Govt tells councils keep praying if you want to

The Government has written to all local councils in England, telling them that new laws restore their power to hold prayers at official meetings.

In the circular, Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Local Government, said Britain was “not strengthened by the secularisation of civil life”.

Speaking last week Mr Pickles said: “For too long, the public sector has been used to marginalise and attack faith in public life, undermining the very foundations of the British nation. But this week, the tables have been turned.


“We are striking a blow for localism over central interference, for freedom to worship over intolerant secularism, for Parliamentary sovereignty over judicial activism, and for long-standing British liberties over modern-day political correctness.”

Earlier this month the High Court ruled that local councils have no lawful power to hold prayers during official business.

The extraordinary ruling came about because the National Secular Society and a local atheist ex-councillor sued Bideford Town Council in Devon.


The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund supported the Council.

Last week, within days of the court’s decision, Eric Pickles fast-tracked the commencement of new laws that overtake the court’s ruling and restore councils’ right to hold prayers.

The circular said all major local authorities in England can continue to hold prayers at formal meetings. For smaller councils, such as Bideford, this power is set to come into force by the end of March.

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