Religious Funerals: Contemporary Trends
Despite the apparent growing disaffection among contemporary society with religion in all its forms, modern trends indicate that religious funerals remain the service format of choice for a significant proportion of today’s population.
Contemporary Trends & Modern Day Perspectives
Interestingly and in a global context, the marked shift towards secularism has had surprisingly little impact on adherents of all major world religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism, when it comes to paying their last respects. Even in a contemporary context, such religious funerals generally adhere to the accepted format and rituals for their faith. Traditional Religious Funerals: an Overview
Indeed, the same can also be said for many of the emerging modern day belief systems, including the revival of age-old traditions such as Paganism, all of which are often defined in the loosest of terms as New Age, contemporary ‘religions’ and spiritual paths.
Contemporary Trends in the UK for Religious Funerals
● According to government statistics on religion and the various faiths practised in modern-day Britain, Christianity remains the dominant religious group, with Muslims forming the largest minority, non-Christian faith group. [The 2001 Census recorded approximately 41 million Christians and 1.6 Muslims].
● Findings from a recent survey revealed that the growing contemporary trends in England and Wales for playing contemporary, popular music at funerals, as opposed to traditional hymns was, interestingly, not being reflected in Scotland to the same degree. In fact the opposite was true, where the percentage of funeral services involving hymn singing actually increased from 54% to 56% for all Scottish funerals. These figures contrast with a decrease from 41% to 35% of the number of funerals in England and Wales having hymns and religious music as part of the ceremony; [source: Co-operative Funeralcare Survey, 2009].
● Fascinating UK academic research conducted at the University of Hull into ‘how people use rituals and search for meaning when faced with death’ has revealed amongst other current trends that an element of humour is becoming an integral part of the modern day funeral ceremony. Typically in the form of light-hearted reminiscing, gentle humour, it would appear, can help to ‘personalise’ the proceedings, leaving mourners with fond, unique and upbeat memories of the deceased, uppermost in mind.
● The trend for combining religious and secular features within the same funeral ceremony remains popular, in Britain, where the format for the service is more personalised, yet still structured around a religious framework. Many people, for example, who are not practising Christians where church or chapel attendance is concerned, nevertheless, enjoy participating in familiar religious rituals such as singing hymns and pausing for silent reflection and meditation, etc.
● Since the ban placed on cremation by the Roman Catholic Church was removed by the Pope, in July 1963, the trend amongst Catholics for choosing cremation has continued apace. The increasing number of cremations for Catholics has followed a similar pattern to other Christian denominations and UK secular society, in general. Today, around 70% of all funerals, both religious and non-religious, conducted in Britain, are cremations.
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