How Different Religions View Cremation
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How do different religions view cremation? Which religions prohibit cremation? The religious perspective on disposition can be an important consideration when making end of life plans with a loved one. While cremation is widely accepted, there are some religions that prohibit the practice and prefer burial or traditional funeral services. Others see cremation services as acceptable but have specific guidelines to be followed.
Below are general views on the acceptance of cremation by some religions. It is recommended to consult with a religious official in order to gain a deeper understanding of the traditions within a faith as there can be a range of beliefs.
Atheism: Atheists do not have religious criteria for disposition.
Anglican/Episcopalian: Cremation is accepted by Episcopalian faith, according to the Episcopal Church glossary.
Baptist: Baptists view cremation as acceptable. The cremation can take place before or after a funeral service or memorial. However, viewings are customary for Baptist faith.
Buddhism: In Buddhism, death is seen as a transition from one form to another. Cremation is a traditional practice in Buddhism, and communities will hold services led by monks. It is not uncommon for families to witness the cremation of their loved one.
Catholicism: Cremation is more recently accepted in Catholic religion. The Catholic Church prefers that cremations take place after the Funeral Mass. However, recently the Vatican announced that remains should not be scattered, but should instead be kept in a “sacred place,” like a church cemetery.
Eastern Orthodox: Cremation is prohibited. It is seen as a “departure from the belief in resurrection,” according to How Stuff Works.
Hinduism: Cremation is traditionally preferred with the body remaining at home until it is cremated. Cremation usually takes place within 24 hours after death.
Islam: Muslims prohibit cremationand prefer burial. “We have the understanding that there is heaven and hell. And hell is a fiery place and that’s the place we do not want to go to,”Dr. Shabir Ally said on AboutIslam about why cremation has not been adopted. “We don’t want anything to do with fire, you know, touching this human person.”
Jehovah’s Witness: Cremation is accepted. “The Scriptures do not present any basic objection to the practice of cremation,” according to the Jehovah’s Witness website. “Jehovah does not have to reassemble a person’s former body in order to resurrect him.”
Judaism: Perspectives differ on cremation for the range of beliefs held by Conservative, Orthodox and Reform branches. People who practice Orthodox Judaism do not accept cremation as a method of disposition. They believe the body should remain in the ground. People practicing Reform Judaism have become more accepting of cremation and it is becoming more common.
Lutheran: According to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, there is no official position on cremation.
Methodist: Cremation was not always viewed positively in Christianity, but now it is becoming more acceptable with the Methodist Church. “However, more and more people are coming to agree with the view that, since cremation only does rapidly what nature will do much more slowly, cremation is acceptable,” the United Methodist Church website states.
Mormon: Cremation is not viewed as prohibited or encouraged. “Generally, Latter-day Saints in the Western world have felt that nothing should be done which is destructive to the body,” Roger R. Keller, associate professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University writes for the Latter-day Saints website. That should be left to nature. Church leaders have counseled that only in unusual circumstances or where required by law should cremation take place.”
Presbyterian: People practicing Presbyterian faith have typically buried their loved ones and often do not support cremation. However, like many other religions, the practice is becoming more common and accepted.
Quaker: No religious criteria for disposition. Cremation and burial are both accepted.
As you research the religious beliefs around cremation, remember two things. First, opinions are evolving and changing as cremation’s popularity continues to grow. Also, many religions may hold a variety of viewpoints depending on their relationship to the larger faith and their interpretation of their foundational texts. A local faith leader can help you navigate the variety of views.