Lismore City Council will debate the relevance of an opening prayer at its meeting.
Lismore City Council will debate the relevance of an opening prayer at its meeting. BrianAJackson

Councillor moves to scrap prayer from meetings

AS an increasing number of the Lismore community moves away from religion, one councillor has proposed to remove the opening prayer from its monthly meetings in a bid to foster inclusiveness.

The latest Census data revealed 32.7% of people in Lismore stated they were of 'no religion', above the state percentage of 29%.

Citing those statistics, councillor Elly Bird said the business paper prayer was "no longer an appropriate opening for Council meetings and should be removed".

She said removing the prayer would help facilitate more inclusiveness at council meetings.

"It does concern me because I don't think (the opening prayer) is a representation of our community," Cr Bird said. 

Cr Gianpiero Battista opposed the motion and said Australia "was founded on Judeo-Christian traditions".

He couldn't identify any negatives from praying for prosperity for Lismore and said there were "more pressing issues" the town could be focusing on.

Cr Bird said she would consider an amendment to her motion to consider a good will statement, a spiritual opening address that is non-denominational.  

The debate about the appropriateness of prayer at council meetings has throughout the five councils for some time.

Richmond Valley and Kyogle Councils start their meetings with an opening prayer.

On the coast, Ballina and Byron Shire Councils start with the national anthem or a welcome to country.


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