Staff at Salisbury Council have been told not to ask people if they are “singing from the same hymn sheet” because the religious reference might offend atheists.
The council advises: “Avoid office and council jargon wherever possible, including phrases such as ‘moving forward’ and ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’.
“Say what you mean, so instead of ‘moving forward’ try ‘in the future’. Not everyone understands these phrases – some can actually cause offence (what would an atheist want with your hymn sheet?).”
The astonishing move has been criticised as excessive political correctness, with even the head of the National Secular Society, Keith Porteous Wood, saying the council had “gone far too far”.
Similar criticism was levelled at Oxford’s local council last week as it was revealed that officials had decided to hold a Winter Light Festival in the city instead of traditional Christmas celebrations.
Commenting on the decision, Rabbi Eli Bracknell, who teaches at the Jewish Educational Centre in Oxford, said: “It’s important to maintain a traditional British Christmas.
“Anything that waters down traditional culture and Christianity in the UK is not positive for the British identity.”