state religions and Christian heritage
While having a parliamentary prayer and state religion don't have much appeal for me, denying that we have a Christian heritage is a bit like denying Maori are indigenous people of this country and therefore the Treaty of Waitangi should be removed from our constitution.
We may not want an official state religion and we may want to deny our Christian heritage. Yet we recogise Maori as the indigenous people of New Zealand. Similarly, recognising our Christian heritage acknowledges where we have come from. Helen Clark wants to deny our nation's Christian heritage and undermine the influence of Christianity - but she won't get rid of the Treaty or deny our historical links with Britain even if we do end up being a republic.
Nor should she.New Zealand has more of a Christian heritage than any other belief system - examples of that are of course our public holidays at Christmas and Easter, the flag, the national anthem and the parliamentary prayer. Some would also include the Treaty of Waitangi, and it is pertinent to point out that without missionaries like Henry Williams, the Treaty may not have been signed by the tribes. We have a public holiday for that as well - Waitangi Day.
Once we have declared that Christianity is irrelevant to our heritage, of course the next step is to get rid of the Parliamentary Prayer.. then the National Anthem, then the flag ( with the star-shaped crosses), then Karakia... oh no, cant have that, can we, Maori spirituality will become the new state religion - and we dont want a state religion, even if we do want to recognise the Treaty as part of our constitution. So if we keep the Treaty, its good enough to recognise that we have a Christian heritage as well.It doesn't mean we have to subscribe to a Christian belief system any more than we have to speak Maori.
Do you know we have two official languages in New Zealand? And guess what - English is not one of them. And there is more people in this country who subscribe to Christianity than can speak either of the two official languages.
Surely we have better things to occupy our time than to decide whether to alter the prayer in Parliament as a consequence of denying our Christian heritage.