A city councilor in Dartmouth, England has sparked debate by wearing his iPod earbuds to drown out prayers traditionally said before town council meetings.
Brian Boughton, an atheist, put in his earbuds on during the short prayer in protest. His iPod wasn’t turned on but fellow councilors branded the move disrespectful.
Boughton told the BBC: ‘I accept that they want to continue with the tradition but that leaves the problem for those like myself who do not wish to participate.
“I was accused of being disrespectful which I never intended. Listening to the iPod was a way to get the debate going but I never had it switched on. I’ve asked the mayor to consider opening up the prayers to other people.”
‘It is good to reflect quietly when one is preparing to do public business and to try to reach decisions that are for the benefit of the community. The basic idea is good but why should it be restricted to the Christian faith and the Church of England?”
Putting his earbuds in was seen as a gesture of defiance.
Mayor Debbie Morris told the BBC:
“Councilors should have the respect, if they wish not to participate, either to stand quietly or if they do not want to be in the chamber there’s nothing stopping them from waiting outside,” she said.
Morris said the town council plans to keep saying prayers before town council meetings.
Photo used under Creative Commons license, thanks to adizta121 on Flickr.