Funerals for the faithless

Charles Cowling

I don’t want to have a cheap pop at atheists. But I do like this – because it makes me chuckle. It’s the way it’s written.


So I just back from my great uncles funeral. I never knew him as a faithful or church going type of guy, but I never knew him as an out of the closet atheist either. I’m sure he was mostly indifferent. At his funeral the pastor declared that my uncle was a man of great faith and is enjoying a seat next to God … blah blah blah. Whatever, man.

While sitting at the funeral I started wondering how an atheist would go about having a non-religious funeral. Religious folk have given up a lot of things through history, but they’ve maintained their stranglehold on the death market. Who would officiate a non-religious funeral? What would they say? If you take out the religous BS out of a funeral you’re left with “Joe was a man, who had people who loved him. They are very sad. He is beyond caring. Sandwiches are downstairs.”

One thought on “Funerals for the faithless

  1. Charles Cowling
    Jonathan

    This description of a perfunctory atheist funeral by someone who still doesn't even know there is such a thing is disturbingly prophetic.

    It's when a 'non-religious' – or worse, 'Humanist' – funeral is no more than a gluten-free version of the supermarket shelf item that people are so unimpressed, and I don't blame them. We're here to revolutionize funerals altogether, but too often they are merely comparable alternatives with the bad taste taken out – less unpalatable, but no better for you.

    The usual request is; "I don't know what I want, I just know what I don't want." Well, you don't get what you want like that, and it's the celebrant's job to answer every question that begins; "what normally happens when…?" with; "what normally happens is you tell me what is actually going to happen – with help from me to find out what that is if you want it – and I help you to do it for yourselves, or stand in for you and do the bits you really really can't do." How often do you hear celebrants talking about 'the' music, 'the' poetry, 'the' committal, 'the' eulogy, etc, as if that was 'the' norm? Why not 'the' ride on 'the' elephant down 'the' high street to 'the' cafe terrace to watch 'the' floating of the body down 'the' river to 'the' crem? None of these ridiculous suggestions for a funeral is any less…(break for coffee and a fag)… oh, stop whingeing Jonathan, just get on with your job and do it spectacularly well with as much creative imagination as (there is no) God gave you – you don't revolutionize funerals by criticizing them.


    Charles Cowling

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