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After a landmark ruling against the practice, Tory communities minister Eric Pickles has defended the right of town and city councils to hold prayer sessions as a final act of desperation before their services are annihalated.

high court ruling that councils have no statutory rights to hold prayers at meetings has been strongly criticised by the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, who said that considering local authorities weren’t not going to be getting any other help, praying for a miracle was the least they should be allowed to do.

Pickles said:

You only have to look at England’s football fans to see that faith – especially the blind sort – plays an important part in the culture, heritage and fabric of our nation.   Public authorities – be it parliament or a parish council – should have the right to say their last prayers  and even have last rites administered before facing annihalation.

A spokesperson for The Christian Institute who had supported local authorities’ right to hold prayer sessions said:

The practice of saying prayers at town council meetings is understood to date back to the days of Queen Elizabeth I, when they were regularly said before decisions which could have resulted in having your head cut off so the practice obviously has great relevance today.

A local authority spokesperson said the judgment was “surprising and disappointing” and that under the Localism Act councils ought to be allowed to say prayers as a last resort in a vain hope that divine intervention would allow them to find the funding for essential services:

The right to do nothing except grasp at straws while being shafted by a succession of uncaring central governments is a fundamental and hard-fought British liberty which we should not give up lightly.

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