Once again your pal the Skipper wonders why religion is still so closely entwined with public life in our society.

This week a resigning Penryn councillor said she felt excluded by prayers at the start of meetings, and in a county as monochromatic as ours it can be difficult to remember not everyone shares the same beliefs, and all need to be catered for.

A judge or a coroner wouldn’t expect people to pray at a hearing, so why is Christianity (and it is only Christ, not just religion) embraced by our supposedly secular councils?

While some say anyone wanting to avoid prayers can leave the room, that ignores the fact that sending someone away is, by definition, exclusionary. It can also be intimidating sitting down, or walking out, while others engage in an in-group activity, setting non-participants apart from those in charge.

To claim that prayers happen before the meeting is also to misrepresent the case, as at Falmouth, Helston, and Penryn they happen after the scheduled start time, when the mayor makes an official entrance.

This would not be an issue if our councillors didn’t still have to be occasionally reminded that taxpayers’ money isn’t to be spent supporting church repairs or activities. Or if we lived in a county with more young and diverse representation.

I’d as soon have council decisions made in the back of a pub as at the church fete, but best of all would be in a council chamber free of God.