic religious beliefs as fact so there is nothing to be offended about.