Edinburgh 0131 200 1200
Aberdeen 01224 49 80 80

News + Events

Latest news from Balfour+Manson

Unauthorised Prayer

Fresh from its triumph in the English High Court against Bideford Town Council, the National Secular Society is going to take on The Highland Council in a bid to stop prayers before meetings: 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-18915566 
Section 69 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 is virtually identical to section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972, the basis of the English judgment that “The saying of prayers as part of the formal meeting of a Council is not lawful under s111 of the Local Government Act 1972, and there is no statutory power permitting the practice to continue”.
In that context  “not lawful” means that there is no power in law to say a prayer on behalf of a council and that any prayer that is said will not be legally binding on it. It does not mean that any offence is committed by saying a prayer without statutory authority. So how about a disclaimer at the beginning of prayers? Something like: “Lord: In view of section 69 of the Local Authority (Scotland) Act 1973, the prayer which follows is not on behalf of {    } Council but on behalf of the individuals here present as individuals and not as the  servants or agents of any body to which that section applies.” That should reassure the National  Secular Society that the Almighty has been duly apprised of the legal position.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email