A councillor who walked out of a meeting to avoid the obligatory prayers was told by members of the public present that he shouldn’t have become a councillor if he didn’t want to say prayers.
This is according to Britain’s National Secular Society (NSS), which has been fighting to get this nonsense stopped for ages now. It doesn’t, as far as I can tell, object to prayers per se, but not as part, albeit that they come at the start, of meetings, which should be secular.
And that makes sense of course: it allows people who don’t wish to say Christian prayers, for a variety of reasons, not to have to take part in this pointless ritual; it means a meeting can get going at three o’clock sharp (or whatever) without having some babbling idiot spout mumbo-jumbo.
And prayers, for those who want them, could be said at 2.50 in an anteroom, or several anterooms to cater for those of different religious persuasions. No problem.
The latest story concerns Sandbach Town Council in Cheshire. Cllr Richard Hoffman walked out, and told the NSS: “As I was leaving the room I was verbally abused by three members of the public saying I should be ashamed of myself, and that I shouldn’t have stood for the council if I didn’t want to say prayers.”
So there are people who actually believe you must be religious if you want to serve your community as a town (or county) councillor.
The NSS report continues: “The town mayor Dennis Robinson is reported to have told the local Crewe Chronicle that removing traditional prayers would be an ‘attack on Christianity’. He opened Thursday’s meeting by saying: ‘Anyone who wishes to leave may do so now.’”
And Hoffman duly did, it seems, and got a bollocking for it from members of the public.
A neighbouring authority, Middlewich Town Council, says it’s taken prayers off the agenda and will hold them five minutes before meetings officially starts.
So it can be done, see?