Saturday, 15 March 2008

How long will it be before they bring back throwing us to the lions ?

A town council is being advised to stop prayers before meetings or face the threat of legal action under race discrimination or human rights laws.

The warning has come from the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).

Bideford town council in Devon has been told by the association that councillors and members of the public could argue that their right to practise any religion could be infringed by the saying of short Christian prayers before meetings.

Bideford council was planning to hold a meeting to discuss a possible ban but it is understood the matter will be adjourned until Hazel Blears, the Local Government Secretary, has made the Government's position clear.

NALC has urged the authority to stop the traditional practice of prayers before council meetings to "eliminate any risk" of challenge in the courts.

An email sent to Bideford council outlines Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance."

In January Bideford council voted to keep the pre-meeting prayers after a Liberal Democrat councillor tabled a motion to scrap them.

Geoffrey Cox, the Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon, who is a QC, criticised the NALC, saying its advice "is quite simply misleading and wrong".

Mr Cox added: "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."

The NALC advises and represents the interests of about 8,500 town and parish councils in England and lobbies the Government on behalf of its members.

The email sent to the council states: "The council should consider removing the saying of prayers to ensure compliance with (the Race Discrimination Act) and to eliminate any risk of challenge under the Human Rights Act."

No one from the NALC was available for comment last night.

However, a spokesman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said the council was not breaching the Human Rights Act. "Article 9 of the Act is about allowing people to exercise their religious freedom, not about stopping them from expressing their religion."


Psiomniac said...

That's absurd. If this is true as reported it flies in the face of democracy. If a council wants to open meetings with prayers I see no reason why it shouldn't do so.

On the side of the angels said...

yes but there's the problem psiomniac - you're being fair and rational !!

reverseEngineering said...

If a council wants to open meetings with prayers I see no reason why it shouldn't do so.
//End Quote

Hypothetical here. Hypothetical, but not un-realistic.

If you moved to a different town, and went to a town council meeting, and the people there opened with a islamic prayer to Allah, but because they were there first (and you are new and you are now in the minority), what would you do in that case?

1. Be ok with it? They were praying to Allah, expressing their faith. And defend the stance of "If a council wants to open meetings with prayers".

2. Ask to be added to the prayer chain? Then each meeting can be opened with a islamic prayer, a christian prayer. Then a jewish family moves into the area, so add that to the list. Then add a time of silence for non islamic, non christian, non jewish attendees?

3. Other?

I find it interesting when Christians don't think of themselves of being in the minority and/or being persecuted.

Mat 7:14
(14) But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Joh 15:20
(20) Remember the word that I said unto you, A servant is not greater than his lord. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.

reverseEngineering said...

No one want to give my question any consideration?

reverseEngineering said...

Warren Wiersbe, Prayer 101. (Start Quote)

The prayer of Peter and John (Acts 4) was based on God's Word, specifically Psalm 2, for the Word of God and prayer must always go together. "If you remain in me and my words remain in you," said Jesus; "ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you" (John 15:7). If we are filled with God's Spirit (see Eph. 5:18) and God's Word (see Col. 3:16), then His desires will be our desires, and we will pray in His will. Archbishop Trench said, "Praying is not overcoming God's reluctance; it is laying hold of His highest willingness." And Robert Law, in his commentary on 1 John, The Tests of Life, wrote, "Prayer is a mighty instrument, not for getting man's will done in heaven, but for getting God's will done on earth" (p. 304).
The challenging thing about this prayer of the early church is that it wasn't directed against their opponents. The believers didn't ask the Lord to stop the persecution (the persecution actually grew worse) or to destroy the enemies of the gospel. They asked the Lord to give the church power to witness with boldness so that they would glorify the name of Jesus (see Acts 4:29-30). The focus was not on their comfort or even their safety but on the glory of the sovereign God. "Do not pray for easy lives," said Phillips Brooks. "Pray to be better men and women. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks."
A Christian, angry at what he considered government interference in his life, prayed publicly that God "would kill or convert every elected state official." The request for their salvation was biblical, but the request for their death was not. If anybody had a right to pray God's judgment on their persecutors and murderers it was Jesus and Stephen, yet both of them prayed that their murderers would be forgiven (see Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60).

Warren Wiersbe, Prayer 101. (End Quote)

reverseEngineering said...

1 Corinthians 5:9-12a
(9) In the letter that I wrote you I told you not to associate with immoral people.
(10) Now I did ***not*** mean pagans who are immoral or greedy or are thieves, or who worship idols. To avoid them you would have to get out of the world completely.
(11) What I meant was that you should not associate with a person ***who calls himself a believer*** but is immoral or greedy or worships idols or is a slanderer or a drunkard or a thief. Don't even sit down to eat with such a person.
(12) After all, it is none of my business to judge outsiders. God will judge them.