“And, frankly, I find the proposed consolations of Christianity insulting in the face of suffering. Few ceremonies have disgusted me as much as the Catholic funerals, wakes, and memorials I have attended as an atheist. The focus was persistently taken off of the person who should be commemorated and celebrated and mourned, and instead placed on a patently mythical godman and his “miraculous powers to conquer death”. I can think of few worse ways to show contempt for the ostensive subject of a sacred ceremony, in this case death itself, than to deny its very existence.
Right there, in communal ceremonies which should be occasions for solemnly and bravely confronting the terrible reality of death as it is made most personally unavoidable in the loss of a loved one… Right there in the presence of a casket containing a cadaver of someone whose life intertwined, in many cases quite impactfully, with our own… Right there to listen to a priest tell childish fairy tales about how the dead are not really dead is a profound insult to the profound losses suffered by both the deceased and the bereaved.
What should be a moment for taking the seriousness of death as respectfully as possible… What should be a moment for focusing on the beloved life now come to completion and for dwelling on the tangible legacy of ongoing good effects through which alone the lost will continue on, is all systematically undermined by the promulgation of reality-denying fantasies, the distracting greater emphasis on the broader Christian religion than the topic of death or the particular deceased person, the opportunistic exploitative advertising pitches meant to manipulate the excruciating grief of all those present to a create attachment to the Catholic faith, and (at least on some occasions) explicit, manipulative insults to unbelievers that we are supposedly hopeless and that we must only despair when faced with the reality of death.
Few people have treated me with such callous indifference and contempt as the priests who have taken the memorials for my own family members as opportunities to cavalierly slam and strawman atheism. Whether this was done from the erasing assumption that there were no atheists present or from the contempt that were we present that we deserved no respect—even as mourners–in either case it was all too typical of a religion that knows much more about its own self-promotion than either the truth or genuine compassion for suffering.” [Read more…]