This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Councils win prayer 'rights' as ministers fast track Localism Act powers

Councils win prayer 'rights' as ministers fast track Localism Act powers - Comments

AtheistButt's Avatar Comment 1 by AtheistButt

Appalling. Don't like the judge's ruling - immediately change the law. The term 'judicial activism' has often been used in Australia also, by conservatives unhappy with forward thinking judges.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 01:41:20 UTC | #919089

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 2 by AtheistEgbert

Now the conservatives show their true colours. He is in fact doing the illiberal thing by reversing the decision. And let's remember folks, these people were not an elected majority.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 01:52:42 UTC | #919091

idlemoor's Avatar Comment 3 by idlemoor

Mmm, so, why would Eric Pickles be so eager to make the godsquad happy? Has everyone forgotten why Martin Bell stood against Pickles in 2001 - widespread concern that Pickles' local Conservative association was being taken over by the Peniel Pentecostal Church.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 02:03:48 UTC | #919095

Metamag's Avatar Comment 4 by Metamag

Elections have consequences.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 02:04:54 UTC | #919096

Ophelia Benson's Avatar Comment 5 by Ophelia Benson

Yes well the "Communities Secretary" would think that - people who talk about "communities" ad nauseam are passionately fond of religion, if only because it's such wonderful community-bait.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 02:17:47 UTC | #919097

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 6 by Steve Zara

By effectively reversing that illiberal ruling, we are striking a blow for localism over central interference

I have never understood this support for localism. Who wants to have different rights and regulations based on geography?

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 02:27:36 UTC | #919099

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 7 by aroundtown

This is becoming almost comical that they label us intolerant because we hold that religion is not applicable in a public forum yet they would turn around and shove their prayer down your throat in a public forum. They seem to have no problem in wanting atheists to ignore their intolerance.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 02:40:15 UTC | #919101

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 8 by drumdaddy

There is no god. Religion poisons everything. Keep it real.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 02:45:41 UTC | #919102

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 9 by Neodarwinian

" He says part of the Localism Act that aims to give councils greater powers and freedom will be brought in early. "

What is this " Localism " ( needs to go int dictionary ) act anyway and was this advance planning on the part of the religious wackaloons? Noe Councils can do anything an individual can do. Sounds rather like the newer definition of cooperation's in the US and just as smelly.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 02:51:33 UTC | #919103

Sharpur's Avatar Comment 10 by Sharpur

Comment 6 by Steve Zara :

By effectively reversing that illiberal ruling, we are striking a blow for localism over central interference

I have never understood this support for localism. Who wants to have different rights and regulations based on geography?

Little Englanders, that's who. The vast majority of local authority business is as dry as dust and as slow as a glacier. Most people want to do fun stuff with their free time. But there's a breed of Daily Mail reading Tory who will sit through any amount of tedious committee work if it gives them a chance to poke their noses into other people's business and boss them about. 'Localism' is code for giving more power to petty-minded small town busy bodies.

People like the mayor of Bideford (and lay preacher, natch) Trevor Johns who, a couple of days ago, said:

"Anyone who does not want to enter the council chamber until the prayers are over is being disrespectful to the mayor."

That's right, you don't even get to opt out without public censure, because as Pickles has made plain:

"[W]e are striking a blow for localism over central interference, for freedom to worship over intolerant secularism."

You see, there's been a re-write. Secularism = intolerance now. Freedom = worship. Specifically Christian worship, for everyone in a council meeting, like it or not.

Now, if there's any justice, then, in terms of the British electorate. Pickles has just lost the votes of the 74% of self-declared Christians who "strongly agree or tend to agree that religion should not have special influence on public policy". Not to mention anyone who isn't a declared Christian. But I'm far from sure.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 03:08:59 UTC | #919105

RDfan's Avatar Comment 11 by RDfan

The battle starts with ideas, thoughts, words and ends in acts. The thought precedes the act.

In order to win the war, you must win the battle of words first. Here's how: you start with framing the enemy in a way that suits your purpose: winning.

If a judge upholds the law, you call her action "judicial activism". If the secularist asks for One Law for All, you call him an "intolerant secularist".If an atheist makes his point in a clinically clear and calm manner, you call him a "shrill" or a "militant atheist" or "just like the fundamentalists". Once you've framed the enemy in the way that you want, say, as a threat to national security on a par with actual, bomb-making nutters, then he or she is ready for the taking. You can pass all manner of regulations against him, enact all kinds of tortures upon him, and, eventually eviscerate him or her. The thought precedes the act, people!

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 04:09:25 UTC | #919108

Graxan's Avatar Comment 12 by Graxan

It's funny, almost like they had this law waiting in the wings. "As soon as we hear a complaint about prayers in government, we'll enact this law!"

and..how they can have a religous zealot like Warsi chairing the governing party of this country a primarily secular one, is such a blatant affront and is beyond me. It smacks of guilt-ridden over compensation for equal representation in politics. It seems we have our own sort of Sarah Palin in this Warsi character.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 04:38:46 UTC | #919109

Crimbly's Avatar Comment 13 by Crimbly

Well this has made me very upset. If they want to pray, do it outside taxpayer's time and let's not have it mandated in law.

It makes me ashamed of my politicians (as if I wasn't already).

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 05:07:40 UTC | #919110

Rob_Pm's Avatar Comment 14 by Rob_Pm

I suppose they'll bring back the ducking stool and witch-finder generals next; all in the name of "tolerance"

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 05:52:16 UTC | #919112

msloane's Avatar Comment 15 by msloane

Can I bring my voodoo dolls along to the prayer meeting? I have the appropriate effigies and a load of pins. I find adults talking to an invisible friend quite upsetting.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 08:31:44 UTC | #919124

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 16 by Premiseless

The rights to BULLY carried forward.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 08:42:40 UTC | #919127

Chris Roberts's Avatar Comment 17 by Chris Roberts

I pay for these councilers to do their job out of my taxes, not pray.

God does not empty my rubbish or clean the streets.

He does not contribute to the local economy, but the local economy must contribute to him?

Outrageous. This makes me so angry.

These people need a serious reality check.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 08:44:46 UTC | #919128

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 18 by AtheistEgbert

It's not necessarily all over. The NSS don't think the Localism Act can be used [or abused] legally this way:

http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2012/02/council-prayers--doubts-over-eric-pickles-general-power-of-competence

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 08:54:02 UTC | #919130

Nairb's Avatar Comment 19 by Nairb

Why stop there, let every locality decide if they prefer democracy or theocracy.

Diversity applies to everything even human rights which after all are simply a temporal consensus.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 09:05:44 UTC | #919132

Ian Almond's Avatar Comment 20 by Ian Almond

Ok, so the faithful get to inflict their prayers on the other council members. Time to play them at their own game. Why don't atheists come up with "prayers" of their own? By which I mean some kind of standardised humanist reminder of what we stand for, such as "We call upon all here present to witness that to the best of our knowledge there exists no supernatural entity and that humans have the power to create their own destiny through intelligent discussion and scientific progress.." etc. I"ll leave it to others to fill in the rest of the content, but the point is that if they allow Christian prayers they will have to allow others. At the very least, any resistance to this will openly expose who is really the intolerant party. My guess is that the end result is that the "God"-lovers would have to back off.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 09:24:26 UTC | #919134

GPWC's Avatar Comment 21 by GPWC

Comment 18 by AtheistEgbert :

It's not necessarily all over. The NSS don't think the Localism Act can be used [or abused] legally this way:

http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2012/02/council-prayers--doubts-over-eric-pickles-general-power-of-competence

Yes, I agree, it is not over yet. I hope the Government will face criticism from its own party on this one.

But the problem for us is that Islam has made the public see Christianity as 'ours' and it has again become a national, patriotic symbol. In the eyes of the public, it is either a good thing (compared to Islam) or benign at worse. Therefore ... holding Christian prayers = good or at worst = what harm can it do?

It all depends how the big guns of the political/media class line up on this one. Will they do a US and decide doing religion is a win-win or will they go the secular route?

I've like some comments I've read here recently - we need to get the message out that the liberal, tolerant society that we are today (and I include in this the present day Church of England) is a result of the secular Enlightenment, not so called Christian values.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 09:37:42 UTC | #919135

BowDownToGizmo's Avatar Comment 22 by BowDownToGizmo

So other religions will be allowed to carry out their specific rituals too?

I think Pastafarians are soon to discover that their prayer involves singing along to Minchin's "fuck the Pope"...

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 09:43:02 UTC | #919136

Mr Blue Sky's Avatar Comment 23 by Mr Blue Sky

I think Bideford is probably atypical but this is not a good sign. When Eric Pickles was council leader in Bradford all those years ago he may have felt marginalised in religious terms as the mosques kept springing up around the city and whole districts became asian strongholds. Perhaps his plan is to get xian status to trump Islam politically and that without it we may all suffer in the long term. In this way even warsi would be assisting the plan. If reason has lost out CofE is the lesser of the many of the other evil mind viruses I would suggest but obviously secular government would be my preferred option.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 09:43:55 UTC | #919137

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 24 by Premiseless

Comment 20 by Ian Almond :

Ok, so the faithful get to inflict their prayers on the other council members. Time to play them at their own game. Why don't atheists come up with "prayers" of their own? By which I mean some kind of standardised humanist reminder of what we stand for, such as "We call upon all here present to witness that to the best of our knowledge there exists no supernatural entity and that humans have the power to create their own destiny through intelligent discussion and scientific progress.." etc.

Our Darwin, Who art in natural selection, Evolution be thy name..

Go for it!

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 09:51:29 UTC | #919138

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 25 by Premiseless

Comment 21 by GPWC :

But the problem for us is that Islam has made the public see Christianity as 'ours' and it has again become a national, patriotic symbol. In the eyes of the public, it is either a good thing (compared to Islam) or benign at worse. Therefore ... holding Christian prayers = good or at worst = what harm can it do?

Belief is rubbing shoulders with belief.

It all depends how the big guns of the political/media class line up on this one. Will they do a US and decide doing religion is a win-win or will they go the secular route?

Immigrants from developing nations, such as India, plus other belief based economies are wielding political leverage on home soil in providing due process for belief to continue 'colonial' inclusion plus cultural tolerance. It seems it's ok for belief to say, " We cut children's genitals versus we think children's genitals amount to perversion, but under belief EITHER is to be respected." but NOT for atheism to say leave them well alone and give them a secular education. You see they really do need to be in kids pants to survive - by inclusion or exclusion! To a secular atheist it's already a non sequitur. Kids are off the menu!

I've like some comments I've read here recently - we need to get the message out that the liberal, tolerant society that we are today (and I include in this the present day Church of England) is a result of the secular Enlightenment, not so called Christian values.

No, it's a result of a move towards a more reason based understanding of the world around us - the very things BELIEF wants to remove the rights of children to access FULLY. EVERYTIME I hear BELIEF I hear, " We want absolute access to your children, with your permissions of course." Amazing how Pickles is wanting his jar of hearts.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 10:03:40 UTC | #919139

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 26 by Alan4discussion

Comment 20 by Ian Almond : - Ok, so the faithful get to inflict their prayers on the other council members. Time to play them at their own game. Why don't atheists come up with "prayers" of their own?

I think others can make the point with prayers, more forcefully!

@OP - Communities secretary Eric Pickles says he is "effectively reversing" the High Court's "illiberal ruling" that a Devon council's prayers were unlawful.

Ah well! - That's how to make a real pickle in politics! The Xtian councillors in Bradford and a few other places can look forward to facing Mecca 5 times a day with their backsides in the air during meetings!

.... ... .. Unless moderate Moslem opinion prevails!

Imran Khan, a Muslim and Conservative councillor on Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, welcomed the judgement, - [ that prayers in council meetings were illegal ] - saying religion "had no place" in politics.
He said the ruling was a "victory for everyone who believes that democracy and religious freedom is the cornerstone of Western free society".

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 10:13:41 UTC | #919142

thebaldgit's Avatar Comment 27 by thebaldgit

this is no surprise as Pickles said last week that he would rush through legislation and he has form in pandering to right wing newsrags such as the weekly bin collection bullshit.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 10:16:03 UTC | #919144

mr_zero's Avatar Comment 29 by mr_zero

This case is simple. Is this a council meeting for xians or for everybody? If it is for everybody then prayers, whatever the legality, are inappropriate and just plain rude.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 10:29:25 UTC | #919148

TrickyDicky's Avatar Comment 30 by TrickyDicky

Comment 3 by idlemoor :

Mmm, so, why would Eric Pickles be so eager to make the godsquad happy? Has everyone forgotten why Martin Bell stood against Pickles in 2001 - widespread concern that Pickles' local Conservative association was being taken over by the Peniel Pentecostal Church.

Re: Eric Pickles and the Power of Prayer

I spotted this wonderful quote last week.

“I wonder what Eric Pickles prays for? Pies I should think, and it obviously works.”

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 10:30:19 UTC | #919149