So, the High Court has ruled that Bideford Council may not longer have prayers as part of its meetings. Heresy Corner describes the ruling as a Pyrrhic victory and has a detailed analysis of the ruling. Archdruid Eilieen reports that the Church of England's General Synod might similarly be affected.
Among the usual outcry from the usual suspects, my favourite reaction so far has to be from Matt, the Telegraph's cartoonist.
Do we think our prayers are dangerous? If not, why not???
The gospel is challenging and subversive, and if it is perceived as a threat then we are in exactly the same position as Jesus himself. If Christianity is pushed to the sidelines, that is precisely the same ground Christ inhabited and while it can be uncomfortable I think there is more scope for Christians to be prophetic when we are further removed from seats of power. I like the fact that the gospel is thought dangerous enough for people to want to suppress it.
One of my favourite artists, Eddi Reader has recorded a song by John Douglas on her
Should I pray?
Is it safe?
Put my faith in rewards
somewhere a lifetime away?
Lose all of my friends to these prayers?
Lose the rest of my life to these prayers?
It don't look safe
To have faith.
In some ways, having faith is pretty risky. Prayer can lead you places you might not want to go (my being ordained is a classic example) Prayer is relationship - God and his people working together for His Kingdom. Prayer can feel unsafe because God does not fit into a box we have prepared for him. If I'm ever arrested, like Matt's cartoon cleric, I hope it's for praying. So, can we embrace our subversive status, pray before meetings anyway (God will hear our prayers whether or not they are on the official agenda) and continue to work with God for God's Kingdom to come and God's will to be done on earth as it is on heaven.
And who knows? Perhaps banning prayers will have the effect of making more people want to try it. Worked for Lady Chatterly's Lover, A Clockwork Orange and cannabis.