There’s been a radical shift in society when it comes to funerals. The shift goes much deeper than cheaper, more economical funerals but includes an attitudinal change regarding how we choose to mourn the dead.
This process of mourning now has a decidedly secular cast.
It is now commonplace for people to be cremated instantly after death, and then to have a memorial or Celebration of Life ceremony “down the line.” This form of “mourning” generally occurs among secularists or non-religious people who have a tendency to believe that when you die, you die. There is no Heaven or Hell; there is only sublime forgetfulness and nothingness, an eternity of blackness and unawareness.
Prayers for the dead are useless among this group because they have no belief in a soul, making it much easier to dispose of the deceased as quickly as possible. This is done by scattering the ashes of the deceased around a neighborhood tree or keeping them on the mantle beside Fido, the family dog. As for the memorial service that is held weeks or months after a death, they almost always lack the pathos of a funeral service that is held immediately after a death.
These late memorials often have the feel of a Chamber of Commerce meeting, or they morph into beer/buffet bashes where the “mourners” tell jokes about the deceased while paying homage to Bacchus. Immortality, if it is mentioned at all during these non-religious gatherings, is only mentioned in the context of the deceased’s earthly life—“Her contributions to Democratic Socialism and Choice will live on forever!”—or, as in the case of the very wealthy, in the renaming of a building on a university campus.
It should be mentioned that in the Catholic world, the acceptance of cremation as an alternative to ground burial (for centuries the Catholic Church forbade cremation under pain of mortal sin) has caused a great deal of confusion among Catholics. The popular concept of cremation includes the freewheeling scattering of ashes afterwards, whether in a river, on a golf course, or in the ocean.
Many Catholics who have had their loved ones cremated are shocked to learn that the Church does not permit the scattering of ashes but mandates that human ashes be boxed and buried in the ground. This has caused the cancellation of many international Ash Disposal Trips, given the will of the deceased to dump his or her ashes off the shores of Tahiti or in the Danube outside Vienna.
The reverse is true among most religious believers. Within Christianity, a Divine Liturgy or Mass is celebrated and serious prayers are said, and continue to be said (for 40 days in the Orthodox Church) for the soul of the departed. Even after 40 days, prayers for the dead never stop in the Eastern Church but continue for decades.
The growth of the secular disposal of the dead can be traced to the influence or fallout from progressive political movements, given that “religion is the opiate of the people,” or given that religion is pure superstition based on the twisted dictates of “the Patriarchy.”
It should come as no surprise then that radical Democrats tend to suck up this philosophy as if through a straw. Most radical Democrats, in fact, are not affiliated with a church or synagogue and have a dim view of religion in general, although some Dems manage to squeak by as Unitarians or liberal Episcopalians
While other factors, namely the inflated cost of funerals, may have contributed to the popularity of the super secular funeral, this does not explain the atmosphere of spiritual sterility one can feel during these “Fido-the-dog systems” of body disposal.
Death is a twenty billion dollar industry, where the average funeral costs $9,000. The selling of caskets, for instance, has become as slick as car dealerships. Undertakers are often reluctant to show mourners simple wooden caskets, or inform them that it is not legally necessary to embalm a body. Undertakers are also reluctant to inform mourners that one can even transport a deceased family member or friend in their vehicle to the funeral home.
In Orthodox Christianity, priests and lay people have been known to buy wooden Orthodox caskets (engraved with three bar crosses) and use them as closet space or coffee tables until their death. There is also a thriving wooden casket industry among Catholics who purchase coffins from woodworking Trappist monks at New Melleroy Abbey. A widescale secular version of wooden coffins exists throughout much of Europe where wooden caskets are purchased and utilized as home accoutrements until they are needed.
There’s no question that the advent of Celebration of Life ceremonies has affected the religious observance of death. With no thought of the fate of the soul of the departed, and no concept of how prayer can actually aid in the transport of that soul into the afterlife, many of these secular ceremonies ultimately become parties for the living.
The (Left-leaning) Freedom from Religion Foundation has a lot to say when it comes to religious funerals.
While the Foundation might be correct when it states, “We often hear horror stories about what happens when religious relatives put on godly funerals for people who were ‘devoutly unreligious,’” what about religious people who die and whose family or relatives do not honor that but have them cremated with a secular memorial weeks or months afterwards?
A friend of mine, a devout Mormon, had always expressed to me and to other friends that he did not wish to be cremated when he died. He even mentioned this to family and had it stated in his will. Yet when he died his family did not follow those wishes but had him cremated because it was more convenient to do so, despite the fact that my friend had left an adequate amount of money set aside to pay for a ground burial.
When the Protestant sister of a good friend died—after years of making her evangelical faith known to everyone in the most stalwart way—she was cremated hours within her death, while her Celebration of Life ceremony occurred months later but without a single scripture reading or reference. Here was a woman who spent her entire life “in church” and yet her “celebration” might as well have been a service for an atheist.
The secular “no God” funeral is now pretty much the norm.
As the left progressive Guardian observed, “The point about funerals is that you are there to commemorate a life not indulge in metaphysical speculation. Life, not the afterlife!”
“Life, not the afterlife” sums up the “spiritual philosophy” of the left. If this life is all we have, then we had better hurry up and reform it to its highest potential and make it as “woke” as possible, since this is all there is.
In 2020, the Pew Research Center found that “Religiously unaffiliated people are more likely than those with a religion to lean Left.”
This poll also included that 76 per cent of Democrats believe in God, compared to 90 percent of Republicans. Not only that, but the Democrats have been on a downhill slide when it comes to any mention of God or God-related topics like abortion. As far back as 2012, the Democrats removed “God” from the party platform, and in 2016 when a pastor dared to mention “God” during the convention, he got heckled.
“The secular age is snowballing in America, as in other Western democracies. Year after year, reports show church membership and attendance slipping away,” The Freedom From Religion Foundation proclaimed (with glee) in 2018. The Foundation also proclaims, “Let’s dispense with Christian funerals” and (free up) resources on ‘dogma free funerals.’”
A 2019 Washington Post story, “The Funeral as we know it is becoming a relic,” cited that today at least one half of American deaths result in cremation as compared to 28% in 2002. The article went on to say that as a result, funeral homes have adopted to the shift, adding dance floors, lounge areas and even bars, while the business of cremation has led to ashes being transformed into diamonds, jewelry and even tattoos.
This, of course, is an entirely pagan practice but it blends hand-in-hand with the new Green Left Religion, which has options for turning human remains into what is called “legalized human composting.”
In Washington State, for instance—rated by “The Hill” as the most Democrat state in the nation, and by Zippia as the second most “woke” state in the U.S. where in 2020 6.4% of the population participated in Black Lives Matter protests and riots–—human composting became legal in 2021. Human composting, or the natural organic reduction (NOR) of human corpses, made headlines when The Seattle Times reported that,
“… The entrance to Recompose looks like most of its neighbors — just another unit in a tall, almost block-sized building with plain metal siding and big, roll-up warehouse doors. But inside, it feels like an environmentalist’s version of a sleek, futuristic spaceship: spare, calm, utilitarian, with silvery ductwork above, a few soil-working tools (shovels, rakes, pitchforks) on racks, bags of tightly packaged straw neatly stacked on shelves, fern-green walls, potted plants of various sizes….”
Here we have the woke version of Heaven, complete with wood chips, alfalfa, and straw that turns bodies into cubic yards of topsoil in a month’s time.
It’s like illegal immigration where thousands of migrants are permitted to stream across the southern border because they are the perfect human compost for votes down the line.
Thank God my mother had a Christian service. It had probably been sixty years since my older brothers had heard a Biblical message on hell.
New Irene says
It is a DISGRACE.
I have informed my family that when I pass I want a funeral where the gospel of Jesus Christ is presented; clearly and concisely. That we are justified simply and only by faith in Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection/payment for our debt of sin and righteousness accorded to me only because of my faith in Him and nothing that I do here on earth. I have peace with God because of Christs righteousness given to me through grace (undeserved favor).
Some of the religions offered as examples in the article where prayer is offered for the deceased are interesting, but where in the Word of God does it say that post death prayers can alter anyone’s standing in front of God for judgement? It’s too late at that point. A person has all of his or her life to decide what they will do with Jesus, either accept him and the payment of your sins and be offered righteousness, or reject him and be damned to hell for eternity. My parents are in heaven because of their faith in Christ. No matter how much I pray, or anyone else prays, will change anything once a person has passed.
Tom Servo says
I agree with you. My father died recently, a strong Christian, and we had a funeral for him much like the one you described. At his own request his body was cremated and the ashes interred in a memorial park – the reason was because in the past, he was tasked with organizing his own mothers funeral, and he ended up being unfairly vilified and financially abused by the process. Ever since that happened he had sworn to never give one more penny to the funeral industry, and we not only respected his wishes, we agreed.
New Irene says
CORRECT! You know, if people actually read and studied the Bible, went to churches that teach the gospel, they would be much more fearful of what is coming to them after they die. Instead, it’s eat, drink and be merry without any realization they are destined for hell. My own conversion at 37 was a miracle. I love going to church and hearing God’s Holy Word and studying the Bible. And I know I will be in heaven after I die.
Kynarion Hellenis says
Great article. Thank you.
Many atheists reveal their disquiet by hating all things religious, when true conviction that “above us is only sky” should bring a quiet, settled kind of stoicism without emotion.
The funeral rite perhaps brings this issue to the fore most powerfully.
THX 1138 says
Isn’t that the same emotionalist reaction so many religious conservatives display?
I have yet to walk a city street with any atheists gathered on the corner trying to convert Christians. But almost every weekend I run into Christians with a loudspeaker, screaming in thunderous tones about Original Sin, Man’s Innate Depravity, and Heaven and Hell, trying to convert the heathens.
And once again back to making ridiculous posts where you try to tie together completely unrelated and irrelevant ideas.
ROY TREPANIER says
No, Christians have something to offer, Eternal Life. As a matter of fact, it is so awesome they want to share the ‘Good News’ with everyone because they love people and care about their eternal welfare.
Atheists have nothing to offer but becoming compost. They are selfish, arrogant, uncaring and dull. End of story.
My beautiful 55 yr old Niece died three weeks ago from a very aggressive recurrence of cancer. She was a Christian and she and her loving Husband attended Church and are two of the best people I’ve ever known. She didn’t want to be buried or have an expensive funeral so her money could help her son and his family purchase a much needed home. We had a Memorial Service for her that was filled with tears, laughter, gratitude, and Love. I’ve given instructions that I be cremated and my ashes spread in places that mean a lot to me and once there I’ll always be part of them! Since I retired I’ve taken upon myself to mow grass and weedeat at nearly ten graves of Family and Friends. Most of the other graves are neglected and rarely visited. I often wonder if their loved ones are still living or just don’t care. I don’t want my family to ever feel bad about not visiting my grave. I’ll be around in a LOT of places that mean so much to me. And as far as “church” funerals, I’ve been to many that if you didn’t know WHO was the “guest of honor” you WOULDN’T know! I’ve also been to CHURCH funerals where there was the Word Of God and the Love and Laughter for the departed. I’ve also seen the abuses of Funeral Homes that fleece grieving families! Even though the first three letters of FUNeral are FUN, they are NOT!
From the article: “It should be mentioned that in the Catholic world, the acceptance of cremation as an alternative to ground burial (for centuries the Catholic Church forbade cremation under pain of mortal sin)… ”
There were reasons for both. Originally Christians followed Judaic practice, no one thought of cremation. Then around the time of the French Revolution people started opting for cremation as an explicit anti-Christian statement. That’s why the Church forbade it (though still allowed it during epidemics). Later, after cremation was more mainstream, the Church decided to allow it provided it was not done for the anti-Christian motive.
From the article: “Many Catholics who have had their loved ones cremated are shocked to learn that the Church does not permit the scattering of ashes but mandates that human ashes be boxed and buried in the ground. This has caused the cancellation of many international Ash Disposal Trips, given the will of the deceased to dump his or her ashes off the shores of Tahiti or in the Danube outside Vienna.”
One thing that is really prohibited is the splitting of ashes for two or more locations. But, the Church has allowed physical relics of saints to be split among two or more locations (some theologians have noted the inconsistency and have argued for the ending of the relic practice).
THX 1138 says
There is no law in America, for now at least, a republic of liberty if you can keep it, that mandates cremation. Everyone in America is free today to grieve and mourn as they see fit. It’s called freedom from the coercion of others — political freedom — liberty.
“Of all the tyrannies that effect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst; every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in; but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity.” -Thomas Paine
Michael Keehn says
I find this to be very snobbish. Yes there is a trend moving away from the solemn Christian burial. Mostly due to two reasons, cost and schedule. Simply put we are a far more mobile people than we were even 30 years ago with it being commonplace for families that grew up side by side to be scattered to the four winds. Let’s talk about a traditional funeral it’s usually scheduled inside of two weeks usually at one of the deceased death. I’ll take your $9000 number now let’s add some people who have to book a flight inside of a week to get to the funeral. How about $300-800 apiece for a modest distance on short notice, that gets to be $500 to over $1000 for longer distances to more remote airports. What of time off work for the trip? What of personal schedules? Drop everything is not always an option anymore.
Cremating and holding the equivalent of a family reunion in a month or so allows families not made out of money scattered to the winds by economic reality of modern America, and gripped by schedule demands of the same, to grieve together your pompousness.
Funerals are for the living and merely aid in closure for family. Friends may attend as comfort to aid in this closure as well. For many, funeral costs can weigh in the decision whether to cremate or coffin/burial vault their loved ones. Simple funeral costs can exceed $10-12k, where cremations in my area start at less than $1,000. In this day and age, economics can hold powerful sway in burial decisions…Christian or secular.
I’m Christian, and Ecclesiastes 3:20 says, “All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” By choosing to get cremated, I’m merely making my one-use dust generated vessel into dust again!
My dad was cremated against his wishes and his ashes set on my mother’s mantle in a fancy jar, oops … I mean urn and my half-sister [not his biological daughter] wore some of his ashes around her neck. She professed to hate my dad, so why she did this is a mystery to me.
My mother’s little vial of ashes hung on her rear view mirror. This left me with no place to go to visit my dad’s grave because my half-sister, after my mother died did something to his ashes as well as my mother’s – I think they threw them around their home. I never knew because once they went against my dad’s wishes that it was it for me – I have not seen them since.
This experience has taught me a lesson – I will never deprive my child of visting where I am buried – I will not be cremated nor will my husband as he had a similar experience with his family after his mother died. She at least had a Christian service at her death unlike my parents who had no religious service.
Dan Christ says
It was the pagans who burned the dead. I’ve clearly told family and my that there is. Supposed to be a Christian worship, including holy communion, after my body has been embalmed and and viewed.
The devil and his human allies on the left. Continue to destroy faith in God
Biden and his malicious fiends are purposely destroying the country. Most of them babble when they speak; Nimrods that they are.
“Let’s Go” Biden must be getting placebo shots. Won’t he ever die? I sure know what I’d like to do with his ashes.
Excuse me, I’m still trying to repent from my bitterness for this corrupt regime. Election “justice” WILL happen at the polls. My Hispanic movers were complaining about the Democrats today. They were nicer than most people that I know, and did an excellent job!
Dan Christ says
I have expiucitly stated mIne is to be a service of Holy Communion with my embalmed body in acasket,after viewing. I’ve put I in writing as well and hope the wife and family follow through.
Satan and his human allies on the Marxist left. Have Been trying to abolish faith. May God turn their hearts to repent.
My Dad wisely planned ahead for his funeral and bought an insurance policy that covered everything. He even put together most of his own obituary that included the relatives to be listed in the local paper. We had a Christian service at his gravesite, which I officiated myself. His death occurred during the first quarter of 2020, and Covid-19 fears and new State regulations kept all of the relatives away. It would have been a wonderful funeral, but only three people attended (including myself). There were a few more relatives and friends at his gravesite.
The kicker was that I didn’t know I could have received a larger refund from his insurance policy through the funeral home. I picked out all of the specifics: funeral cards with a scripture on the reverse; a plaque with his name written in calligraphy and his picture, among some other particulars.
I was going to proceed with a memorial gathering for family members and friends for sometime in the future, but it really didn’t work out. I’m still standing after mourning, a bad relationship, a falling out with some family, being robbed, having my purse stolen, losing my beloved pet, moving. I think I’ve said enough. 😉 It’s all over with now. Sigh
One can only hope that only the bad stuff — and there was altogether too much of it — is all over now, and the best part of your life is about to begin. May G0d bless you with joy for the rest of your life in this world and forever in the next.
Thank you kindly Light Bringer. May the Lord bless you as well
Tex the Mockingbird says
Lets Cremate all Liberal Democrats pour all their ashes into one urn then bury it in the Dump
Why bury them? Just scatter their ashes over a cesspool
There is so much obscenely wrong with the attitudes and practices that the author describes that I cannot even begin to wrap my head around it, except to express one important thought: That the human body is the repository for an immortal soul during that soul’s sojourn in this world, and so must be treated with respect even after the soul has moved on. To burn it or compost it, to discard it without comforting the recently-departed soul with the constant reassurance of G0d’s love and its family’s care, to not pray for it and give charity on its behalf, often for several generations after it has left this world, is the nadir of disrespect.
Their indecent and sacrilegious treatment of departed souls brings to mind the Classic Movie, “Soylent Green,” starring Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson.
Know these times and do whats good. Never falter in the face of evil that is trying to destroy what God made that is Good.
It is not just a fact that Christ rose from the dead, but that He was raised from the dead by the Father. This demonstrates that the Father was satisfied with the sacrifice of His Son as the only basis for justification. The fact that the Father brought Jesus out of the grave was the receipt that was filled for the payment that was made on the cross. Jesus died on the cross for our sin and when he came out of the grave the Father in heaven said, “Paid in full.” Romans 8. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
It is not unrelated that I have been to two weddings recently where god was never mentioned, tradition, family, was never mentioned either. Both had “ vows” consisting of a list things they like to do together “ eat Oreos and play games.” Both were Officiated by lawyer friends. The Brides wore white and a reception followed with food and music – quite upscale,, but no religion. Both couples stated that they plan to be childless. It’s all their choice, of course, but I found the two strangely similar (and so I imagine this is a trend). And really depressing.