Why should the Church be allowed to hijack the Remembrance Service?

Amid the proud and moving display on Whitehall for Remembrance Sunday were the representatives of Britain's main religions. A man from the Orthodox Church stood beside a Buddhist and others, across from the royal family, the military and representatives of the main political parties.

It was perfectly right that they should be there. Many still associate strongly with their religion and most of those who died in the wars of the last century were no different.

This understated and multicultural role for religion in today's ceremony was fitting and proportionate. It was silent and kept in the background – there for you if you wanted it, ignorable if you did not.

It was a pity then, that it was followed by a short sermon and a recital of the Lord's Prayer.

The Church of England has no right to participate in such an authoritative manner over the ceremony. Its domineering role was a mark of disrespect for those who lost their lives in the wars but were not a member of the Church. 

What about the atheist servicemen who died, or the Muslims, or the Hindus?

One and a half million Indians served in World War One for Britain. Two and half million served in World War Two. Why should their memories be papered over because it is traditional to make it a Christian ceremony?

What about the millions of British Communists and Socialists who fought against the tyranny of the Kaiser and the Nazis, most of them presumably atheists? Why should their memories be painted over by the lazy rhetoric of the Church of England?

What place does one religion's voice have at a ceremony for so diverse a group of people?

And it is not just about those that died. There are millions watching, some who knew their grandfathers and grandmothers who died in the war, some who did not. Some just want to pay respect for the sacrifices previous generations have made to safeguard their freedoms. Why should a ceremony for them be hijacked by a religious sect?

The Church can't help itself. It has no sense of the ethical and practical limitations of its role. The political and media class has no bravery with which to challenge it.

The Church of England takes tragedy and it rushes to put its stamp on it, like the Socialist Workers party sticking its placards in the hands of protestors who have nothing to do with them.

It is a mark of disrespect for those that fought and died, who may wish to be remembered without the religious dogma of one particular Church dominating proceedings.

Remembrance Sunday is for everyone. The Church of England is no more entitled to a role than the Socialist Workers party is.