Reverend says humanist funerals about money, then pop “in the oven with no hope of resurrection”

October 27, 2009

Apparently secular humanists - rather than Christians - are seeking to make money by promoting a cult of the dead!  At least that's the conclusion reached by Reverend Ed Tomlinson, a Church of England vicar. According to the report in a London Times article Vicar fed up with Tina Turner songs and 'nan's poetry' at funerals:

Mourners who chose a non-religious ceremony were conned by “humanists” making money from death. “I am not the one who suffers,” he [Tomlinson] said. “Along with my fellow Christians, I will still have the gorgeous liturgy of the Requiem Mass to look forward to. Whereas the best our secularist friends (and those they dupe) can hope for is a poem from nan combined with a saccharine message from a pop star before being popped in the oven with no hope of resurrection.”

It's rather amazing that a man who spends each working day underneath the watchful eye of a dead crucified messiah would charge humanists with making a business out of death.  His (pardon the pun) inflammatory rhetoric betrays a seething frustration with the reams of people that are leaving organized religion and its hierarchical and inflexible rituals for something more meaningful and individualistic.  Is a humanist life without meaning? Hardly.  We create our own, just like we create our own funeral ceremonies.

At least he's right about one thing:

He feared that his presence at funerals was “pointless” and said he had a hundred better things to do with his time.

When this issue was brought up recently on the Michael Coren TV Show where I appear monthly on a panel called "Faith Matters," the Muslim and Christian guests were puzzled as to why atheists would celebrate funerals at all, apparently buying into the simple minded notion that our materialistic worldview implies the death of a loved one is no different from tossing away left over food.  They also seemed to imagine that it was impossible to host a solemn and respectful ceremony while also engaging in a meaningful and personalized (which sometimes translates as loud) tribute to the dead.  I'm not one for tradition or ritual, but as it goes, secular humanist ceremonies are some of the most beautiful events I've attended.  Such funerals honour the life of the deceased, and do not simply serve as another witness to Christ Jesus.

The Rev Ed Tomlinson, 35, said he wondered why he bothered as mourners listen to ear-splitting songs and bad poetry during cremations.

Well there's an obvious solution that would leave everyone happier.  More of the personally meaningful ear-splitting songs and bad poetry.  Less of the crabby, costly, insulting and in his own admission useless reverend.


#1 Noadi (Guest) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 at 8:07pm

My grandfather had a very moving secular burial in the family plot. His horse carried his urn to the grave, we sang his favorite songs (including Old Rugged Cross which was his favorite hymn, he believed in God but not religion), shared stories, everyone who wanted to spoke or yes read a poem they wrote. Compared to religious funerals I’ve attended it was much more personal and moving.

#2 Randy on Wednesday October 28, 2009 at 4:10am

Many religious fail at understanding atheists, because they obey their organization.  Their organization dictates that there will be a funeral, and how it is to be performed.  It’s no wonder some of them find it an empty and pointless experience.  Where is the human element?

When it is moving or meaningful, it is because they tap into those same human emotions that we all have in common, atheist or religious.  All humans feel loss, require closure, and lean on family during hard times.  This is the purpose of a funeral. 

I think certain religious folk like to denigrate the idea of an atheist funeral, because if atheists make it meaningful and emotional, what does that say about their organization?

#3 Reba Wooden (Guest) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 at 5:37am

One of my freinds had written a beautiful tribute to his father and requested to read it at the funeral.  The minister (Lutheran) would not let him do it. So, he requested to read it at the gravesite.  At the end of the minister’s words at the gravesite, he didn’t even give a lead in to my friend’s tribute to his father.  I nudged him and said, “Go on up there and do it.”  The minister just walked away.  It was the only part of the whole service which was really about my friend’s father. All the rest was just standard religious readings.

#4 asanta on Wednesday November 04, 2009 at 12:09am

The ‘reverend’ is a dodo not to realize that the funeral is closure for the family left grieving. And that the funeral is a celebration of the LIFE of the loved one….and like the dodo before him, he should be extinct.

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