Cremation: Religious Issues

Cremation is accepted by many religions

Cremation is increasingly becoming a common and accepted practice in North America . It's a good alternative to more expensive burials and traditional funerals, and it may be a more personally satisfying choice for some people.

Some religions won't accept cremation because they believe the body needs to be kept in tact. The body is seen as a vessel of God that shouldn't be altered from the state in which it was born. Many of these religions will have rules regarding tattoos and body piercing as well.

Cremation is most often arranged in a pre-planned funeral. If you're planning a funeral for someone else, it's important to look into their religious convictions and the way they may have reacted to the concept of cremation.

Religions that Ban Cremation

Some religions, including Orthodox Judaism and Islam, completely ban cremation. Eastern Orthodoxy, Neo-Confucianism and Zoroastrianism also ban the practice.

Roman Catholicism

There are some Catholics who mistakenly believe that the church forbids cremation, when actually, the practice is officially permitted in Roman Catholicism. It was banned until a papal edict in 1963. However, there still tends to be a preference to leave the body in tact in this religion, and scattering of ashes is still generally frowned upon. Many formerly traditional Catholic cemeteries now provide columbarium niches (housing for cremated remains in urns) or they provide special places for the burial of cremated remains

Protestant Christianity

Most branches of Protestant Christianity allow cremation with no restrictions.

Religions Promoting Cremation

On the other hand, several of the major Eastern religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism, embrace the practice of cremation. However, there are some exceptions to this attitude: In Hinduism, for example, monks, Hijras (trans-gendered person) and children under five are supposed to be buried.

A full list of religions permitting cremation includes:

  1. Anglicanism (The Church of England)

  2. The Baptist Church

  3. Buddhism

  4. All branches of Calvinism

  5. Christian Science

  6. Churches of Ireland , Scotland and Wales

  7. Hare Krishna

  8. Hinduism (with some exceptions)

  9. Jehovah's Witnesses

  10. Liberal Judaism

  11. Lutheranism

  12. Methodism

  13. Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

  14. Presbyterian

  15. Quakers (The Society of Friends)

  16. Roman Catholicism

  17. The Salvation Army

  18. Scottish Episcopal Church

  19. Seventh-day Adventists

  20. Sikhs

  21. Unitarian Universalism
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