A COURT ruling banning prayers from being a part of formal council meetings has been slammed by councillors who claim that God helps them make important decisions.

Mr Justice Ouseley on Friday ruled councils had no statutory powers to hold prayers during council meetings following a complaint from an atheist councillor in Devon.

Cllr Clive Bone said he found the practice "outdated, antiquated and a turnoff."

Redbridge Council is still considering the potential impact of the ruling.

Prayers are included as part of formal council proceedings, but are not a part of the agenda.

But defiant council leader Keith Prince said he will find a way to hold prayers legally.

Cllr Prince, who is a Christian, said: “We say these prayers at the beginning and end of a meeting because we are calling on God to guide us and give us the wisdom to make the right decisions for the people of Redbridge.

“Redbridge has many different religions but it doesn’t matter what religion you are, we’re all praying to the same God, we’re just following different paths.

“If an Atheist does not agree with the prayers then they can wait outside, they don’t have to be there.

Zoroastrian Filly Maravala, Labour councillor for Loxford and former Mayor of Redbridge, said: “I think this is a despicable action. It is a mockery of religion. It is beyond a joke.

“The prayers we say at the meetings are just simply asking God to give us wisdom, they aren’t based on any one religion.

“If this stops us from saying prayers at meetings then I will fight tooth and nail to stop it from happening.”

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, which supported Cllr Bone’s challenge, said: "We believe that council meetings should be conducted in a manner equally welcoming to all councillors, regardless of their religious beliefs, or indeed, lack of belief.

"The NSS is not seeking to deprive those who wish to pray the opportunity to do so; indeed, we fight to retain freedom of religion and belief. The judgement clearly states that religious freedoms are not hindered, as councillors who wish to do so are free to say prayers before council meetings.”