Need to include non-religious in Remembrance Day

a talk given at the World Humanist conference

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Need to include non-religious in Remembrance Day

#1  Postby Aern Rakesh » Aug 17, 2011 9:29 am

Naomi Phillips, of the British Humanist Association, gave a talk at the World Humanist Conference in Oslo recently about the repeated exclusion of non-religious representatives at the Cenotaph during the Remembrance Day ceremonies in England. This is in sharp contrast to Scotland and Northern Ireland:

BHA website wrote:The Department for Culture, Media and Sport dismissed the BHA's request, citing "limited space at the Cenotaph" and a need to receive permission from the Royal Household as reasons to continue the exclusion of representatives of humanist servicemen and women. In its response, the government stated that it had invited "fourteen faith leaders" to participate, and was working closely with the 'Faiths Unit' at the Department for Communities and Local Government to ensure 'faith representation' at the ceremony.

By contrast, humanists in Scotland were issued with an invitation from the Royal British Legion Scotland to participate in the parade and lay a wreath on the stone of remembrance, humanists in Northern Ireland were given permission to join with other representatives in the service being held in Belfast, and in at least nine areas in England, local humanist groups will be participating in remembrance events.

The article also publishes figures from the latest Ministry of Defense survey of religion in the armed forces:

The Ministry of Defence has just published its most up-to-date figures on religion in the UK armed forces. ... ble213.php

The recorded figures show a steady increase of those with 'No Religion' at 17,980 or 9.5 per cent in 2007, to 27,770 or 12.6 per cent in 2010. Interestingly, this corresponds with a decrease in the number of Christians, from 89.7 of the total in 2007, to 85.8 per cent in 2010. The figures are also striking because they show how 'No Religion' is far and away the second largest category. The next nearest group is 'Other Religions' at just 870 people or 0.5 per cent. It's also worth making the point that, in reality, we can expect that many who are recorded as 'Christian' are in fact non-religious. The UK is one of the most secular countries in the world with extremely low church attendance: currently less than 6 per cent of the population attend a religious service with any regularity and that is a figure which has been decreasing year on year. However, even if people are not religious they may tick a Christian box on a form because they feel they have a cultural affiliation with it. The most recent British Social Attitudes survey, a well respected survey used by government, academics and others, found just over 50 per cent of the population said they did not belong to a religion; quite a difference to 12.6 per cent in the armed forces. It's highly unlikely that Christians so disproportionately enter the armed forces and so we can assume that, in reality, the number of non-religious people is far higher than the Ministry of Defence's figures would suggest.

The full article can be read here.
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Aern Rakesh
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