Councils hit by ban on prayers

A High Court ruling effectively banning prayers from official council proceedings has been labelled “ludicrous”

A High Court ruling effectively banning prayers from official council proceedings has been labelled “ludicrous”

First published in Darlington Borough Council News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

A HIGH Court ruling effectively banning prayers from official council proceedings has been labelled “ludicrous”.

Four North Yorkshire authorities are among those having to rethink their agendas as a result of the legal decision.

Mr Justice Ouseley ruled the prayers were unlawful after an action brought against Bideford Town Council, in Devon, by the National Secular Society (NSS) after a complaint from an atheist councillor.

But the judge said prayers could be said as long as council members were not formally summoned to attend.

Bideford is expected to appeal against the decision but in the meantime a number of other authorities are also affected – including Richmond Town Council, Richmondshire and Ryedale district councils and North Yorkshire County Council.

It is likely they will circumvent the ruling by holding prayers before official proceedings and not placing them on the formal agenda.

But Richmond town councillor Stuart Parsons said: “I think it’s a ludicrous ruling with far-reaching implications.

“If the Queen is the head of state and the state religion it is questioning that role. And what about bishops in the House of Lords?”

Richmondshire leader Coun John Blackie said his authority would be consulting with its legal officers and members would also be asked for their thoughts.

He added that two years ago Richmondshire was asked to consider removing prayers from the opening item of agendas but members rejected the idea “resolutely.”

Darlington Borough Council holds prayers at full council meetings at the discretion of the serving mayor, but not as an agenda item.

Council leader Bill Dixon said yesterday: “As far as I’m concerned nothing will change. I would have thought that members would have better things to do in these times of making huge budget cuts than worry about whether prayers are being said.”

Senior members of the county council are expected to discuss the issue informally today.

The authority’s Tory leader, Councillor John Weighell, said yesterday: “I don’t like minority groups attacking traditions.

I personally would look to keeping this tradition going.”

Ryedale District Council faced a challenge to its prayers last summer but members voted to retain the tradition. It is now also considering its next steps.

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the NSS, said: “This judgment is an important victory for everyone who wants a secular society, one that neither advantages nor disadvantages people because of their religion or lack of it.”

Comments (19)

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9:01am Mon 13 Feb 12

joedarlo45 says...

I think Prayers are an important tradition of these meetings. regardless of which faith you may or may not have.
I see no reason why they should be removed from a agenda, unless there is a specific complaint made..No comlaint..leave them on!! and ironically the councillor in Devon who complained, only did so after he left the council.......
I think Prayers are an important tradition of these meetings. regardless of which faith you may or may not have. I see no reason why they should be removed from a agenda, unless there is a specific complaint made..No comlaint..leave them on!! and ironically the councillor in Devon who complained, only did so after he left the council....... joedarlo45
  • Score: 0

9:58am Mon 13 Feb 12

smokin says...

the school my grandson goes to doesn't have prayers as it may upset some students and they don't have religious studies either so needless to say he knows nothing about the bible
and when we talk about things from the bible he looks dumbfounded
there are too many different religions in school now to conduct these prayers and studies
I was taught in school there is only one God
surely some kind of religion can be taught ????
the school my grandson goes to doesn't have prayers as it may upset some students and they don't have religious studies either so needless to say he knows nothing about the bible and when we talk about things from the bible he looks dumbfounded there are too many different religions in school now to conduct these prayers and studies I was taught in school there is only one God surely some kind of religion can be taught ???? smokin
  • Score: 0

12:07pm Mon 13 Feb 12

Colcat says...

Official Council business has no place for fairy tales and such other nonsense. (I suppose that statement is rather an oxymoron!) Prayers should have been banned there years ago.
.
@smokin - Religious education MUST be taught in schools, but children must be taught EVERY major (and quite a few minor) religion equally, and definitely not have the "One God" fallacy shoved down their throats/indoctrinate
d into them. If, when they have grown to an age where they have some intelligence of their own, they then believe there is any truth to one particular form of religion, then I say go for it. But to brainwash people from birth is just wrong. Religion has just been another method for those in command to control the masses (of sheep!).
Official Council business has no place for fairy tales and such other nonsense. (I suppose that statement is rather an oxymoron!) Prayers should have been banned there years ago. . @smokin - Religious education MUST be taught in schools, but children must be taught EVERY major (and quite a few minor) religion equally, and definitely not have the "One God" fallacy shoved down their throats/indoctrinate d into them. If, when they have grown to an age where they have some intelligence of their own, they then believe there is any truth to one particular form of religion, then I say go for it. But to brainwash people from birth is just wrong. Religion has just been another method for those in command to control the masses (of sheep!). Colcat
  • Score: 0

1:10pm Mon 13 Feb 12

GeordieB says...

Religion is not a matter for the state. It is a personal choice of how to live your life and a matter for parents on how they raise their children.
Religion is not a matter for the state. It is a personal choice of how to live your life and a matter for parents on how they raise their children. GeordieB
  • Score: 0

2:07pm Mon 13 Feb 12

still here says...

smokin wrote:
the school my grandson goes to doesn't have prayers as it may upset some students and they don't have religious studies either so needless to say he knows nothing about the bible and when we talk about things from the bible he looks dumbfounded there are too many different religions in school now to conduct these prayers and studies I was taught in school there is only one God surely some kind of religion can be taught ????
If you feel that strongly that you would like your grandson to have an interest in and knowledge of the Christian religion, have you thought about taking him to Sunday School attached to his local church? If his parents don't want him to go - maybe you should reflect back on how you brought his parent up?
There are lots of books and DVDs you could buy the child as presents. What a wonderful opportunity for a grand parent and a grandchild to have some quality time together studying and exporing all religions. You didn't say what age he is, but these would make marvellous bedtime stories.
[quote][p][bold]smokin[/bold] wrote: the school my grandson goes to doesn't have prayers as it may upset some students and they don't have religious studies either so needless to say he knows nothing about the bible and when we talk about things from the bible he looks dumbfounded there are too many different religions in school now to conduct these prayers and studies I was taught in school there is only one God surely some kind of religion can be taught ????[/p][/quote]If you feel that strongly that you would like your grandson to have an interest in and knowledge of the Christian religion, have you thought about taking him to Sunday School attached to his local church? If his parents don't want him to go - maybe you should reflect back on how you brought his parent up? There are lots of books and DVDs you could buy the child as presents. What a wonderful opportunity for a grand parent and a grandchild to have some quality time together studying and exporing all religions. You didn't say what age he is, but these would make marvellous bedtime stories. still here
  • Score: 0

2:09pm Mon 13 Feb 12

CTRILEY says...

joedarlo45 wrote:
I think Prayers are an important tradition of these meetings. regardless of which faith you may or may not have. I see no reason why they should be removed from a agenda, unless there is a specific complaint made..No comlaint..leave them on!! and ironically the councillor in Devon who complained, only did so after he left the council.......
If Christian Councillors were forced to pray towards Mecca before each meetings, there would be outrage, maybe even consider it a breach of their human rights. Yet they consider it as their right to impose their believes on others.
[quote][p][bold]joedarlo45[/bold] wrote: I think Prayers are an important tradition of these meetings. regardless of which faith you may or may not have. I see no reason why they should be removed from a agenda, unless there is a specific complaint made..No comlaint..leave them on!! and ironically the councillor in Devon who complained, only did so after he left the council.......[/p][/quote]If Christian Councillors were forced to pray towards Mecca before each meetings, there would be outrage, maybe even consider it a breach of their human rights. Yet they consider it as their right to impose their believes on others. CTRILEY
  • Score: 0

2:35pm Mon 13 Feb 12

miketually says...

As I understand it, this ruling doesn't ban prayers. It simply means that they can't be part of the official agenda. If some councillors want to pray before a meeting, they're free to do so.
.
Shouldn't the meetings be used to discuss council business?
As I understand it, this ruling doesn't ban prayers. It simply means that they can't be part of the official agenda. If some councillors want to pray before a meeting, they're free to do so. . Shouldn't the meetings be used to discuss council business? miketually
  • Score: 0

5:32pm Mon 13 Feb 12

Mr M says...

I was actually quite surprised when this story came to light. I had always thought that this outdated practice would have been banned years ago. Religion has no place in the council chamber.
I was actually quite surprised when this story came to light. I had always thought that this outdated practice would have been banned years ago. Religion has no place in the council chamber. Mr M
  • Score: 0

9:58pm Mon 13 Feb 12

gary123 says...

Why not just have 10 minutes quiet time at the start of meetings, you can prey to whichever god you believe in, meditate, or chill out and relax, or just thing about the issues you want to deal with in the meeting, that way everyone gets what they want.
As Dave Allen used to say "may your god go with you".
I dont believe, but if you find peace in that, fair enough.
Why not just have 10 minutes quiet time at the start of meetings, you can prey to whichever god you believe in, meditate, or chill out and relax, or just thing about the issues you want to deal with in the meeting, that way everyone gets what they want. As Dave Allen used to say "may your god go with you". I dont believe, but if you find peace in that, fair enough. gary123
  • Score: 0

11:32pm Mon 13 Feb 12

Colcat says...

gary123 wrote:
Why not just have 10 minutes quiet time at the start of meetings, you can prey to whichever god you believe in, meditate, or chill out and relax, or just thing about the issues you want to deal with in the meeting, that way everyone gets what they want.
As Dave Allen used to say "may your god go with you".
I dont believe, but if you find peace in that, fair enough.
It's supposed to be a council meeting, not a religious experience and certainly not a yoga session. Ten minutes of quiet time? Ten minutes when proper, important council work can be done and ten minutes earlier home to spend with your family! If you want to practice your religion, go to church or go home and do it and stop wasting other people's time.
.
I dare say that some of the councillors who want these prayers at the start of meetings are the first to tell the church to keep its nose out of politics!
[quote][p][bold]gary123[/bold] wrote: Why not just have 10 minutes quiet time at the start of meetings, you can prey to whichever god you believe in, meditate, or chill out and relax, or just thing about the issues you want to deal with in the meeting, that way everyone gets what they want. As Dave Allen used to say "may your god go with you". I dont believe, but if you find peace in that, fair enough.[/p][/quote]It's supposed to be a council meeting, not a religious experience and certainly not a yoga session. Ten minutes of quiet time? Ten minutes when proper, important council work can be done and ten minutes earlier home to spend with your family! If you want to practice your religion, go to church or go home and do it and stop wasting other people's time. . I dare say that some of the councillors who want these prayers at the start of meetings are the first to tell the church to keep its nose out of politics! Colcat
  • Score: 0

9:04am Tue 14 Feb 12

the-big-yin says...

CTRILEY wrote:
joedarlo45 wrote:
I think Prayers are an important tradition of these meetings. regardless of which faith you may or may not have. I see no reason why they should be removed from a agenda, unless there is a specific complaint made..No comlaint..leave them on!! and ironically the councillor in Devon who complained, only did so after he left the council.......
If Christian Councillors were forced to pray towards Mecca before each meetings, there would be outrage, maybe even consider it a breach of their human rights. Yet they consider it as their right to impose their believes on others.
WELL SAID...I AM A CHRISTIAN AND WOULD NOT WISH MY FAITH TO BE FORCED UPON ANY1 ELSE....
COUNCIL MEETINGS ARE THERE TO SORT OUT COUNCILBUSINESS...NO
T TO SIT AND PRAY....GOOD ON THE EX COUNCIL MEMBER FOR DOING THIS...THAT TIME SPENT PRAYING, IS TIME THAT COULD BE SPENT WORKING ON COUNCIL MATTERS.....
GOD BLESS YOU ALL....LOL...
[quote][p][bold]CTRILEY[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]joedarlo45[/bold] wrote: I think Prayers are an important tradition of these meetings. regardless of which faith you may or may not have. I see no reason why they should be removed from a agenda, unless there is a specific complaint made..No comlaint..leave them on!! and ironically the councillor in Devon who complained, only did so after he left the council.......[/p][/quote]If Christian Councillors were forced to pray towards Mecca before each meetings, there would be outrage, maybe even consider it a breach of their human rights. Yet they consider it as their right to impose their believes on others.[/p][/quote]WELL SAID...I AM A CHRISTIAN AND WOULD NOT WISH MY FAITH TO BE FORCED UPON ANY1 ELSE.... COUNCIL MEETINGS ARE THERE TO SORT OUT COUNCILBUSINESS...NO T TO SIT AND PRAY....GOOD ON THE EX COUNCIL MEMBER FOR DOING THIS...THAT TIME SPENT PRAYING, IS TIME THAT COULD BE SPENT WORKING ON COUNCIL MATTERS..... GOD BLESS YOU ALL....LOL... the-big-yin
  • Score: 0

9:12am Tue 14 Feb 12

jimzsta says...

I dont subscribe to any religious entities whatsoever, but to try to ban prayers in a council meeting is disgusting and dangerous. Remember people ! every fascist and communist regime that has ever existed has had tried to remove GOD (whoever yours is) from the equation. If you remove God who replaces God??? The state! thats who. even though i have no religion as such i feel safer in an enviroment in which people can enjoy their right and freedom to pray to anything rather than the worship of the state. take God away and there are many a dictator who will happily replace him, and many who actively seek to do so. Religion does however have as much historical blood on its hands as do governments, and its all about balance, Not too much power to religion, not too much power for governments, keep the balance and we may all remain relatively safe. As long as no one is forced to attend prayers should they wish not to do so why is it a problem. this whole story is poiltical correctness gone nuts! Political correctness is a disease of the mind and should not be encouraged in any way. I will worship any off world God before i will worship the state, especially one which seeks to quietly install political correctness (Self censorship through fear of peer ridicule) under the fasle guise of liberty for all.
I dont subscribe to any religious entities whatsoever, but to try to ban prayers in a council meeting is disgusting and dangerous. Remember people ! every fascist and communist regime that has ever existed has had tried to remove GOD (whoever yours is) from the equation. If you remove God who replaces God??? The state! thats who. even though i have no religion as such i feel safer in an enviroment in which people can enjoy their right and freedom to pray to anything rather than the worship of the state. take God away and there are many a dictator who will happily replace him, and many who actively seek to do so. Religion does however have as much historical blood on its hands as do governments, and its all about balance, Not too much power to religion, not too much power for governments, keep the balance and we may all remain relatively safe. As long as no one is forced to attend prayers should they wish not to do so why is it a problem. this whole story is poiltical correctness gone nuts! Political correctness is a disease of the mind and should not be encouraged in any way. I will worship any off world God before i will worship the state, especially one which seeks to quietly install political correctness (Self censorship through fear of peer ridicule) under the fasle guise of liberty for all. jimzsta
  • Score: 0

10:34am Tue 14 Feb 12

Swallowcroft says...

Keep prayers off the agenda at Council meetings. Religious rituals should not be part of secular council business. Far from being an important tradition prayers exclude the non religious.
Keep prayers off the agenda at Council meetings. Religious rituals should not be part of secular council business. Far from being an important tradition prayers exclude the non religious. Swallowcroft
  • Score: 0

11:11am Tue 14 Feb 12

miketually says...

" As long as no one is forced to attend prayers should they wish not to do so why is it a problem."

That's exactly the point of the ruling. The prayers were on the agenda, so everyone there was being made to attend the prayers, regardless of their personal wishes or beliefs.
" As long as no one is forced to attend prayers should they wish not to do so why is it a problem." That's exactly the point of the ruling. The prayers were on the agenda, so everyone there was being made to attend the prayers, regardless of their personal wishes or beliefs. miketually
  • Score: 0

11:23am Tue 14 Feb 12

Colcat says...

jimzsta wrote:
I dont subscribe to any religious entities whatsoever, but to try to ban prayers in a council meeting is disgusting and dangerous. Remember people ! every fascist and communist regime that has ever existed has had tried to remove GOD (whoever yours is) from the equation. If you remove God who replaces God??? The state! thats who. even though i have no religion as such i feel safer in an enviroment in which people can enjoy their right and freedom to pray to anything rather than the worship of the state. take God away and there are many a dictator who will happily replace him, and many who actively seek to do so. Religion does however have as much historical blood on its hands as do governments, and its all about balance, Not too much power to religion, not too much power for governments, keep the balance and we may all remain relatively safe. As long as no one is forced to attend prayers should they wish not to do so why is it a problem. this whole story is poiltical correctness gone nuts! Political correctness is a disease of the mind and should not be encouraged in any way. I will worship any off world God before i will worship the state, especially one which seeks to quietly install political correctness (Self censorship through fear of peer ridicule) under the fasle guise of liberty for all.
Take God away and you have science, intelligence and the ability to think for yourself. You are obviously saying that the sheep that follow the church need another shepherd to follow, when the real answer is they don't:
.
http://www.youtube.c
om/watch?v=LQqq3e03E
BQ
.
And before anyone says it, I know science doesn't have all the answers, but what it does have is the ability to examine itself and say 'actually, that's not right, lets look at the evidence again and come up with another, more plausible theory.' When did any of the mono-(or multi-) theistic religions last do that?
.
Far from being "political correctness gone mad" this ruling is a fine example of an intelligent thinking.
.
Religion is science for the stupid. And remember - "if you could reason with religious people there would be no religious people". Says it all, really.
[quote][p][bold]jimzsta[/bold] wrote: I dont subscribe to any religious entities whatsoever, but to try to ban prayers in a council meeting is disgusting and dangerous. Remember people ! every fascist and communist regime that has ever existed has had tried to remove GOD (whoever yours is) from the equation. If you remove God who replaces God??? The state! thats who. even though i have no religion as such i feel safer in an enviroment in which people can enjoy their right and freedom to pray to anything rather than the worship of the state. take God away and there are many a dictator who will happily replace him, and many who actively seek to do so. Religion does however have as much historical blood on its hands as do governments, and its all about balance, Not too much power to religion, not too much power for governments, keep the balance and we may all remain relatively safe. As long as no one is forced to attend prayers should they wish not to do so why is it a problem. this whole story is poiltical correctness gone nuts! Political correctness is a disease of the mind and should not be encouraged in any way. I will worship any off world God before i will worship the state, especially one which seeks to quietly install political correctness (Self censorship through fear of peer ridicule) under the fasle guise of liberty for all.[/p][/quote]Take God away and you have science, intelligence and the ability to think for yourself. You are obviously saying that the sheep that follow the church need another shepherd to follow, when the real answer is they don't: . http://www.youtube.c om/watch?v=LQqq3e03E BQ . And before anyone says it, I know science doesn't have all the answers, but what it does have is the ability to examine itself and say 'actually, that's not right, lets look at the evidence again and come up with another, more plausible theory.' When did any of the mono-(or multi-) theistic religions last do that? . Far from being "political correctness gone mad" this ruling is a fine example of an intelligent thinking. . Religion is science for the stupid. And remember - "if you could reason with religious people there would be no religious people". Says it all, really. Colcat
  • Score: 0

1:24pm Wed 15 Feb 12

Bagatino says...

"...effectively banning prayers from official council proceedings..." What absolute dross. This is not true in the slightest! The actual truth is that people will no longer be forced to attend pre-meeting prayers.

Personally, I'm all for religion. People can believe in what they want. It's not something that I myself engage in but where I really draw the line - regardless of what it is, who it worships or where it takes place - is the fact that some people insist on ramming it down others throats. Having said that, scientists are also guilty of this.

I rely on science over religion but I don't feel the need to insist anyone and everyone thinks the same as I do.
"...effectively banning prayers from official council proceedings..." What absolute dross. This is not true in the slightest! The actual truth is that people will no longer be forced to attend pre-meeting prayers. Personally, I'm all for religion. People can believe in what they want. It's not something that I myself engage in but where I really draw the line - regardless of what it is, who it worships or where it takes place - is the fact that some people insist on ramming it down others throats. Having said that, scientists are also guilty of this. I rely on science over religion but I don't feel the need to insist anyone and everyone thinks the same as I do. Bagatino
  • Score: 0

3:51pm Wed 15 Feb 12

jimzsta says...

Colcat says: Take God away and you have science, intelligence and the ability to think for yourself. You are obviously saying that the sheep that follow the church need another shepherd to follow, when the real answer is they don't:
.
http://www.youtube.c

om/watch?v=LQqq3e03E

BQ
.
And before anyone says it, I know science doesn't have all the answers, but what it does have is the ability to examine itself and say 'actually, that's not right, lets look at the evidence again and come up with another, more plausible theory.' When did any of the mono-(or multi-) theistic religions last do that?
.
Far from being "political correctness gone mad" this ruling is a fine example of an intelligent thinking.
.
Religion is science for the stupid. And remember - "if you could reason with religious people there would be no religious people". Says it all, really.”


Sorry friend! i couldnt disagree with you more! science in its own right is just as Dogmatic and stubborn as religion can be, scientists lie and manipulate the truth to protect their beliefs. the climate scientists in east anglia were recently caught red handed in leaked emails to each other discussing how to fix historical climate data to fit in with the fake climate change claims. they even considered erasing the medievil warm period, they feared losing their funding so they colluded to lie. science is a religion, just because it doesnt have a godhead as such doesnt mean it isnt. many scientists spend decades studying their passion and then when updated ideas come to light they cannot accept it because it threatens their identity.
I think you have a problem with people of religion and you suggest they cant think for themselves, that is an asinine remark. Newton was religious, even albert einstein believed in god but it didnt hold him up too much did it??? he still came up with some theories which were and remain the bedrock of the science which worship with so much enthusiasm. Science is as dangerous and perhaps moreso when it lays in the hands of fallible humans.
Balance is the key!
Colcat says: Take God away and you have science, intelligence and the ability to think for yourself. You are obviously saying that the sheep that follow the church need another shepherd to follow, when the real answer is they don't: . http://www.youtube.c om/watch?v=LQqq3e03E BQ . And before anyone says it, I know science doesn't have all the answers, but what it does have is the ability to examine itself and say 'actually, that's not right, lets look at the evidence again and come up with another, more plausible theory.' When did any of the mono-(or multi-) theistic religions last do that? . Far from being "political correctness gone mad" this ruling is a fine example of an intelligent thinking. . Religion is science for the stupid. And remember - "if you could reason with religious people there would be no religious people". Says it all, really.” Sorry friend! i couldnt disagree with you more! science in its own right is just as Dogmatic and stubborn as religion can be, scientists lie and manipulate the truth to protect their beliefs. the climate scientists in east anglia were recently caught red handed in leaked emails to each other discussing how to fix historical climate data to fit in with the fake climate change claims. they even considered erasing the medievil warm period, they feared losing their funding so they colluded to lie. science is a religion, just because it doesnt have a godhead as such doesnt mean it isnt. many scientists spend decades studying their passion and then when updated ideas come to light they cannot accept it because it threatens their identity. I think you have a problem with people of religion and you suggest they cant think for themselves, that is an asinine remark. Newton was religious, even albert einstein believed in god but it didnt hold him up too much did it??? he still came up with some theories which were and remain the bedrock of the science which worship with so much enthusiasm. Science is as dangerous and perhaps moreso when it lays in the hands of fallible humans. Balance is the key! jimzsta
  • Score: 0

5:36pm Wed 15 Feb 12

pxatkins says...

And I could not agree with colcat more ... Jimzsta makes the common error of mistaking science for dogma; which it absolutely is NOT. Science is simply a method of examining things ... it never arrives at absolutes; it encourages review of current thinking and stands corrected by new evidence. Science begins with evidence in order to arrive at a conclusion. Religion works the opposite way around by making the evidence fit the belief. I'd like to say Jimzsta will never change his mind, but scientifically it IS plausible ;o)
And I could not agree with colcat more ... Jimzsta makes the common error of mistaking science for dogma; which it absolutely is NOT. Science is simply a method of examining things ... it never arrives at absolutes; it encourages review of current thinking and stands corrected by new evidence. Science begins with evidence in order to arrive at a conclusion. Religion works the opposite way around by making the evidence fit the belief. I'd like to say Jimzsta will never change his mind, but scientifically it IS plausible ;o) pxatkins
  • Score: 0

8:35am Thu 16 Feb 12

Copley23 says...

It's all about bearing witness to the fact that they have to be mindful of the spirit in which they behave. All their actions should be in accordance with their firm belief to do no harm, and act honestly and within boundaries.
Simple.
Take it off the agenda, do it beforehand if they so must.
I firmly believe there should be some kind of formal written statement reminding them of why they are there..........and by geezuz they need it.
It's all about bearing witness to the fact that they have to be mindful of the spirit in which they behave. All their actions should be in accordance with their firm belief to do no harm, and act honestly and within boundaries. Simple. Take it off the agenda, do it beforehand if they so must. I firmly believe there should be some kind of formal written statement reminding them of why they are there..........and by geezuz they need it. Copley23
  • Score: 0

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