Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Christian Institute Teams Up With.. Bideford Town Council

Here is the news story from the BBC:

A Devon council embroiled in a row over Christian prayers being said at meetings has taken legal advice.

It follows a High Court application by the National Secular Society (NSS) for a judicial review.

The NSS claims Bideford Town Council is discriminating against other beliefs and non-believers, breaching human rights and acting beyond its power.

A Manchester law firm which offered to represent the council for free has had its offer taken up by the authority.

Continue reading the main story

The NSS action was prompted by Bideford atheist councillor Clive Bone, who failed to have the prayers stopped.

The society claims holding prayers before council meetings is an "archaic practice" which is "not appropriate in modern-day Britain".

Aughton Ainsworth solicitor Tom Ellis contacted Bideford's Town Clerk after reading about the legal threat in the media.

"Although it might be a local issue, the implications are national," he told BBC News.

"There are also possible ramifications for any organisation with a religious connection."

Mr Ellis said he had been instructed to inform the High Court of the council's intention to contest the claims made by the NSS.

George McLaughlan, Bideford Town Council clerk, said: "The solicitor was down here talking to us last week.

"He will work with the Christian Institute to defend the case.

"He has until Friday to file his intent to contest proceedings and then if permission is granted by the High Court for a judicial review to go ahead, we will have to supply further detailed evidence."

Firstly, I think any sensible person can agree that in a society that values individual freedom no religious services should be held before, during or after council meetings.

Secondly, council's have a duty to their electorate to NOT work with groups that hold offensive views.

So why is Bideford Town Council so eager to defend a pointless exercise and to ally itself with the Christian Institute? An institute that offers a literal interpretation of the Bible, the same book that calls for my (among many people's) execution.

This is an atrocious waste of taxpayers money to defend an outdated practice and get help from a conservative pressure group. Bideford Town Council should be ashamed.

The National Secular Society would be happy to receive donations to help it fight the good fight in this case.

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

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