Two opposition councillors are calling for prayers to be dropped from council meetings in Daventry.
Full council meetings at Daventry District Council usually begin with the short reading of a prayer from a local vicar or reverend, and is a tradition also replicated at nearby Northampton Borough Council meetings, as well as county council meetings.
But the tradition should not form part of a ‘secular institution’, according to Labour councillors Ken Ritchie and Aiden Ramsey, who have brought forward a motion calling for the routine to be scrapped.
The motion reads: “This council respects the wishes of councillors who wish to prepare themselves for council meetings through prayers or other acts of religious observance and believes that arrangements must be made to enable them to do so in council offices.
“However, this council, as a secular institution which serves people of all faiths and none, believes that religious acts should not form part of formal council agendas.
“It, therefore, resolves that ‘prayers’ should not appear on council agendas and that arrangements should be made for those who wish to take part in prayers prior to the commencement of each meeting.”
Although the two councillors note that many are ‘inspired to serve others by their religious beliefs’, and acknowledge the work by religious leaders, they say that there are others that ‘derive their motivation to serve from secular views and humanitarian value’.
The routine of prayers was also raised at a recent Northamptonshire County Council meeting, where comments were aired about a number of councillors who chose to leave the chamber when the prayers commenced.
The motion at Daventry is due to be discussed on Thursday (December 6) during full council, which will begin as usual with the prayers. It will require the backing of the ruling Conservative party in order to be passed.