Power of prayer extolled in Parliament as Bill advances

Tue, 23 Dec 2014

A Bill about councils’ “freedom to pray” has received support from the Government and the Labour Party.

During a debate on the issue, Jake Berry MP, who proposed the Bill, encouraged public officials to reflect on the power of prayer over and above government actions.

Speaking earlier this month Berry said he was “delighted” to take the Bill about people’s freedom to pray through Parliament, because “it is an important issue”.

Prince of Peace

He added: “As we approach Christmas, the celebration of the birth of who I believe to be the Prince of Peace, all elected officials might like to reflect that there may be more power in prayer than in any stroke of a Minister’s pen or ruling from the Chair”.

Penny Mordaunt, a Government minister for Communities and Local Government, commented: “The Bill will not compel anyone to pray or any local authority to include prayers in their official business, nor does it define what constitutes prayer.”

She also criticised “those with an axe to grind”, who might wish to challenge prayer at council meetings.

Conflict

Labour’s Lyn Brown, who is a shadow minister for Communities and Local Government, said the Bill was a short piece of legislation with a simple aim, “that does not seem to conflict with the most liberal of expectations”.

She supported the right of “local authorities of all types to include prayers if they wish to. It is not prescriptive, but enabling. I am content, on behalf of the Opposition, to wish the Bill and its purposes well”, Brown concluded.

The Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Bill is due to be considered by a committee of MPs in January.