Thursday, November 13, 2008

Multi-faith prayers for Parliament

Cranmer uncovered a plot over a year ago to undermine the Anglican foundations of Parliament with a multi-faith mish-mash of puja, salah, prayers, meditations and incantations.

It seems his article was prophetic, for there are indeed ‘plans to end the dominance of the Anglican faith at the daily opening of Parliament’. Instead, it is intended that a plethora of gods would each take it in turn to receive the prayers of the politicians in an approach which is to be ‘modelled on BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day’.

God help us.

Why Parliament – one of our greatest institutions – would wish to model any of its practices upon those of the BBC – one of our most inept – is quite incomprehensible. Until, of course, one considers that both are concerned with managing decline in an era obsessed with image.

Parliament’s own website hints at the change as the ‘Prayer’ section says: ‘there is currently no multi-faith element’. ‘Currently’ is ominous. The proposed change will involve a rotational approach to daily prayers. On Mondays, the Christians will invoke the name of Jesus; on Tuesday the Jews can do YHWH; on Wednesday it will probably be Allah – just to get the monotheists out of the way first; on Thursday the Hindus can have Krishna – unless they prefer Vishnu, Brahma or Shiva (possibly more apt); Friday the Sikhs get Waheguru; and the Buddhists, as ever, will not really be bothered.

It is convenient that Parliament sits for five days and the six ‘great world religions’ conveniently condense to one each day. Unless, that is, the Buddhists begin to make demands, in which case there will need to be a six-day rolling timetable.

But this whole notion is fraught with difficulties and bodes ill for religious harmony. For which expression of Christianity will be manifest on Mondays? Anglican? Orthodox? Roman Catholic? Scottish Presbyterian? Baptist? Methodist? And how will time be apportioned between Orthodox, Masorti or Reform Judaism? Will consideration be given to Sunni, Shi’a and Sufi sensitivities, or to the Hindu denominations of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism?

And what happens to the Jedi Knights? How could Parliament justify alienating the stated faith (according to the 2001 census) of hundreds of thousands of British people?

The Committee of Peers who are examining the plans include Lord Brabazon of Tara and Lord Rana. This is the sort of trendy development that comes as a consequence of abolishing all those peers who could trace their lineage back to the 16th century and beyond, to when the prayer traditions of Parliament were established. The whole fabric of Westminster is Christian: the faith is intricately woven into the traditions and practices of Parliament, and it would be a perverse and destabilising act of vandalism to abandon the settlement.

In the House of Lords, prayers are led by a senior Bishop of the Church of England (Lord Spiritual). Prayer in the House of Commons is presently read by the Speaker's Chaplain, and the form of the main prayer is as follows:

"Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed.

Cranmer is persuaded that increasingly there will be less need in politics for those with degrees in law or economics, and that there will be more jobs for those with advanced degrees in religion. They will be needed to advise on how to neutralise the concerns of Catholic voters; they can help convince fence-sitting Jews that you are a true-blue friend of Israel; they can persuade the Muslims you really are a friend of Palestine; they can warn you against seeking the endorsement of contentious clerics of all varieties. In short, the ‘faith and values guru’ will be of more use than a dozen lawyers or economists. The religious-imaging specialists will know every important pundit and have the email address of every influential imam in the land, and they will become indispensable components of political campaigning.

In the coming years, all parliamentary candidates, not to mention hundreds of would-be peers or senators or whatever they are to be called, will call upon the services of the theologians.

But none shall be Anglican.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good news for anyone with a first class degree in theology, eh, Your Grace?

13 November 2008 at 09:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any significance in the fact that your illustration omits any Christian symbol your Grace?

13 November 2008 at 10:03  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Appalling discrimination against the Empire, the Jedi demand equality. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda will not take this insult against the The Force lying down. “Jedi of the World, Unite. You have nothing to lose but your Midi-chlorians!”

The story of Jeroboam and Jezabel, anyone!

13 November 2008 at 10:05  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Your Grace

A journalist once recounted how, when on National service, he was about to embark on a military aircraft and the loadmaster recording all personal details, asked his religion. He replied 'Zoroastrian'. The loadmaster promptly wrote down, 'Church of England' - and quite right too.

13 November 2008 at 10:38  
Blogger Botogol said...

@ultramontane - I have had exactly the same thing happen to me when I have replied 'none'.

Several times.

I've yet to try 'Jedi', the question doesn't seem to be asked so often nowadays.

13 November 2008 at 11:52  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

This is the country of fifty seven million ENGLISH people,if you seek idol worship and islamic brutality go east where there is an already well developed sewer for this kind of thing,and take the parasites and traitors in westminster with you.

13 November 2008 at 12:04  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Your Grace.
I'm really not surprised that the parliament has no idea which god to pray to as the general lack of direction has been apparent for years, perhaps the prophets of Baal may feel the time is right for a comeback tour, we can only hope that Elijah is not far behind.
Does your Grace not feel that our eminent friends in Parliament (with a few exceptions) would be far better of sticking to their own idol of the god PC? or perhaps the great EU? You know, the one with the feet of clay!

13 November 2008 at 12:19  
Anonymous len said...

If you mix truth and error you will get the sort of ungodly mess this will result in.
The true God of the bible is not the author of confusion!
How long before the tower of babel is erected?.

13 November 2008 at 13:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Not long it seems, since Gordon Brown is into the New World Order.

13 November 2008 at 14:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about Animism, Scientology and paganism? To say nothing of Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses! No more discrimination!

13 November 2008 at 15:07  
Blogger Gallimaufry said...

"Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed.
Does anyone actually listen to that prayer?

13 November 2008 at 15:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Psalm 95:5 All the gods of the pagans are demons.

IN any case the most important thing about multi-faith prayers is not god, but being "open" to "other people": Worship of man.

13 November 2008 at 16:59  
Blogger Man in a Shed said...

If you pray to many different gods do you not guarantee offending the one true God ?

Better to say nothing at all.

Anyway why does the Christian religion offend Labour so much ?

13 November 2008 at 18:09  
Anonymous len said...

thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath,or that is in the water under the earth,thou shalt not bow down thyself to them,nor serve them: for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me,and keep my commandments.Exodus 20:4-6

13 November 2008 at 18:59  
Blogger McKenzie said...


13 November 2008 at 20:13  
Blogger McKenzie said...

With no disrespect to the Force which may or may not be with us, but in all sincerity, could something like THIS provide a possible solution?

13 November 2008 at 20:34  
Blogger Fred Preuss said...

Jai Guru Deva-Om. Nothin's gonna change my world, nothin's gonna change my world.

13 November 2008 at 21:14  
Anonymous Michael the Poet said...

Great Britain left her moorings a long time ago. She used to be the preeminent nation of missionaries. America is that now, but our time is coming to an end.

14 November 2008 at 02:02  
Anonymous theresa said...

Instead of 'Dieu et Mon Droit' how about, 'There probably is no God; we'll be toast if there is..'

14 November 2008 at 02:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Babel is as Babel Does?

14 November 2008 at 03:07  
Anonymous Anon 2 said...

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi --
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last
Slouches towards Bethelehem to be born? ("The Second Coming ll-22)

W. B. Yeats, 1919.

14 November 2008 at 03:16  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Man in a Shed - Re: "Anyway why does the Christian religion offend Labour so much ?" ---My professor of Marxism said: "Marxists consider Christians to be the Enemy."

Is that what you had in mind?
And that the Hebrew word for enemy is, of course, Satan? So... if we put the world right side up for a second: Marxism = ?

Nevertheless and not without sitting down - if I were the authorial type I'd be working on a dark novel about how plots to destroy Christianity can germinate ... something about Madness at the Manse, I think.

14 November 2008 at 03:41  

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