Self-Government and Judicial Imposition
nick cowen, 21 February 2012
By David Conway
Last week, a dispute was resolved in the English High Court between Bideford Town Council and one of its former councillors backed by the National Secular Society. The two latter had taken the council to court to contest its right to open its meetings with prayer.
In a decision whose ramifications reverberated far beyond this quiet Devon town, Mr Justice Ouseley before whom the dispute was heard ruled all such prayer to be unlawful. He ruled them such, even though, as in the case of Bideford Council, the majority of councillors consistently indicated a wish to begin meetings with prayer and attendance and participation at them was strictly optional for councillors.