Humanists UK has been invited to participate in the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in Westminster for the first time, following many years of campaigning effort. Humanists UK and its armed forces section Defence Humanists will be represented at the ceremony by Chief Executive Andrew Copson. They have
welcomed the move towards a more inclusive approach, which recognises the contribution of non-religious personnel to the armed forces and the increasingly prominent place of humanism in British public life.
In keeping with its longstanding policy, Humanists UK will continue to urge that remembrance services across the UK should be secular and fully inclusive occasions, but have welcomed the opportunity to participate in the National Service of Remembrance as it is currently constructed, out of respect for those whose lives have been lost in war.
Announcing the news, the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government said, ‘A significant number of people serving in Britain’s military do not prescribe to a particular faith, but many of these will associate with humanist beliefs. It is important that in our quest to create a National Remembrance Service which is reflective of
modern Britain, that major belief systems are recognised as well as faiths, including the humanists.’
Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson, who will be the humanist participant in the ceremony, commented, ‘We welcome the Government’s decision to officially include a humanist representative in the national remembrance ceremony at the cenotaph and I am honoured to have been asked by Defence Humanists to represent
them there. Remembrance offers an opportunity to reflect on the lives lost in the tragedy of war and to honour those whose loss has safeguarded our own freedom. Increasing numbers of those who serve are humanists or otherwise non-religious, who take risks knowing that they have only one life to lose. I’ve met many such brave men and women in Defence Humanists and I will be thinking of them in particular.’