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any words in the context of a meeting, has special significance, and that significance is one which I think people who wish to experience that concept are entitled to partake of. It is not obligatory for other members to share in that experience if they do not wish to; nor is it obligatory for them to be present in the chamber when that prayer is read.

Mr Berry: How dare you! That is outrageous.

MR HUMPHRIES: It is not.

Mr Connolly: You force people to sort of slink in the ante-room.

MR HUMPHRIES: No. If either of the interjectors is offended by references to Christian or theistic principles, I would say to them that they must face a rather uncomfortable life, because we are constantly confronted with these sorts of images in our daily lives. We have festivals and every week we have a Sunday which is a Sabbath day - a day put aside for rest and worship of the Lord. These sorts of things have a traditional basis. Today they might be treated by many simply as a holiday every week; but all these things have a basis in tradition, and the words we use sometimes refer to those traditions - the holidays we take, the things we do, the things we eat. Everything in our lives reflects traditions on which our society is built. You can watch television and see references to these sorts of things. If you are confronted by them or offended by them, I would suggest that that is a problem that you are facing that does not extend just to this Assembly; it extends to your entire lives.

Madam Deputy Speaker, I do not think it is true to say that this motion is not an attack on Christian values. Indeed, it is just that. I think that it is certainly an attack on tradition and, in that sense, possibly a statement of people's political views as well; and it is an attack, in many ways, on pluralism in our community.

Mr Moore: Come on, Gary! What sort of logic is that?

MR HUMPHRIES: That is my view, Madam Deputy Speaker. There are two ways of promoting tolerance and pluralism in our society, where there are many beliefs, many creeds, many political viewpoints and so on. One is to attempt to erase all features on the social landscape which cause offence to some group within that community; to take out references to those things and to make sure that there are no references to things that might offend certain people. We saw that in the United States, for example, with the debate about having creches, so-called, manger scenes, in public buildings at Christmas time. There was a constitutional argument about it. Having those things removed was one way of promoting tolerance and pluralism. That strategy is particularly focused on those who are prone to take offence rather than others who might be more tolerant.

The second way is to allow or to encourage different expressions of those different beliefs, respect that they should be there, accept that they are a part of the landscape of people's lives, and respect the traditional role that those things have in our community. These prayers have been offered in our ancestor parliaments for centuries and centuries.

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