UK peer insists prayer Bill is ‘divisive’

UK peer insists prayer Bill is ‘divisive’

Peers debating a Government backed Bill have been warned by Nicholas Le Poer Trench, the earl of Clancarty, that ‘institutionalising’ religion in any local authority meeting ‘must in the modern age be insensitive and crosses what many people would think is today’s acceptable line’.

According to this report, the Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Bill was launched in response to a High Court ruling that town halls had no statutory powers to summon councillors to prayers. It was drafted with assistance from the Department of Communities and Local Government and is being carried through the House of Lords by Lord Cormack, above.

Lord Cormack said the Bill was ‘a good, sensible, modest measure’, adding that religion was:

Part of the very fabric of our society.

He added:

I emphasise to your Lordships that this is permissive legislation. There are no obligations. If the town council of Puddleton-in-the-Marsh decides it does not want to begin its meetings with prayers, it does not have to do so. If, on the other hand, it decides that it wants the local vicar, Methodist minister, rabbi or imam to lead it in prayer, that can happen.

The Bill does not specify that prayers have to be according to the Christian faith, meaning any faith can be represented or period of meditation encouraged.

Trench said:

The Bill does not specify which God should be prayed to or religion followed. I think that if the Bill passes, we will have a recipe for divisiveness and storing up potential problems in the long term.

He asked:

Is not the wisest course for councils to be scrupulously impartial with respect to the beliefs and non-beliefs held by the residents of a local area, while at the same time having a presence at, for example, the celebration of cultural and religious festivals where appropriate to do so?

His words indicate that he has a far better grip on reality than his uncle, Brinsley Le Poer Trench, the 8th Earl of Clancarty, who founded a UFO Study Group at the House of Lords.

Trench was a firm believer in flying saucers, and in particular, the Hollow Earth hypothesis, discussed in his book Secret of the Ages: UFOs from Inside the Earth. He also claimed that he could trace his descent from 63,000 BCE, when beings from other planets had landed on Earth in spaceships.

Most humans, he said in 1981, were descended from these aliens:

This accounts for all the different colour skins we’ve got here.

A few of these early aliens did not come from space, he explained, but emerged through tunnels from a civilisation which “still existed beneath the Earth’s crust”. There were seven or eight of these tunnels altogether, one at the North Pole, another at the South Pole, and others in such places as Tibet.

I haven’t been down there myself. but from what I gather [these beings] are very advanced.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, who is backing the Bill, said he believed this piece of legislative balderdash was concerned with:

Freedom of local choice, freedom of religion, and freedom from a legal ruling that removed local democratic choice.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles last year introduced laws protecting parish council from legal challenges over holding prayers, stating he had:

Stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of meetings if they wish.

The Bill will now be debated at committee.

Hat tip: Ernest Jackson

27 responses to “UK peer insists prayer Bill is ‘divisive’”

  1. 1859 says:

    Of course this would be ‘institutionalising’ religion. This would be going in exactly the opposite direction – we should be de-institutionalising religion and letting it be a private pursuit – like collecting stamps, or jogging. A secular political system is what we need, not one which continually lets the religiously minded take undeserved, high-profile positions in politics. We already have unelected bishops in the House of Lords.

  2. Cali Ron says:

    Secular is always better, although, America is a good example of the insidious nature of religion. We supposedly have separation of church and state, yet religion keeps popping up in our government and politics. It’s the very nature of religion that it (or it’s power brokers and minions) always tries to take over everything else. As for divisive, of course it is. You can’t promote any religion that purports to be the one and only (and they all do) without it being divisive to someone, somewhere. Religion always divides,picking winners and losers, declaring who’s good and bad. It’s the ultimate Us and Them model. There can be no peace on earth as long as there is religion.

  3. RussellW says:

    The UK actually has a House of Lords, in 2015, jeeeez!

  4. Marky Mark says:

    I’m a firm advocate of, if one believes in talking snakes, a man can live in a whale’s belly, and magic fairies, (angels)… They are NOT qualified to hold public office, and shouldn’t even be police officers as logical thinking is a mandatory thought process to solving crimes.

    The West Memphis Three case from Bible Belt Arkansas is a perfect example of this where three teenage boys were convicted of killing three 7-8 year old boys, with absolutely no evidence. The religious authorities botched the investigation and said, “We can’t figure this out so it must have been the Devil”. They set their sights on the teen boys since they were different, wore black, listened to heavy metal music..ect. They convinced the Bible Belt jurors that the teens were Satanist and sacrificed the boys…with absolutely no evidence of this, but the Devil can do such things don’t you know.

    Almost 20 years later DNA evidence proves that one of the murdered boys step father is the most likely suspect. FBI profiler John Douglas has said in his books that whenever a child is missing or murdered they look very closely at the family of that child first. West Memphis police never even questioned this step father at the time…after all, he attended church and was/is a good Christian so he couldn’t possibly have committed this crime.

    John Douglas was instrumental with helping to set the teen boys (now men) free, and profiled who the killer would most likely be…The step father Terry Hobbs.

  5. Marky Mark says:

    Our x-president, Good Christian/idiot, George Bush Jr. is another example of religious people holding high office…We’re still trying to recover economically from his disastrous presidency.

    And the good christians had no problem stealing the office since Bush clearly lost his second term…so they stole it.

  6. 1859 says:

    Now here’s an idea – by all means let’s have religious figures in government giving us wayward folk a moral direction, but only on one condition – that these religious would-be prophets must first visit India and have their balls cut off. Only as eunuchs would they be truly qualified for public office. I think it might just catch on?

  7. barriejohn says:

    1859: Nothing so extreme is needed – just a requirement that they actually live by their own rules. For example, sell all that they possess and give the money to the poor, and…er… no extramarital or homosexual relations; penalty stoning to death!

  8. EJ says:

    It is waaaaaaay past time to get rid of the so-called “House of Lords” with an extra-hard kick to those religious fucks hiding therein.
    Time to kick some pompous asses out the fucking door, eh?

  9. barriejohn says:

    RussellW: There aren’t many hereditary peers now. Most are political appointees (life peers), and there are a LOT of them!

  10. barriejohn says:

    PS A second chamber is essential, but how to elect members is a real problem. If the second chamber has the same political makeup as the primary one, then how would it act as a check? It’s a fair point that many peers have great experience in politics and other avenues of life, which makes their debates sometimes more illuminating than what one experiences in the House of Commons. I’ve often wondered about the possibility of making all university professors ex officio members of the chamber, which would give very broad spectra of both political views and expertise, but I’m sure that most would be far too busy to attend!

  11. EJ says:

    The systemic problems within your UK government is made worse by such things as “royalty” (a rubbish concept), and the universal corruption of private business and other moneyed interests, as well as the treasonous sabotage of any semblance of representative democracy by those same sorts of people.

    When you have national defense being gutted by private and not public enterprise, you are seeing naked treason.
    It is much the same in the USA.

    Government is not a business and cannot be run like a business, so when business interests bribe their way to “privatising” what is properly the responsibility of the government only, then you are witnessing the dismantling of your government before your eyes.

    In the USA, we have the old Civil War still being fought as well as our own oligarchs committing treason.
    In the UK, you’ve got “royals” and oligarchs doing much the same thing for many of the same batshit insane reasons.

    The status quo must be destroyed utterly, not to kill everyone, but to remove every bit of their wealth, power, and false authority, bringing them down to an equal level with everyone else.

    They are just people, you know.
    Wouldn’t be cricket to let them continue on, though, you see, so you’d better get with it before they’ve finished their plans or you’ll be right behind us as we go down into the horrors they are preparing for us all….
    This is the world’s last chance before the window closes.
    I am not being overly dramatic, either.


  12. EJ says:

    Well, I guess I should have proofread that one. Oh, well.

  13. Stuart H. says:

    Presumably any council that goes for this nonsense also has to minute the fact that the meeting began with prayers, and those minutes would be on public record.
    A dissenting councillor could have fun with this, by always objecting to the prayer or moving that prayers not be held at that meeting in order to make time for vital business, etc. etc…. which would also have to be minuted….
    Yes, this would be childish, and fighting nonsense with nonsense, but a few months of serious civic business appearing to be all very silly… and all on the record for any enterprising journo to play with.. and I suspect most godbotherers would think again.
    Best of all, Pickles has even given us the weapons to do it. Last year his department produced an extensive guide intended to encourage ordinary people (well, grass roots Tories, to be honest) to take a closer interest in councils, mostly in the hope they’d ask lots of embarrassing questions about Lefty council expenditure on ‘PC gone mad’ type schemes.

  14. EJ says:

    Ideologies do not deserve any human rights whatsoever.
    They are not people, but diagrammed concepts yet there will always be some delusional idiot who thinks tradition is to be worshiped as much or more than their ‘god(s)’.

    Fuck tradition, any tradition. Precedence is merely the notion that something has happened at least once before, nothing else, and tradition means someone wants to do it again and again regardless of how stupid it is.

  15. gegsieline says:

    What next a blood sacrifice to round off prayers?

  16. Peter Sykes says:

    Spot on, but lots n lots of people in the UK (K!) still think the royals are wonderful. Sick shitty sickness…

  17. EJ says:

    @Peter Sykes
    Well, I must admit that when I see the old film of “HRH’s” coronation I get rather wistful and wish very much that she had been the sort to truly lead the people instead of being one who was only allowed to wield the power on behalf of the ancient power structures that are still around stinking up the place.

    She still has that nice person inside her, as she sometimes takes the time to show, but the years have brought only bitterness and disillusionment, etc.

    She should declare herself the last of her line and put an end to the dynastic rule of [insert your own label here].
    That is, if she truly wants to do the best thing for everyone.
    But she never calls and so I couldn’t tell her she’s DOING IT WRONG. lol

  18. Marky Mark says:

    In relation to my post about the West Memphis Three case…found this video from the Arkansas Freethinkers group where the author Mara Leveritt is speaker. Mara was the only newspaper columnist at the time who considered the trial of the three a witch hunt and wrote about it…I did not know she was a freethinker.


    The Q&A afterwards is excellent as these people are much aware how damaging religion was to this case.

  19. RussellW says:

    “A second chamber is essential, but how to elect members is a real problem. If the second chamber has the same political makeup as the primary one, then how would it act as a check?”

    The Senate in Australia has a different voting system from the House of Representatives and also, some people don’t vote for the same party in both houses. The appointment of parliamentary representatives by the government is completely anti-democratic.There are many examples of upper houses to use as models, Britain doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel.

  20. barriejohn says:

    RussellW: The British are notoriously conservative, insular and hidebound by tradition. The Liberal Democrats managed to force a referendum on proportional representation and the idea was comprehensively rejected, though I guarantee that if it had been autocratically introduced people would have said: “You know what? I actually prefer this system now that I’ve seen it in operation.” Labour MPs are always banging on about their opposition to the Lords, but upon retiring almost all accept life peerages, and then offer: “We have to try to change things from the inside” (which they don’t), so nothing changes. The one thing that we CAN’T stand is “foreigners telling us what to do”, which is why there is now a very real chance of us exiting the EU (an “undemocratic institution” according to the British press, and they would NEVER lie, would they?). After the Princess Diana/ Camilla Parker Bowles business the monarchy became very unpopular, but with a photogenic young couple and baby prince they have acquired a new lease of life – aided and abetted by the (mainly right-wing) British press again (free “Baby George” calendar given away with every copy of the Daily Mail in January, I kid you not!). Don’t waste your time pointing us in the direction of what works “abroad” as we are NOT interested. Things are just fine here; the established system has served us well over the years so no need to fix what ain’t broke. Britain is the “cradle of democracy”, “mother of parliaments” and “envy of the world”. Nothing to see here; please move on. I despair!

  21. RussellW says:


    The”Things are just fine here;” mentality is certainly not confined to the UK, vested interests and voter apathy is a powerful combination everywhere.

    There’s definitely an advantage in designing a written Constitution from scratch, as occurred in most of Britain’s former colonies, compared with the process of slow evolution. BTW, I’m sure most Australians would acknowledge that we’re very lucky to have inherited British political institutions although they would also claim to have improved them.

  22. EJ says:

    A “Baby George” calendar? Awww! ^_^
    How could you feel any despair with your future king wearing designer nappies? Stiff upper lip and all that. ha ha ha

  23. barriejohn says:

    RussellW: I agree, but gay people in particular have the British to thank for their persecution (under the law) in such places as the Caribbean and Africa (and some former colonies still have the death penalty). Ironically, Britain still doesn’t have a proper constitution, and we are, this year, celebrating the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta!

  24. JohnMWhite says:

    Frankly I think the wisest course is for anyone who feels the need to beg an imaginary friend for help before getting down to council business ought to just go home for a lie down.

    Meanwhile, when people say things like this…

    Stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of meetings if they wish.

    I can’t help but imagine their minds are too sociopathic to consider that some people in the council might wish something and other people in the council might wish something else.

  25. barriejohn says:

    JMW: The bad news is that “atheist” Nick Clegg has now found God, and is having a go at “vociferous secularism”. Several papers – including the Mail, of course – carried the story yesterday:

    I don’t suppose that the upcoming election could have anything to do with all this?

  26. Vanity Unfair says:

    I’m waiting a few years for the “Boy George” calendar.

    Peter Sykes:
    UK (K!): these days it’s more UK (U?)

  27. Vanity Unfair says:

    I had a look at the Nick Clegg story in the Tyke Times. (Great cricket reporting but little else to commend it.) It’s definitely election time. So, compare and contrast as the exam papers used to say:
    “I committed to bring my children up as Catholics, that was what I undertook to Miriam before we got married.”
    “I’m always a bit sceptical of anyone who acts with raging certainty about anything.”
    In this case I don’t agree with Nick.