Letter: End to point scoring at funerals

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The Independent Online
Sir: Every time there is a feature on death a letter follows from the Humanist Association advertising the quality of humanist funerals (Letters, 28 July). I see no reason, however, why the deprecation of the "quasi-religious" funerals which I take it that people like me are alleged to offer, should go unchallenged. It is simply not true that it is only humanist funerals which celebrate life. Nor is there any case for saying that Christian funerals are not in any real sense for the bereaved.

Every day parish clergy conduct thousands of funerals for all sorts of people across the country. A few of these will be impersonal and inappropriate, but most will be taken by clergy who have spent time listening carefully and skilfully to those arranging the funeral. In my experience such clergy are just as conscientious and compassionate as the humanists who long, for whatever reasons, to usurp them.

The enlightened social revolution to which Nigel Collins (Letters, 28 July) looks forward in this area would be much more attractive to me if the humanists dropped their tired old point scoring. Death and its rituals are a complex and sensitive subject. It is easy for those involved to get something wrong.

What is needed is an open dialogue between all those involved in, to use my language, ministering to the bereaved, which will improve the quality, dignity and significance of the personal care and public ritual which surround death in our complex society.

The Rev Dr STEPHEN CHERRY

Loughborough

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