It has not been a good year for me so far and I have been to too many funerals. The expectations and acceptance of some people with regard to religious content have surprised me.
At a secular funeral for a secular person, there were those who were outraged that there was to be no religious content, for their comfort.
Yet the same outraged voices later said they don’t believe in a God but they draw comfort from the familiar forms: words, music, surroundings.
Yet others who had resisted pressures for religious content for the secular person’s funeral and have no religious belief found comfort in those same forms at another person’ funeral, while professing no religious belief themselves.
I have been quite irked by clergy conducting funerals using a form of words that infers “you are sitting in front of me now so you are mine” in the way they talk about “we Christians”. Sorry? When did I say that I was one, and how many others in the room would put their hand up to those beliefs either?
I was told by the organisers of the church funeral that where they were offered choices, they always chose the least religious option. I shudder to think what more they could have done to put religion in it.
Do clergy ever discuss with families how to make services inclusive of those who do not wish to be bracketed with the religious, yet want to be part of an important family occasion?
I certainly found myself quite alienated by the religious language and assumptions, whether implicit or explicit. I resented even more the cleric who stalked me over two days, despite my obviously trying to avoid him, to offer me “comfort” and scuttled away before I could tell him where to stick his blessing. I am sure he meant well but to me it was unwelcome and impertinent.
By what right do they do that? Would a Satanist get away with it?
Does this mean that published religious head-counts get significantly over-stated?
Do others find comfort in form, without caring for the substance?