Secularists: Forget the Church on Remembrance Day

Secularists are again calling for the Church to be sidelined from Remembrance Day ceremonies.

The National Secular Society (NSS) has written to the Government complaining that the religious element in remembrance ceremonies is not “inclusive” to all people.

Writing for the Guardian Online last week, broadcaster Dan Snow backed the NSS arguing that there is a “danger” in allowing the Church to “dominate” the Ceremony of Remembrance.

Thousands remember

He said that by “refusing to admit a secular presence at the ceremony, the ceremony will be diminished or even ignored by modern Britons”.

Despite Mr Snow’s concerns, thousands of people lined Whitehall on Sunday, alongside armed forces veterans and cadets.

The calls echo those made last year, which were criticised by the Church of England’s Director of Communications Revd Arun Arora.


Last year, Revd Arora claimed that the NSS were attempting to, “politicise Remembrance Sunday for their own ends”. He said that their actions were both “misjudged and misguided”.

“To see the National Secular Society – and its barely 10,000 members – hijack this time of solemn remembrance is rather sad.”

Peter Eagles, the Archdeacon for the Army, argues that Christianity has always had a prominent role at the Cenotaph.

Fully inclusive

He 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”.

The NSS has previously made clear its desire for the Church of England to be removed from its traditional role in the Remembrance Ceremony.

A paper by Professor Norman Bonney, a member of the NSS, argues that the Church of England can no longer be “fully inclusive” and that the Cenotaph is a secular monument.

Christian traditions have been part of the annual Ceremony of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, since 1921.

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