In the news this week – the high court (In England) has ruled that it is not lawful for councils to say prayers before meetings. I’m not aware of this practice happening in Scotland nowadays (although it may), but I’m intrigued by the reaction.
What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.
Inevitably, there has been a degree of outrage. But for me the question here is not how to fight this ruling, but to determine what is at the heart of the perceived problem.
Is it a loss of tradition? If so, I don’t care too much. Public servants should be focussing their efforts on achieving the right outcomes, not preserving traditions.
Is it a lost opportunity to pray? If so, create another opportunity – those inclined to pray can gather before Council meetings to pray together, or each individual attending can choose to pray silently before the meeting starts. (I must confess that on occasions, my prayers in Council meetings have been for endings not beginnings.)
George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has stated that Christianity is being marginalised. Now, maybe that’s the real debate that we – in the church – need to take seriously.