Atheist Mayor Removes Christian Prayer from City Council Meetings

We’ve heard all sorts of stories about city council meetings that begin with a Christian prayer.

Finally, one mayor has put a stop to them!

Announcing the decision in a secularist group’s monthly newsletter, Mr [Colin] Hall said prayers were ‘outdated, unnecessary and intrusive’ and added they would no longer be said before meetings…

Wow… that’s awesome.

What’s the catch? There has to be a catch.

There’s a catch.

He’s from the United Kingdom.

Writing in the Leicester Secularist Society’s publication, the mayor said: ‘I am delighted to confirm that I will be exercising my discretion as lord mayor to abolish this outdated, unnecessary and intrusive practice.

‘I consider that religion, in whatever shape or form, has no role to play at all in the conduct of council business.

‘This particularly applies in Leicester, where the majority of council members, myself included, do not regularly attend any particular faith service.’

The best part about this has to be the reaction from the UK’s Christian Right:

Mike Judge, spokesman for the Christian Institute, said the mayor was ‘imposing his own views on the rest of the council’.

He continued: ‘The reading of Christian prayers before meetings symbolises our Christian heritage and offends nobody.’

The mayor was imposing his own views by removing the prayers entirely.

You have to wonder what Judge would say if Mayor Hall had substituted the Christian prayer for one that said, “We don’t believe in a god.” That would be imposing his views. But he’s not doing that at all. If any Christians want to privately pray before a council meeting, they have that option.

Being forced to say Christian prayers is offensive to people who are not Christians. How is that not obvious?

How come America has so few mayors with enough courage to stand up against these kinds of prayers?

  • david

    because you wont get elected mayor if you dont attend church in the US

  • http://sa.mu/el samuel

    What did the Bible say about public prayer?

  • Bill

    I’m surprised that a UK city council meeting still started with prayers.

  • Narvi

    @Samuel: Christians don’t read the Bible. If they did, they’d be atheists.

  • http://www.meetup.com/av-freethinkers/ and then some

    This certainly is not the Mayor of our town, Lancaster, CA. He and the City Council recently promoted Measure I, an endorsement of sectarian prayer before city meetings, which was passed in April.

    Earlier this month, however, this policy was challenged in a lawsuit from the Jewish Defense League. Thank you, JDL, this was long overdue.

  • Aegis

    @Bill: it’s slightly surprising in some ways that this happened (because the UK does actually have a state religion, the Anglican Church/Church of England/Protestants, whatever you want to call it) but unsurprising in others (because frankly almost no one cares about religion in an official capacity, at least not in any way that affects how the country’s run).

    Although it is nice to see that they’ve done it. Good on him.

    (Also, Hemant, a little advice from someone who’s here – you can definitely pick better sources of info than the Daily Mail, mate. They’re bloody dreadful.)

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    It is worth pointing out that Christians are hardly a clear majority in Leicester. Hindu (14.7%(, Muslim (11%) and no religion (17.4%) combined nearly match Christians (44.7%). Prayer seems wholly inappropriate in those circumstances.

  • Manksteve

    On side note Daily mail vid :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yzbxwxWUz0

  • Bill

    @Aegis – I agree – was educated in a UK school which started with a Christian Assembly each day. We had a lovely Form Master who was alo the RE teacher and I remember him having to face an almost entire class of budding atheists mocking or questioning his beliefs and the value of the biblical tales he told. He took it well. Atheism was never something I ‘came out’ about until I moved to the US: before, it was just an unlabelled default position.

  • http://secularshawshank.wordpress.com Andy

    How come America has so few mayors with enough courage to stand up against these kinds of prayers?

    And the thing is, one needn’t be an atheist to take such a stand. Even the most ardent Christian fundamentalist—in theory—is capable of saying, “These are secular gatherings. And besides, I’m not interested in imposing my beliefs onto others.” This mayor didn’t do what he did in the name of atheism—nor should he have. Rather, he did it in the name of pluralism, respect for others, and common sense.

  • Kimpatsu

    This is part of the National Secular Society’s ongoing mission to reove prayers from all council meetings. As you might imagine, we’ve been up against some bigots, including one Xian counilman telling non-Xians to “go and live somewhere else” (i.e., another country).
    Just thought you’d want to know.

  • Dan W

    In too many parts of the U.S., if a mayor did that lots of religious people would go apeshit and he or she would lose all chance of getting elected to any political offices in the future. In the U.K. and other European countries, a lot more of the people are nonreligious, so it’s easier for a mayor to do this with only a few complaints. And yet, many European countries have a state religion, while the U.S. does not. I’ve always found this to be weird.

  • John

    This makes me want to move TO that town so I can be under this ATHEIST “lord mayor’s” municipal stewardship! I would actually vote FOR this councilmember!

  • Fran

    This is one of the only times when I’ve been proud to be from Leicester! It’s brilliant to have a humanist mayor who is dedicated to common sense and reason. Good for you, Mr Hall!

  • Georgina

    I find the Christian Institute’s “Christian heritage” comment quite amusing because if you truly look at the heritage of the British Isles, the true “original” religion is actually Paganism and that pre-dates Christianity by thousands of years! So honestly, C.I. should stop trying to call shotgun on who got there first because in comparison, they’re just toddlers in the whole faith structure of the UK.

    By the way, Paganism counts as a valid contender because it can be interpreted as a godless faith structure if you so wish. That’s the beauty of it not being a revealed structure.

    But yes, kudos to the mayor! Even as though the UK has an official state religion, its never really enforced as much as the US’s unofficial one so well done for being reasonable and open to other points of view!

  • muggle

    That’s great. Now if we could only see that in the US where we supposedly have separation of church and state.

  • http://www.thatpinkmouse.com/bloggy Jenny Bliss

    yes ive always found it ironic that here in the UK we’re officaly a christian state however most people seem to be quite secular (and often do have a good laugh at the religious leaders) yet its the oppisite over there in the US lol just seems strange :S although linking to the dailymail website devalues any story haha they’re not renowned for tellin anything close to the truth most of time :D lol


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