No Prayers on Council Agenda
Prayers being on the official agenda of any council meeting was not seen as hotly contested issue. Those who disagreed with them stood outside until they were completed. While this for some was not desirable, it was accepted as a compromise. However, the recent High Court case concerning Bideford Town Council and the National Secular Society has certainly put the fox in the hen-house. The ruling, subject to the full legal explanation, makes it unlawful for prayers to be part of the official agenda.
The Chairman of the Council, Pat Harvey with great diplomacy, has temporally removed prayers from the official agenda for the forthcoming council meeting on the 21st February and the following meeting in March. This will allow the council to understand fully the impact of the ruling and to make sure the council is not acting in an unlawful way. My understanding is the Judge presiding over the case has given Bideford TC the right to appeal. So, all could change again if this appeal is upheld.
As you would expect, this news of prayers being removed has not gone down well with many Cornwall Councillors. Some have called for the ruling to be ignored, others have claimed a minority have dictated to a majority. Of course there is a one or ten who have welcomed the removal of prayers.
For the last few days I have thought about this ruling and I can to a point, see both sides views on this emotive subject. My view is it has never concerned me to see prayers on the council agenda, likewise it will not worry me not to see them on the agenda. The is because my indifference to religion. For many years I have struggled to understand some of the actions people of faith/religion do in the name of that certain religion. This is not just recent events, but also historical events too. Being well-travelled, I have been luckily to have visited not only many holy sites of Christianity, but also those of other faiths. One recurring theme at all these sites is war and suffering.
From these experiences I would now class myself as apathetic when it comes to religion. I neither fully believe, nor can completely dismiss God; or some sort of other deity. Many of my friends take similar viewpoints to me or take a more established view of being in the atheist camp or in the religious camp. Either viewpoint is not wrong. What is wrong is not respecting those different thoughts and trying to dictate what is the right viewpoint.
Lastly, could this ruling could lead onto an even bigger debate of Church and State being so closely connected? Maybe that is a debate no-one wants to start, especially in a court of law.