Prayer - council agenda2
Civil Liberties

Jake Berry reminds politicians of accountability to the Prince of Peace

“I am delighted to be able to take the Bill through Parliament and to protect people’s freedom to pray, because it is an important issue. As we approach Christmas, the celebration of the birth of who I believe to be the Prince of Peace, all elected officials might like to reflect that there may be more power in prayer than in any stroke of a Minister’s pen or ruling from the Chair, and that this Bill, which seeks to protect people’s freedom to pray, will enable people of all religious beliefs to seek guidance in their deliberations in elected office.”

So said Jake Berry MP this week in Parliament, during the debate on the Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Bill, which passed its Money Resolution stage and has support of the Government and Opposition. To hear a member of Parliament so publicly declare his faith in the Commons Chamber is profoundly inspiriting, especially when it comes from a politician who actually believes, rather than one whose faith is a like U-boat, only surfacing when necessary.

The background to the Bill may be read HERE – it is primarily intended for small parish councils (which do not have the general power of competence), but it will have the beneficial effect of entrenching the role of faith in (municipal) public life. As Penny Mordaunt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, explained:

The Bill will not compel anyone to pray or any local authority to include prayers in their official business, nor does it define what constitutes prayer. The Bill will ensure that local authorities can support, facilitate and be represented at events with a religious element. Again, nothing in the Bill will compel a local authority to do anything that it cannot already do, such as organise a Remembrance Sunday event safely by closing a road for a short time. Rather, it protects local authorities from those with an axe to grind, who might wish to challenge such a decision. As far as local authorities are concerned, we expect any new expenditure to be negligible.

To which Lynn Brown MP, for Labour, responded:

The Bill will confirm unequivocally that prayers, religious observances or even philosophical observations may take place as part of the business of local authorities in England and Wales.

I welcome the fact that the Bill is not prescriptive. It will leave it to local communities to determine what, if any, observances are appropriate to them; where they should be placed on the agenda; and whether they should be faith-based or otherwise. We must see this as a matter of local choice. Religious observance is a matter where local choice should prevail and in respect of which the virtues of tolerance, sensitivity and community well-being should shine through.

This is a short, two-clause Bill with a simple intention that does not seem to conflict with the most liberal of expectations. It will enable local authorities of all types to include prayers if they wish to. It is not prescriptive, but enabling. I am content, on behalf of the Opposition, to wish the Bill and its purposes well.

Cross-party unity on the freedom to pray in council chambers is to be welcome. Naturally, the secularists are irked: the National Secular Society in particular is concerned that to permit prayer is to “undermine religious freedom“. They accuse Secretary of State Eric Pickles of  “seeking to impose religion by tyranny of the majority.” They describe him as “a committed evangelical Christian and now Minister for Faith”.

Stephen Evans, National Secular Society campaigns manager, said: “The supporters of this Bill are being willfully misleading by citing religious freedom, when the actual purpose of the Bill is to undermine religious freedom by enabling one group of councillors to impose their beliefs on other, equally elected, councillors. This Bill needs to be exposed for what it is, an attempt by religious enthusiasts to push their religion into the public sphere.”

It is, of course, nothing of the sort. What it is is an unequivocal reaffirmation of the law with regard to freedom of religion, and an attempt by HM Government to stop extremist secularists from shunting religion out of the public sphere and confining it to the private. By permitting councils the freedom to pray should they so wish, Eric Pickles is determined that local politicians might be mindful of a greater accountability than that they have to their electorates. Secularists and humanists may believe that all grace is manifest in humanity and nature: Eric Pickles and Jake Berry happen to disagree, mindful both of our inclination toward sin and depravity, the need for redemption and the goodness of God.

This is not a defensive theological posture, but an assertion of liberty in a conversation some seek to censor. And there is in this Bill a parable of how we are prone to treat our Anglican heritage; of how we ignore and neglect our Christian traditions or take them for granted, only to wake up one morning and find them abolished, banned or subsumed to more aggressive principalities and powers. We must learn again to indwell the Anglican tradition, and permit it once more to pervade our culture and shape our minds. Far from being a “tyranny” of religious uniformity imposed by a zealous majority, it is a benign force for the common good; of diverse and occasionally contradictory precepts, with some maddeningly wrong-headed beliefs and practices – rather like the differences, inconsistencies and incongruities of human living itself.

  • DanJ0

    A further, albeit small, step towards Sharia.

    • The Explorer

      Unintended consequence? Or intended? Which?

      • DanJ0

        Oh, unintended for sure. Berry is just a ‘useful idiot’, as the saying goes around here.

        • Inspector General

          One immediately associates usefully idiocy with those who wish to undermine our Judeo-Christian heritage for no better reason than they themselves do not believe and are blind to the civilising nature of the aforementioned order.

          Can you think of any such idiot who regularly comments on Cranmer ?

          • DanJ0

            I can’t, actually. Though clearly you have someone in mind. In the past, Anglicanism in its High Church flavour has been largely benign. We now have a more vocal Evangelical wing who don’t seem content to just get on with their private interests. Moreover, we live in a diverse society where roughly 1 in 20 are Muslims now, and that number is increasing. I have very good reasons for wanting to adjust society to take account of these influences, myself: I would like to retain the democratic, civilised, reason-based we have constructed over the last two centuries so that we can all live together peacefully. This Bill is undermining that, I think, by opening the door to Islam in State business as a matter of legal right.

          • Inspector General

            You’re not fooling anyone who knows you here. You’re just uncomfortable with any state legislation being tainted, as you see it, with our religion. Anything at all, as if religion did not exist and has no right to influence our lives…

          • DanJ0

            You don’t have a religion, you berk. You’ve admitted as much many times with your almost pagan mutterings. F’sure, you’re an immigrant who brought his cultural baggage along but that’s a rather different thing. The cultural heritage of this country is most definitely not Roman Catholic either.

          • Inspector General

            The Inspector is a Christian, you gay devil…

          • DanJ0

            Yet many of the people here don’t recognise you as their co-religionist. Perhaps you’re just a bit like me, a christened CofE member.

          • Inspector General

            The Inspector is quite content for Jesus Christ to recognise him as one his, come the time, rather than leave it to you, or the surprisingly large number of ‘Christian’ born again loons on here…

          • Shadrach Fire

            Inspector, are you saying that one should not be born again as described in the scriptures?

          • Inspector General

            Not in the way ‘born again’ is portrayed these days. A club for ‘special’ Christians to look down upon us mere other ranks, similar to the way one believes the temple priests did to other Jews in Christ’s time…

          • CliveM

            Thinking of anyone in particular?

            I maybe a loon, but not a ‘born again’ loon, in the way you mean it below!!

          • The Inspector is a work in progress, Danjo. We all are. Some of his ideas are unusual but he’s heading in the correct direction.

    • William Lewis

      Why? A majority Muslim council will try to bring in the precepts of Sharia whether they have the right to pray at meetings or not. Unless you are implying that some people praying to Allah could somehow hasten its arrival? Shutting down public acts of religion does nothing to prevent Islamification (indeed it may mask it) and further undermines our Judeo-Christian culture.

      • DanJ0

        I think making State business multi-faith undermines said culture, and will likely embolden those with Islamist intent.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    “to permit prayer is to “undermine religious freedom”..

    Only the National Secularist Society could come up with a contradiction like that. It seems readonable to me that prayers will be allowed when that is what most of those present want. Or is the NSS also worried that majority mandates undermine democracy?

    • DanJ0

      I read it to mean that in the event of most of the council being Christian, or most of the council being Muslim, or most of the council being Hindu, the remaining council members would be automatically co-opted as a party to the prayers of whatever religion in the official business of the council, and that Evans considers that to be contrary to religious freedom. Perhaps he thinks that it might even discourage people from becoming councillors. For instance, I expect a devout Muslim would consider prayers to Lord Jesus Christ as a part of a triune style of god to be blasphemy and may be quite uncomfortable as a result. I’m not sure quite how Muslim prayers would feature in a council meeting, as they seem to be rather structured and formulaic, but perhaps “Insha’Allah” peppered through the council business, and references to “Mohammed, peace be upon him” might be how it pans out.

      • Inspector General

        There’s a thing, Islamic prayers. Do these blighters actually pray ? One has the idea that they don’t have anything to pray for, they just do it, achieve it, whatever it is and whatever the cost or lives lost.

        And if there are prayers, would they not fall under these so called hate laws ?

      • Politically__Incorrect

        First of all, nobody is going to be compelled to take part in prayers. Those who don’t want to take part can sit silently and twiddle their thumbs or whatever. As to the islamic thing, I’m not sure whether muslims pray about mundane matters such as council business, especially if it doesn’t involve a beheading. However, if religous freedom means allowing a few councils to pray to allah, I think we can stomach that. Such councils are going to be in ghettoised regions anyway, so they are already lost territory as far as the nation is concerned.

        • Inspector General

          Absolutely PI. For those councils run by the Saracen, one suspects the policies have already been agreed in back rooms of the mosque with the Imam presiding….

      • dannybhoy

        I don’t see how one could avoid this in a so called multicultural society.
        Personally I would be quite happy for those who do not believe in God to be absent from the room when prayers are conducted.
        Why encourage hypocrisy?
        Will this new bill result in greater freedom and democracy for those for who regard their religion as their identity?
        I fear not, and that is where our country has gone horribly wrong. Now as part of our Equality/Diversity/Inclusion mantra we “honour” all beliefs
        Yet historically the British have tacitly or positively accepted that freedom of conscience is worth suffering or even dying for.
        Conformity and uniformity leads ultimately to spiritual death..

        • Inspector General

          Danny dear chap, we don’t have a multicultural society. we have a divided England due to high levels of immigration, but we don’t appreciate other cultures. Why should we, they are completely alien to us. So the Inspector enjoys the occasional curry. What of it. We partake of the best, and reject the unacceptable. Most of what our new citizens have brought us is unacceptable.

          That’s ‘appreciate’ in it’s full meaning, by the way.

          • dannybhoy

            Exactly so.
            Multiculturalism in the UK is a myth. What we actually have is various religious/cultural communities living seperately on the same piece of real estate whose native peoples have been traditionally affected and shaped by interpretations of Christianity.
            In my own part of this glorious island nation, Englishness and conservative local tradition remain pre-eminent; and I admit to being profoundly grateful for it.
            On Friday we celebrated our traditional get together for drinks and nibbles amongst close neighbours, numbers limited only by considerations of space. A toast was raised for good and kind neighbours, whose shared basic values make for a pleasant communal life.

          • Inspector General

            Everyone has heard of grooming. Yet it’s happened to all of us, and unconsciously. We’ve been groomed by politicians for decades now that multiculturalism is a marvellous thing and the only way to be.

            The abuse of us stops NOW. And that can only happen by acknowledging we have been abused by Lib-Lab-Con people in parliament. Do that, and you will be clean again. The Inspector is most definitely clean.

          • dannybhoy

            I think I can still detect traces of cat licks inspector.. possibly a scratch or two??

          • Inspector General

            Meaning…

          • dannybhoy

            In reference to HJ’s assertion that felines, or females with felines, or female felines and your good self do not mix..

          • Inspector General

            Not all together sure what the Inspector’s healthy loathing of cats has to do with it…

          • carl jacobs

            Inspector

            the Inspector’s healthy loathing of cats

            All this denial is not healthy. It’s time for you to come out of the closet and admit you are a cat owner.

          • DanJ0

            The Inspector is blatantly adverse to pussies, as any fool knows.

          • It generally takes one fool to recognise another one …

          • Inspector General

            Did you know that there is no such thing as a missing cat. The cat knows exactly where it is and where it isn’t. Regarding the latter, with the owners it has callously abandoned without even a note left behind thanking them for board and lodging to date.

          • carl jacobs

            So…

            All this self-proclaimed cat hatred is really just unrequited affection. There is a faithless cat in the Inspector’s past. Now I understand. Perhaps we can help him move on to healing and acceptance.

          • Inspector General

            Yes, one lost out on the affections of his nurse friend to her blasted cat. That thing was always going missing. Had to tie it to a house brick in the end…

            That would be the cat, that is…

          • *gasp*

            Did it mysteriously disappear one fateful night, never to be seen again? Perchance, it ‘fell’ in a river tethered to said house brick?

          • Inspector General

            Wish it had. It just hung around varies haunts outside, refusing to come in…

          • Lol …. cats are independent creatures. It may not have felt welcomed by you.

          • Inspector General

            Not really. We think someone else had been feeding it. It was putting on weight. Damned thing was consuming more calories than the average African.

          • Hmmm …. so you do feel abandoned and rejected by this cat. The hurt will pass. Have you considered offering a home to a kitten?

          • Inspector General

            You mean a young woman. Well, yes, as it happens…

          • Perhaps the two hurts are becoming fused. This happens you know at times of crisis in people’s lives. Jack advice would be to acquire a kitten and then, when you have demonstrated your caring side towards it, go back into the world and woo this lady once more. Show her you have changed and that a cat loves you.

          • Inspector General

            This man is too honest for that kind of deceit, mild though it is, and actually has no objections to sharing with a cat, so long as it’s not his burden to look after it.

            But the suggestion comes as no surprise from a sneaky bugger like you :->

          • No. Not deceit, Inspector. Jack believes you need to embrace your caring, more gentler side as well as your masculine nature. Control it obviously, as we don’t want you going all soft. A helpless kitten would do you good.

          • CliveM

            Is the Inspector going all metrosexual?

          • dannybhoy

            He who loathes cats cannot be considered purrfectly clean…
            🙂

        • DanJ0

          “Personally I would be quite happy for those who do not believe in God to be absent from the room when prayers are conducted.”

          Unfortunately, the intention is to make the prayers part of the council business as a legal right so councillors really ought to be there once the meeting has started. Those who don’t believe in God (Allah version) may need to just STFU and sit through it if they’re councillors in parts of Yorkshire, Birmingham, or London in particular.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Prayer has a specific place on the order paper. Those who don;t wish to, for whatever reason can simply not be there at that point. Or read the paper, or something.

        • DanJ0

          Which demonstrates the absurdity of the whole thing. Christianity is reduced to this now.

          • Uncle Brian

            I’m inclined to agree with you, DanJo. If they were talking about starting council meetings with a brief prayer as a small part of a broader Christian culture, then fine, that would be wholly unobjectionable and altogether a Good Thing. In the present-day context, however, I suspect that that’s not what it’s going to be. It’s more like, Okay chaps, we said the Our Father together sitting round the conference table this morning, so that’s religion over and done with until further notice.

          • DanJ0

            I’d rather Bill gave the right solely for CofE prayers to be honest. At least that would fit in with the Established Church thing we have constitutionally, which manifests itself in Parliament through the CofE prayers, Lords Spiritual, the Crown in Parliament, and the other traditions. Not that a Bill like that would be likely to make it through the Legislature successfully, and it would probably start a debate that both real and cultural Christians might lose with problematic consequences.

          • Uncle Brian

            I fear, DanJo, that even within the Established Church itself voices would raised, and heads solemnly shaken in feigned
            disbelief, at the mere mention of the transgressive privileging of one faith group over all others.

          • DanJ0

            The Established Church understands the position it’s in, I’m sure. This is the problem of having 3 million Muslims and counting in our population. They are not second class citizens in the UK, and they expect their rights like everyone else. Christians no longer have force of numbers, and by a long stretch too. The Establishment of the CofE is hanging on by the weight of tradition and the intricacies of the Constitution. At some point, it will no longer be sustainable due to its irrelevance to the general population. My concern is that we will have nothing in place culturally to take over, and our Muslim population will be all the stronger and more vocal when it happens. It’s quite possible that Islamist elements in that part of the population will agitate for a different sort of Constitution and the rest of us will be on the back foot.

          • Uncle Brian

            Have you considered enlisting in the C of E, DanJo? Before it’s too late? I’m sure they won’t let your atheism stand in your way, if you don’t.

          • DanJ0

            I was christened into the CofE!

          • Uncle Brian

            You’ve already got your foot in the door, then. The rest should be easy!

          • CliveM

            Would probably also fall foul of the courts as well.

          • SidneyDeane

            “I’d rather Bill gave the right solely for CofE prayers to be honest.”

            I am surprised that you would wish Council prayers to favour one religion and exclude the rest.

            “At least that would fit in with the Established Church thing we have constitutionally”

            The Established Church has to go, of course. And will go.

    • Dominic Stockford

      We allow people to pray, on occasion, during our Sunday evening service. It is remarkable that in fact, far from encouraging participation in worship of God, we are in fact apparently undermining the religious freedom of those attending our church services!

      What shall we do to rectify this grievous sin against our fellow believers?

  • Inspector General

    Wouldn’t it be rather wonderful if High Priestess Libby joined us today. Although Cranmer’s vocal following is 95% male, as you would expect from the naturally strong assertive and determined sex, there is always the odd female exception, probably…

    • Politically__Incorrect

      Of course inspector, she may have already been on this site under the cover of a pseudonym, as may many other females. It is one of the vexing problems of the internet that one never really knows to whom one is talking

      • Inspector General

        Doubtful PI. Women, bless then, tend not to get drawn into conflict. They might upset someone, you see. Plenty of muslims in Stockport whom she probably thinks she represents too who need her support, understanding, and God knows what else…

    • Inspector General

      Marie is good. The best we have…

  • Happy Jack would have much preferred it if the legislation mandated prayers to God as this country knows Him and as reflected in our Established Church. He’s not over keen on giving authority to public bodies to hold philosophical sessions or pray to false gods. Why do we have to keep bending to multi-culturalism because of a few humanist, atheist odd-balls?

    • Sam

      Dude,

      “Why do we have to keep bending to multi-culturalism because of a few humanist, atheist odd-balls?”

      A good question. However, the article above says the national secular society opposed this move:

      “The supporters of this Bill are being willfully misleading by citing religious freedom, when the actual purpose of the Bill is to undermine religious freedom by enabling one group of councillors to impose their beliefs on other, equally elected, councillors. This Bill needs to be exposed for what it is, an attempt by religious enthusiasts to push their religion into the public sphere.”

      So it’s more complex than atheist/secularists(who don’t want ANY religion in council meetings) verses Christians.

      • It opened more than one door, Sam. That’s Jack’s point.
        It wouldn’t surprise Jack if the NSS retaliated by attempting holding secular chanting sessions to an image of Dawkins and a photo of the Big Bang. If they had political power they probably would too.
        Britain is a Christian nation. We should mandate Christian prayers only to preserve and strengthen our culture and, hopefully, draw people back to God. The culture is going and belief is and will decline too.
        How does it work in Israel, Sam? Do they have prayers before meetings? If they do, are they multi-faith?

        • Sam

          Dude,

          To be honest, I wasn’t thinking like that at all. I was noting that there seems to be different fractions and views even within the “secularist community”.

          I don’t believe in multi faith prayers , which for me would be idolatrous worship, but rather than making a big fuss I’d :either excuse myself and explain why, go to the toilet or I’d just not take part (assuming the dude isn’t forced to participate). What matters is the running of the council and decision-making for the good good of the community.

          • Dominic Stockford

            The prayer sessions will take place before the business session – but can now appear (will be able to appear) on the order paper. Given no Councillor is forced to join in any meeting, and can wander in and out as they fancy, they are not forced to attend the part with the prayer (even if they approve and like the prayers used).

          • Sam

            Well Dominic,

            Fair enough and you do at least share the masculine version of my wife to be English first name…. so unlike happy Jack you don’t mind if the prayers aren’t given in the name of Jesus or the virgin Mary, which reflects England as a Christian country?

          • DanJ0

            The Virgin Mary? Begone with such Popish things! :O

          • Dominic Stockford

            Indeed. We are exhorted to pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. No other way.

            As for others who follow false gods – we cannot prevent them doing so by force – and if the only way we see to prevent them at all is by also preventing ourselves praying in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ then that is potty, and wrong.

          • dannybhoy

            “I’d either excuse myself, go to the toilet…”
            The way things are going they’ll have to design bigger toilets….

          • And gender neutral too …….

          • dannybhoy

            but no ashtrays..

          • What’s an ashtray? Bit insensitive referring to ashes in this context on here.

          • dannybhoy

            An ashtray is for the remains of burnt offerings..

          • Good Lord, man. Refrain, desist …….. Thinks who’s blog this is.

          • Sam

            Like as in the obesity epidemic? Dude I DO work out to keep my 6 foot frame in health!

          • dannybhoy

            No no, I meant in order to cope with all the councillors ipting out of the prayer sessions..

            “….my 6 foot frame in health!!
            Six foot?
            No one’s six foot wide Sam.
            Pull the other one.

          • Sam

            Six foot tall dude,!

          • dannybhoy

            Yeah, Riiiiight!
            That’s with your strimmer on, no doubt?

          • Sam

            Possibly…. Dominique thinks I look VERY sexy with one on my head!

          • dannybhoy

            So…
            you’re struggling with an out of control waistline, and the gorgeous Dominique has poor eyesight..
            Sam,
            I never realised….
            And yet in spite of it all, you remain so cheerful…!
            Col hacavod lekha!

    • carl jacobs

      Jack

      Mandated prayers in a public setting are the very opposite of worshipping in spirit and truth. They would have form without substance. They would be an offense to God – especially given the present religious indifference of the West. You can’t bring religion into the public square by flat. It can only come in through the lives and actions of people who actually believe it.

      People are trying to use Christian memory as a talisman to rebuild something of Christian culture without resorting to the Christian faith. That cannot be done. There is no utility in rote prayers offered by unbelieving hearts.

      • Carl, Jack understands these points. Once again you approach this in an either/or way.

        “People are trying to use Christian memory as a talisman to rebuild something of Christian culture without resorting to the Christian faith. That cannot be done. There is no utility in rote prayers offered by unbelieving hearts.”

        This is way too generalised. Agreed, there is no “utility” – a strange term – in prayer without belief. Sustaining our Christian culture and the symbols attaching to it, however, is worthy in itself. In so doing, it may put a brake on the godless society that is being constructed around us. Even if it doesn’t, it keeps Christian words in the public domain. It reminds people there is a God. The ‘Our Father’ alone is rich in doxology. Can this be said or heard without some impact, even if not immediate? These words draw people upwards. Why do you think language and words are so important and are now weapons of the left? Words alter images and shape ‘reality’.

        “Mandated prayers in a public setting are the very opposite of worshipping in spirit and truth. They would have form without substance. They would be an offense to God – especially given the present religious indifference of the West.”

        Again, you are being too black and white. You don’t know this is true for all people participating. Simply mouthing words is not the offence. Deny His existence and ignoring Him is the offence. Jack has been present at meetings opened by prayer. He always joined in Christian prayer to ask for God’s assistance in following His will and being given His wisdom in the business to be progressed. He focuses on his prayer and not how others are praying. What is worship? Acknowledging God is present, asking for His guidance and placing oneself in His hands, is surely worship too?

        This is surely a situation of the lesser of two evils. To remove all vestiges of God from public life or to leave opportunities for those who do believe to pray? And, in so doing, help keep a flicker of awareness of God’s presence in our society.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Quite good Jack. By the way, I name you and claim my £5- you are Philipe from the Apprentice. Philipe gets some things right and is generally a nice bloke. Philipe speaks of himself in the second person…

          • Happy Jack liked Felipe and suspects he prefers it if his name is spelt correctly.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Dominic liked Felipe as well, but thought that the reason that his name was spoken so much was that it wasn’t actually written down anywhere (and didn’t therefore have a spelling).

          • Try sub-titles on your television.

        • carl jacobs

          Jack

          Sustaining our Christian culture and the symbols attaching to it, however, is worthy in itself.

          No, not without a living faith, it isn’t. That’s the whole of my point. You don’t accomplish anything of spiritual value by compelling rote observance. Faith does not follow practice. Practice follows faith. That’s why I deliberately chose to use the word ‘utility.’ You are trying to use formal observance as a tool to achieve some spiritual end.

          To worship God, you must first acknowledge that He exists. To worship God, you must know who He is. These are the missing ingredients from your recipe. You would create nominal religion by these means, and not living faith.

          • As Jack said, he adopts a both/and position on this one and not an either/or one.

            He agrees with you but also sees merit in retaining Christian prayer and symbols in public life. He also sees the potential harm too. On balance though, as the lesser of two evils, he would support this rather than silence.

            People come to faith in a number of ways. One way, as Justin Welby revealed, is when things just fall into place and make sense. Schools hymns, for example, register deep down and not necessarily at a conscious level.

    • CliveM

      If he had gone for that, the Courts would have kicked it out. This is the best option available.

    • SidneyDeane

      oddballs… haha. Says the guy who believes in talking snakes. LOL.
      And by a few you mean over half the population. And which is rising. ALL the time. hehehe.

  • grutchyngfysch

    To permit is to undermine…

    Yes, we know that, NSS, it’s how we’ve been attacked for years.

  • carl jacobs

    This Bill needs to be exposed for what it is, an attempt by religious enthusiasts to push their religion into the public sphere

    Because, you see, the public sphere is the rightful possession of irreligious enthusiasts.

    Now, of course the Secularist will say “Anyone, religious or otherwise, can participate in the public sphere.” Yes, anyone can participate – so long as he leaves his religious convictions behind, and reasons according to the principles of the irreligious enthusiast so long as he remains within the public sphere. Every decision in the public sphere must therefore be made according to the presupposition that God does not exist. If you disbelieve in God, this is identical to establishing your first principles of disbelief as law. It cannot be over-emphasuzed. There are no religiously neutral first principles.

    The Secularist says

    • CliveM

      Good comments, rational and logical.

  • David

    That should spike the guns of the intolerant extremist secularists determined to drive faith out of the public sphere. It was worth doing just to establish that point of freedom. Presumably this was Eric Pickles’ doing ? However I foresee stormy debates, as Councils decide whether to have prayers or not, and if so of what faith ? Multi-faith prayer is meaningless and possibly idolatrous. This is a positive move from a generally appalling government – a small victory after so many defeats for faith.
    But God bless all those behind this measure, a small step to reassert the tolerance and freedom which was previously unchallenged. But I regret deeply just how many we have lost.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Your Grace,
    The National Secular Society…….accuse Secretary of State Eric Pickles of “seeking to impose religion by tyranny of the majority.” They describe him as “a committed evangelical Christian and now Minister for Faith”.
    It is amazing what deception can do. Eric, bless him, only knows the church and Christianity through very dark glasses. He has done some apparently good things to protect our ‘Christian Society’ over the last few years but it has not been done from any understanding. See he yes vote on SSM.

    Carl’s comment from earlier describes clearly his position on Christianity. It is an institutional culture that he seeks to preserve.

    Carl, People are trying to use Christian memory as a talisman to rebuild something of Christian culture without resorting to the Christian faith. That cannot be done. There is no utility in rote prayers offered by unbelieving hearts.

  • James Bolivar DiGriz

    Your Grace,

    “like U-boat, only surfacing when necessary”
    On a point of historical accuracy, U-Boats spent almost all of thier time on the surface.

    Underwater they had to use their battery driven engines, which gave them a very low speed (often slower than the convoy) & little endurance. On the surface they used diesel engines which gave them much greater speed & endurance.

    Only when they neared a convoy (typically ahead of it) would they submerge and prepare to attack.

    • carl jacobs

      Late in the War, U-Boats spent most of their time at night submerged because of the danger of radar detection. They surfaced during the day because they had a chance of seeing the detecting aircraft approaching. At night they were sitting ducks to air attack.

      • James Bolivar DiGriz

        AFAIUI it was a mixed picture, depending upon where the U-Boat was. The closer to Allied territory, the more chance of an aircraft detecting them and hence the more likely they were to be submerged. Also the introduction of the snorkel meant that they could use their diesels whilst submerged.

        None of that takes awy from the fact that U-Boats were not submarines in the modern sense, i.e. spending essentially all of their time under water. Rather they were boats that could submerge.

      • Inspector General

        Not so Carl. U Boats were officially classified as submersibles, and not true submarines. The later boats were progressing towards being true submarines, but time ran out…

  • Blaise F Egan

    I would want to see the legislation provide for those who do not want to sit through a ceremony that does not correspond with their beliefs. Councillors are legally summoned to council meetings and the current informal arrangements whereby humanists and others leave the meeting, sit outside and return after prayers need to be put on a secure legal footing.

    If a council should decide to hold such ceremonies there remains the issue of how the time is to be divided amongst the various belief positions in the local area. In an area that mirrors the national position it would be fair that 60% of meetings reflect the Christian tradition, 25% be non-religious, 5% Islamic, 0.5% Jewish and so on. These percentages could be obtained from the 2011 Census at the local council level and could be used along with a random number generator (RNG) to generate the timetable of belief positions. RNGs produce decimal fractions in the range 0 to 1. The range 1 to 0,4 could be allocated to Christians, 0.4 to 0.15 to the nonreligious, 0,15 to 0.1 to the Muslims, and so on. The random numbers thus drawn would specify the order of beliefs in a fair way. RNGs are available in most spreadsheets and are already used by the judicial system for juror selection, so there is nothing radical here.

  • SidneyDeane

    Mr Evans is of course exactly right.

    Keeping the irrationality of religion out of public life is the only way society can make progress.

  • SidneyDeane

    I don’t pay taxes so Councillors can waste their time praying when they should be talking about Council business.
    If a number of them want to pray, meet up 5 minutes beforehand or do so on your own before the meeting.