Council Chambers Prayers

  bremner 10:41 11 Feb 12
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Council Prayers

A court has held that councils cannot lawfully hold formal prayers before a council meeting, although they could do so informally so long as councillors were not called to do so.

Much has been said in the last 24 hours that as a christian society this is wrong. The National Secular Society wants to stop prayers being said in the Commons and Lords.

Should we consider ourselves a Christian society when christian church numbers continue to fall and we have such a multi and no faith society. Are prayers best suited to churches and private contemplation.

  gigagiggles 11:32 11 Feb 12

"The National Secular Society wants to stop prayers being said in the Commons and Lords."

It should read "... stop formal prayers ...".

The Commons and Lords can have prayers while in the chamber before and after their sessions. Just don't require attendance to have such prayers.

To open the government session in prayers with all in attendance is disrespectful to the extreme.

  Quickbeam 11:48 11 Feb 12

"...although they could do so informally so long as councillors were not called to do so."

Which is how is should be in a multi-religious society.

Yes we are a Christian society, but very much a non-practising one. It should be up to individual councillors to pray to the God of their choice, in their own way before a meeting if that's their thing. Prayers at council meetings (and parliament) are very much a hangover from a different era, and in some communities where Christian councillors are not in the majority (Bradford for one), you can't expect any community harmony if Christian prayers are practised at the start of council meetings.

  bremner 12:01 11 Feb 12

gigagiggles

Why should even informal christian prayers be permitted in the chambers, if members want to pray let them do so in private before entering the chamber.

  woodchip 12:10 11 Feb 12

You could also ask the question, Why would god be interested in worldly matters that are run by mostly hypocrites . Remember what Jesus said to Pilate My Kingdom is not of this world. was my followers would have fault that I would not be delivered up

  woodchip 12:15 11 Feb 12

Should read "If it was my followers would have fought that I would not be delivered up"

  proudfoot 12:35 11 Feb 12

This court case was brought under the EEC human rights laws. What about the human rights of those councillors in this case who were praying for guidance in the furure decisions they were about to make. Any person who does not wish to pray does not have to. They could either attend the meeting after presumably non- denominational prayers were said or just stare into space. I have seen one quote from a muslim cleric who stated it was an affront to all religions. I for one am sick and tired of minorities and so called do gooders pushing for their rights to the exclusion of everyone else.

  gigagiggles 13:02 11 Feb 12

"Why should even informal christian prayers be permitted in the chambers, if members want to pray let them do so in private before entering the chamber."

Because people can peacefully assemble and give voice without the government interfering with the free expression thereof. Just as the government cannot establish or show support of one religion, it can neither prevent its peaceful existence.

The only concern I have is government job security that is dependent on participation in such prayers, informal or otherwise. But there are other laws to cover that abuse of power.

  bremner 13:34 11 Feb 12

This is not a willy nilly assembley but a formally meeting of elected representatives. Elected to debate and make decisions not to engage in religious devotion.

This is nothing to do with free expression, they could equally say their prayer before entering the chamber.

  Forum Editor 16:13 11 Feb 12

If I was a member of a council, and the council rule was that all meetings should start with a Christian prayer, I would simply sit there and let it happen. I don't believe that any kind of god exists, but people praying does me no harm.

I'm amazed that anyone feels this issue is a big deal - some people believe in the power of prayer, and good luck to them.

  Bingalau 17:41 11 Feb 12

Copy what used to happen in the armed forces and may still do for all I know. We had compulsory church services and were marched to the church, no matter what denomination you were. Then just prior to marching in to church the order would be given "Fall out the Roman Catholics" and so they would remain outside until the service was over. (also of course some other people who did not like the idea of attending the service would join the R.C.'s). Incidentally during all my time in the services I never once saw any kind of religious problems. We never cared what flaming religion we were. We were pals and that was all that mattered to us.

Surely the ones who do not wish to be there while prayers are said, could have the choice of going back outside. Then return after the few minutes of prayers had taken place.

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