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Religion at Remembrance observances

05 December 2014


From Dr Tim Hudson

Sir, - Jake Berry MP says that his Private Member's Bill to "enshrine in law the right for local councils to start meetings with prayers" is not attempting to impose either the Church of England or any particular faith (News, 28 November).

What the Bill is clearly intended to allow, however, is the imposing of the worship of God ("whose service", as we know from the Prayer Book, "is perfect freedom") on councillors who actively don't want it. Is that truly a generous, or a Christian, initiative?

Mr Berry also fears that under present arrangements councils might be required to cease their involvement in Remembrance Sundays. But even people of faith must feel a little uneasy about the way religion dominates in our annual acts of Remembrance - especially when you consider how keenly many clergy, including bishops, endorsed the slaughter of the First World War.

It is worth recalling that both the London Cenotaph and the cemeteries of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission were explicitly designed as secular memorials, so as to reflect the grief of all the bereaved, whether religious or not.

Public acts of Remembrance should surely be neutral space, outside and separate from acts of worship, for the very same reason.

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