Thursday, 25 October 2012

Call for non-religious representation at Remembrance Day commemorations

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As we enter the annual period of remembrance for those who have died while serving in the military, the United Kingdom Armed Forces Humanist Association and the British Humanist Association have launched their third annual campaign for the inclusion of non-religious representatives at the national Remembrance Day services.

It is perhaps not widely known that while the national Remembrance Sunday service held at the Cenotaph in Whitehall features representatives from all major faiths, no representatives of non-religious groups take part. In fact, non-religious representatives are actively excluded – in both 2010 and 2011, requests by humanists for inclusion alongside religious representatives were rejected by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

This is despite the fact that over 26,000 members of the armed forces have described themselves as having "no religion, a figure eight times greater than the combined total who identify with non-Christian religions.

Non-religious groups have succeeded in gaining representation at local remembrance services in recent years, for example in Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham, Sheffield, and Richmond, but they remain excluded from the national commemoration.

As this year's event approaches, the Armed Forces Humanist Association and the BHA are appealing to supporters to write to their MP to ask them to lobby Hugh Robertson, the Secretary for Tourism and Sport with responsibility for the remembrance service, to make the 2012 commemoration an inclusive one. You can find links on how to do this on the For All Who Serve Campaign Website.

For some related reading, take a look at this moving piece from New Humanist by Chris Holden, a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy who describes his experience as an atheist attending religious commemorations for the fallen while serving in Afghanistan.
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