Row over Brighton and Hove council prayers

The Argus: Brighton and Hove City councillor Christina Summers Brighton and Hove City councillor Christina Summers

It was introduced as a way to promote harmony, respect and be inclusive of all religions, but councillors have claimed they were “concerned and baffled” when Islamic prayers were sung before a town hall meeting.

All elected members on Brighton and Hove City Council are invited to bow their heads before meetings of the full council. Usually prayers are led by a Church of England priest.

For the first time, mayor Bill Randall has invited religious leaders from other faiths to lead the moment of reflection.

After an imam delivered a prayer in Arabic in the council chamber last week, independent councillor Christina Summers said she felt it was “exclusive”.

Last night some questioned her commitment to diversity in the city, which according to most recent census figures has 6,095 Muslims.

Not compulsory

Coun Summers, who was expelled from the Green group earlier this year after voting against supporting same-sex marriage, said: “To think it’s against diversity is nonsense.

“Prayers are not part of proceedings – councillors do not have to attend.

“As far as I’m aware there are no Muslim or Arabic-speaking councillors so I just wonder what the point was.”

Conservative councillor Dawn Barnett said: “I believe there should be prayers that everyone can understand before a council meeting but I thought that was too much. Everybody seemed a bit overwhelmed by it.”

'Surprised and disappointed'

Coun Randall said: “I’m surprised and disappointed at the negative responses of Coun Summers and other councillors.

“Brighton and Hove is a diverse city and one of my aims as mayor is to celebrate this diversity while bringing the city’s faiths closer together.”

Labour councillor Warren Morgan said: “When Coun Summers voted against my motion supporting equal marriage, I said that although we totally disagreed with her views, we should respect her right to hold them as they were based on her faith.

“It is disappointing therefore that she is unwilling to accept or tolerate other faiths and beliefs, and it may be time to question whether she should remain a councillor in our diverse and inclusive city.”

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Comments (31)

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2:48pm Wed 19 Dec 12

matlock says...

Well, I'm a total atheist. Please could you respect my religious views by not having any prayers at these meetings?
Well, I'm a total atheist. Please could you respect my religious views by not having any prayers at these meetings? matlock

2:54pm Wed 19 Dec 12

wildboi83 says...

This one is best suited for the BNP, first shes against same-sex marriage on religious grounds, now shes unwilling to accept / tolerate other faiths and beliefs.
This one is best suited for the BNP, first shes against same-sex marriage on religious grounds, now shes unwilling to accept / tolerate other faiths and beliefs. wildboi83

2:57pm Wed 19 Dec 12

Hove Actually says...

What was the point of standing there and not understanding a word of what is going on
A chat in English explaining some part of a different religion would be welcomed by everyone, I am sure
What was the point of standing there and not understanding a word of what is going on A chat in English explaining some part of a different religion would be welcomed by everyone, I am sure Hove Actually

2:58pm Wed 19 Dec 12

kkj says...

Surely the council meetings and the council chamber are for the conduct of council meetings?

Why do our elected representatives think it necessary to precede these proceedings with formal prayers (regardless of which faith).

This is, after all, the UKs most godless city.
Surely the council meetings and the council chamber are for the conduct of council meetings? Why do our elected representatives think it necessary to precede these proceedings with formal prayers (regardless of which faith). This is, after all, the UKs most godless city. kkj

3:04pm Wed 19 Dec 12

leobrighton says...

I'm not in favour of prayers at all in council meetings as I am not religious. But it's the ultimate in nasty selfishness to deny others the opportunity to participate. This really is one nasty woman
I'm not in favour of prayers at all in council meetings as I am not religious. But it's the ultimate in nasty selfishness to deny others the opportunity to participate. This really is one nasty woman leobrighton

3:06pm Wed 19 Dec 12

hursthill says...

I predict in 10 years the Greens will lose control of the council tho the Muslim Brotherhood.
I predict in 10 years the Greens will lose control of the council tho the Muslim Brotherhood. hursthill

3:10pm Wed 19 Dec 12

Crystal Ball says...

What a load of clap-trap.

Stop your moaning, stop the praying and get on with your job of serving the paying residents of the town like you are supposed to do.
What a load of clap-trap. Stop your moaning, stop the praying and get on with your job of serving the paying residents of the town like you are supposed to do. Crystal Ball

3:19pm Wed 19 Dec 12

kopite_rob says...

Crystal Ball wrote:
What a load of clap-trap.

Stop your moaning, stop the praying and get on with your job of serving the paying residents of the town like you are supposed to do.
Agree. Councillors are payed to deliver Council business on behalf of the electorate. If they want to hold prayers, do it on their own time, not while they're being payed to execute decisions on behalf of tax payers. My boss would go garrity if I wasted the first 10 minutes at work being non productive.
[quote][p][bold]Crystal Ball[/bold] wrote: What a load of clap-trap. Stop your moaning, stop the praying and get on with your job of serving the paying residents of the town like you are supposed to do.[/p][/quote]Agree. Councillors are payed to deliver Council business on behalf of the electorate. If they want to hold prayers, do it on their own time, not while they're being payed to execute decisions on behalf of tax payers. My boss would go garrity if I wasted the first 10 minutes at work being non productive. kopite_rob

3:24pm Wed 19 Dec 12

MuammarQaddafi says...

At least, time spent listening to prayers isn't time spent flushing taxpayers' money down the loo.
At least, time spent listening to prayers isn't time spent flushing taxpayers' money down the loo. MuammarQaddafi

3:53pm Wed 19 Dec 12

Surely not! says...

Interesting that Warren Morgan defended this womans right to be a bigot in one case but now is attacking her right to be a bigot now! Tha,t my friend, is called hypocrisy.

No prayers necessary I think, just some rationality please Council.
Interesting that Warren Morgan defended this womans right to be a bigot in one case but now is attacking her right to be a bigot now! Tha,t my friend, is called hypocrisy. No prayers necessary I think, just some rationality please Council. Surely not!

4:28pm Wed 19 Dec 12

Warren Morgan says...

The Imam explained where the passage came from and what it was about, before and after he delivered it.

Prayers are held before the meeting starts and councillors are free to attend (as I do, even though I am an atheist) or not, and the majority of Green cllrs don't. As I understand it this is common practice in most authorities and in Parliament.

If people wish to continue with the practice and it doesn't cost anything more then I don't object - if we are going to do it then it is right that that all faiths are invited to participate.

And, "Surely Not" it may be hypocritical in your view, but we do have freedom of speech within legal limits - people have a right to hold even bigoted views, doesn't mean we can't vigorously disagree with them and try to change their minds.
The Imam explained where the passage came from and what it was about, before and after he delivered it. Prayers are held before the meeting starts and councillors are free to attend (as I do, even though I am an atheist) or not, and the majority of Green cllrs don't. As I understand it this is common practice in most authorities and in Parliament. If people wish to continue with the practice and it doesn't cost anything more then I don't object - if we are going to do it then it is right that that all faiths are invited to participate. And, "Surely Not" it may be hypocritical in your view, but we do have freedom of speech within legal limits - people have a right to hold even bigoted views, doesn't mean we can't vigorously disagree with them and try to change their minds. Warren Morgan

4:47pm Wed 19 Dec 12

a person says...

I don’t think any prayers should be said at meetings. I don’t see how they help.
. If “” The Imam explained where the passage came from and what it was about, before and after he delivered it.””
Then that is double the time wasted.

Maybe as the council like to spend money on leaflets in all languages they could have an English leaflet on the imams prayers.
I don’t think any prayers should be said at meetings. I don’t see how they help. . If “” The Imam explained where the passage came from and what it was about, before and after he delivered it.”” Then that is double the time wasted. Maybe as the council like to spend money on leaflets in all languages they could have an English leaflet on the imams prayers. a person

4:51pm Wed 19 Dec 12

bug eye says...

for GODS sake! can the councillors please do what they are paid before we lose FAITH. seriously.
for GODS sake! can the councillors please do what they are paid before we lose FAITH. seriously. bug eye

4:53pm Wed 19 Dec 12

a person says...

wildboi83 wrote:
This one is best suited for the BNP, first shes against same-sex marriage on religious grounds, now shes unwilling to accept / tolerate other faiths and beliefs.
Wouldn’t that be interesting , if every one who is unwilling to accept / tolerate other faiths and beliefs voted BNP.

The BNP party would get most of the muslim votes :o)
[quote][p][bold]wildboi83[/bold] wrote: This one is best suited for the BNP, first shes against same-sex marriage on religious grounds, now shes unwilling to accept / tolerate other faiths and beliefs.[/p][/quote]Wouldn’t that be interesting , if every one who is unwilling to accept / tolerate other faiths and beliefs voted BNP. The BNP party would get most of the muslim votes :o) a person

5:19pm Wed 19 Dec 12

Cash Cow says...

wildboi83 wrote:
This one is best suited for the BNP, first shes against same-sex marriage on religious grounds, now shes unwilling to accept / tolerate other faiths and beliefs.
As at this time, 63% of readers agree with Councillor Summers, so are you saying the BNP would do well in Brighton if they were enter a candidate in the next elections, or are you just criticising the women for speaking out?

As an agnostic who is willing to listen, I wouldn't want someone elses religion forced on me, and I do think this kind of irresponsible behavior would play into the hands of the British National Party who stand firmly against the Islamfication of Britain!
[quote][p][bold]wildboi83[/bold] wrote: This one is best suited for the BNP, first shes against same-sex marriage on religious grounds, now shes unwilling to accept / tolerate other faiths and beliefs.[/p][/quote]As at this time, 63% of readers agree with Councillor Summers, so are you saying the BNP would do well in Brighton if they were enter a candidate in the next elections, or are you just criticising the women for speaking out? As an agnostic who is willing to listen, I wouldn't want someone elses religion forced on me, and I do think this kind of irresponsible behavior would play into the hands of the British National Party who stand firmly against the Islamfication of Britain! Cash Cow

5:32pm Wed 19 Dec 12

DC78 says...

As a member of the Holy Church of the flying Spaghetti Monster, I sincerely hope we Pastafarians get prayers in the council chambers too.

I have been touched by his Noodly Appendage and felt his love. It came with a delicious tomato sauce.

Wake up Brighton and feel the pasta love!
As a member of the Holy Church of the flying Spaghetti Monster, I sincerely hope we Pastafarians get prayers in the council chambers too. I have been touched by his Noodly Appendage and felt his love. It came with a delicious tomato sauce. Wake up Brighton and feel the pasta love! DC78

6:36pm Wed 19 Dec 12

Algeria Touchshriek says...

I wonder if he read from the Koran the bit where Gays should be murdered, animals slaughtered without being stunned and where women are second class citizens? Whilst the snot Greens are clearly mad, I don't think these things are in their manifesto.

Bit hey, we are a diverse society right?
I wonder if he read from the Koran the bit where Gays should be murdered, animals slaughtered without being stunned and where women are second class citizens? Whilst the snot Greens are clearly mad, I don't think these things are in their manifesto. Bit hey, we are a diverse society right? Algeria Touchshriek

7:18pm Wed 19 Dec 12

Morpheus says...

I'm an atheist and cannot see the point of prayers at any time. However, if the council allows prayer then why not allow other religions? One of the biggest problems in the world is the disagreements between these pointless religions. If they can work together it must be beneficial. We saw on the TV programmes about Westminster Abbey how the CofE and catholics are trying to unite. If they unite then common sense will only have one religion to fight.
I'm an atheist and cannot see the point of prayers at any time. However, if the council allows prayer then why not allow other religions? One of the biggest problems in the world is the disagreements between these pointless religions. If they can work together it must be beneficial. We saw on the TV programmes about Westminster Abbey how the CofE and catholics are trying to unite. If they unite then common sense will only have one religion to fight. Morpheus

8:10pm Wed 19 Dec 12

Cyril Bolleaux says...

Good for Councillor Summers. We can expect a lot more of this as the left try and eradicate all English traditional culture. The Council do not support diversity but are actively anti Christian as shown by their treatment of Councillor Summers. The head of Diversity -Ben Duncan - promotes hostility to Christians. The anti Summers campaign will continue as the left will smear her at every opportunity.
Good for Councillor Summers. We can expect a lot more of this as the left try and eradicate all English traditional culture. The Council do not support diversity but are actively anti Christian as shown by their treatment of Councillor Summers. The head of Diversity -Ben Duncan - promotes hostility to Christians. The anti Summers campaign will continue as the left will smear her at every opportunity. Cyril Bolleaux

8:16pm Wed 19 Dec 12

Dealing with idiots says...

DC78 wrote:
As a member of the Holy Church of the flying Spaghetti Monster, I sincerely hope we Pastafarians get prayers in the council chambers too. I have been touched by his Noodly Appendage and felt his love. It came with a delicious tomato sauce. Wake up Brighton and feel the pasta love!
But my pasta god is bigger than yours and a different shape so obviously better. How dare you continue to worship what is obviously a false type of pasta which gives me the right to squash yours. Please keep repeating adnauseum for the next two thousand years.
[quote][p][bold]DC78[/bold] wrote: As a member of the Holy Church of the flying Spaghetti Monster, I sincerely hope we Pastafarians get prayers in the council chambers too. I have been touched by his Noodly Appendage and felt his love. It came with a delicious tomato sauce. Wake up Brighton and feel the pasta love![/p][/quote]But my pasta god is bigger than yours and a different shape so obviously better. How dare you continue to worship what is obviously a false type of pasta which gives me the right to squash yours. Please keep repeating adnauseum for the next two thousand years. Dealing with idiots

8:44pm Wed 19 Dec 12

Maxwell's Ghost says...

Park all prayers and get on with business and stop bickering about the smallest of issues when people are losing their homes and struggling to pay bills.
God is probably sat on a rain cloud wondering what the hell he created.
These councillors should be ashamed of their time wasting.
Park all prayers and get on with business and stop bickering about the smallest of issues when people are losing their homes and struggling to pay bills. God is probably sat on a rain cloud wondering what the hell he created. These councillors should be ashamed of their time wasting. Maxwell's Ghost

7:10am Thu 20 Dec 12

whereisthe...? says...

Im an atheist, but it sounds very much like this Green councillor is yet another intolerant, screaming, anti-all-religion and faith, repressed fool, who blames religion for everything. (Hypocrites


Too many of these ignorant idiots around, especially in Brighton, home of such hypocrites. Hypocrites because such people are usually incredibly rude, ignorant, intolerant, and unpleasant to be around- what about the negative effects of such people as her on society?
Im an atheist, but it sounds very much like this Green councillor is yet another intolerant, screaming, anti-all-religion and faith, repressed fool, who blames religion for everything. (Hypocrites Too many of these ignorant idiots around, especially in Brighton, home of such hypocrites. Hypocrites because such people are usually incredibly rude, ignorant, intolerant, and unpleasant to be around- what about the negative effects of such people as her on society? whereisthe...?

10:23am Thu 20 Dec 12

championshipgull says...

What councillor Summers said when she was asked a question on the subject was. What is the point of having Muslim prayers in Arabic at a council meeting when there are no Muslim councillors and no Arabic speaking councillors. Which seems a reasonable comment to me. She has not indicated she is intolerant to other faiths or languages. That has been put on her by other councillors. It may be time to question whether Councillor Morgan and the others should remain councillors in our diverse and inclusive city.
What councillor Summers said when she was asked a question on the subject was. What is the point of having Muslim prayers in Arabic at a council meeting when there are no Muslim councillors and no Arabic speaking councillors. Which seems a reasonable comment to me. She has not indicated she is intolerant to other faiths or languages. That has been put on her by other councillors. It may be time to question whether Councillor Morgan and the others should remain councillors in our diverse and inclusive city. championshipgull

10:58am Thu 20 Dec 12

Surely not! says...

Warren Morgan wrote:
The Imam explained where the passage came from and what it was about, before and after he delivered it.

Prayers are held before the meeting starts and councillors are free to attend (as I do, even though I am an atheist) or not, and the majority of Green cllrs don't. As I understand it this is common practice in most authorities and in Parliament.

If people wish to continue with the practice and it doesn't cost anything more then I don't object - if we are going to do it then it is right that that all faiths are invited to participate.

And, "Surely Not" it may be hypocritical in your view, but we do have freedom of speech within legal limits - people have a right to hold even bigoted views, doesn't mean we can't vigorously disagree with them and try to change their minds.
The reason you are a hypocrite is not because bigoted people should not be allowed to express their bigotry but because of your different reaction to the two cases.
“It is disappointing therefore that she is unwilling to accept or tolerate other faiths and beliefs, and it may be time to question whether she should remain a councillor in our diverse and inclusive city.” Yet you attacked The Greens for throwing her out?
[quote][p][bold]Warren Morgan[/bold] wrote: The Imam explained where the passage came from and what it was about, before and after he delivered it. Prayers are held before the meeting starts and councillors are free to attend (as I do, even though I am an atheist) or not, and the majority of Green cllrs don't. As I understand it this is common practice in most authorities and in Parliament. If people wish to continue with the practice and it doesn't cost anything more then I don't object - if we are going to do it then it is right that that all faiths are invited to participate. And, "Surely Not" it may be hypocritical in your view, but we do have freedom of speech within legal limits - people have a right to hold even bigoted views, doesn't mean we can't vigorously disagree with them and try to change their minds.[/p][/quote]The reason you are a hypocrite is not because bigoted people should not be allowed to express their bigotry but because of your different reaction to the two cases. “It is disappointing therefore that she is unwilling to accept or tolerate other faiths and beliefs, and it may be time to question whether she should remain a councillor in our diverse and inclusive city.” Yet you attacked The Greens for throwing her out? Surely not!

11:35am Thu 20 Dec 12

Point says...

Parliament today is disgussing immigration and the need for other language groups learning English and integrating to OUR culture. Bill Randall and the Greens will go down as the worst council and Mayor in our history.
Whats coming next from the Greens a martian leading prayers..
Parliament today is disgussing immigration and the need for other language groups learning English and integrating to OUR culture. Bill Randall and the Greens will go down as the worst council and Mayor in our history. Whats coming next from the Greens a martian leading prayers.. Point

12:28pm Thu 20 Dec 12

Fairfax Sakes says...

Like they said: “what’s the point?”
Like they said: “what’s the point?” Fairfax Sakes

12:34pm Thu 20 Dec 12

Tuffers says...

Before every council meeting, I think all councillors should put a chicken on their head and perform the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Otherwise, how could we be sure they were good moral people?
Before every council meeting, I think all councillors should put a chicken on their head and perform the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Otherwise, how could we be sure they were good moral people? Tuffers

8:36pm Thu 20 Dec 12

Angryoldman says...

Why is she still a councillor?
Why is she still a councillor? Angryoldman

9:27pm Thu 20 Dec 12

Idontbelieveit1948 says...

If Bill is surprised and disappointed by negative responses here he must be the most surprised and disappointed person in Brighton given the negative responses to Green idiocy, sorry, ideology generally .

Any chance of resignng Bill and taking your surprised and disappointed little band with you ?
If Bill is surprised and disappointed by negative responses here he must be the most surprised and disappointed person in Brighton given the negative responses to Green idiocy, sorry, ideology generally . Any chance of resignng Bill and taking your surprised and disappointed little band with you ? Idontbelieveit1948

4:45pm Fri 21 Dec 12

matt.freshfield says...

Yet again we see the most intolerance coming from a 'Christian' - Christina Summers.
Since 40% of this city is without religion, one would hope that 40% of pre-meeting time would be given to secular/non religious reflection. We have to put up with enough religious propaganda in this country without our council joining in. Belief in the highly improbable should be a personal matter and not inflicted on everyone else.
Yet again we see the most intolerance coming from a 'Christian' - Christina Summers. Since 40% of this city is without religion, one would hope that 40% of pre-meeting time would be given to secular/non religious reflection. We have to put up with enough religious propaganda in this country without our council joining in. Belief in the highly improbable should be a personal matter and not inflicted on everyone else. matt.freshfield

4:30am Sun 23 Dec 12

JohnyOrdinary says...

She was no doubt one of those who campaigned for prayers before meetings,now she complains when she reaps what she has sown.I strongly reccomend that if the prayers are on their own time, they should be subjected to a rolling "religion a day special"and also perhaps a quiet time to contemplate ,in the absence of prayers, to be fair to those of no faith,though they are more likely to just say"get on with the meeting!"
She was no doubt one of those who campaigned for prayers before meetings,now she complains when she reaps what she has sown.I strongly reccomend that if the prayers are on their own time, they should be subjected to a rolling "religion a day special"and also perhaps a quiet time to contemplate ,in the absence of prayers, to be fair to those of no faith,though they are more likely to just say"get on with the meeting!" JohnyOrdinary

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