Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Religious leaders to open council during "multi-faith" year
Rabbis, Buddhists and Muslim imams are to lead prayer sessions before city council meetings.
This will see leaders from different religions, as well as the customary Christian priest, taking alternate services.
But humanists said the council had “a nerve” to hold prayers at all and said religion had no place in civic meetings.
In February a High Court ruling said local authorities lacked legal powers to hold religious services “as part of a formal local authority meeting”.
However a number of Sussex councils - including Brighton and Hove City Council - pledged to continue inviting a priest and asking members to bow their heads before sessions.
Coun Randall said the new multi-faith services would be legal because councillors would not be “formally summoned to attend” although they would take place in the council chamber.
He said: “This is to better reflect the many faiths in our city and about promoting love and peace.
“During the year we will have one faith for every council meeting and the reaction to the idea has been terrific.”
The mayor announced the move after a civic service at the Brighton Unitarian Church on Sunday, which was attended by a Buddhist, a leading imam and Christian leaders from different denominations.
Bill McIlroy, from the Brighton and Hove Humanist Society, said the decision to introduce multi-faith prayers into council meetings was “completely out of order”.
He said: “Councils are elected to do civic business, not for part-time worshippers to turn public buildings into religious buildings.
“It's no good saying these prayers are fine because they are not on the agenda. They are just looking for loopholes because they know people will object.
“It's a total waste of time. Brighton is one of the most secular cities in the UK so I think they've got a nerve.”
Conservative councillor Dawn Barnett, who represents Hangleton and Knoll, said: “It's not that I'm religious but I think it's tradition so they should keep the prayers.
“If they want to bring in different faiths then I think that's fine too. If they just took the prayers away without a vote then I think many people would be furious.”