'Respect our Armed Forces' call Chris Burkett

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The Revd Canon Dr Christopher BurkettThe Revd Canon Dr Christopher Burkett has urged people to "hug a squaddie" as a sign of respect for "those who put themselves in harm's way for our sakes". Our Director of Ministry called for an end to discrimination against those who wear military uniforms in our country - following several incidents widely reported recently.

Dr Burkett, preaching at the Cheshire Royal British Legion county service on Sunday (8 July 2012) at Chester Cathedral, said: “It cannot be right that those who serve in our armed forces find themselves discriminated against on the basis of the uniform they wear. Refused entry solely for the reason you’re in military uniform – this cannot be right.”

In his sermon he told how he’s read news stories that showed “a judgement that harms and hurts” on the part of some people. He listed some of the recent examples of discrimination showed against service personnel in Britain …

“Pub refuses to serve soldiers at a military funeral … an Army officer being refused entry to a department store … RAF personnel being told not to wear uniform off a particular base because of incidents of verbal abuse … off-duty soldiers refused entry to clubs solely on the basis that a military ID had been glimpsed in their wallets … the recovering wounded abused when using a public swimming pool as part of rehabilitation.”

Dr Burkett (pictured) – borrowing a metaphor often ascribed to the Prime Minister in connection with hoodies – said: “The time has come to ‘hug a squaddie’ not despise a squaddie … ‘hug a squaddie’ because they have to contend with things that we too easily ignore … because we should not tolerate behaviour that allows injustice, prejudice and partiality to mar the lives of anyone.”

The 59-year-old priest  told the congregation that his own grandfather served in the trenches at Ypres in the 1914-18 War. He used scripture to support his remarks: Deuteronomy 10.17 – 11.2; and James 3.13 – 18.