Friday, February 10, 2012

Town council prayer ruling

Despite being a christian Nation and having an official religion, the British Court of Ap has ruled that the Bideford Town Council is violating the law by requiring prayer during a town council meeting!

Mr Justice Ouseley ruled the prayers were not lawful under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972; However, he pointed out that prayers could be said as long as councillors were not formally summoned to attend.

Mr Justice Ouseley ruled the prayers as practised by Bideford Town Council had been unlawful because there was no statutory power permitting them to continue.

The NSS, which said prayers had no place in "a secular environment concerned with civic business", argued the "inappropriate" ritual breached articles 9 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protect an individual's right to freedom of conscience, and not to face discrimination.

Now, why can't the US get it's act together as a truly secular society?


  1. "Now, why can the US get it's act together as a truly secular society."

    For one, we are not bound by the European Convention of Human Rights. :)

  2. We are bound by the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

    Justice Hugo Black held,

    The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect "a wall of separation between church and State."

    I would argue to you dear FWM that having to listen to prayers as part of attending a civic event, prayers that are incorporated in essence into the meeting, is a violation of freedom of (and from) any specific religion intruding into government.

    If you would like to truly understand how that works, imagine that YOUR local city council or some other municipal board or organization, opened with a MUSLIM prayer, or a Hindu prayer.

    If you do not belong to that specific religion, or if you are an atheist, you should not have to be subjected to someone else's religious belief as part of participating in your own area government.

    We ARE a secular society, and I for one am damned proud of it, and would strongly suggest that those who use the term as an insult, or derogatory or negative term --- as the right also uses the word moderate these days -- should be required to learn history.

    That would include the pseudo-historian of Freddie and Fannie, the Nut Gingrich, who apparently is, clearly, NOT much of an historian, and not terribly factual in so very many respects.

    But then he's accomplished what he intended, a lot of marketing of his 'brand' at the expense of other people's money. He went off track briefly when he succumbed to the delusion that he actually had a prayer in hell of getting the right's nomination. He has never had even a remote chance of WINNING a general election, but he does love to toss out words like SECULAR to those who don't apparently genuinely value either freedom or the provisions of the U.S. Constitution on the right.

    The very FAR right.

    WE ARE bound by the U.S. Constitution which makes us a very very secular nation FWM, every bit as secular as the European Conventions on Human Rights. We would do well to enforce it as thoroughly.

    1. Do you realize that you just contradicted Laci's anti-American stance there?

    2. Our local school board does not discriminate at all. They let a different church say the opening prayer every meeting so all of the religions in town have the same opportunity to participate. That means sometimes it alternates between Methodists and Baptist--No preference for one over the other--no preference given to one church over the other.

    3. FWM, I don't suppose that includes Islam, though.

  3. We aren't perfect, but we are at least special among nations in having no official religion. The arguments that we have over public prayers and other such matters are at the margins, mostly. It's been noted that we are officially secular, while many of us are personally religious, while many European countries have official religions and many self-professed atheists in their populations.

    Now, will you argue that the clause in the First Amendment that allows the free exercise of religion is also out of date?

  4. FWM, giving preference to different versions of the religion Christianity is still giving preference to a religion.

    It still violates the rights of anyone who is an agnostic, atheist, or a religion other than some variation or branch of Christianity not to have to be subjected to someone else's religion and it is still a very real and very wrong procedure.

    1. I was kind of making a joke (think Blues Brothers: "we have both kinds of music here, country and western") but the truth is that the School Board does open with a prayer and every single religion in town is represented on a rotating basis. There are 5 established churches. Two Methodist, 2 Baptist and a Community Church that separated from the Methodists over some national policies.