Just barely two weeks following the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, the government has decided to remove all references to Jesus Christ from its parliamentary prayer.
The move by Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard has angered the country’s Christian population. Mallard made the decision in order to drop references to Jesus in order to make the prayer “more inclusive” for all parliamentarians.
The Guardian reports a reference to “Almighty God” remains, but it is not a specific reference to a Christian God.
Earlier this week, around 1,000 people protested just outside of the parliament building in Wellington. The group wanted Jesus name reinstated in the prayer because Christianity is part of the nation’s history.
Ross Smith, the organizer of the event, told Radio NZ the country has a Christian heritage that should not be erased.
“It’s a legacy. The principals and the values that are in this nation are based on our Christian-Judea roots. Removing the name would destroy those roots,” he said.
“He needs a good kick in his pants, and he needs to actually be removed because this is a Christian nation,” protester Rieki Teutscher told Radio NZ. We don’t share his atheism.”
Another demonstrator, Carmel Morgan, said Mallard should have consulted with New Zealanders or announced a referendum before changing the prayer.
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