Here are 10 reasons why atheists and agnostics have religious funerals:
1. The family made the decision.
Most people don’t plan their own funerals. Families are likely to choose a religious funeral as will be suggested by the funeral director, who they don’t want to contradict. Plan your own funeral so the decisions are yours and not your family’s.
2. It is the ‘right thing to do’.
Strange how people want to ‘do the right thing’. But no, it’s wrong…it’s hypocritical…it’s nonsense. The ‘right thing’ is to be honest. If you are atheist or agnostic, or believe religion an obsolete and negative force in society, a religious funeral is not the right thing to do.
3. If there is a heaven, you want to go there.
Religion as an insurance policy, hey. By having the vicar, priest, or other religious officiant saying the right thing, you will go to heaven. I don’t think so, and if it’s as easy as that it makes a mockery of the whole thing.
4. It’s what the funeral director recommends.
Nearly all funeral director’s staff are well trained, professional and compassionate. If they assume the family wish for a religious funeral for the departed loved one, the family goes along with it. So, plan your funeral otherwise it is planned for you.
5. Older members of the family are religious and you don’t want to upset them.
It’s your funeral, not theirs!
6. The hymns are nice and it is good that everyone says goodbye singing rousing hymns.
A very good reason to have a religious funeral…unless you don’t want one.
7. Previous generations are buried in the church graveyard and there’s space for one more.
Fine if you want to go along with the family tradition, but not if you don’t.
8. It’s cheaper than hiring a humanist officiant.
A church funeral is fairly inexpensive while humanist officiants charge more to take the ceremony. But you get what you pay for…my experience is that the vicar will read out biographical facts supplied by the family members following a short visit, while the humanist officiant will take more time and trouble to understand the nuances of the life that is being remembered.
9. If the vicar/priest is in charge there’s less likely to be a family argument and nobody will stand up and say what an evil bastard he was.
If the family is worried that your funeral could end up in a family argument, it is less likely to happen in church…so it will all kick off at the reception.
10. These days most Christian ‘religious’ funerals aren’t that religious – you can have secular music, secular readings and family members and friends can deliver the tribute.
The modern British funeral became ‘mainstream’ with Princess Diana’s half religious, half showbiz send off. Now most churches will agree to mix and match religious and secular. This is a good solution if you want to please most of the people most of the time.
You have a choice: boring, dull, sad, dreary, hypocritical religious funeral, over in less than an hour to make way for the next family. Or, a unique event that marks your life, values and beliefs, a ceremony where people remember you and smile, listen to some great music, share honest memories, eat and drink well, and think: that was a great way to say goodbye.