Victory: Former councillor Clive Bone, pictured outside the town council offices in Bideford, has won the legal battle to outlaw prayers at meetings
A landmark legal ruling banning the tradition of saying prayers at council meetings was denounced last night as an ‘assault on Britain’s Christian heritage’. The High Court controversially backed an anti-religious campaign to abolish official acts of worship. Christians and politicians reacted with dismay after a judge overturned centuries of custom by outlawing a town hall in Devon from putting prayers on the formal agenda.
It prompted concern that it would pave the way for Parliament to abandon prayers before Commons and Lords business, mark the end of hospital and Forces chaplains, and could even lead to the abolition of the Coronation Oath, pledged by Kings and Queens taking the throne. The ruling means prayers will not be allowed at the start of council meetings across England and Wales, though they may still be said before the official start.
It comes as two Christian B&B owners who refused to let a gay couple share a room lost an appeal against a ruling they must pay thousands in compensation to the men. The Court of Appeal told Peter and Hazelmary Bull that they were entitled to express their beliefs, but not if they were incompatible with the rights of gay people.