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Court asked to ban prayer from council

Dec. 3, 2011 at 1:42 AM

LONDON, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Lawyers for a British town council argued Friday that banning prayer from meetings could have far-reaching effects, stripping all religion from government.

The Bideford Town Council in Devon argued that council members do not have to participate in the prayers, so there is no discrimination against non-Christians, The Daily Telegraph reported. The council's lawyers said a ruling in favor of the National Secular Society would mean monarchs would no longer take the Coronation Oath, officials could not participate in services in honor of the war dead and chaplains could no longer serve in the military.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Clive Bone, an atheist who served on the Bideford council. Bone gave up his seat after his efforts to end the practice of saying prayers before meetings failed.

Parliamentary experts say a ruling in favor of Bone would not bar prayer in either the House of Commons or the Lords.

Some local councils have given up the practice of opening prayers.

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