Opening prayer at Ilminster Town Council under review

Yeovil Express: THE future of the opening prayer at Ilminster Town Council meetings is being considered. THE future of the opening prayer at Ilminster Town Council meetings is being considered.

THE future of the opening prayer at Ilminster Town Council meetings is under review.

The Rev Alastair Wallace retired from his role as the rector in the Minster back in January and with no one to take his place there was no opening prayer at last Tuesday's full council meeting.

At the meeting it was discussed whether the convention should continue, with Cllr Andrew Shearman amongst those suggesting that the prayer should remain a part of proceedings, and could now rotate between the denominations.

Last Friday a test case bid to outlaw prayers during council meetings at Bideford Town Council was successful in the high court, when the National Secular Society and an atheist councillor, Clive Bone challenged the practice.

While this would have no impact in Ilminster, as the prayer happens before proceedings start, town councillor Linda Vijeh hit back at the ruling.

Cllr Vijeh said: “With the current economic climate I think we need all the prayers we can get. Now that we're a multi-cultural society we should be accepting of everybody's views. I don't understand why we have to be so petty.”

In a year when the Queen is prominent to most people's thoughts, it was argued that religion is still a key part of our society.

Cllr Vijeh added: “Apart from anything else this is the year that marks an anniversary of when the Queen ascended to the throne and the coronation takes place in Westminster Abbey which is a religious building.”

WHAT'S your view on the future of opening prayers at town council meetings? Are they outdated and no longer represent society or do you feel they still belong in a Christian country? Write to Postbag, Chard and Ilminster News, 3a Fore Street, Chard, TA20 1PH, e-mail newsdesk@chardandilminsternews.co.uk or comment on this story below.

Comments (7)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:40am Thu 16 Feb 12

Chard Times says...

Religion should have no place in politics, or anywhere else for that matter.
SCIENCE flies you to the moon; RELIGION flies you into buildings...
Religion should have no place in politics, or anywhere else for that matter. SCIENCE flies you to the moon; RELIGION flies you into buildings... Chard Times

10:46am Thu 16 Feb 12

Boris23 says...

Well said Chard Times! Councils are out of touch if they really think that praying before meetings is needed or acceptable. Do they not read the news, other councils have been told to not bring religion into politics so why should Ilminster be any different? It does not reflect the feelings or beliefs of local people and should be scrapped.
Well said Chard Times! Councils are out of touch if they really think that praying before meetings is needed or acceptable. Do they not read the news, other councils have been told to not bring religion into politics so why should Ilminster be any different? It does not reflect the feelings or beliefs of local people and should be scrapped. Boris23

11:11am Thu 16 Feb 12

Wurzeld says...

Maybe they are praying that people will like a 39% rise.
Maybe they are praying that people will like a 39% rise. Wurzeld

8:27am Fri 17 Feb 12

adamkennedy says...

"While this would have no impact in Ilminster, as the prayer happens before proceedings start, town councillor Linda Vijeh hit back at the ruling."

Oh dear once again the facts seem to have been missed by the people who should know better
In my 10 years on ITC I remembered that at the start of full council meetings there is always an item called "Public question time"
This is followed by the prayer and then into the itemised Agenda
This clearly proves that the prayer is formally part of the Agenda of full council meetings
Ilminster Town Council should really take this ruling seriously as it states that prayers are not permitted on a council agenda
In all the time I had to endure this nonsense at the start of each full council meeting I was never given the option of not participating
The place for prayers is in church as part of a religious meeting and should never form part of a council meeting where items of relevance to the council should be talked about
I would also like to see the other religious parts of Ilminster Town Councils remit done away with in particular its formal participation in Rememberance services and its formal Christmas Civic events
"While this would have no impact in Ilminster, as the prayer happens before proceedings start, town councillor Linda Vijeh hit back at the ruling." Oh dear once again the facts seem to have been missed by the people who should know better In my 10 years on ITC I remembered that at the start of full council meetings there is always an item called "Public question time" This is followed by the prayer and then into the itemised Agenda This clearly proves that the prayer is formally part of the Agenda of full council meetings Ilminster Town Council should really take this ruling seriously as it states that prayers are not permitted on a council agenda In all the time I had to endure this nonsense at the start of each full council meeting I was never given the option of not participating The place for prayers is in church as part of a religious meeting and should never form part of a council meeting where items of relevance to the council should be talked about I would also like to see the other religious parts of Ilminster Town Councils remit done away with in particular its formal participation in Rememberance services and its formal Christmas Civic events adamkennedy

10:14am Fri 17 Feb 12

Dick Turpin Works For Council says...

"At the meeting it was discussed whether the convention should continue, with Cllr Andrew Shearman amongst those suggesting that the prayer should remain a part of proceedings, and could now rotate between the denominations."

I firstly have to question whether our "elected representatives" are for real, or whether they should just abandon the idea of a religious prayer prior to, or during, a secular council meeting.

Having said that, I for one would agree to pay double the amount of council tax just for the comedy value of hearing Cllr. Stuart Shepherd chanting "Alluha Akbar" or Cllr. Carol Goodall singing Kol Nidre, as they "rotate between the demoninations", to quote Cllr. Andrew Shearman!

I agree, it does all sound a bit farcical. Perhaps they should just address the real issue of reducing our rates (NOT a modest increase and NOT keeping them the same), and keep their acts of worship to Friday at their chosen mosque, Saturday at their favourite synagogue or Sunday at the Minster.

PS You may have guessed I was telling porkies about being prepard to pay double the amount of rates for a bit of comedy fun!
"At the meeting it was discussed whether the convention should continue, with Cllr Andrew Shearman amongst those suggesting that the prayer should remain a part of proceedings, and could now rotate between the denominations." I firstly have to question whether our "elected representatives" are for real, or whether they should just abandon the idea of a religious prayer prior to, or during, a secular council meeting. Having said that, I for one would agree to pay double the amount of council tax just for the comedy value of hearing Cllr. Stuart Shepherd chanting "Alluha Akbar" or Cllr. Carol Goodall singing Kol Nidre, as they "rotate between the demoninations", to quote Cllr. Andrew Shearman! I agree, it does all sound a bit farcical. Perhaps they should just address the real issue of reducing our rates (NOT a modest increase and NOT keeping them the same), and keep their acts of worship to Friday at their chosen mosque, Saturday at their favourite synagogue or Sunday at the Minster. PS You may have guessed I was telling porkies about being prepard to pay double the amount of rates for a bit of comedy fun! Dick Turpin Works For Council

11:59pm Fri 17 Feb 12

MBHants says...

"With the current economic climate I think we need all the prayers we can get."

Is the Cllr being serious? It saddens me to know that in the UK in the 21st Century, people who beleive that talking to a made up man makes any difference, have positions of responsibility that include distributing our tax money.

Now IF I had faith and prayed to a God, then either I must accept that my God might not be real, or by rotating through denominations as suggested, we will end up at some point praying to the "wrong" God, which will most certainly displease the real one. Intolerance, secularism or keep up the lie to myself - oh what a conundrum!
"With the current economic climate I think we need all the prayers we can get." Is the Cllr being serious? It saddens me to know that in the UK in the 21st Century, people who beleive that talking to a made up man makes any difference, have positions of responsibility that include distributing our tax money. Now IF I had faith and prayed to a God, then either I must accept that my God might not be real, or by rotating through denominations as suggested, we will end up at some point praying to the "wrong" God, which will most certainly displease the real one. Intolerance, secularism or keep up the lie to myself - oh what a conundrum! MBHants

1:47pm Sun 19 Feb 12

QuillPen says...

Religion has no place in civic affairs. The sooner the outmoded prayers are dropped the better. If people want to offer up a quick silent prayer to whatever deity they believe in (and I believe in none of them) that's up to them, but surely they can make decisions without any reference to gods as so many of us do anyway.

What do they do if the town wants something which clashes with their beliefs? Do what's best for the town or follow the dogma of their religion?

No, religion should very definitely have no place in civic affairs.
Religion has no place in civic affairs. The sooner the outmoded prayers are dropped the better. If people want to offer up a quick silent prayer to whatever deity they believe in (and I believe in none of them) that's up to them, but surely they can make decisions without any reference to gods as so many of us do anyway. What do they do if the town wants something which clashes with their beliefs? Do what's best for the town or follow the dogma of their religion? No, religion should very definitely have no place in civic affairs. QuillPen

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree