Prayers outlawed at UK local council meetings
Christians and politicians reacted with dismay last night after the British High Court outlawed the centuries-old tradition of formal prayers being said at the start of local council meetings up and down the country.
The National Secular Society and an atheist ex-councillor won a test case ruling that Bideford town council, Devon, was acting unlawfully by putting prayer on meeting agendas.
It is understood the ritual dates back in Bideford to the days of Queen Elizabeth I, and the council has recently voted twice to retain it.
But Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting in London, ruled local councils lacked power under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972 to hold prayers "as part of a formal local authority meeting".