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'Without Grace, food is an under-seasoned soup': Criticism as law society stops prayers before meals

by Donna Birrell

One of the UK's oldest legal institutions, Lincoln's Inn has decided to replace saying Grace before meals with a moment of reflection giving thanks instead. The historic association of students, barristers and judges says the change is part of a desire to be a more welcoming and inclusive organisation.

Ann Sharp, under treasurer at Lincoln's Inn, told the Telegraph the change to a non-Christian 'thanks' is to accommodate the Inn's diverse members who hold a different set of beliefs.

"This is not political correctness gone mad, and it is not being driven by younger members," she said. "Other members didn’t feel comfortable so we are trying to be a little more thoughtful."

Historian and commentator Martyn Whittock gave his view to Premier.

“Rooted in Jewish tradition, Jesus gave thanks with the feeding of the five thousand. In the last supper, he takes bread. When he'd given thanks, he broke it and gave it to the disciples. So it’s rooted in a Jewish tradition, which became a Christian tradition as well. But it's also reflected in all the major world religions – taking the time to say thank you for food.

“I personally think that deciding not to say Grace in the name of inclusivity, is just completely unnecessary. This is rooted in the Christian culture of this nation. But it's not excluding anyone from this particular historic tradition. If that's your tradition, then join in. If it's not, you can say it in your in your own head, in your own way. Or you can just be quiet and be grateful for food.

“I think sometimes these things which are done to be more inclusive, actually create a blandness and a lack of variety and texture in our lives.

“In many situations, I think there's a creeping secularism, which is sometimes done to protect other traditions. But you find Jews and Muslims and Hindus don’t have a problem with this, they’re not offended by it. I think often it's being done by secular motivation to kind of get God out of everything.”

Rev Canon Fr Jack Noble is rector at St Giles Cripplegate in the City of London. He tells Premier that despite the headlines, there is a lot to be optimistic about when it comes to the presence of Christianity in the historic City institutions.

“I’ve been amazed since I came to City, about the depths and vibrancy of the life of faith here," he said. “I think the Christian faith in these settings isn't necessarily just something of the past. It’s a really vibrant gift to the future, irrespective of the faith of members. Yes saying Grace is particularly Christian, but if you take out the particularity of these things, sometimes what you're left with is a very under- seasoned soup. It's a bit kind of weak and nothingness. So sometimes it's the particularity, in this case, Christianity. That means that actually everybody can benefit from something that will really give flavour and life to our culture and our being together.”

Lincoln's Inn says the Christian grace will now only be used at Sunday lunch following a chapel service.


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