Another controversial post by Richard Rawlinson
When religion is broached here in relation to secular funerals, I observe a few commentators opining the fact religion in this context tends to be referring to Judeo-Christian monotheism rather than wider discussion of faiths from New Age sects to Buddhism and Hinduism. I’d also welcome informed bloggers across the spectrum, but today I’d like to revisit the Interfaith niche in the hope of soliciting your opinions about it.
For example, the OneSpirit Interfaith Foundation seems to be forging a niche for itself that sits firmly on the fence between civil and religious, claiming to design funeral ceremonies where everyone attending, regardless of faith or views, will feel included.
Acknowledging that a funeral today often includes people attending from different faiths or none, the foundation supplies male and female ministers who have followed a two-year training programme with the Interfaith Seminary. It claims this training allows for the recognition of ‘the inner spiritual truths of the individual [which are also] at the heart of the world’s great faith traditions’. It adds: ‘There are countless paths leading to the One God / Truth / Great Spirit / Source-of-All’.
This is clearly not just another Protestant sect as it’s aiming to be as inclusive of agnostics and non-Christians as it is those uncomfortable with the organised Church. In fact, the reference to One God / Truth / Great Spirit / Source-of-All above is the only one I could find on its website. What a considerate use of forward slashes, which could be joined by AA’s Higher Power and Wicca’s Mother Nature.
Of its ministry, it says: ‘We aim to be of service to people of all faiths or none’, citing as an example ‘those who are seeking spiritual connection and expression, yet feel uncomfortable with conventional religion’.
It continues: ‘We are not creating a new religion, but filling a growing spiritual gap in modern society. It’s not our aim to convert anyone away from their faith, but to support people who wish to enquire more deeply into their own spiritual tradition and their own soul’.
Whether agnostic or religious, might this approach be comforting to some in the context of funerals? Or does it leave a sickly taste?