Tag Archives: crematorium

A Christian Country?

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CAHAL MILMO Monday 21 April 2014 – the Independent

For 50 years a council-run crematorium in Bath displayed a 4ft cross etched into one of its panoramic windows. Recently it was replaced with a “removable cross” to be displayed or concealed according to the departed’s wishes.

 

The new cross, printed on an acrylic sheet, was not part of the original plans for the £140,000 refurbishment of Haycombe Chapel (which despite its name is not a consecrated space). Instead it was a compromise after a petition objecting to the removal of the cross gathered 4,000 signatures.

The battle of Haycombe Chapel’s cross encapsulates Britain’s increasingly fractious relationship with its Christian heritage and the tension between those who seek a proudly areligious society and those, including the Prime Minister, who believe we should be more outspoken about our foundation faith.

On Monday, David Cameron found himself under attack from a coalition of 55 leading liberal voices, including author Philip Pullman and philosopher AC Grayling, for fostering “alienation” across the UK by insisting that Britons should be “more confident about our status as a Christian country”.

Behind the row lie wider questions about just how Christian Britain is in 2014.

The statistics are both for and against Mr Cameron and his detractors. When the 2011 census was taken, 59 per cent of those in England and Wales described themselves as Christian. But the 2001 census found 72 per cent were nominally Christian.

The net loss of 4.1 million Christians would have been significantly worse had it not been for an influx of 1.2 million foreign-born believers – many from more strongly religious countries such as Poland and Nigeria – coming to Britain.

Research by the House of Commons Library in 2012 found that the number of non-believers – the nation’s atheists and agnostics are growing by nearly 750,000 a year – will overtake Christians by 2030.

The result, according to those who believe religion should be expunged from politics, is a disproportionate influence for the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, which critics say are out of step with those to whom they preach.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “If you put forward the idea that this is a Christian country with the implicit idea that Christians are somehow superior to other citizens then its leads down a dangerous path of prioritising one group’s belief ahead of others.

“Church of England attendance now stands at around 800,000 on a typical Sunday. It becomes increasingly difficult, therefore, to justify its privileged position, particularly when it espouses views on subjects such as gay marriage, which the rest of society has long since left behind.”

One senior cleric rejected the criticism, accusing Mr Cameron’s critics of propagating an “intolerant secularism” that ignores a country imbued with Christian culture, history and values.

The Right Reverend Mark Davies, the Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury, who has said that Christians might soon become “strangers in our own land”, told The Independent: “Christianity is the single most important element in England’s history. From our legal system to our constitution, it is at the very foundations of national identity.

“There is a danger of airbrushing this from our memory and the intolerant secularism that we are seeing expressed does not allow for acknowledgement of that contribution and its importance to our present life.”

Perhaps optimistically, some church leaders have insisted that while the “soft faith” of values and upbringing that once meant many Britons would declare themselves “Christian” without ever crossing the threshold of a church has fallen away, those who now volunteer their faith represent a core of wholehearted belief.

As the Roman Catholic Bishop’ Conference of England and Wales put it: “Christianity is no longer a religion of culture but a religion of decision and commitment.”

Rather like Haycombe Chapel and its movable cross, the reality of Christian Britain is probably more complex, with Britons increasingly adopting a “pick and mix” approach to faith.

Meanwhile, both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope have recently made conciliatory statements on homosexuality.

Nevertheless, the ability of religion to enflame debate is undimmed. As Billy Connolly once put it: “It seems to me that Islam and Christianity and Judaism all have the same God, and he’s telling them all different things.”

 

COMMENT:

The UK Census results are somewhat misleading as the census form ask what religion do you belong to.
Many who put down “Christian” do so to distinguish between Muslim or Buddhism etc.
If a qualifying question asked…….”Are you a religious person (I.e you pray and you go church/mosques/temples on a regular basis) then many would say “No”……..and this would skip the question regarding which religion they belong to.
So 59% who put down Christian is a gross over estimation of those who truly were religious let alone “Christian”.
If the 59% were truly accurate then that would mean that every other person you meet should be a Bible reading, church going worshiper….. but that clearly is not the case, in truth “Christians” probably struggle to reach 1/6 of the populace…….So no Mr.Cameron……we are NOT a Christian nation……and that is no bad thing…..religion has for too long had a hold on not just this country but all counties in the world.

 

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April 23, 2014 · 11:51

Crematorium

A good few years ago now, there was talk of amalgamation of some some of the congregations in the town in which I ministered.  A pipe dream – but a new larger building was mooted to replace two or three other places of worship.

One rumour was that one of the kirk buildings could be turned into a crematorium.

An old and faithful member came up to me and said “Whit dae we want wi’ a creamatorium (sic)”

And then continued, “Ah always get ma milk fae the Store (Co-operative) dairy!”

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Dead Ends

The Meenister’s Log

The snow was falling heavily and the hearse was struggling to climb the hill.  Leaving the driver behind the wheel, the funeral director and myself got out and tried to push it up the incline.  Unfortunately, the hatchback door opened and the coffin started to roll out.  Tom, the undertaker, slipping and sliding and trying to push the casket back in, and me pushing him from behind, looked as if we were in a Laurel and Hardy short.  We had a quick short once we got back in the now mobile hearse – Tom usually carried a hip-flask with him.

Another funeral – driving slowly and sedately along a busy high street on a Saturday morning, en route to the crematorium, the driver of the hearse saw, walking along the pavement a real honey of a young lady wearing a pelmet as a skirt.  He slowed down even more to admire this beauty, and so, obviously, did the driver behind whose car ran into the back of us.

Now, this happened opposite a police station. Our driver went immediately across the road to be told amazingly to wait until a police car arrived on the scene!

It did eventually and our undertaker was breathalysed (no booze in his system).  Paperwork then had to be completed and witness statements taken.

I interjected “Can this be done later, please – we’re already running late for the service?

Police Officer: “Will it make any difference – the guy in the box is deid anyway… ten minutes ain’t going to resurrect him!”

A fellow clergyman was in full flow whilst paying tribute to the deceased, when interrupted by a voice from the back of the crematorium: “He was nothing but a lying, cheating, drunken waste of space!”

Minister: “Nevertheless….”

(alternative riposte:   “Well, we all have our bad days..”)

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