Deputy Montfort Tadier objects to prayers
A Jersey politician objects to the Dean of Jersey saying prayers in the island's parliament.
Prayers are said by a Church of England Dean or the greffier before a second roll-call at the beginning of proceedings.
Deputy Montfort Tadier said there are several members who skip the first roll-call specifically so they don't have to be there for the prayers.
The St Brelade politician said he skips prayers on ideological grounds.
Deputy Tadier said: "I object to having prayers said by a Church of England Dean who I don't think has a legitimate place in the States."
He said that there are a number of members who feel the same way.
"There are several members of the States who on ideological grounds or because of their convictions go in for the second roll-call because they don't want to be in for prayers.
"That could be to do with a variety of reasons. I know the Constable of St Helier does that and there are a couple of other Deputies who do that."
Have your say
Should there be prayers before States of Jersey sittings? Should the Dean be in the States of Jersey?
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Reg, St Peter
Re the previous comment:
How very parochial to attach such momentous significance to the prayers of a few men who think that a sect which was foisted onto a distant outpost of the Roman Empire must continue to be forced upon everyone else for evermore. Suppose the Emperor Constantine had decided that the cult of Isis or Mithras was henceforth to be the new State Religion of the Empire?--our own States would now still be mindlessly mumbling their monotonous monologues to the appropriate deity,-which has no effect upon anything that actually happens in the world. If, possibly when, Jersey is one day swallowed up by the ocean, no doubt they will be simging "For those in peril on the sea-glug,glug", as they go down with the Ship of State. Such things have happened before. The Greeks called it "Hubris".
Gerry, St Ouen
Deputy Tadier's remarks are curious and most disrespectful. Apart from disrespecting our social and legal history, those who would diminish any Christian influence from our political life would do well to reflect on Jersey's globally significant social problems. We have the worst STD rate in europe, and one of the worst suicide rates in the world. The Dean is not a voting member, but he makes a hugely valuable contribution to debates in the states that could improve or ignore the status quo, that has given rise to such a poor social climate in the island. Also, if the states members implemented simple christian advise like "love your neighbour" or "love your enemies" (which could be translated as "respect" and is not the same as agreeing with them), we would see vastly better value for money in the use of states members salaries. I would love to see someone do a PHD in how much energy and money is wasted in "Alpha male" infighting, in secret plotting and shear bloody minded bullying in the states. All these activities are condemned in the book of proverbs. All the world travelled to hear the wisdom of Solomon (who wrote many of the proverbs) but no-one travels to Jersey to seek out wisdom of our states...European medics discovered in the 1840s that the lives of countless mothers in labour could be saved, if only the attendant doctors washed their hands when leaving the mortuary. Advise to do this was written in the bible 3000 years earlier but ignored by the medical scientific community for most of that time. All those lives unnecessarily lost is a tragedy. lets avoid further tragedy in the states and not stomp on the wisdom of our forbears.
Tigger, St Helier
I am sure that the Dean addresses his prayers to God. He is asking the help of the Christian God. Some States members may believe in another God, perhaps just in a 'force for good'. I do not think that our God minds what name you give Him. We need Him to guide our States members to achieve good. Please, States members, attend prayers and pray to whichever 'god' you believe in, that you will make the right decisions. Thank you.
how many other places of work have prayers before people start work in the morning? do checkers, boots, m&s? the list goes on. none of them, so why does it happen before states sittings? another thing, why should i have to pay through my rates for the upkeep of a church in my parish? it,s about time that outdated law was abolished. let the church goers pay for it themselves
Peter, St Clement
How very sad that a politician who proportes to reperesent the island should be so short sighted and miss the point of why The Dean has a seat in the Assembly.
The Dean is also the representative Head of all the Faiths in the island. However, Jersey is constitutionally & historically built and based on Christian values and principles. When professional politicians begin to think they do not need divine guidance when holding the enormous responsibility of governemnt we should all worry. It matters not if you are Christian, Jew, Muslim or Agnostic.
To lead and govern needs reflection, help and guidance, inspiration and spiritual intervention. The Deputy should read the words of the Lords prayer and if he can prove that its content is not as relevant today as it was at the time it was given to all mankind he is a remarkable man indeed. To remove this one small aspect of procedure in our States Assembly is in my view highly dangerous.
All of us live in difficult times, huge decisions are being made by governments across the world. All men and all woman need leaders who are prepared to humble themselves before God and accept that to seek divine guidance proves your mortality and limitations whilst strengthening your capacity to think before you speak and prepare yourself before you act in the interest of others before self.
How i wish our leaders spent more time in prayer before they speak or act and how much better then would they govern.
Deputy Montfort Tadier
I do not normally get involved in online debates, because I believe politicians usually say enough and have access to the media as and when we need it - certainly more so than members of the public.
I do, however, feel compelled to respond here for two main reasons: (1) To provide the context for my comments; and (2) To counter what I see as unfair comments on this thread.
(1) My words here were recorded during the BBC Radio Talkback programme on Sunday 17th October 2010. The format of the show is such that members of the public can call in and pose questions or comments. One of the callers, Donald, stated that I was always late for the States. I said that this was not true. I said that because I did not attend prayers (along with Senator Cohen, Constable Crowcroft, Deputy Southern, Deputy Shona Pitman and others), it often seemed to radio listeners on 1026am that I appeared late. I explained that this does not constitute being late. So long as a member is there for 2nd roll call, one is registered as present and on time.
So it was not me who raised the issue.
(2)My own feelings are that we live in a liberal democracy; there is no requirement for members to be present for prayers. It is a matter of conscience for each member. I do not impose my beliefs on others. I do not expect them to do so on me - and thankfully they do not.
Steve from St Clement says there is a place for religion. I agree. It is at Church, not in the States. At any rate, my absence from prayers does not preclude any others attending. Each to their own. With regards to the hated, narrow-minded phrase ' If you don't like it, there is a boat in the morning' which I thought was only used as a racist term against immigrants to Jersey) I would say, 'No. If I don't like it, there is the option for me not to attend. If I left and got the boat I would not be able to attend the States at all and fulfil my obligation to my constituents!'
Henry: Why the 'upstart'? Just because I do not attend prayers? Do you also think Senator Cohen is an (old) upstart for having his own faith which is different to the majority of others? What happened to tolerance?
JCRbean/Tony. You are right about tolerance. It needs to work both ways too.
Dennis: we do not live in a Christian Society. What do you base this on? Sure, Christianity has a strong and lasting legacy in Jersey, but then again, so does Paganism. Maybe we should have a druid in the States rather than the Dean. Paganism has a much longer history in the island than Christianity.
The States need all the help they can get! We are a Christian community and prayers are appropriate. The Dean may be C of E but the prayers are surely suitable for all denominations.
Constable Simon Crowcroft
It was a bit wicked of Deputy Tadier to include me in his group of heretics. Actually I am usually in the States Chamber for the first roll call and prayers. As for my religious views they're a matter for me, as is my private life, and I hope we are not going to be subjected to some kind of inquisition.
Having said that, there is a debate to be had about the influence of the Church of England in our system of government, but that does not mean that a person who, for example, skips prayers, or thinks that the Dean should not have a seat in the States and be able to speak, is unChristian!
June, St Saviour
Well, at last, a politician who is not afraid to speak up for sanity and reason. The sight of a group of politicians talking to themselves before commencing state business does not inspire confidence in their abilities to take rational judgements in other matters.
David, St Helier
Religion is like a penis, you have every right to proud of yours and to believe it is the best one. I support you having the right to whatever you like with it in private.
You have to excuse me for not being interested in it so don't make me present when you get it out to show it off. It also has no place in government although we all have one we can let that be accepted and not have everyone show they have one and discuss it and display it.
Dennis, St Clement
I would have hoped that all our states members were good christians. However they should all remember that they are members of a christian society and for the roll call to be lead by christian prayers in our language is expected of them. Therefore shame on those who avoid the opening prayers.Montford Tadier will not be getting one of my future votes!
Government is a secular business. If some of the Members need Christianity to keep them on the straight and narrow, they could wear a crucifix or fish badge to finger before speaking or voting. But formal prayers just waste the time of all the non-believers, as well as reinforcing the image of a Chamber that is more concerned with doing the done thing, than doing what needs to be done.
Tony, St Brelade
There is no reason, surely, to pray during the prayers, which is what I'm sure Monty does at a religious wedding or funeral. Being present doesn't make assent; he could always just read a book quietly (The God Delusion?) or have a conversation with his ring-binder (like Alan Maclean)or nod off, like T..?
Doesn't the Constable of Helier take part in the St Helier day pilgrimage though, which I believe has a few prayers dotted around?
Islander, St Brelade
It is nice to see some more opinions in favour of Deputy Tadier.
Some of us in Jersey do enjoy taking part in our Humanist discussion group on Yahoo and we also have a web site. We meet for lunch at times to enjoy good conversation and good food. Anyone interested in joining us can look on,-
Other societies with much greater coverage are the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society.
To me the freedom of choice in these matters is most important. If anyone wishes to join any of the conventional religions or the groups and societies that I happen to like then the choices are there for all of us.
Steve, St Saviour
I fully endorse Montford Tadiers views. Any religion of any form has absolutely no relevance in politicians governing the island. Certainly if you were a believer, then whatever the politicians are praying to and wishing for, it is not working!
It is quite encouraging to read the views by obvious atheists, who normally refrain from expressing their opinions publically, may it long continue!
Anon, St Helier
I agree with Montfort. Jersey may be traditionally Christian, but if we never broke tradition, society wouldn't advance. Jersey now contains atheists and people of many other faiths besides CofE, and our political system should reflect that. As a secular atheist, I think people should be free to worship whatever they want and the state should be completely separate from religion.
As for how we deal with weddings, funerals: we grit our teeth and do it for the family. If it really bothers you, though, you aren't forced to go. On the other hand, politicians must do this to represent our island which isn't a good way of getting true representation.
But fundamentally, is it really that hard for religious people to pray in their own time?
Susan, St Mary
Good on him why should other faiths have to have prayers by a Deacon. Prayers should be for churches not states sittings
Bob, St Lawrence
The Dean should not be there. The next step is to get rid of the Constables, (unless) they have an island wide mandate. Then the States should elect a President/Speaker and the Bailiff/Dep uty can go as well!! It's time we had a Democratic Government.
Islander, St Brelade
I fully agree with Deputy Tadier. Holding religious ceremonies has nothing to do with the work of the politicians. If they want to indulge in anything like that then they should do it in their own time and in a suitable place.
There is the assumption that because some of the States members are members on the Church of England then every one has to be compelled to join in with what they believe. There are many other religions in Jersey and plenty of people who are not members of any of them. It is very disrespectful of those who have other opinions to compel them to participate in the rituals of one that is not theirs.
If I attend a wedding or a funeral I accept that I am there as an observer and not as a participant but that happens very rarely. If I was told that I had to take part every day as part of my job I would not do so.
I am still traumatised from having to attend services every day when I was at school. At least that made me think about it enough to reject all religion and that was over 50 years ago.
Dr Reginald Le Sueur, St Peter
I agree with Montford. What on earth do invocations to Jesus or the "Almighty" have to do with decisions in the States about how to run our island? This is just the usual Christian infiltration of everything, so they can gain control of all aspects of society.
Steve, St Clement
I would think that the mess the States are in at the moment, they could do with all of the help they can get!!!! Couldn't agree more with Cross Crapaud, our society is based around Christian religious ideals whether you like it or not, so of course there is, and always should be a place for religion. If you don't like it Montfort, there's a boat out in the morning. You put yourself forward to be there!!
JCRbean, St Peter
I personaly would simply stand as a mark of respect and understanding of other peoples religious conviction, but not partake in the prayers themsleves. Its what I always do in church on the occaisons that I want to celebrate with my friends that are religious. The same applies for singing hymns. No one has ever asked me why I dont sing or join in prayers and I have always been welcomed. I dont understand why people cant be more tolerant of each others beliefs and respect them even if they dont agree.
Cross Crapaud, St John
Just who does this young upstart think he is? We are traditionally a Christian Society and if some members don't wish to actually take part in the prayer, they can simply bow their head and just move their lips.
How does Monty Tadier manage when he goes to a Wedding or Funeral? Does he walk out when prayers are being said?
Prayers in the States Chamber are part of our Island heritage and personally, I think the States Members need all the help they can get!
Darren, St Helier
I really do not see what relevance prayer has in the political process, indeed why just C of E? Slightly bias against other faiths in today's multi-cultural society.
Henry, St Lawrence
Yes, there should. Jersey is, at least nominally, a Christian society and its government should reflect that. Why doesn't this upstart Tadier get himself a proper job? Presumably nobody would employ him.
Andrew, St Peter
Totally agree. The roles for the politician, the judiciary and the church are distinct and quite separate and should be made and kept separate.
Brands, ex-St Saviour
If there is to be separation between church and state then, yes, the should refrain from prayers in the S 0 J sittings.