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Friday, 2 July 2010

More on council prayers

My blog colleague George Broadhead has been keeping his typing fingers hot recently on the question of prayers before council meetings.

We carried a post recently about the Mayor of Leicester and his decision to scrap this nonsense. We quoted a letter George had had in the Leicester Mercury, and now they’ve published another one.

Here it is:

The Bishop of Leicester rightly points out that the public proceedings at the council should not “assume an adherence to a faith where none exists” and his declaration of respect and value for those whose outlook is secular is welcome, if somewhat patronising.

Indeed, this is a sign of progress as I am sure that many Christians still cling to the notion that everyone must have some sort of faith or be beyond the pale.

However, does the bishop not realise that holding prayers at council meetings involves precisely that – an assumption? It assumes that everyone present has a religious faith and worships a deity or (in the case of Hindus) deities.

Does he not realise how uncomfortable, not to say squirm-inducing, it is for those who are atheist, agnostic or humanist (now a sizeable proportion of the population, according to recent surveys) to have to sit through what to them is meaningless mumbo-jumbo? In any case, surely the proper place for prayers is the church, mosque, synagogue or temple, not a public building.

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