Readers on the N24 forum often ask why non-believers go on about religion and can't just let believers get on with their believing in peace. Well, here's one reason why.
Religion and the religious have a habit of asserting rights in the public arena that are peculiar to their belief positions. We’re seeing it in the schools with the teaching of “alternatives” to established and proven science; in government with judges being appointed who are not ashamed to speak from their unique beliefs; religious organizations trying to ban artists from entering the country simply because their beliefs seem to be at odds; government policies being reinforced by references to the will of “God”, and worlds leaders making reference to “Doing God’s Work” as justification for consensus-lacking actions.
Perhaps the most disgusting intrusion by religious attitudes into public life of late has been the rejection of attempts by non-believers to commemorate the lives of atheists lost in World Wars 1 and 2, specifically British and Commonwealth soldiers who died fighting Germany and Japan. This is a part of history that everyone with a conscience realizes was devastating to the world, yet resulted in turning a tide of imperialism and fascism such as the world hasn’t seen since.
To quote from the British Humanist Association webpage:
“The family of the late Major Sidney Excell, a committed atheist best known as the man who arrested Head of the Gestapo Heinrich Himmler have today said that they are appalled at the government refusal to include a humanist at the wreath laying ceremony on Remembrance Day. In a statement put out by the family they commented ‘It is devastating to know that a man who played not a small role in history not be remembered by the country he so loved. It is disgusting that the Government has consistently denied requests for a humanist representative to be placed with religious representatives. We call for an end to this blatant discrimination - and that is what it is.
“‘It is denying all secular service men and women, past and present, a representative when if they had been religious they would have been allowed one. All who serve should be remembered: secular, undecided, unaffiliated or religious. This is not a request for anything more than we be included.’”
Those doddery old men that hobble to the Cenotaph and lay wreaths each 11th day of November were once athletic military men who risked their lives – and saw many destroyed – to prevent Nazism from getting hold of the Western world. Whether they were staunch believers or out-and-out atheists makes no difference at all to the significance and value of the sacrifices they made. That the religious feel that only believers deserve the opportunity and recognition of Remembrance Day is a disgrace on their humanity and yet another example of their arrogance and lack of connection with the real world.
You can read more about this disgraceful show of religious hubris at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/nov/07/remembrance-sunday-humanists-wreath and http://www.humanism.org.uk/news/view/1139.