Friday, March 27, 2015

British Parliament Passes Bill Authorizing Invocations At City Council Meetings

Law & Religion UK reports that on Wednesday in Britain the House of Lords gave final Parliamentary approval to the Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Bill (full text). The bill, which now will be presented for Royal Assent, authorizes local governmental bodies to include in their meetings time for prayers or other religious observance or for observances connected with a religious or philosophical belief. It also provides that local authorities may support, facilitate or make arrangements to be represented at religious events or events connected with a religious or philosophical belief.  Apparently the bill is a reaction to a court ruling that town councils can open with an invocation, but only if it is not part of the formal meeting. (Background) (See prior related posting).  During the debate in the House of Lords (full text), Baroness Turner of Camden said:
A number of us who are secularists feel that our views have been somewhat bypassed. It is one thing to have prayers, but it is quite another thing to have prayers as part of an actual meeting.