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London council in religious row after ‘banning prayer for poetry readings’

A London council was at the centre of a religious row last night after it announced it had dumped Christian prayer in favour of poetry readings at the start of council meetings.

By Andrew Hough

06/19/2010 UK (Telegraph.co.uk)- The newly elected Labour leaders at Enfield Council, north London , made the controversial decision to “support and encourage the arts”.

The vast majority of councils choose to start meetings with Christian Prayers while a handful of other local authorities begin with other faiths.

But Jayne Buckland, the Enfield Mayor, has dumped that convention and instead poets will be invited to read their work.

Christian groups last night criticised the move, saying it was another “aged old tradition” that was banned in favour of political correctness.

“Given seven in 10 people in the census chose to list their religious beliefs as Christian, I think it is perfectly acceptable for local authorities to begin its meetings with prayers,” said a spokesman for the Christian Institute, a campaign group.

“I think it is about time that local councils take a large dose of common sense and stand up for Christians.”

The National Secular Society supported the council.

The atheist group is currently pursuing a legal test case against Bideford Town Council. It has instructed a solicitor to take its battle with the North Devon council to the High CourtIt wants to stop the ”archaic practice” of holding prayers before meetings.

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