Prayers before council meetings ruled unlawful

They challenged the practice of Bideford town council, Devon, of having religious prayers on meeting agendas.

Today Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting in London, ruled: ”The saying of prayers as part of the formal meeting of a council is not lawful under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972, and there is no statutory power permitting the practice to continue.”

Rt Revd Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter, told the BBC it was a “great shame that a tiny minority are seeking to ban the majority”.

“Every time there is a survey of religious beliefs in this country, around 70 per cent of the population profess a faith and to saying private prayers.

“At the House of Lords we began with prayers this morning. Prayers were said by a considerable amount of peers. I don’t think you will find anyone in the House of Lords who will seriously suggest we should end that practice.”

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