The National Secular Society has been accused of trying “to politicise Remembrance Sunday for their own ends”.
It wants the Church of England to be banned from its traditional role in the day, which commemorates members of the British armed forces killed in wars.
But the Church’s director of communications, Rev Arun Arora, said: “It is both misjudged and misguided for the National Secular Society to attempt to politicise Remembrance Sunday for their own ends.”
He added: “To see the National Secular Society – and its barely 10,000 members – hijack this time of solemn remembrance is rather sad.”
Christian traditions have been part of the annual ceremony of remembrance at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, since it was first introduced in 1921.
However Professor Norman Bonney, who is a director of the National Secular Society, has written an academic paper arguing that the Church of England can no longer be “fully inclusive” of the whole community.
He says the Cenotaph was designed to be a secular monument, a claim refuted by Peter Eagles who is Archdeacon to the Army.
Mr Eagles said: “The Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph has always contained prayers and readings from scripture, and the fact that it continues to be so central a part of our public life would suggest that it is meeting people’s pastoral needs”.
More than 10,000 people, including armed forces veterans and cadets, marched past Whitehall’s Cenotaph yesterday, followed by a short service led by the Bishop of London Richard Chartres.