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Pickles on secularists

17 April 2014


From Mr Keith Porteous Wood
Sir, - The Community Secretary, Eric Pickles, has once more asserted (News, 11 April) that "I've stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of council meetings."

As I told him last year, the National Secular Society made clear in its evidence to the (successful) judicial review against prayers during council meetings that it had no objection to optional council prayers before meetings, or a silent period of reflection during them.

The judicial review still stands and has not been challenged. Any suggestion that the Localism Act was designed to override it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Prayers are not mentioned in the Act, or in any of the debates on it, and it got Royal Assent before judgment was handed down on our judicial review.

Executive Director
National Secular Society
25 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL

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