In the dog collar house
It was a pleasure to note that humanists have been allowed to participate in remembrance events this year. The message seems to be getting through to the powers that be that not all who fought and died ‘for democracy,’ e.g. in two world wars were white and Christian. So far as the UK was concerned in its colonial days, I suspect being white was an essential part of the definition of being Christian and vice versa. I suppose some of the current upturning of old conceptions drives the likes of Trump and Farage and countless Tory backbenchers into all sorts of frenzy. But my own little thought, based on experience suggests that ‘onward Christian soldiers,’ never held much water in modern history. When I signed on to join the RAF in 1971, I was asked to swear my oath (i.e. to die for the Queen) on the Bible. I said I didn’t believe in the Bible or God. The recruiting sergeant said that didn’t really matter, I could take the oath on a bottle of beer if that meant as much to me. Given this equivalence, I recognised that in the absence of a bottle of beer, a Bible would do. Later, in basic training, I was asked, for the purpose of allocating recruits to church services, which faith I belonged to. Since there were no church services for atheists, I was allocated to the Methodists, merely I imagine because Methodists were few and far between and nobody knew what a Methodist was anyway. The moral of this story is that the number of ‘Christian’ soldiers was artificially inflated, much to the satisfaction of the officer corps of padres. And I could never quite get my head round the sight of a military uniform bedecked with a dog collar.
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