Doc wrote:A Christian town councillor from Bideford in Devon has complained to the local paper that two other councillors didn’t attend the Remembrance church service on Sunday - although they did attend the ceremony at the War Memorial. These two councillors are non-believers, but, apparently, not going to a church service shows a lack of respect and is a bad example for children.
Local Humanists are, of course, responding to this & expect the letters pages of the local paper to rapidly fill with comments. This may also become a bigger story...
...& here's a couple of comments published in the North Devon newspaper, one from the Councillor criticised and one from Devon Humanists:
Status of church services questionable
Thursday, November 19, 2009, 07:00
BY criticising Councillor Peter Christie and myself for not attending a religious service at St Mary's Church after the Armistice parade was over, Councillor Tony Inch has raised questions about the status of such services ( Journal Nov 12). For any council to deem certain services of a particular religion as "civic" is in my opinion probably unlawful indirect discrimination due to the exclusive nature of such services.
In this instance it also led to public criticism of those that did not "set aside" their beliefs to attend as Councillor Inch says he expects.
It also damages our democracy if people think that as a councillor they must participate in acts of worship or be criticised if they do not. Some weeks ago a person I met expressed an interest in standing at the next elections but immediately said no on hearing of prayers at council meetings.
Now that Councillor Inch has brought matters to a head the solution must lie in ceasing to deem certain church services as "civic". The Mayor and councillors would then no longer be expected to attend such services in civic regalia, if at all, but they are free to go as private individuals if they so wish. This reform would not of course affect the Remembrance parade which is both inclusive and public.
Council membership must never be thought to be just for particular types of people. Practices that sustain such a belief are in my opinion morally wrong.
COUNCILLOR CLIVE BONE,
I THINK it is very cheap for Bideford Town Councillor Tony Inch to criticise councillors Clive Bone and Peter Christie for not attending the church service after the Remembrance Sunday parade even though they attended the parade itself and the two minutes' silence.
Religion and ceremony are closely woven and events like the Remembrance Sunday Service have previously brought people together but nowadays very few people go to church and many of them do not want to be made to go to church as the only way to show their respect and thanks to those who fight and have fought for our country.
Religion no longer has a monopoly for wedding and funeral ceremonies and it should not have a monopoly for ceremonies that honour our Armed Forces. Ceremonies should be about people taking part willingly and it is absurd to suggest that we should 'do it for the children' because in my experience most children will see through the hypocrisy of that straight away.
Councillor Christie is clearly sensitive to the need for the Mayor to represent everyone but going to church nowadays only represents the wishes of a small minority. There is great support in Devon for our Armed Forces and it comes from people of many faiths and none, who all have a right to show that support in their own ways. They should not be forced into church.
Religious intolerance is one of the main reasons that our forces are fighting abroad and it is disappointing to find a petty example of it here in North Devon.
North Devon Humanists,