Bideford Town Council prayers ruled unlawful

A town council in Devon, a county in the UK, which says prayers before its meetings, is judged to have been acting unlawfully.

I thought this was an interesting story.  Firstly, I had no idea that prayers were even held at secular meetings.  And now I have learnt that although this practice seems to be fairly widespread among local council meetings, it has been ruled unlawful.

Perusing the article reveals that it is not unlawful as regards breaching human rights, it is unlawful under a particular statute from 1972 which holds that the local council has no power to summon its members to meetings which includes prayers.

Prayers may still be held, but councillors cannot be formally summoned to attend.

So does this represent the further erosion of Christianity in our society, or is it a mere nonsense given the secular nature of our society?

Such a practice is centuries old in England and the article states that it dates from the Elizabethan era.  In those times England was a wholly Christian country and it would have been the norm for such a meeting to open with prayer.  The King or Queen as head of the church was more involved in political matters in those days, and religion and state were firmly intertwined.

Today only vestiges remain of such a society.  The issue with regard to the holding of prayers has more of a historical feel to it than a religious feel.  Those who are objecting probably object equally to the tradition being uprooted as they do to the removal of the prayers.

In the 21st century religion and state are in the main separated.  Many leading politicians say they are Christian, as do a vast majority of citizens on their census form, but many of these people simply regard Christianity as part of their heritage rather than something practical that affects their everyday lives.

Nevertheless it gives some reassurance to genuine Christians that those who govern the country do try to take the wishes and will of the Almighty into consideration.  I myself was pleasantly surprised that such a practice existed, rather than being annoyed that it may now cease.

What matters ultimately it not whether public prayers are said prior to council meetings, but what is inside the hearts of those who rule this country.  Do they truly have God’s will as their own?  Do they always act in the best interests of others rather than themselves?  Looking at the country as a whole the answer has to be no – or at the very least, those who do fall in that category are a minority.  Human nature always seems to overrule godly nature these days in matters of politics.

So let us be thankful that a Christian minority does exist out there, and that sometimes its voice is heard.  Don’t forget that we can always use our own prayers to ask that those in charge of our countries are ultimately acting in a way that will bring God’s plan for salvation to fruition.


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