Humanists to snub cemetery service

FURIOUS members of a Suffolk-based group of humanists plan to snub the official opening of a new cemetery, claiming the service will be too religious.Representatives from the Church of England, Roman Catholics and Methodists are all due to speak at the opening ceremony in Risby, near Bury St Edmunds, later this month.

FURIOUS members of a Suffolk-based group of humanists plan to snub the official opening of a new cemetery, claiming the service will be too religious.

Representatives from the Church of England, Roman Catholics and Methodists are all due to speak at the opening ceremony in Risby, near Bury St Edmunds, later this month.

But the service has been criticised by members of the Suffolk Humanist Group, who claim the "mini-church service" is too exclusive with many Christian hymns and readings planned.

Group member Margaret Nelson said: "This is not a church or a church facility - it is a public facility.


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"It is disappointing that this is a missed opportunity to give the right sort of message about what this facility is for.

"When I was invited and given the order of the service, there was no way I would be comfortable participating in what is really a mini-church service.

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"I don't go to church and I don't expect to be asked to do something which is essentially a Christian service."

According to the group's website, humanists are similar to atheists, have no faith and are essentially sceptics believing there is no afterlife.

The owners of the new cemetery, built at the West Suffolk Crematorium, last night defended the plans for the service.

Managing director Richard Evans said: "We feel the service reflects all the different groups - regardless of religion - and that it is not overtly Christian.

"We took great care in choosing the hymns and we hope by inviting all participants, including humanists, we have managed to reflect the fact that people don't always choose a Christian funeral.

"But 80% of funerals in the crematorium are still Christian and therefore we were disappointed with the comments of the humanists but hope they will still attend."

Speaking of the cemetery, crematorium manager Royna Hill said: "It has been quite a challenge turning what was once a meadow into a landscaped area full of colour and interest, but we are determined to offer a burial service with the same high standards as we offer for our cremation service.

"Already we have made many improvements to the new cemetery area and that is due to the care and dedication of the fantastic team we have here at West Suffolk Crematorium who will now also be responsible for the upkeep of the cemetery."

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