Humanists UK invited for the first time to participate in Remembrance service at the Cenotaph

17 October, 2018

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 today 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.

For many years Humanists UK and Defence Humanists ran the campaign ‘For All Who Serve’, to urge that the national Remembrance service be made inclusive of the non-religious, and not just the religious. The Defence Humanist Network is officially recognised within the Ministry of Defence and has been organising its own Remembrance service in London for several years now with Ministry of Defence backing and Defence Humanists has more members than several of the major world religions have personnel in the armed forces.

Humanist representatives have participated in the National Remembrance Service of Northern Ireland since 2010 and have similarly long been represented alongside religious groups at the Scottish National Remembrance Service in Edinburgh; in 2017 giving a reflection alongside the Church of Scotland and an Islamic representative. Last month it was announced that Wales Humanists will this year also participate for the first time in the Welsh national service.

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.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on or 020 3675 0959.

Read more about Humanists UK’s campaign work on Remembrance:

Visit the For All Who Serve campaign’s website:

Read more about Defence Humanists:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.