REGARDING the saying of prayers before council meetings – the LocalGovernment Act 1972 states that the saying of prayers as part of the formal business of a council meeting is not lawful.
SincemeetingsofBromsgroveDistrict Council include prayers both as an item on the agenda and a record in the minutes, the law is being broken. Councillor Hollingworth may claim that this is a Christian country but this is only in the sense that it is the Church of England which takes charge of certain ceremonies such as Royal weddings.
A recent survey, YouGov 2011, found only 53 per cent of those polled actually claimed to be Christian. Rather than clinging to a tradition it should be recognised that all individuals in our country are free to hold whatever religious beliefs they choose – or none at all.
Praying (or not) is a personal matter and to have prayers imposed on councillors and officers at their place ofwork is, in my opinion, quite unacceptable, just as it would be to start, say, the day at the office or factory with a prayer.
When I was a county councillor in Worcestershire, prayers were replaced by two minutes of reflection, as referred to by Councillor Peter McDonald.
This enabled thosewhowishedto pray to do so silently and the rest had a quiet moment to think about the importance of the business which lay ahead that day.
Ann Holmes via e-mail