In the light of the High Court ruling last week banning prayers from formal agendas at council meetings, I feel the need to respond to the hysterical furore shown by some members of the Christian faith to that decision, claiming they are being “attacked by aggressive secularists” and are “victims”.
These allegations are unfounded.
Mr Justice Ouseley did not say that prayers cannot be said before council meetings – only during meetings.
As a member of the National Secular Society, we defend the human right of any person to follow and practise any religion.
But we oppose any religious organisation that demands special privileges, and imposes its own religious doctrines and practices onto others in a public place, where there may be people present of different faiths, or none, which could cause discomfort to others.
Every day on our TV screens we see numerous wars going on around the world, where politics and religion is a deadly mix in so many countries, injuring and killing thousands of innocent people.
The Catholic/Protestant sectarian divide in Northern Ireland is still not completely over, either. It is for these reasons the NSS campaigns for the separation of religion and politics – a secular State – by disestablishing the Church of England and removing bishops from the House of Lords. But that is not banning religion altogether.
The first amendment to the US Constitution Bill of Rights prohibits religion and yet that country is particularly religious where, ironically, some of their political candidates make a point of selling their particular brand of religion to the public during elections!