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"This nation needs prayer" - Christians to rally at Parliament today

Religious groups are upset about the removal of references to Jesus in parliament. (Photo / iStock) - NewstalkZB

Prayers to Jesus Christ will be voiced at Parliament today but they won't be coming from MPs.

Christian groups will rally on the Parliamentary forecourt from midday ahead of the first sitting day of the year.

They're out in force against changes made last year to the Parliamentary prayer by Speaker Trevor Mallard, which removed references to Jesus.

Merita Lau Young, Senior Pastor at the Hosanna World Outreach Centre in Hutt City, said it's an opportunity to voice their concerns directly to Politicians.

"They're the ones that are going to take us through, and it's really for them to have that really solid understanding about our society and where people are.

Merita Lau Young will be leading the rally in prayers, as the 2pm opening of Parliament approaches.

She said she's "passionate about prayer, because it moves the hand of God, and as a nation we need prayer."

One of the speakers at the rally intends to remind MPs of New Zealand's Christian heritage.

Chair of the Wellington Council of Churches and former United Future MP Gordon Copeland said Trevor Mallard's decision is a rejection of New Zealand's history and culture.

"We have made a prayer at Parliament concluding with the words through Jesus Christ our Lord since 1854, the very first day of our Parliament, until Trevor Mallard changed it without any input from the people."

But the Speaker's decision is being defended by Green MP Gareth Hughes, who said references to Jesus in Parliament don't reflect multicultural New Zealand.

"Islam is our fastest growing religion at the moment, so while I respect their opinions, I respect their nod to tradition, I think that in modern New Zealand we need a statement that everyone can get behind."

Secularist groups are also hoping the Speaker stands firm in the face of the calls.

President of the Association of Rationalists and Humanists Peter Harrison, who also founded the Secular Education Network, said Christians no longer constitute a majority of New Zealanders.

Harrison said he's got no problem with the rally going ahead, because it's "a free country, they have a right to express their views, and I'll express mine".

Speaker Trevor Mallard declined to comment on the rally when contacted.

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