Victorian MP wants Lord's Prayer scrapped

Crossbencher Fiona Patten wants to scrap reciting the Lord's Prayer when Victoria's parliament sits.
Crossbencher Fiona Patten wants to scrap reciting the Lord's Prayer when Victoria's parliament sits.

A 103-year-old tradition of reciting the Lord's Prayer when Victoria's upper house sits could be scrapped under a proposal by crossbencher Fiona Patten.

The Reason Party MP will on Wednesday move to replace the prayer with a moment of silence so politicians can pray or reflect on their responsibilities to Victorians.

Ms Patten, an atheist, says the current proceedings do not reflect Victoria's diverse community.

"We've got members of parliament from many diverse backgrounds, including Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, which wasn't the case when prayer was first introduced into parliament," she told AAP.

"We should be doing everything we can to be as inclusive as possible and not to privilege one religion over another at the beginning of parliament."

Ms Patten said she is among several MPs who wait outside the chamber until the prayer is over.

Victorian Greens Leader Samantha Ratnam said her party has been pushing for many years for the prayer to be replaced.

"Frankly, I was quite shocked when I entered the Victorian parliament about how backwards it was, how exclusionary and elitist it was," she said.

"We should be reflecting the diversity of the Victorian community and doing everything that we can to make it a more inclusive place."

But opposition leader Michael O'Brien argued the Lord's Prayer was a parliamentary tradition and should stay that way.

"God is now subject to cancel culture, apparently," he told reporters.

"We've been a great benefit because we are a multicultural, multi-faith community. But it doesn't mean you have to throw out all of your traditions and all the things that have contributed to where we are today."

Premier Daniel Andrews said the issue was not a priority of his.

"This is not on my list, let alone at the top of my list," he said, suggesting the upper house revisit the issue following the next election.

Both houses of Victoria's parliament have opened each sitting day with the prayer since 1918, but in recent years have also recited the Acknowledgement of Country.

In 2019, the issue was referred to an upper house committee for review but no further action was taken.

At the time, Mr Andrews flagged the possibility of rotating different faiths' prayers to reflect diversity.

The ACT lower house replaced the Lord's Prayer with an invitation to pray or reflect in 1995.

Victoria has the highest rate (10.6 per cent) of affiliation with a religion other than Christianity, according to 2016 Census data.

But Christianity (47.9 per cent) is the most common religion in the state, while 32.1 per cent of Victorians have no affiliation.

Australian Associated Press