Friday, 10 February 2012

Prayer piffle?

 A Devon town council acted unlawfully by allowing prayers to be said before meetings, the High Court has ruled....(full story here). An eminently sensible decision. What on Earth have councils been doing summoning all councillors to Christian prayers in council chambers? Some councillors are Christians, some are of  other faiths, some hold to no particular faith, whilst others have no religious faith at all - and the business of councils should not be rooted in religion. Councils are for everybody and the fact that prayers have been part of formal council meetings for a very long time is not an argument based on reason to continue doing so. The overreaction to this court decision from government and church representatives has been pretty silly. 
...Mr Justice Ouseley said: "A local authority has no power under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972, or otherwise, to hold prayers as part of a formal local authority meeting, or to summon councillors to such a meeting at which prayers are on the agenda."
He told the court: "There is no specific power to say prayers or to have any period of quiet reflection as part of the business of the council."...

He told the court: "The saying of prayers in a local authority chamber before a formal meeting of such a body is lawful, provided councillors are not formally summoned to attend."...

A few other posts on religion here, here and here.

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