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World News

Isle of Man's House of Keys makes prayers optional for members

by Kelly Valencia

Members of the House of Keys (MHKs) in the Isle of Man have voted to make prayers before sittings optional. 

It comes after a petition to replace prayers with a period of reflection or silence was rejected. Instead, MHKs decided members should be free to participate or not in the tradition according to their own beliefs. 
Prayers have been said at the start of each House of Keys sitting since 1863.  

Member of the House of Keys for Douglas North, David Ashford, told Premier he is delighted a compromise was reached. 

"Personally, I'm someone who doesn't have any religious leanings. But I felt that [scrapping prayers] was wrong," he said. 

"The institutions that we are part of have been around for a long, long time, we are temporary members and custodians of those institutions. And when it comes to changing traditions, or the way the systems operate, such fundamental things as prayers are at the start of a sitting, I believe the public should be involved in any consultation to do that." 

The petition was put forward in a House of Keys Management and Members' Standards committee report published last week.

The latest census of the Isle man showed 54 per cent of respondents said they were Christian while  43.8 per cent answered they had no religion and the remainder said they followed other faiths.

A committee will now consider how an optional system can be put in place.

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