Edinburgh City Council has scrapped the saying of prayers during council meetings and will replace them with a ten-minute “pause for reflection”.
Critics warn that the decision is a deliberate “snub to Scotland’s Christian heritage”.
The city’s Lord Provost says the council has “a duty to respect the beliefs, opinions and interests of all our residents”.
Mike Judge, spokesman for the Christian Institute, said: “Christianity in this country is fast becoming the religion that dare not speak its name – and you’d think that if anyone needs our prayers, its politicians.”
It comes after the National Secular Society (NSS) urged councils in Scotland to stop saying prayers.
Earlier this year the NSS won a legal case forcing an English council to drop prayers from its meeting agendas.
But the decision, which only applied to England and Wales, was swiftly reversed by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.
The new “Pause for Reflection” sessions, the first of which is due to be held tomorrow, will take place ten minutes before the start of meetings of the full council.
Lord Provost Donald Wilson said: “These Pause for Reflection sessions will be genuinely inclusive, providing a time for contemplation open to all staff, councillors and visitors who would normally be attending full council meetings.”
He added that he would be “inviting suggestions for future speakers from all my elected member colleagues to ensure the Pause for Reflection programme covers the broadest possible spectrum of faith, community and civic interests”.
The change was unanimously agreed by group leaders and the Lord Provost.