FRIDAY, APR. 13: The British Government has fast-tracked a move to restore the rights of towns and cities to hold prayers as part of their official business, effectively overriding a High Court order to stop the practice.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles spearheaded the introduction of a new “general power of competence of local authorities in England” that gives new powers to local governments to resume prayers and to sidestep the court ruling of two months ago.
The Parliamentary order took effect last Friday.
In its own decision against Bideford Town Council, in southwest England, the High Court said in February that it was illegal for town halls to continue with the centuries-old practice of conducting prayers at the start of official meetings.
The British Government now says: “Parliament has been clear that councils should have greater freedom from interference.”
In broadening these new powers to town and parish councils, it adds, it enables them to “innovate” and “hands them back the freedom to pray”.