More Danish funerals leaving out God

Personal rituals are replacing the traditions of the church

Faroe Islands, the town of Gjogv (photo: Vincent van Zeijst)
April 29th, 2014 12:15 pm| by admin
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Chapels and graveyards without any religious symbols like crosses and angels are emerging in Copenhagen and Aarhus, where more non-believers choose an atheist funeral service.

The number of non-religious Danes who were buried without the help of a priest rose from 9 percent in 2007 to 12 percent last year, Jyllands-Posten reports.

Church is stiff and impersonal
Instead of a ceremonial service, the relatives want a simpler and more personal funeral outside the church, and instead of psalms they want to play the music the deceased liked to listen to.

Mogens Balling, the head of the funeral service Begravelse Danmark, said he has even seen a funeral where the coffin was borne away in old American cars.

"Some find the church's concept stiff and impersonal," he told Jyllands-Posten.

Bishop worried
The steady rise of atheist funerals worries Karsten Nissen, the bishop of Viborg in Jutland, who said that the church has experience in helping people through times of grief.

"The church really knows how to handle funerals. It can give the relatives hope and comfort in the difficult situation that a funeral usually is," he told Jyllands-Posten.

"Here they can depend on traditions they don't have to invent themselves. I think it would be sad if Danes' confidence in the rituals of a Christian funeral service disappears." 

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