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BHA: Non-religious excluded from official Remembrance Day commemorations

‘For All Who Serve’, a new campaign launched today by the United Kingdom Armed Forces Humanist Association (UKAFHA) and supported by the British Humanist Association (BHA), is calling for the recognition of non-religious members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty in the national service of remembrance.

Despite the rising number of non-religious personnel serving in the armed forces, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which coordinates the arrangements for the remembrance ceremony at the Cenotaph, still refuses to allow humanist representatives to participate. The BHA and UKAFHA are encouraging their supporters to contact their MPs, in the hope the DCMS will change their policy which fails to represent the 26,000 serving members of the armed forces who describe themselves as having ‘no religion’. The non-religious are the second largest belief group in the Armed Forces after Christianity.  However, in spite of this rise in the number of non-religious personnel, and the fact that UKAFHA membership alone exceeds that of religious groups such as Sikhs or Jews, who do have representation at the Cenotaph, the DCMS still refuses to include humanist representatives.  The BHA and UKAFHA’s request for representation has been rejected twice.

Humanists have been successful in gaining representation at some local remembrance ceremonies and services across the UK.  Last year ceremonies in Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham, Sheffield, and Richmond included representatives from local humanist groups.  This year, the BHA and UKAFHA are again calling for the inclusion of representatives of the non-religious at Remembrance Day services across the country on Sunday 11 November.  We are encouraging our supporters to contact their MPs to ask them to clarify their position on this important issue, encourage them to support the campaign, and raise the issue with the responsible minister – the Rt Hon Hugh Robertson MP, Secretary for Tourism and Sport (with responsibility for Ceremonies).

Pavan Dhaliwal, BHA Head of Public Affairs, commented ‘It is unfair that the non-religious, who constitute the second largest belief group in the armed forces, have no representation at national remembrance events.  UKAFHA’s membership, which is an under-representation of its true potential, already outnumbers both Sikh and Jewish members of the armed forces, who do enjoy representation at the Cenotaph.  We are asking the government and the DCMS to end this discriminatory practice, and to treat non-religious armed forces personnel in a fair and equal manner.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at pavan@humanism.org.uk or on 0773 843 5059.

The website of For All Who Serve:
http://forallwhoserve.org.uk/

Contact your MP to support inclusive Remembrance services:
http://campaign.publicaffairsbriefing.co.uk/home.aspx?cid=52ee5f4e-852a-4f26-b52d-62e2a3257d07

More ways to support the campaign:
http://forallwhoserve.org.uk/get-involved/

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK.  It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state

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