Prayers without a hope

AN attempt to reintroduce prayers before Cockburn council meetings has been scuttled.

Cr Chamonix Terblanche, a life-long Anglican, wanted the city to say a “non-denominational, apolitical” prayer at the start of each council meeting, but her motion was voted down 7-2.

“I believe it was my faith in God that got me elected to Cockburn council,” Cr Terblanche says.

“It’s a pity that we can’t say a prayer at the start of the meeting, asking God to give us clarity of mind to made good decisions.

“They say a prayer in state and federal parliament so why can’t we have it at Cockburn council? After all, it is the third tier of government,” she said, noting Cockburn’s higher than average religious leanings.

The 2011 census revealed 67.4 per cent of Cockburnians belong to a faith, while WA’s average is 63.9 per cent.

Roman Catholic was the most popular at 32.9 per cent.

A council survey revealed little appetite for worship in local government: only eight of the 75 councils which replied say prayers, including Perth, Stirling, Victoria Park, Kwinana, Joondalup, Wanneroo, Albany and Busselton.

“In conclusion it would appear that the move away from an opening prayer by local governments is in response to the multicultural mix of a council’s local community,” noted the officer’s report.

Cr Terblanche, a South African ex-pat, says she was brought up by parents with strong Christian values.

“When I first moved to Australia my faith gave me strength to find new friends, get a job and build a whole new life from nothing,” she says.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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