LETTER: Prayers separate from the agenda

Your story ‘Vicar to say prayers before council meetings’ implied that the High Court decision that banned prayers as part of the agenda of council meeting had been ‘overturned by Eric Pickles’.

Of course, a Government minister – even one as devout as Mr Pickles – has no power to overturn laws that he doesn’t approve of. That’s the realm of dictators.

His claims that the Localism Act now permits councils to pray as part of their meetings has not been tested in court – the Localism Act says nothing about prayers, in fact.

The High Court ruling, obtained by the National Secular Society, said that prayers were acceptable separately from the council agenda, but not be part of official business.

We are happy with that, and this is what Horsham appears to be doing. Those councillors who don’t want to pray don’t feel that they are being forced to go against their conscience by not doing so.


President, National Secular Society, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL