Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, responds to the high court ruling against prayers being said before council meetings.
“This ruling is surprising and disappointing.
“While welcoming and respecting fellow British citizens who belong to other faiths, we are a Christian country, with an established Church in England, governed by the Queen.
“Christianity 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 prayers before meetings if they wish.
“The right to worship is a fundamental and hard-fought British liberty.
“The Localism Act now gives councils a general power of competence, which allows them to undertake any general action that an individual could do unless it is specifically prohibited by law. Logically, this includes prayers before meetings.”