Putting prayer protest on (atheist) record

July 20th, 2014  |  Published in Asylum; Refugees

prayer2They were escorted from the offices of the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, and were probably not welcome outside immigration offices or detention centres (click here and here). But, the spirit of the prayer protests is worth preserving, and this post is my (atheist) record.

Remember Sister Brigid who got arrested in Bill Shorten’s office? She was part of this group who met to pray in places relevant to asylum seeker policies.

Sister Brigid, along with close colleagues, forms the heart of the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project (BASP) and, in their most recent newsletter, made the following comments (somewhat paraphrased, and no link, sorry; this newsletter still arrives by snail-mail!):

“Prayer is a heart response more than a head activity. It is not a belief in a miracle response, but a commitment to have an open heart and empathy for other human beings.

Praying together in a Member of Parliament’s office was not a gimmick. Rather it was an effort to identify with people who have suffered trauma in their own country and are being retraumatised in Australia.

Praying in a group was an act of communal solidarity, and praying together across faiths is important because justice requires recognition of the truth and vision in every religion.
Prayer must filter through to action.”

And I can vouch for the inspiring action of Sister Brigid and her colleagues at BASP in their work with and for asylum seekers – across faiths, or with those of no faith, it would make no difference to them. They have certainly never made an issue of my lack of religion in connecting about our shared concerns.


In appreciation of all who support asylum seekers

in difficult times…Joan Beckwith


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