A judge has, thankfully, ruled that calls for prayer during a council meeting are unlawful. As indeed they are, no matter what the people involved come up with to defend the practice.
Politics should be secular
and therefore free of all, every, and any religion. Religion is a personal choice, for which there exists freedom of religion. Vice versa, when in the public, government-sponsored space, there should be freedom from religion. Nobody should have somebody else’s choice shoved down their throat.
There are more issues. One argument is that ‘England is a christian country’ and this is part of a ‘tradition’. Whether the former is true or not barely matters (I think it is, unfortunately, true), because ‘tradition’ is one of the worst arguments for anything. Slavery was tradition too once, as was stoning of adulterers. Real arguments have taken over and dismissed of these ‘traditions’.
Another obvious issue is that of neutrality. What would a muslim think of their chances of the council, for instance, approving their request to hold islamic player meetings, when a christian church has protested against them? What if a jew complains about antisemitism from christians? The state and government should maintain the strongest possible image of neutrality.
Finally there are ‘mechanistic’ issues. The simplest one is, what does this prayer thingy actually do? It’s specifically christian (a compromise solution of holding a few moments silence was rejected by the council in case), so it’s not just for the council members to meditate. So let’s assume it’s praying to the christian god. Hmmm… the christian god? The catholic one, the protestant one, methodist baptist orthodox one? Even assuming the council picks the ‘correct’ god, then what? Is god going to help the council make better decisions? Or help them execute these decisions (that would presumably call for a proper miracle, as god is not well known to interfere much with mankind lately)?
And what if half of the council does not believe in the specific god prayed to? Will he still help them? Or are only the True Believers eligible for help? Will each member be helped by their respective god? Is that not discrimatory against atheists and agnostics, who will get no help, or do not know if they will get help, respectively? No, this whole prayer thingy is totally nonsensical and should be eradicated completely from any level of government.
Christianity is not marginalised – it’s just shown its rightful place
There are those that say that christianity is ‘marginalised’ or even ‘persecuted’ and that evil angry atheists like me want to deconvert all christians and take their religious rights away in an inverted witch hunt. This is of course complete bollocks. All I want is for everybody to be treated exactly equal – unlike some misguided christians. I do not wish atheist books to be read before a council meeting. I do not call for atheist prayers (whatever that may be, anyway) in the commons.
Those christians that make a lot of noise along the lines of ‘why can’t other people just leave us alone with our belief’ while supporting prayers in, say, councils or the House of Commons, should take a long hard look in the mirror and realise that they themselves are the ones not leaving others alone. If you do not understand what is wrong with the attitude ‘we are entitled to our prayers and if you disagree, well, you can just walk out or not watch or not pray’, well, you simply lack a fair few brain cells and empathy.
Until everybody in this country is left alone with their fundamental right to believe – or not believe – what they want to without the interference of anybody else, there is still work to be done. Fortunately, one bit of that work was done this week.