Council agrees to put prayers back on agenda
CHRISTIAN prayers will be back on the formal agenda of Cornwall Council meetings after councillors rejected an option to honour other faiths.
In a lengthy debate, councillors decided that prayers should be part of the formal proceedings at the monthly meetings of the full council.
Prayers were removed from the last two meetings after a High Court ruling in a case brought by a councillor in Devon who objected to prayers being included on his local council's agenda. However Local Government Minister Eric Pickles said the new Localism Act allowed councils to decide for themselves whether to have prayers at meetings.
As a result Cornwall Council debated the issue on Tuesday, starting with a spirited statement from Councillor David Biggs who was opposed to having prayers as part of the formal agenda, saying he felt the council should not be "influenced by superstition".
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He argued prayers had no place in the council chamber.
Many councillors stated that as a majority of people in Cornwall followed Christian faith, those prayers should be used.
Councillor Morwenna Williams made a strong proclamation of her Christian beliefs and declared she believed that "the Devil is alive and at work here in this county".
Councillor Pat Lambshead said he believed Christian prayers should be part of the formal council meetings and councillors had a choice whether to remain in the chamber and participate or not.
He compared the choice to choosing whether to "watch the television and pornographic channels or not to watch pornographic channels".
A report to the council provided different options, with councillors suggesting the council should have prayers of different religions on a rotational basis. This proposal was rejected. Eventually the first option of having Christian prayers was carried. The council also agreed members could choose whether to take part in the prayers inside the chamber or not or to wait outside.