Eric Pickles MP, Minister of Communities and Local Government, was outraged in 2012 when the National Secular Society successfully argued and won a case which meant local councils were no longer compelled to conduct prayers before meetings. Mr Pickles is now getting his revenge, by pushing through the Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Bill through Parliament.
Mr Pickles says Britain is a “Christian Country”and to a large extent that is true. However, not every British politician running local government is, and to impose these rules on the non-religious, or those following differing faiths, is wrong.
There is no evidence that praying leads to better decisions being made. In an increasingly secular (and you don’t have to be non-religious to be secular, there are followers in faith who also think religion and state should be separate) society where councillors of all backgrounds conduct local government business the notion of needing prayers becomes ever more redundant. I think many councillors would agree, if business were to be conducted from an ethical standpoint, the end result would be the best path to take, without the need for God’s guidance.
This is just another chapter of the Coalition Government imposing Christianity on people who may not want to participate. The Church of England is fading from many people’s lives in Britain, but the Government is hell bent on shoving it down our throats. They see religion as a force for good, overlooking the great work in promoting “goodness” from non-religous groups.
I hope the Lords has the good sense to reject the Bill forthwith, and allow councillors to conduct meetings as they wish, befitting the needs of their local communities. But I have a sense of forboding that it will not be the case.