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Humanist chaplain appointed by Lord Mayor of Leicester
Leicester Town Hall
Alan Hayes has been appointed to the role of chaplain by the new Lord Mayor

By John Florance
Presenter, BBC Leicester

Leicester has a new Lord Mayor; Councillor Colin Hall.

And with a new Lord Mayor there comes a new Lord Mayor's chaplain.

What is interesting about this new chaplain is that he has no religious faith: he is a humanist.

Alan Hayes is, indeed, President of the Leicester Secular Society.

I asked him whether he thought that some people might be rather surprised at the appointment.

He said that some people might be but he saw no reason why an atheist should not be chaplain to a Lord Mayor.

"It's time to broaden the outlook [of the office]" he told me.

Secular Hall lamp
I'm quite happy to be prayed for… I'm very happy to accept that
Alan Hayes, Lord Mayor's chaplain

Over the years he has taken a deep interest in the way Leicester has changed and in particular the impact new faiths had made in the city.

Refreshingly, he said that these had brought many benefits with them and was happy to promote inter-faith understanding, and understanding of the Humanist position.

"It's a very exciting prospect. I'm much looking forward to it," he said.

But what about Civic Services in which the Lord Mayor is expected to participate along with the chaplain?

"It's an expression of the history of the city and the connection the church has with the city.

"But I don't expect to be taking part in praying.

"I'm quite happy to be prayed for… I'm very happy to accept that."

Being asked to read during the service is another matter and he does not wish to read religious texts.

So, would there be tensions and problems, given his views and the traditional duties of the office?

"Tensions, I'm not sure about. Problems, obviously because it's approaching the role from a different direction.

"But I think it's approaching it from a direction which represents the city as it now is."

Alan's time as Lord Mayor's Chaplain, will, I suspect, be an interesting one!

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