Council faces legal action over prayers

Kendal Town Council could face legal action from one of its councillors over its traditional prayers before meetings.

Green Party councillor Enda Farrell wants the prayers scrapped or held in a different room as a matter of ‘equality’.

“This council has to be seen to be acceptant of all people regardless of creed, colour or race,” he said.

However, fellow councillor Graham Vincent said there was nothing wrong with the tradition.

Last year Bideford Town Council was wrongly advised that its prayers before meetings should be discontinued in case members of the public felt their human rights had been infringed.

Geoffrey Cox, the Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon, called the advice “quite simply misleading and wrong.”

He said: “This situation is proof of a disturbing tendency to try to use spurious legal arguments under the Human Rights Act and equality legislation to eliminate the Christian faith from the fabric of our public life.”

Town councils up and down the land follow a similar tradition, as does Parliament.

Christian prayers open sittings in both Houses of Parliament, in a practice dating back to 1558. The present form of prayers probably dates from the reign of Charles II.

In the House of Commons the Speaker’s Chaplain usually reads the prayers. The form of the main prayer is as follows:

“Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit.

“May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed. Amen.”

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