A PEACE charity has called for Christians to wear a white poppy this Remembrance season, saying that they are the “Christian thing to wear . . . with or without a red poppy alongside”.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), an ecumenical charity, said that white poppies more truly represented a commitment to peace and a rejection of all attempts to “glamorise” war than the traditional red poppy.
White poppies were first produced in 1933 by the Co-operative Women’s Guild as part of a campaign against war.
The FOR said that it was concerned about a shift in the emphasis of Remembrance in recent decades from a “Never again” message to a message of “Support our troops”.
Emma Anthony, from the FOR, said: “The focus of public Remembrance has changed. Now, we hear calls to support our armed forces — past, present, and future. The tone has become ‘They need our help’ rather than ‘We must end war so they won’t need our help.’
“We think that everyone — military or civilian — who has been harmed by war must receive all the support they need; and all those killed should be remembered. But Remembrance mustn’t be a tool for military recruitment.”
The white poppies, now produced by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), will also be on offer in some schools for the first time this year.
Colonel Richard Kemp, who led British forces in Afghanistan, condemned the plan as part of a “left-wing political agenda”. He told The Sunday Telegraph: “If teachers are getting involved in school time, or using their professional position, paid for by our taxes, to indoctrinate children in this movement, that is wrong.”
But the PPU said that having the white poppy alongside the red poppy was an opportunity for children to consider a range of views. “Learning about white poppies, and the history and values behind them, is no more indoctrination than learning about red poppies,” Ms Anthony said.
“In contrast, saying children must only be exposed to one viewpoint or idea is indoctrination, and we’re against it.”