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Two beams of light represent the former Twin Towers of the World Trade Center during a memorial of the September 11, 2001 attacks./Wikipedia photo by Derek Jensen

Ask An Atheist: Why aren’t Atheists included in significant memorial services?

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By Jim Downard 

Why aren’t Atheists included in significant memorial services like 9/11 memorials or veterans day?

SPO_House-ad_Ask-an-atheist_0425133I was struck by the image of the latest 9/11 ceremony at the World Trade Center Memorial this last Sept. 11, where there were assembled a long line of representatives of all manner of religious denominations, directly introduced as being of so many faiths.  Well, I imagine there were many atheists and agnostics who perished that day, but no one there to represent them.

There are certainly nonbelieving veterans (I know quite a few personally) so an inclusive commemoration of that too should reach out to secular groups in their area.

The simplest answer as to why this hasn’t happened before is that the groups who organize these events are most likely only to think of others within their own frame.  They conceptualize such solemn occasions in their religious context, and it may literally not occur to them that the “not in that category” are real human beings with as much serious regard for this as they.

About Jim Downard

Jim Downard is a Spokane native (with a sojourn in Southern California back in the early 1960s) who was raised in a secular family, so says had no personal faith to lose.

He's always been a history and science buff (getting a bachelor's in the former area at what was then Eastern Washington University in the early 1970s).

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