Choirs, candles, palls, and bells? "Anthem for Doomed Youth" is chock full of religious imagery, but it lacks the peaceful, contemplative feel you might expect. Instead, our speaker is bent on comparing religious rituals to the weapons of war, which is an alarming, but effective way of getting us to face facts: are the religious rituals and institutions that glorify and promote war just as destructive as the instruments used to carry out war? And will the religious rituals we participate in to mourn our lost loved ones really be enough to honor them after they have died as cattle?
"Anthem for Doomed Youth" is a religious critique, through and through. The speaker is arguing that our religious rituals are nothing but a hollow attempt to justify pointless deaths.
Not so fast. The speaker is critiquing religion, sure, but only because it's public. Private prayers and sincere mourning behind closed doors are a legitimate way to mark the passing of loved ones lost on the front.