Professor Bonney of ESS writes in the Edinburgh Evening News

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Let Capital residents have say on prayers

Recently, members of the city council were invited to the ‘Kirkin’ of the Council’ in St Giles’ Cathedral. According to the Lord Provost, six of the city’s 58 councillors attended.

When I recently checked the official city council’s register of councillors’ interests, only four of the councillors registered interests as members of local churches.

Following last year’s local elections, the council discontinued prayers at the first part of the official council proceedings because it was drawn to their attention that it was illegal under legislation dating back to 1973.

If the councillors are representative of the community, at least one in five of them will be firm atheists and most will have no religious faith. This is according to data from the 2011 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey.

Why then do our councillors continue to assent to prayers and ‘religious observance’ being required in our purportedly ‘non-denominational’ publicly funded city schools?

At least they should agree to a ballot being conducted of electors in the city to discontinue prayers in our schools as requested in a widely supported petition, now before the council in the name of Ms Veronica Wikman and as provided for in the relevant legislation.

Norman Bonney, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh

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