'Disgust' as councillor skips prayer for Bob Dylan

A row over prayers before a Shropshire town council's meetings has escalated after a councillor listened to Bob Dylan while members said the Lord's Prayer.

A row over saying prayers before meetings of a Shropshire town council has escalated after a councillor stuck headphones into his ears and listened to Bob Dylan while members said the Lord's Prayer.During last night's meeting of Wellington Town Council, Councillor Pat McCarthy took out his MP3 player and chose to listen to the American singer while other members bowed their heads and prayed.Councillor McCarthy was called "disgusting" by another member after his actions.The row began last month when Councillor McCarthy, an independent member, called for compulsory prayers at the start of meetings of the full council to be replaced by a "pre-meeting" with prayers where attendance was voluntary.Councillor McCarthy defended his actions. "I think as long as I'm not disturbing anyone else I think I have the right to listen to music on my headphones," he said.Read more in the Shropshire Star
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Comments for: "'Disgust' as councillor skips prayer for Bob Dylan"

bob dobbs

So compusary prayers (which are putting off people joining the council) is fine but listening to Bob Dylan (whilst not disturbing anyone) is 'disgusting'?

At least Bob exists...

English Exile

and Robin Hood..........


why didnt he just leave the room and return when they had finished instead of being a wally?


Surely the wallies were the ones doing the praying.


Here is the irony...Bob would have bowed his head respectfully and prayed with the others. To each his own, wisdom is evidently not for all.(Jesus also exists, you just don't know it yet.)


You bet ya....Bob's lyrics are one constant prayer....that most people can't hear unfortunately...just to prove my point: the last song on his last record ends with the word "Amen"...search bobdylan.com and you find that he wrote at least 15 songs featuring the word "prayer"...."don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer, it’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there"....for sure!....Bob might be the most spiritual man walking this planet at this moment touching many hearts and souls with a truth that most people can't see...but that will soon be visible for all! Night night, y'all!

PG Shaw

sure Jesus existed...no problem with that....but son of God?.....fantasy world mate....

PG Shaw

I don't think so...Bob's Jewish,,,,


So was Jesus and his followers. Bob Dylan converted to Christianity, too.


You know what Bob would have done? Interesting.


Oh he s the councillor for Regent street,Urban Gardens, College ward area of Wellington is nt he ? Maybe the man has an agenda, just a thought.


I say well done Pat, I admire what you did. Dylan or Zappa or Litz, the important thing is not the song, but the listening. And I read some of the comments in this blog and man, is there silliness in the world...


Whats wrong with that???????????

if the bloke does not want to listen to made up prayers then fine he does not have to. Not everyone in this world believes in fairy tales you know...


darren i love bob dylan but i love Jesus a lot more. dylan has witten some of the best songsin the last 50 years including what most people in the industry call the best song ever written " like a rolling stone" which changed the music industry to this very day. as you probably know, bruce springsteen said publicly " bob dylan's like a rolling stone changed the way the world listened to music. he freed the way songs were sung before him and after him. every singer today owes a big thank you to bob" now this may come as a surprise to you but Jesus Christ Himself gave us the Lords Prayer on the the same time he gave the crowd the 8 Beatitudes. some one shouted out " Lord teach us to pray and Jesus said when you pray to the Father say Our Father who art in Heaven and the rest of the Lord's Prayer. you see i hope that you understand that the prayer is not made up but is a lesson for man kind how to give God the Father the praise that is due Him. even dylan believes this. listen to the lyrics to bob's songs and you will hear the number of times he includes God's name and alsoHis Son jesus who is the Lord God. pray tonight that your ears will be opened.


If you truly loved God, you'd learn how to use paragraphs.


Whilst the councillor's actions might not have been the most tactful on record, he has a valid point to make, and, given that he didn't prevent the other members from indulging their religious practices, I fail to see why his actions were described as 'disgusting'.

Whilst I accept that people have the right to their superstitious beliefs and practices, I don't see that these have any place in our democratic process. Religion should be a private matter, and the fact that these prayers are described as compulsory smacks of imposition of these beliefs on others.


There is nothing superstitious about Christian beliefs. The historical evidence is clear, Jesus existed and those who knew him recorded his words. It is for each one of us to decide whether what he said is true or not. This is a matter of faith. Superstition does not come into it.

Also democracy exists to represent the people therefore since many people do believe in God why shouldn't prayer have a place?

Experience tells me that most muslims are happy to be included in christian prayer and often ask for prayer so I disagree with the comment that it discriminates against other religions. Surveys also show that quite a number of athiests have prayed at some time of crisis in their lives. Having said that I feel that if an athiest is not happy to be part of what is going on then they should excuse themselves in a manner that shows they respect the wishes of the others present. Do they not have a duty to present not only their own views but also the views of those they were elected to repesent?

The Lord's prayer is only very short so I doubt he would have been able to listen to much of a Bob Dylan song!



See my response below re. superstition - you haven't defined the word correctly.

Whether or not a man called Jesus existed many centuries ago is a non-seqitur to the idea of supernatural belief.


The collins English dictionary defines superstition as follows:

1. irrational belief in magic and the powers that supposedly bring good luck or bad luck,

2. a belief or practice based on this, Latin superstitio

Christian practices are not based on attempting to bring good luck or bad luck. The only mention of magic in the bible is to warn against it.

Many scientists and philosophers throughout the ages and today have pondered the existence of God and they would not have done so if it was a rational belief.

It is one of life's great questions for the very reason that a rational person is able to decide either way.

Actually whether Jesus actually existed is relavant. You likened Christianity to superstition and I was saying that rather than being of mysterious origin the Bible is an authenticated ancient document written by real people about another real person. Of course that has a bearing on this issue.

We do not spend a lot of time arguing about the existence of Zeus because there is no connection to reality. Christianity on the other hand has been debated by theologians and philosophers for centuries.

It troubles me how readily people dismiss Christianity without properly looking into it or really knowing anything about it.


Well done to him. Voluntary pre-meeting prayers would have been an excellent solution. It is just not acceptable in 2010 for people to be expected to join in with religious rituals just because they are in public office.


I wonder why britishers are so much against christianity.

I wish you would see all the good works the christian missionaries have done all over the world.

I come from a small district in India where we still revere all the good people from England who fought for the demolition of caste system,educated everyone without caste barriers, built colleges,schools, hospitals.

For your information our district has 87.6 % literacy rate and our district capital has 100% literacy rate..

and it is the only state in India to have this figure. All this we owe to the few christian missionaries in fact from England.

"In the past as Nick said most of the famous scientists, intellectuals, scholars, inventors, were British.and you had enough doctors to treat your people and all the colonies , But now i rarely see

British names anywhere, . I hope you would realise what you have lost.

In the past your leaders (atleast the leaders i know)

humbled themselves in the sight of God and He honored them. Just as he said he would, in the Bible.


The lords prayer takes about 30 seconds to say, it sounds like the majority of the councillors wish to pray and they should if they want if they don't then don't but don't be so childish as to put on headphones and listen to music. would you do that in a meeting if the subject in question isn't to your liking or you have no views on a subject.

Jeff Randall


Because religion has nothing to do with politics. It's not anywhere near the same as your example, because it's not just that the subject does not interest him, but the subject is COMPLETELY UNRELATED to the purpose of the meeting.

Let's use your example for a moment, but make it more accurate. Let's say you're in a work meeting, and everybody else takes 30 seconds to discuss the latest exploits of Britney Spears. Should you be obligated to listen to their inane ramblings, that have NOTHING to do with your job, or should you be able to do something that you find more useful?


Rand, Steve, Sid,

you all seem to be under the impression that i am religious.

I'm an Atheist. I have no fear of these words that are said in prayer. to denounce a god is to show some belief they are just words.

if i go into a church i shall not pray or sing but stand in quiet respect of the people who have a belief. someone later on this string asks if people stand in silence for muslims who pray or any other religion, the answer would be yes if i was in the same room it is a sign of respect for that person or persons not an acknowlegement of faith i can not be contaminated by words.

what this councilor did was the equivalent of sticking his fingers in his ears and going "la la la i can't hear you." GROW UP!

I wonder if the said councilor was listening to "Knocking on Heavens Door" during the lords prayer?


You may consider the councillor's actions to be childish but he is making a point in a peaceful way that should cause no offence.

It is not acceptable that the religious practices of Christians, Muslims, Jews or others are imposed on those wishing to take on civic responsibilities.

The majority of people in this country are in practice agnostic if not athiest. If those with religion want to pray then let them do it in their own time, at home or in the church / synagogue / temple.


If you have your own beliefs, then follow them. Why should you have to pray to a fictional character...


Why Bob Dylan? whats wrong with these people. He should be listening to Prince. I'm disgusted!


why is there compulsary prayers?????? its the council not church... religion is a choice if he had been a muslim or another religion would he have been expected to to do the prayers??? i dont like bob dylan but give me his music over praying anyday...im atheist and would be more offended being made to do something i didnt believe in than quietly leaving others who do 2 carry on


Where's the respect for council procedure or other people's beliefs or opinions?

How can someone who so clearly does not respect the religious beliefs that many of his constituents hold represent them on the council?

No one is expecting him to do something that he doesn't believe in. He could just sit in silence?? Such an act shows that he is not fit to hold the position.

Jeff Randall

Because this council procedure is offensive to people who don't share that same religious belief.

To use your line of reasoning, the people on the council who do insist on prayer as a meeting are showing their lack of respect for those they represent who are of a different religion or no religion at all. Should they ALSO be removed from the council, or are you just a hypocrite?


Oh get a grip please, He wore headphones while others CHOSE to pray, He has not been disrespectful. This has nothing whatsoever to do with his ability to do his job.


The point is that this is agreed council procedure. If he wants it changed then he can get it voted out. If he can't muster enough support then he will just have to put up with it. That's how democracy works.

The guy clearly has no respect for democratic procedure.

And if enough people out there don't want our councillors praying, then vote people onto the council who will vote it out.


Hey Whatever, have you heard of civil disobedience? The man is acting on his own turf saying the rule which was passed is stupid and he is not going to abide by them.

He's willing to stand up to a bad rule (and listen to some good music), so he is due a lot of credit. Maybe by doing so he'll help get the rule changed.


Glen, he proposed a motion to gave prayers abolished. It got no support. So, he now decides to protest in a childish fashion. He cannot, as a councillor, employ civil disobedience.

Old Broadsheet

What's disgusting is that in a multi-faith society and particularly in wellington with it mix of ethnic minorities Christians still feel they can impose their religion on the rest of us.

What exactly does religion have to do with local politics? If cllr McCarthy was Sikh or Muslim would he still be expected to join in the prayers? The suggestion of a pre-meeting seems totally correct, I have no prior knowledge of Cllr McCarthy but based purely on his actions he would get my vote tomorrow!

Perhaps the member who allegedly called Mr McCarthy "Disgusting" should be named as they are obviously too cowardly to speak their thoughts in public?


I couldn't have said it better myself.


I think he was making a statement which included deliberately offending those who wanted to pray.

I have no problem with him not praying - that is his choice.

In fact if he does not believe and did pray that makes him hypocritical.

But to go out to offend people for publicity - well that goes a bit too far.

The man just needs to grow up a bit and start working with people instead of playing childish games.

There is work to be councillors so start focussing.

Jeff Randall

It does not seem that he was trying to "go out to offend people for publicity". In fact as he said: "I think as long as I’m not disturbing anyone else I think I have the right to listen to music on my headphones".

It's not as if he was using speakers, or making a big deal out of it. He put on headphones.

If your religious beliefs are so pathetic that everybody must be perfectly still while you perform your inane rituals, that is not the fault of those of us who don't believe in your god.


Kevin, I think that people who use rank to force their religion on other people deserve to be offended. If they want to pray that is fine, they should not pass rules coercing other people to do so.

Jack StumpMcCarthy

As the son of said councillor I can assure you that my dad works really hard for the community which he represents. He has been chairman of the college ward east residents association since way before he was elected for Wellington council and he has done valuable community work both within and outside of his constituency.

Addressing the point of prayers i would think its more offensive to have to sit through something he doesn't believe. In a society where there are hundreds of different faiths do you not think it is wrong to have one represented at the meeting in the place of others. I also know of one person who has been put off standing for election for the council because of this archaic practice. My father was just standing up for what he believes in, why should he have to sit through something that he believes has no relevance to the job of representing his constituents.


Jack, he wasn't standing up. He was sitting down, and in his protest, setting a very bad example. Other atheist councillors have waited outside until the prayer was over.

Why couldn't he do that?

Jack StumpMcCarthy

Because it would be accepting that the council is a Christian organisation, religion should have nothing to do with politics, why should he have to wait outside like a naughty little schoolboy just because he doesn't believe in a certain religion?


Because it would have been a principled way of showing his opinion.

What he did was childish and lacking in the gravitas one would expect of a councillor.

I trust he would show more respect if invited in any of the houses of worship (Christian or non-Christian) in Wellington.


Jack StumpMcCarthy, why, because his actions were those of a stupid, idiotic, naughty little schoolboy. If this is an example of his judgement and the best he could do under the circumstances, let's hope the intelligent electorate will remember his behaviour at the next election. He should grow up, what a shocking example for a Councillor.

Jack StumpMcCarthy

You are a pathetic, small minded individual, why should these Christians fairytales be imposed on him, he gets more out of Bob Dylans lyrics than this religious nonsense. Wouldn't politics be far more interesting and real, if people weren't governed by these irrelevant and beaurocratic protocols.


"You are a pathetic, small minded individual..."

And that, Jack, was very rude of you.


Compulsary prayers, whoever small-mind wasted paid-for council time bringing that in. This is 2010 not 1810!

- what a sad state to get in, no wonder that council is seen as innefectual and irrelevant by many Wellington folk, who are put off becoming councillors.

Get your eyes on the reason you're there and not to attempt to force people to pray at meetings, good grief how absurd!


I identify myself as non religious and I go to College (TCAT) within walking distance of Wellington Centre and I think council prayers (or at least compulsory prayers) should be stopped as most modern Britons don't attend church services anyway. What place does council prayers have in a community as diverse as Telford? My College protes Equality and diversity so what example does compulsory prayers set? Anyway I listened to The Undertones whilst writing this.


Spelling mistake: I ment to write premotes instead of protes.


I think you might have meant 'promotes'...and 'meant' for that matter.


I agree that prayers shouldn't be compulsory, but that this long standing tradtion should be kept and that anyone who wants to say them has the opportunity.

However, Mr McCarthy should show some respect to those around him and simply sat there in silence until the next part of the meeting.

Councillors are supposed to be community leaders who are held in high regard, and show some understanding and respect to those who might not share his own views.

Can't wait for the next elections.... Bye bye Pat, bye bye.

Jeff Randall

"Show respect"

Do you stand in silence 5 times a day when muslims pray to mecca?

Do you stand in silence while hindus worship vishnu?

Do you stand in silence while buhhdists meditate on life?

What you want is special treatment for your own fairy tales, and that is not the business of government, and that is not the problem of those who don't believe in your myths.


looks like mr randall is upset, oh dear, getting too into it i'm thinking... either that or he is a vicar...

Jeff Randall

Yes, willful ignorance upsets me... As it should upset all rational people...


But Jeff yours is wilful ignorance.

You are ignorant of the link between politics and religion

Ignorant of others beliefs

Ignorant in that you will rant before listening

You call something you don't understand a myth how more wilfully ignorant can you be?

Yo talk about being rational but then aren't.

Go back to what I said earlier - this was a publicity stunt.

Nothing more and nothing less.

Stop being this mans puppet


If i was stood in the same room as the muslims/hindu/buddhists whilst they were praying, yes I would sit in silence. If nothing else, it's good manners.

In just the same way that I keep quiet at my mother's when Corrie is on.

And I wouldn't talk all the way through the marriage vows at a wedding

I do not believe in God, nor Santa, but I don't see why others shouldn't.


He did sit there in silence. He was listening to Bob Dylan, whilst being silent.

The other councillors seem to be asking for Mr. McCarthy to be tolerant of their beliefs, whilst seeking to be intolerant of his.


Couldn't have put it better myself.

Junior Jumpstart

No you don't have a "right" to listen to your music, you silly man. Even with the volume down low, anyone sat next to you will still have been able to hear it.

Very few other people are allowed to listen to their ipods whilst in meetings at work. Why should you be any different, just cos you dont like an item on the agenda


All other matters aside - headphones are very good these days and I have managed to sit next to many people on various occasions without being able to hear their music at all. If Pat did deliberately turn up the volume so that others could hear it, then I agree that would have been rude but I am hoping/assuming that Pat was carrying out a silent protest.

Junior Jumpstart

Agree Vinnie. I (righly or wrongly) assumed that it could be heard, and thats how they knew it was Bob Dylan


...And so continues the onslaught of new Atheism. Rude, dogmatic and fundamentalist

Sean Ellis

As opposed to the completely non-rude, non-dogmatic, non-fundamentalist saying of prayers in what should be a secular institution.

Yes, it was just a little rude.

It's about time us non-believers got a little rude. For too long we've just gone along with the status quo, accepting the "if you don't like it, just shut up" attitude.

It was just rude enough to get some publicity and get the issue on the agenda. Job done.


good on him we are a secular country (thank god for that)


at least you have a sense of humour


Well done pat, only choose something better than Dylan to listen to.


Better than Dylan? As if....he's a musical legend!


Councillor Mcarthy is clearly a very, very special person. Normal rules of politeness and social engagement seem not to apply to him.

As he is so special, he might like to wear his headphones and listen to Bob Dylan throughout all of the council meetings? It would save time, as he needn't be bothered listening to points of view he might not agree with.

Perhaps he might like to play Dylan's Born Again Christian album, Slow Train Coming? But then again, perhaps not.

Often councillors get publicity for standing up for the people of their ward and working hard for the community in general. Councillor Mcarthy doesn't seem to bother with this. His publicity is for himself and his specialness.

Jeff Randall

He chose not to participate in a arcane ritual that had NOTHING to do with the business of politics (which after all is why he was there).

That's not calling himself "special", that's standing up for his right to NOT be forced to follow religious practices that he does not agree with.


He knew the rules before he became elected.

He decided to try to change them, but failed.

So he is now protesting about this in a "Ooh, I am so special" way.

He doesn't have to attend. Or he could do what others have done. Just sat and waited until the short prayer was over.

But that didn't get them a photo in the paper, did it?

Tina Clarkson

so...if you knew that a company you wanted to work for insisted on christian prayer before you started your work tasks would you do so, even if it was in the company rules and you knew about it before you started work there, and wouldn't that company be lambasted for discriminating against other faiths....I think the only company that can mandate prayer for its workers is the church, as that is thier purpose, a councillors purpose is not prayer it is an old and outdated tradition that has no place in modern meetings of todays councils.


Tina, did you know they have prayers every day at the start of business in the House of Commons?


I agree that the councillor has no right to listen to his Ipod during the meeting, but what would have the reaction been if he had chosen to spend that time chatting to an imaginary friend?

I'm not sure that there's any difference between that and what the other councillors were doing at the time, save for the fact that they all thought they were talking collectively to the same imaginary friend as each other...


Forget about the religious context of this matter; it is of no concern whether it be Christian worship or not. What this shows is that this man, a councillor, has no regard or respect for other people and no respect for the political system in which he is participating.

Is that really the kind of person that befits the role of Local Councillor? How is he going to honestly and fairly represent the views of the different religions within his ward when he clearly disregards their customs and practices?

And to make matters worse, he apparently seems content to make lighter of the matter by agreeing to have a smug photo of him and his iPod publicised in what appears to be some sort of pride in his actions.

This man is not fit to be a councillor.

Jeff Randall

It's convenient to "Forget about the religious context of this matter", but it's not valid. The ENTIRE point, is that he chose to NOT participate in a religious ritual that he did not believe in.

He did not stand up and walk out.

He did not disrupt it.

He simple did his won thing, while waiting for the actual work of the council to begin.

As for how can he "honestly and fairly represent the views of the different religions", I'd ask the same of the people who insisted on prayer. How can they represent hindus, or muslims, or (god forbid) atheists, if they insist on pushing their own religious dogma into the political arena...


Good points, Mendy.

Some people might consider that councillor Mcarthy is bringing the council into disrepute by his actions.

Is that his game? So he can show he is being unfairly attacked and ill-treated by the evil Christians?


Mandy, I think Jeff Randall's reply to 'Whatever' applies to your argument too.

But for my two pence:

The lack of tolerance is on behalf of the main council body for forcing prayer time upon all it's members despite their beliefs. For an area as diverse as Telford I would hope the council would be far more open to other religious beliefs.

Obviously Pat did this as a protest against the compulsary prayers and was trying to make a point and not simply trying to find something else to fill the time. I'm sure that if he were allowed to avoid this part of the meeting then he would do and the 'rude' act of listening to music quietly would cease to be an issue.

The point is that prayers are irrelevent to the meeting. They belong on the official agenda as much as gossip-time does.

Paul Fryer

Well Done Councillor McCarthy!

That is his right!

There are far too many people trying to push their religious views onto others. I would have probably done the same, however the choice of music would have been different of course.


proud of him - ironic that bob dylan is a born again christian though!


can you imagine if EX councillor of Shrewsbury Judith Williams did something like that.

No more nice pictures in the local rag mag for her.

Andrew finch

All of you behave, he was being a complete pratt and very childish . childish and councillors do seem to go hand in hand grow up for godsake.


Children don't generally listen to Bob Dylan. So he's hardly being childish.


I bet if he was muslim and did'nt have a mat to pray on people would be up in arms. This county is so sadly loosing respect for anything that is religious sadly. The love is gone! Very childish really a bit like a kid sneaking out a walkman at school.


As far as I'm concerned, it's up to him whether or not he wants to take part in prayers at the start of the meeting and if he chooses to listen to music instead, that's up to him so long as it doesn't disturb anybody else.

However, I do object to his blatant self-promotion over his actions.

How do the media know he was listening specifically to Bob Dylan? Because he doubtless phoned them up and told them all about his 'protest' to get his grinning mug back in the paper. He even invited along their photographer to immortalise himself on tomorrow's fish and chip wrapping.

Now that IS childish.

If you want to protest or not take part in prayers, by all means don't, but to eagerly run straight to your friendly neighbhourhood journalist and tell them all about it just smacks of self-importance and a need for five more minutes of fame.

You're a councillor, not a local celebrity, so start acting like one!


I agree, Mia. I think someone needs to lesson in manners.

Jack StumpMcCarthy

Blatant self promotion? THEY RANG HIM UP. Just about everything you've just written is fantasy, this is not about self-promotion. I know for a fact that you will carry on believing in this delusion that you create for yourself, but please let it stay between you and your strange mind.


I'm a former journalist, please don't try and tell me local councillors don't love getting their names in the paper. I dealt with too many whose desire for publicity, sadly, vastly outweighed their desire to work for their commuity.

Surely there are bigger things Councillor McCarthy would rather take to the paper than his own dislike of saying his prayers?

He was proving a point in a way he knew would get him some publicity. And that is childish when I am sure there are more imortant things he could be trying to generate some publicity over, rather than his own views and beliefs.

Councillors are elected to serve their communities, not to pursue their own agendas.

As I said, I am not criticising him for putting on his headphones, just for the fact he feels the need to tell the world about it. It's pathetic.


And Jack, if your father is half as great as you have suggested, he will be fully aware and accepting of the fact that his actions will prompt both support and criticism. Surely that's the whole reason for having his photograph taken, to encourage a reaction?

While your desire to support him is admirable, systematically searching this entire comment stream to have a go at anyone who did not agree with what your dad did seems a bit extreme and makes me wonder if you enjoy your name 'in lights' as much as he apparently does!



I do not think it unreasonable of Mr McCarthy to request that the pre-meeting prayer be an optional event. There are lots of mentions here that he has been disrespectful to the beliefs of others. Surely all beliefs should be respected, including those of the agnostic or athiest? It is respectful to these individuals (and there are many) to not force relgious content upon them.

Whilst I believe Mr McCarthy has a relevant point to make, I have to say that he has not gone the best way about it and, as is clear from his posing above, is merely trying to antagonise people.

Ironically of course, had he not done this, it may have not received the interest that it quite clearly has. I also cannot comment on any reasonable efforts that he did or did not make before undertaking a potentially antagonistic stand.

Therefore, I submit that Mr McCarthy stop aggravating people, because everyone knows that what he did COULD be considered rude, and the council introduce optional pre-meeting prayers.



The prayer IS optional. Nobody HAS to attend it. Perhaps when this was mentioned, councillor Mcarthy was listening to his ipod, and didn't hear?


Well then I stand largely corrected, if the prayer is optional then he simply should not have attended and he should be disciplined for his unwarranted and blatant clawing for media attention via his own disrespect

However, my point stands if this article is correct in saying that they are, and i quote, "compulsory prayers".



Perhaps you missed my point. Forget about the religious context.

It was rude and showed a lack of respect to don headphones and listen to music rather than follow the usual traditions.

If the tradition in such a meeting was to sing Ring-a-Ring a Roses then so be it. It would still have been rude and disrespectful do do what he did. His job is to fight for his constituents in a democratic and adult fashion, not to make childish gestures.

If he would prefer not to follow the traditions then his position as a councillor is the ideal one to change the tradition by debate and discussion.

I wonder whether Councillor McCarthy would refuse to remove his shoes when entering the home of a Muslim constituent? Perhaps he'd take a second pair of shoes and put them on his hands to walk in on all fours!!!

bob dobbs

What absolute clap trap. Tradition is a relative concept, should we have kept the tradition of making women stay at home perhaps?

or how about the tradition of banning Irish, Blacks and Dogs from our public houses?

How about the tradition of hanging, drawing and quartering people?

Prayers, as part of the official council agenda are as outdated as my examples above and serve no purpose in promoting the councils role and responsibilities to it's constituents.

Your point about removing his shoes is also wrongly placed, this is a council meeting, not a private house - religion has NO place here. Councillor McCarthy tried to debate the issue with his fellow Councillors but was lampooned as a trouble maker, this it seems is his only way to further his protest.


So he can't accept a democratic vote then?!



"I’m sure that if he were allowed to avoid this part of the meeting then he would do and the ‘rude’ act of listening to music quietly would cease to be an issue."

I've just been discussing this with a friend and I'm led to believe that members were allowed to be excused from the prayer time if they so wished. If this is true then this makes the actions of Councillor McCarthy even more unacceptable.


That's true, Mendy. I have seen councillors who were atheists wait until the prayer was over and then enter the room. They were not thought any less of. Of course, they didn't get their photograph in the paper.

Jack StumpMcCarthy

But having Christian prayers at the beginning of a meeting suggests that Christianity is the 'right' religion which is simply not appropriate in a modern society, it also puts off non Christian members of the community from standing. I for one know of someone who wouldn't stand because of this practice.

As regards your comment about seeking publicity, at the previous council meeting he presented a motion of abolishing compulsory prayers, the rest of the council refused to debate this. This was absolutely a last resort for him, he wasn't seeking publicity as i have stated above, the journalist came to him not the other way round.


If this is true then Pat's actions are a little less acceptable than I first considered. A lot of people in this 'forum' are saying that the prayers should be in an optional part at the start of the meeting and it sounds like they already are. The article could have done more to clarify this.

I would still be happy with Pat's actions if he had done this to give the issue publicity and attention. After all, I had no idea that the council still prayed before meetings, until these news stories appeared.

However, looking at the photo, I doubt this is the case and I'm guessing Pat did it more for his own publicity. It's a shame.

Jack StumpMcCarthy

They are on the agenda for each meeting and if you do not attend then it is minuted that you have arrived late. This implies that the council is Christian and that Christianity is the 'right' religion.

As regards publicity he was asked to pose like that by a photographer, he didn't ask for press attention, they came to him, if this gets publicity for the cause and gets people discussing the issue, i fail to see wher the problem lies.


That is not true, you are not marked as late if you come in after prayers.


He could have declined to have his photograph taken. Or not got himself into that position in the first place.

Councillors are not marked late, as Rob points out. All that happens is that "councillor so-and-so entered the room at this point."


Maybe next time he'll ratchet up to modern

jazz! Bird lives!

eva land

I'm really glad this councillor has shown support for an end to this archiac practice.

Most councillors even if not religious will just stand there and pretend to comply or are not bothered.(although the networking the church provides is too useful a tool for most councillors to eschew)

This councillor does sound like he actually has some integrity which isn't a common feature in my experience of councillors. The use of religion being indicative of a strong moral code and as good PR may well be starting to have had it's day thank goodness.

By Deus it's full of stars!

What a fuss! To be honest us higher deities (or "corporeally challenged pure light beings" as the PC lot like to call us) care little for the workings of local councils.

While we applaud the right of any group to pray to us we think you should be using your time more constructively. You know like fixing road pot holes, sorting out schools & hospitals, nicking the good pens from the stationary cupboard, and generally being righteous to each other and ting.

Please get back to work.


Aren't all of your cupboards stationary?

By Deus it's full of Staples

Dam you spellchecker, dam you to Hades


Well done Pat. Nobody should be forced into participating in a religious rite if they do not want to. I believe listening to Dylan is far more rewarding than nattering to a non-existent deity.


The furore this councillor has caused by his actions is removing the focus from the real issue of council protocol.

This should be debated in an adult manner and he shouldn't have been disrespectful by wearing headphones to make his point. That was rather childish and akin to someone sticking their fingers in their ears when being told off or not wanting to hear what is being said.

All the man is doing now is seeking self-publicity which is beyond his remit as a representitive of his electorate.

Jack StumpMcCarthy

As i have said to a previous comment he attempted to debate this at full council, but they wouldn't allow a debate on his motion, this is a last resort.

As for 'seeking publicity' the star came to him ,not the other way round, I'm sure the journalist in question can back this up. 'All the man is doing' is sticking up for what he believes in on behalf of his multi-faith constituency.


There are better ways to protest than to stick headphones on one's ears. He should have stayed outside until the prayers had finished.

Lastly, even if the Star came to your father, he should have passed comment but not posed with his MP3 player!

Does he want to be recognised and remembered for this? I thought not.

Jack StumpMcCarthy

If he was to stand outside that would not be a 'protest', it would be giving in to the view that the council is and should be a Christian organisation, He would be also minuted as coming in late to the meeting. He shouldn't be treated as an outcast due to his opinions on religion.

I don't see why he shouldn't be recognised and remembered for this, he believes in what he is doing and he is doing it on the behalf of his constituents, are you suggesting he should be ashamed of his views?


And there is where your response fails, because within his area there are constituents who are Christians, therefore, he is not representing them all.

Dafydd James

Then so does your response, of course there are constituents who are Christians, but there are also those who are Islamic, Jewish, and so forth yet the prayers are only Christian. Even so, as far as I am aware he is not fighting to have the prayers stopped, he is fighting to have them put before the meeting and that people attend on a voluntary basis rather than have to be put down as being late if they chose not to attend.


Obeserver, it is your arguement that has just failed. What about his other constintuents... the Jews, the Muslims, the Budists and atheists? Shouldn't the concil be speaking for all of them?

Just because he has constituents that are Christan, doesn't mean he's supposed to cater to them by pretending to be Christian. Or accept second class status by having the minutes reflect the late arrival of the non-Christian "protesters."

The council should have agreed to debate the issue, not just coninute a meanlingles tradition.

Jack StumpMcCarthy

there are also constituents of many other faiths, and anyway, I know many christians who fully support the stance he has taken. Why can he not represent a christians views on housing and the road network while not taking part in christian prayers?


To all of you, just so it is made very clear. Of course this should be inclusive of all religions (see comment further down), I didn't say it shouldn't be. What I said is that he should be aware that certain people within his constituency are Christian and therefore he should be sympathetic to their beliefs as well as all others.

Nevertheless, and in total agreement with many other postings, his way of trying to change the council protocol by being childish (earphones!)is a negative action and not very polite to certain members of his constituency who are Christian.


Typical lefty - I bet he thinks he's a really 'cool' rebel.

As Dr Evil said - There's nothing sadder than an aging hipster.


Look the bloke did nothing wrong at all religion is not law and never will be. The younger generations don't care about it and why should they it's old news now.

The council needs to wake up and realise that you simply cannot carry on as snotty nosed no gooders that only have their own personal interests to heart.

the moral of this story is simple... religion in authority has no place now and never will anymore, you have to go with the times.


"HO" thinks the new atheists are rude,dogmatic,

and fundamentalist.

And if you don't agree, you're all going

to Hell for eternity! HA!


The answer my friend is blowing in the wind......


Huh lol!!!!! The voice of reason ;)


If he was listening to Dylan, he was praying. I do not see any problem.


'Councillor McCarthy was called “disgusting” by another member after his actions.'

To this and numerous commentators on this page - Matthew 7:1


The problem is that he is rude, insensitive, egotistical and a publicity junkie.

Jack StumpMcCarthy

and you would know that from a page length article in the star?


If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it might be a duck!

It was obviously a publicity stunt. It was egotistical, insensitive and very rude.

I hope he can learn to behave with more decorum for future council meetings.

Just because someone thinks they are right is no excuse for rude behaviour.

Jack StumpMcCarthy

Isn't it ruder to conduct Christian prayers only when there is both a Muslim and an atheist on the council? this intolerance and small mindedness has to be addressed.If this is what it takes to get people to listen to the argument he is putting forward, then shouldn't he pursue it?


"Isn’t it ruder to conduct Christian prayers only when there is both a Muslim and an atheist on the concil..."

Thank goodness that councillor Mcarthy is there to tell them what they should think! Er... I mean represent their views.

Your statement would indicate that what councillor Mcarthy did was rude, although not as rude as the prayer. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Nathan Parton

you're a very negative person Matt .. Look past your narrow tunnel and look at what he's standing up for. You are rude for insulting some person you don't knwo who is standing up for his own belief ... That is the problem with today's society!


Nathan, I do not like it when people abuse their privileged position. And that's a problem with today's society.


Compulsory prayers?

Complete twaddle.

Only a Christian could be upset by his actions. They are generally the epitome of ignorance and narrowmindedness.

Good on him for playing Dylan, I wonder what song he was listening to?


So, rather than pray to god, he was listening to him.

Jake Gittes

He was listening to Dylan not Bono.

Roger M

I think we need to get one thing made very clear here, HE WAS NOT FORCED to say prayers. It is a practising tradition withing the council and anyone wishing to become of member of the council would in my opinion be very aware that tradition is carried out. He signed on to be a councilor and therefore knew what was to be expected but he decided to do what he wanted to do.

This is the problem with our society, repect and repsect for others is just non-existent and the majority of the posts appluding Pat prove this. Regardless of his personal views, he should have respected procedure and protocol and suffered in silence and then where possible, arrange a motion to have the prayers scapped. While he may point out it his is right to wear the ear phones, it is not his right to disrespect the other councilors.


I'd like to know the name of the song he was lisening to ... one of Bob's religious compositions? Slow Train Comin', Pressing On, Saved ... we have to know.

hayden mullins

his actions were probably OTT but the principle is correct, we must not have prayers at council meetings, especially in areas like telford, come on this is c21! we are not religious in this county and if we are majority are muslim, catholic or JEDI not praying to the queen and all that nonesense which church of england rubbish requires

Jake Gittes

I find it funny when the old try to act cool but is Bob Dylan still cool?


Thou shalt have no other gods before Bob.


Now what issue would have brought some peace to the world, or wealth to Shropshire, or some point to improve the lives of people in Wellington?

Do you think we could discuss something which would have made a difference to the people of Wellington - in fact is there anything councillor Pratt McCarthy is going to do for the people of his town?

We'll have to wait and see - all we do know is there has to be a reason for this distraction her has caused.

Wonder what it is?


In fairness he did mention something about the poor pavements re disabled people just after he was elected.

Now, if he'd have decided to have that put on the agenda rather than his own pet hobby horse...


Despite common misconceptions we do not live in a Christian society, rather, we live in a secular society where the majority declared faith may be Christianity, but where religion and the rule of the state should be separate. The councillor's actions may appear to be disrespectful - and indeed listening to music during local government meetings is probably inappropriate - but the arcane practice of prayers has no place in the government of a modern, secular society.

Chairman Bill

What is disgusting is a bunch of believers in supernaturalist mumbo-jumbo nonsense, trying to telepathically communicate with some undead bloke who wants them to eat his flesh & drink his blood, trying to impose their occult nonsense on rational people, then complaining when someon who isn't deluded refuses to indulge their weird peccadilloes. And all this in 21st century Britain. You couldn't make it up.


Bill, you seem to have a confused understanding of theology. What you say isn't accurate. But why let that stand in the way of a good rant, eh?

Y Mab Darogan

Quite amazing really everyone has decided that God is a fairy tale and not to be believed in.

I really hope everyone is right when they come to the end of the time they have on earth.

If you are right and God is a fairytale then fine you have lost nothing and will be quite safe BUT if you are WRONG!!!!!

So thinking on that what's the problem with believing and praying to God. If God exist's you have one foot in the door assuming you have behaved down here if he does not exist and you go through all the believing and praying malarky again you have lost nothing so it would appear looking at this from a logical point of the view the only loser's are non believers



wheres the proof..... correct there is none!


"So thinking on that what’s the problem with believing and praying to God. If God exist’s you have one foot in the door assuming you have behaved down here"

I'm not a christian, but if there's a god I can't think s/he would be all that impressed by people convincing themselves to believe something they don't believe at all, and just praying as a kind of insurance policy.

Especially people who can't use apostrophes correctly :)

Carl Pierce

The philosophical point to make here is called 'Pascal's wager' There are many faults with it.

Just a few....

Firstly how do you know you are praying to the correct God. Odin might be angry that you choose the Christian God over him.

Secondly the question of sincerity will your God be pleased that you only prayed to him as an insurance policy rather than true devotion.

Thirdly the time you invest from the short time you have on earth would be wasted if you are constantly praying to a non-existent god rather than perhaps getting out there and doing real good for people with the time you have.


What you're proposing is typically known as Pascal's Wager. Blaise Pascal suggested that even though the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a person should wager as though God exists, because one who lives life accordingly has everything to gain and nothing to lose. This is a terribly stupid wager, as it is intellectually untenable at best and utterly convictionless at worst.

A rational mind understands that god does not and cannot exist. Banking on the opposite out of nothing more than a primeval fear of eternal punishment is something of which one should be ashamed, not proud.

Leaving all that aside, however, is the rather totalitarian idea of compulsory prayer. No respectable democracy can embrace this practice - PERIOD.


Did Pat McCarthy force anyone to sing along with Bob Dylan?

Prayers have no place in a elected body. The Council is there to serve all those it represents and should be entirely neutral on religion - ie it should be secular. That is the only way no one is privileged nor disadvantaged because of their religion or lack of it.

Tim Mar

One thing is clear from the above comments,

you can not have a reasonable discussion with religous bigots.


It is impossible to have a reasonable discussion with any bigot, Tim. Be the religious or otherwise.

Mrs Local Mole

There are two (possibly 3) seperate issues here

1) Should prayers be compulsory. No, and anyone who doesn't want to take part shouldn't have to. The individual councils should take a vote on it, and if the majority want to keep it, let them

2) This man was rude and ill-mannered and as far as I'm concerned, should not be on the council if he cannot concede that other people have different views to himself

3) This kind of childish squabble isn't "news", so why is the Shropshire Star lowering itself to the levels of The Sun. I'm disappointed that it should have been their main headline on the Internet for all of yesterday. Surely there are more important things going on in the county?

Harry De Montford

i completly agree with his sentiment, prayers have no place is 21st century politics, you have every right to do what you like in the privacy of your own home so keep them at home or at church but you have absolutely no right to do so in a public office

However i dont really agree with the way he’s done it, he should have argued in a debate in the chamber or just not turned up or left the room in protest, listening to music seems a bit childish


so why do muslims have the right to hold street paryers in this country????

bias might be the word to use here, how ridiculous. if people pray they should do it either at home in private or at a church or one of those mosque thingys. not in public and not in an office in front of others.



You'll find that within reason any religious person has the right to indulge in their beliefs in public - never seen s a Salvation Army Band? Never seen any Hare Krishna people dancing in the street?

This 'right' doesn't extend to allowing anyone to cause an obstruction or any other public nuisance, but it is the same for all religions. Only a bigot would believe otherwise.

Jack StumpMcCarthy

He has attempted to debate it at full council, but the rest of the council voted against debating it and decided to vote straight away on his motion to take prayers off the full council agenda. That motion was unsurprisingly rejected.


OK, Jack. So let's imagine that another matter comes up that councillor Mcarthy doesn't agree with. And that he is the only councillor who votes against a motion which is passed by all the other councillors. What would he do? Wear his headphones and listen to Dylan throughout every subsequent council meeting?

Jack StumpMcCarthy

Please have the respect to spell his name right, it's been written about ten times on this page alone.

You obviously misunderstand. My father is an atheist, that is his personal choice, it is also his personal choice to wear headphones through a christian prayer because he doesn't believe in it, this has nothing to do with any other motions passed by the council, it does not affect his role as a councillor in any way.


I made a typo, Jack. No need to make a big issue out of it. Thank you for pointing out my error.

You are wrong. Councillor McCarthy will now be known throughout his time on the council as the "rude councillor who chose to wear headphones during a council meeting."

This WILL have an affect on the way he is perceived as a councillor and in the way people relate to him as a councillor.

I do not care if councillor McCarthy is an athiest. And I can see that there is an argument for not having prayers as part of a council meeting. But listening to an ipod during part of the meeting? That's just rude!

Was it his right? Possibly. But as an American once said: "It might be your right to pass gas in an elevator. But it will not make you popular with your fellow passengers."


I want to know what Dylan track he was listening to!!


certainly started a long discussion,

I will be interested to know what the final outcome is, however it might be wise of Cr McCarthy to have some beliefs even if its only about what he (thinks) is correct with his actions on behalf of everyone he represents whilst serving on council,if he has no beliefs what good is he to anyone, can he be an asset just thinking

without believing he is doing the right thing.


It is possible to have beliefs without beliving in a god you know?

Some of us don't need a book full of fictional stories to tell us what is right and wrong, we can figure it out for ourselves.

Carl Pierce

I'm not sure the argument that the majority voted for prayers therefore all must pray holds water. You wouldn't have a vote on whether everyone should have tea or coffee and then if tea won everyone had to have tea. The overriding thing here is freedom of choice the councillor was absolutely correct and sensible in suggesting an optional session at the start where those who believe in the supernatural could do their chanting without the rational having to join in. It is not disrespectful refusing to join in a ceremony based on iron-age myths, in fact I would question the judgement of councillors who need to make decisions based on evidence who follow faith based practises.


Carl, as has been pointed out, praying is NOT compulsary.

It would be like a councillor wearing headphones throughout the Eisteddfod cememony as he didn't happen to like the participation of the Druids.

You know it is going to happen, so, why attend and make a protest.

Waiting outside would have been a dignified protest. But he missed the opportunity for some easy publicity. What a pity.


The guy should be allowed to listen to his ipod if he does not believe in what is being said. He should not be forced into doing anything that he does not want to do. We live in England, a democratic country where people get there own say and are not forced into anything. I believe in God myself but I feel that the guy did not disturb anything, afterall whats the point praying something you don't actually believe in. There is no point. And calling his behavior disgusting is infact disgusting why is praying better than listening to music. What would you say if he started reading the qur'an (sorry if misspelt)

Town Centre Residents Association

It's all our fault really. However his ear phones were below the 65db limit.

But never fear we are ready working plans to limit the use of portable gramophones to only playing the works of Mozart and Rachmaninov, unless it's the Xmas party when Glenn Miller will be permitted.


And we will all be walking around with a parrot on our shoulder too.

eva land

This decision being made on continuing to say prayers is not remotely democratic as can be seen from the more intelligent comments regarding this Star article which serve to support the stopping of an outdated custom.

Money + religion = power have in history always gone hand in hand. Cooperation is definately an advantage to doing business and apart from occasionally resulting in wars, creating an aura of elitism, which is what religion is all about, generally works very well for people, so they will be reluctant to give it up.

As well as that the dirty tactics and underhand behaviour of councillors can be undertaken in the pleasant comfort of appearing to be 'good folk' and in the pretence that all wrong doings are:


2)necessary for the public good


What a lot of fuss over nothing. How anyone can believe in this god person in this day and age is beyond comprehension. He does not exist, never has and never will and the fact that these councilors were actually praying to him beggars belief and must cast doubt as to their ability to make rational decisions concerning the welfare of the county. In my opinion the actions of Mr McCarthy were the only sane things to happen at this pre-meeting event. This would be a better world without religion contaminating everything it touches, how many wars have there been where religion has been the root cause? Look at the recent revelations about the paedophile priests in the RC church, this holier than thou brigade need banning.


That is what you believe and to that end that is your right. As it is the right of millions to believe in God/Allah and/or Darwin's theory of evolution.

To believe in something my cause wars, at times, but it also give milions hope and direction and something to hold onto when all is fails.

The RC priest outings is terrible but not all people of faith should be tarred with the same brush.

Live and let live is my motto.....


This land is your land and this land is my land, sure, but the world is run by those that never listen to music anyway

Bob Dylan


The ONLY problem i can see here is the fact he had to put up with a group of people talking to their imaginary friend. They should be working, not praying.


They should be allowed to pray if they like. And he should be allowed to listen to his ipod if he likes. However neither praying, nor listening to music have anything to do with council meetings and both should be done outside of the meeting time.

The idea that he can leave the room while they do their thing is illogical. Why not say the prayer group can leave the room while he listens to his music. Equally foolish.

They should all stop pratting around and get on with what they are there to do.


I have criticised Pat McCarthy before and no doubt will do it again .I believed his efforts to ban prayers to be wrong BUT maybe this was a bit of a compromise by Pat I doubt if anyone would have objected if a muslim had put on headphones and listened to a reading from the koran .He disturbed no one because it was headphones .I think in this case there has been overeaction he is probably now observing the other traditions perhaps if this is the case a bit more tolerance might be in order .People need to remember in politics all publicity is good publicity perhaps there may have been some foot shooting here .D.L.Barnett

Michael McCarthy

all im saying is big up my dad representing the ends.

get me?

the council isn't a christian club so why can't he listen to legendary bob?

why? is the question.

and the answer is nobodys stopping him so quit the hype kids.

lowe it a bit.


Because it was rude.

The ends do not justify the means.

It depends what is more important to him. Representing his own world view or acting as a conduit for his constituents.


As a proud atheist and a Dylan fan from Canada, I salute Mr. McCarthy for his rational attitude and his dedication to justice. I am equally disgusted with the primitive criticism coming from his colleagues. It's the year 2010, in case you missed the memo, gentlemen.


Paul, how rational is it to take action that was calculated to cause offence?

Answer: not very.

PG Shaw

I can't believe that supernatural delusion forms part of our Council's activities.....what has a minority interest....probably less than 6% of the population go to do with running the county.....excuse the pun but 'God help us!'

Nathan Parton

Pat McCarthy is a good man standing up for his beliefs and making a stand on something that is completely unfair! The choice of listening to Bob Dylan was a great one Pat.

To make the council meeting attendants take part in the prayer is wrong, completely wrong as there are numerous members who are not Christian and are athiests.

'Pat McCarthy is "disgusting" for listening to his ipod during the prayer' - I think the only disgusting think to happen concerning Pat recently is when he was sent outside of the meeting like a naughty child and had to come back in after the prayer had finished. That is discrimination and is therefore, disgusting.

"How can someone who so clearly does not respect the religious beliefs that many of his constituents hold represent them on the council?" - 'Whatever' - So because there are a majority of people who are religious the minority should just sit there and do nothing about it? Great, i'm sure things get done that way, lets just tolerate it and allow things to carry on being unfair as they currently are. Politics and religion are two completly different things. You don't see politicians praying at all of their meetings so this should be no different.

I for one, support Pat's actions.


He should take some gangster rap next time and listen to it on full blast. Perhaps NWA or Public Enemy.

Mr. D. Arnit

i back him, like the silent majority in this country is dont beleive in god and i dont mind religion as a private activity but dont think it should play a role in politics so well done cllr for making a stand!


As with so many other posters before, I wish to cut through the frothy head of the issue of whether listening to His Bobness is any less of a devotional experience than praying to some ethereal human construct known commonly as "God", and to get right down to the serious business of WHICH track the good councillor was chilling to.

Jack StumpMcCarthy: inquiring minds wish to know - was your father listening to a fast-moving story of this same "God" character telling Abraham to kill him a son, or was he perhaps reflecting on the behaviour of his council colleagues with a sampling of "Idiot Wind"?

Provided he was not listening to any of the 1980s albums generally designated as utter crap by the congregation of the Evangelical Church of Bob, or, worringly, to the recent Christmas in the Heart album, I think your Dad is certainly to be applauded, and he'd get my vote any day.


what a lot of comments this has generated!!


There is nothing superstitious about Christian beliefs. The historical evidence is clear, Jesus existed and those who knew him recorded his words. It is for each one of us to decide whether what he said is true or not. This is a matter of faith. Superstition does not come into it.

Also democracy exists to represent the people therefore since many people do believe in God why shouldn't prayer have a place?

Experience tells me that most muslims are happy to be included in christian prayer and often ask for prayer so I disagree with the comment that it discriminates against other religions. Surveys also show that quite a number of athiests have prayed at some time of crisis in their lives. Having said that I feel that if an athiest is not happy to be part of what is going on then they should excuse themselves in a manner that shows they respect the wishes of the others present. Do they not have a duty to present not only their own views but also the views of those they were elected to repesent?

The Lord's prayer is only very short so I doubt he would have been able to listen to much of a Bob Dylan song!



Superstition - defined as 'An irrational belief - i.e., one held in spite of evidence to the contrary - usually involving supernatural forces and associated with rituals'.

Seems to me to be an accurate summary of religious belief, so it looks as though superstition very much does come into it - i.e. you have a belief in a supernatural being, you engage in rituals of prayer to said being, and there is a wealth of evidence contradicting the existence of said being.

How can you claim this doesn't fall under the heading of 'superstition'?


You say there is a wealth of evidence contradicting the existence of God. This is not true. In the first place in science you cannot prove a negative.

Secondly there is wealth of evidence which supports the existence of God which is why people like Einstein and Stephen Hawking took this issue seriously.

One piece of evidence is the fact that we are even having this discussion or that this issue even came up. People don't spend a lot of time discussing things that are obviously not true. If it really was just superstition no-one would actualy care. People don't go around campaigning against the fear of black cats or wanting to make walking under ladders compulsory because these actually are superstitions. The reason people feel so strongly about this issue is because there is a strong possibility it could be true!

I don't say that the evidence is all in favour of there being a God. If that was the case where would faith come in? I am just saying there is enough evidence to be a rational intellegent person and decide that yes God does exist.

If Christianity was merely superstition then this would not be the case.

Because you cannot prove a negative if you want to argue against the existence of God you will have to give an alternative explanation for the reason evil exists in the world, why the earth seems to be unique in the universe in supporting human and animal life, why suffering exists and finally why we as humans are unique in being able to ask and think about these questions. Then you will have to prove why your explanation is better than the one presented in the bible.

You have to draw your own conclusions and decide what you believe to be true. I hope that in doing this you will look seriously into this question rather than just dismissing those who you don't agree with as superstitious.

Mark, Luke and John

Leave us out of this one Mathew, i think we've been rumbled


Oh dear, where to start?

In your earlier response, you suggest that I know nothing of religion. That is the sort of arrogant response I often encounter amongst those that are sold hook, line and sinker on their belief in God - is it beyond you to understand that there are people who have studied the Bible, Christianity and indeed other religions and on the balance of the evidence to hand come to regard them as myths, and to regard God as the creation of mankind, rather than the other way round?

You seem to have fundamentally misunderstood the nature of 'evidence'. The fact that this conversation is taking place is not evidence that your God exists - it is simply evidence that there are those who believe he/she/it does and those who don't.

You will see many discussions in these pages about little green men visiting Shropshire - that doesn't represent any sort of evidence that they are!

Both Einstein and Stephen Hawking have looked at the existence of God as a philosophical question, as has Richard Dawkins - all have come to the conclusion that there is no God, but they have come up with some very credible explanations as to why we as humans feel the need to invent one.

You claim in your earlier post that the Bible is an 'authenticated' document. I don't doubt that it is a very old book, and there is evidence throughout history of the many changes and edits to it - it must surely be one of the most politicised texts in history, regardless of which of the many versions you read - but authenticated? By whom?!

As for first hand accounts, there are a number of 'gospels' that never made it to versions in the last few centuries, often because they didn't fit in with the dogma of the various churches, monarchs, translators etc. over the years who have had a hand in editing this highly unreliable text.

None of the authors of the 'accepted' Gospels were contemporaries of Jesus the man (assuming he existed) - who knows what motives they might have had for declaring him a God in days when religion and political power were often one and the same? Who's to say that he wasn't just someone who made extravagant claims which captured the imaginations of relatively primitive people - a bit like David Icke a few years ago.

The scale of such rumours and is not an indication of their authenticity - Galileo was dismissed as a heretic by the church for his vews on the Solar System - not many of his contemporaries would have shared his views - but it didn't stop him from being right, did it?

Your argument about 'not being able to prove a negative' is a baseless one, often trotted out by believers. I cannot absolutely prove that Father Christmas or the Tooth Fairy don't exist, but I don't suppose many people do believe in them either.

You mention in your response to post #3 that we don't spend time arguing over the existence of Zeus - true, we don't, but you can bet that plenty of people in ancient Greece did, just as the Romans will have done about their Gods when Christianity happened along - another non-sequitur from yourself which proves nothing.

The scientific evidence that there is unlikely to be a God increases all the time - we now know that the many organisms on Earth were not 'created' by your God, but instead evolved over a huge time period. We have more and more information about how the Universe came into being. Only last week we saw that life, in a rudimentary form, can now be manufactured at the DNA level.

No-one is trying to ban your God or your beliefs, but in the same way as the compulsory throwing of salt over your left shoulder at the start of a council meeting would be considered ridiculous, so is prayer, especially to a God that some people choose to create and define variously as sometimes judgemental , sometimes not, sometimes an active participant in our lives, sometimes a passive observer, yet all seeing, and omnipotent at the same time.

It's all very far-fetched, completely irrational, and has no place whatsoever in our democratic process.


I don't know if there were any Muslims present but most muslims would be happy to go along with christian prayer or even ask for it because they are also religious people.


Oh, but Matthew, don't you know? Some very helpful atheists have taken it upon themselves to tell Muslims, Hindus, Anamists, Sikhs, Humanists, etc., etc, when to be offended.

And if they say they were not offended, then the very helpful atheists will be offended on their behalf, as cleary they were too stupid to realise that they should have felt offended!


Matt, you are an eloquent writer and your last paragraph sums up Pat McCarthy s actions perfectly.

He is just giving a helping hand to the downfall and destruction of Christianity in this country,he s extremely naive. Christianity is on the rise in this country, especially with the influx of Polish Catholics,who regulary go to church, and the majority of people I know may not go to church but they class themselves as Christians,we are in the majority and want it to remain that way Mr McCarthy! Praying at these meetings is not compulsory so why cause trouble ?

eva land


There is nothing superstitious about Christian beliefs. The historical evidence is clear]

As the majority of these posts have pointed out Matt , NO IT IS A STORY! Quite a nice story in parts not so nice in other parts but not remotely based on historical evidence.

The only clear history of our world is that we have evolved though in the case of Shropshire this may have been a slower process than elsewhere. ;)


So you are implenting that shrophire has not eveloved?

I think you are very very wrong there love. The council needs to to tkae note and realise theat the next generation don't do religion for one reason or another. Which begs to reason why we still have old pompous councillors on our councils that really could'nt care less about us and just want a good retirement.

Jake Gittes

80 posts about an irrelevent councillor playing the music of a singer who was last relevent in the mid 60s it must a slow day out there.


Everyones making such an issue out of this, exactly what Pat wanted i guess. Just ignore the whole thing like i did, in fact i didnt read it nor am i leaving this reply....


Slow news day.........Forget about this, i wanna know if that burnt out lorry has been moved from emstrey yet so i can get home on time


Our whole way of life in this country is based on Christian principles. Without that Christian philosophy we would have anarchy and disorder. Without councils there would be no services - no lighting, no social services, no roads etc.

Many of the writers here show an disturbing lack of understanding of the role of councils, and councillors.

It certainly does no harm at the beginning of a meeting to remind those present of their duties to the public, which it is what it is all about.


Well said Rob.

A fact that certain "posters" forget for wanting to be the perfect PC citizen. They will be wanting a Republic next!

Jack StumpMcCarthy

indeed, a republic would be amazing, viva la revolution.


If you want one that badly,go and live in one there s lots to choose from, China,Bangladesh,Vietnam,Afghanistan,Russia,Iran,Poland,Argentina to name but a few.


'Without that Christian philosophy we would have anarchy and disorder.'

How do you work that out Rob? Where is the link between supernatural beliefs and order? Order (or what we perceive to be order)comes naturally our of chaos, as Darwin taught us.

Don't forget that democracy didn't have its foundation in Christianity - far from it in fact. Historically the Chrisitan church has sought to control by divine right rather than democratic means.

You shouldn't confuse morality and order with Christianity - the church doesn't own my moral code or philosophy, neither do the various 'God myths' influence my behaviour to my fellow man.

Granted, there will be things about my moral code which do coincide with the views of Christians, but my views and behaviour are not founded in Christianity.


Well said Peter, i agree. my beleifs are not founded in religion at all and nor is my life style. and to say that this country is run that way now is utter rubbish.

i think i speak for all now saying that this subject could be talked about for far too long. Time to put tit to bed we all had a winge and a giggle about something which to be fair really should not matter.

whats next shropshire star???

Jesus lives in Wem................


Don't confuse the Creation and Resurrection with morality.

'Thou shalt not kill', 'Thou shalt not bear false witness'etc., all from the Bible, Christian principles. OK - many of these are being tossed aside, but the basic principles have been bred into us, whether you like it or not. That is where your moral code comes from.



Your argument has no basis.

You will find the principles that killing and telling lies are worng exist in many societies that have had no exposure to your God - both pre and post the Christian era.

These principles come as a result of mankind finding the best way of co-existing - to claim them as somehow 'owned' by the relgious is pure arrogance.

eva land

[Our whole way of life in this country is based on Christian principles]

What was I saying about the elitist attitude of those few who rely on a story called the bible or other made up beliefs because they cannot work out right from wrong by themselves?

I understand that some more representative councils have discontinued prayers, Rob and it may surprise you to know that they have not fallen off the edge of the earth and are infact still delivering services.

Anarchy and disorder is left to the various churches who cover up disgusting behaviour like child abuse, fight amongst eachother over who has the top jobs so long as it is not those people made from a bloke's rib , you know, women!


good on him, we are not a chirstian country why should we be ruled by them

eva land

What is clear from the huge interest and reaction to this article is that the majority of councillors are most certainly not, and have not been for many years, a democratic and true reflection of the people they represent.

We have new mayor in Shrewsbury who is going to push her personal religous views about xmas in her mayoral year and almost sees it as a lifetime goal to do so. I would have preferred a mayor that did not persue self interest as motivation for, in her view, helping us see the 'true meaning of Xmas.'

This is a clear example of religion and the running of our country being insidiously enmeshed. We can see that this causes trouble all over the world and doesn't fill me with hope and faith for a sharing, caring future on our planet.

Robert Morrell

The historical evidence for Christianity is clear, so retort some correspondents. But is it?

I am yet to see a single document from when Jesus is said to have lived, or even a fragment of one, that has anything to say about the man-god, all that is paraded as evidence are documents written by Christians years after the events they pretend to portray. In short, propaganda. They are documents of believe, and believe is evidence only for that belief


An accomplished song writer but he has a voice like a vaccuum cleaner. And as for Bob Dylan, i don't know enough to comment..


Oh Matthew what on earth are you babbling about. "jesus existed" ????? where is your proof of this? The bible is just a story written many years ago and so full of contradictions and impossibilities that it could be about our very own present day hero spiderman. Walking on water, feeding 5000 on a couple of pies and a bit of fish, turning water into wine,,,the mind boggles, surely no one can believe this rubbish. Who decided that our planet was unique in supporting life as we know it?. The universe is infinite and to the best of my limited knowledge we have not even scratched the surface in terms of exploration. If this god of yours is all-powerful, all-seeing and such a wonderful all round chap can you explain why he allows such evil things to take place in the world you say he created? Take child abuse, now I am just an ordinary bloke but if I knew of a child being abused in any way I would do everything I could to stop it, as would any normal thinking person. But, your god sits back and lets it happen, time and time again, not very caring is he and PLEASE do not use the old chestnut, "god moves in mysterious ways" that is just the god-squad get out card used when you can't explain something. Watch Animal Planet when they visit monkey world and you'll soon see where our roots lie.


Proof that Jesus existed:

four witnesses who wrote the gospels which have been dated back to that time.

Archeological evidence.

Jesus is mentioned by secular roman historians of the time.

Thats a lot more evidence than you get for most historical figures. I write as someone who has studied history at degree level. Is this something you have even looked into or just speculation? Have you actually ever read any of the bible?

The answer to your other question is that God created human beings with free will and the ability to do either good or bad. If we didn't have that ability we would be like robots or computers. If you hold a gun at someone's head and tell them to love you do you really think if they said yes it would mean anything? You are asking why God doesn't do the same thing. If he forced us to love and obey him that wouldn't mean a thing. He placed responsibility in our own hands and we are the ones capable of stopping child abuse or any other evil.

what is your explanation for evil? Despite improved education and many technological advances as a human race we seem to spend all our time fighting one another and carrying out more evil acts than ever before. We never seem to be able to share out our resources properly and seem determined to destroy the environment we live in. I don't see any animals on animal planet doing this to each other.

You cannot on the one hand say the idea of God is ridiculous and then on the other hand ask how he could allow evil to happen. He can't only exist when you are looking for someone to blame! It is funny how a lot of people want to blame God for all the bad things that happen but never think of questioning why good things happen to them.

Of course miracles don't happen every day. If there was a God who came to earth as Jesus did then I would expect to see them! People in those days weren't stupid, they know what they were talking about.

I'm concerned this discussion has drifted off the point although it is interesting!

Northern Exposure

A 'democratic vote' to have a singular religious (christian) prayer to start off every political council meeting representing a multi-racial constituency...

Am I the only one who sees the hypocrisy in that ?

Politics imbibing religion.

Oh the humanity !

"Gather 'round councellors, we must pray before we decide what to do about garbage pickup on Wednesdays."

Sounds to me like Mr. McCarthy's little protest was a flaming success... He managed to tick off a bunch of sanctimonious christians.

I applaud you sir.

Tristram Ffertyle

It is disgusting that this man has refused to take part in Christian prayers. How else do we, the voters, know that our representatives are doing the right thing if they haven't sought God's divine wisdom?

He asked the council to debate the matter of prayers some time ago and was the council refused.

I should like to point out that prayers at Wellington Town Council take around fifteen minutes, (not the thirty seconds which has been suggested on here)and it would seem this is too short by far. If our councilors spent more time praying and less time windbagging about why it is right to prey, perhaps The Lord would intervene to get some of the tasks done that they fail to do.

I shal prey for Councilor McCarthy and call on everyone else to. Rest assured, I, unlike the councilllors, will not be paid for my time praying, nor will I claim expenses for going to church in order to pray.

May The Lord bless and keep you all. Amen.

John Dale

Congratulations on your stand Mr McCarthy. We need more councillors like you.

Bronze age superstitions have no place in government. The meeting agenda should contain only council business. The best solution would if those who wanted to hold Christian prayers did so 5 minutes before the start of the official meeting in a separate room. Another room could be used for those wishing to to pray to Allah, and a third for those wishing to sacrifice a virgin chicken. I only hope their are enough rooms available for all the ludicrous superstitions that people have.

Maybe we could introduce a minimum IQ for candidates at the next elections - that would be guaranteed to weed out all the fantasists who insist on inviting their invisible friend to council meetings.


Hey John - maybe they should have a minimum IQ for this website and then we wouldn't have to put up with such nonsense.

Have you ever read the Bible or are you just a superstitious athiest yourself taking on second hand beliefs?

I don't think there are any official statistics out there, but I think you'll find that most pews are filled with well educated people who HAVE bothered to find out the truth.


government is subject of the Crown therefore coucil representatives should respect the crown as head of the church of England .

eva land

The Crown does not have juristriction over parliament and the occasions such as the state opening and the PM resigning etc are purely ceremonial.

Cameron does not have to ring up our Queen first to see if he can press the 'nuke' button in order to protect our country though he might need to have Clegg's blessing!

#94I think your reference to prey rather than pray might be a lot more apt Tristram.

Councillors: Now let us prey, in the main on our constituents by pursuing self interest and hugely increasing our allowances. ;)


"Because you cannot prove a negative if you want to argue against the existence of God you will have to give an alternative explanation for the reason evil exists in the world"

Oh right, I get it - it's all God's fault, is that what you're saying?

Matt are there fairies at the bottom of your garden? If you say no, can you prove it?


Can you prove that there aren't

ansy wasy pansy

good on him i say


99 comments is this a record ??

i bet wellington councill have never had so many paper inches..

"No one doubted the existence of God until theologians starting trying to prove his existence."

Christopher EddyBalfCove

Bob Dyan > God

Grow up ya bloody backwards loonies. You'll all be singing hymns off your iPads soon so get with the times.

Billy Craig

Hmmm, a group of people attempting to force their ideas of personified astronomy onto others, now theirs a surprise.

Do the decent thing and let those who want to be in the cult follow it and those who don't want brainwashing to attend after its all over. He's there to do a job not pray.

If they can't accept that not everyone believes in talking fish and a big man in the sky at least have the decency to let him listen to something he believes in. At least he's using headphones and not forcing it on the rest of them.