I agree with Aodhán Ó Riórdaín Labour TD for Dublin North Central when he says it’s time to end the prayer at the commencement of each day in the Dáil. It’s only around since the 1930’s and suggests to me subservience of the business to Christianity. That is not how a republic should do its business. No offence intended to anyone who believes in Christianity, I’m one myself who goes to church regularly. It is in the interest of each church that there is a separation of church and state. The Catholic Church will be the biggest beneficiary of any separation.
Churches do not need the state to comply with their values for a church to develop. The latest census shows that the evangelical religions are the ones showing the largest increase in membership within the state. When I went to school, some teachers would start class with prayers and others wouldn’t. I’ve never started a class with a prayer preferring a role call. Maybe a roll call should be held at the start of each day’s business in the Daíl?
I was hugely surprised to hear that some local authorities start their monthly meetings with a prayer too. Glory be seems the prayer of choice in Castlebar. I’ve never said a prayer in Wexford Borough Council and never would simply because it is not what I’m elected for. We start each monthly meeting with a vote of sympathy to anyone in the community who has an association with the community who has died since the last meeting. The we stand I silence, some members join their hands in prayer, others like me stand in silence and put their hands by their sides. Curiously the minute always ends with one particular member blessing himself and sitting down! Each respects the deceased in their own way, in the absence of any death the meeting proceeds as per the agenda with no reflection. I’ve always assumed that other local authorities behaved the same.
I don’t see any problem with that, I’ve asked in the past that the minutes silence remember people that I’ve known who’ve died and I’ve included the victims of the famine when there used to be a National Famine Commemoration Week. Sinn Fein has used this to remember dead hunger strikers. There’s more important things to be discussing than prayers but in the week that the Cloyne Report effectively undermined the Catholic Churches hopes at credibility in the area of child protection it may well be best now to encourage the Catholic Church as the main Christian church to go its own way. Ending public prayer to a Christian concept of God may well be a symbol that we’re all moving off our knees.