“Let’s Dispense with Christian Funerals”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is pleased to announce it now offers resources on dogma-free funerals and memorial services at a new section on its Web site, "Secular Memorials and Funerals Without God."

"We receive frequent requests from Foundation members who wish to ensure that their own memorials or those for nonreligious friends and relatives stay secular and true to the wishes of the deceased," said Foundation Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. She added: "We often hear horror stories about what happens when religious relatives put on godly funerals for people who were 'devoutly unreligious.' "

It is time to dispense with carbon-copy, fill-in-the-blank services read by clergy who use the occasion to promote religion, instead of honoring the individual, urges the Foundation. Freethinkers can specify "no religion" in their wills and papers, and freethinking families can likewise make clear they want no religious observances at funerals, the gravesite or memorials.

The extensive references offer sample memorial services, music suggestions, ample religion-free poetry and readings, and even a suggested "freethought epitaph." A chapter, "Let's Dispense with Christian Funerals," from the book, Lead Us Not Into Penn Station, by the Foundation's principal founder, Anne Nicol Gaylor, is also featured. She protests "the clergy person's nonsense, the absolute gibberish he spouts for half an hour—an uncomforting, unconvincing string of platitudes and prayers that has nothing to do with the life of the person who has died.

"It is time, surely, to stash away the clergy. Services, with or without a corpse, can honor the person who has lived. Memorials can be planned with readings from favorite poets and writers, with music the person had enjoyed while living, with personal anecdotes told by friends—all of this could be so easily arranged.

"I am up to here with the clergy—their laziness and their trivial, dimestore, carbon copy funerals. A memorial service should celebrate life, not death. It is much too important a ceremony and it has too much potential for substance, beauty and joy to be left to the clergy," Gaylor writes.

"There are no orthodox rules or religious rites that must be followed. Isn’t that nice?" the Web site notes.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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