We talk a lot about humanist/secular celebrants who can officiate weddings, but not nearly as much about atheists who can preside over funerals. In Ireland, where atheism is on the rise and Catholicism is not, “civil funerals” (as opposed to religious ones) are becoming more commonplace. Paresh Dave of Religion News Service has the story:
Irish funeral directors estimate that 10 percent of the nearly 30,000 funerals conducted annually are nonreligious. Government data show that about 30 percent of the 21,000 weddings annually are outside any church, up from 5 percent two decades ago.
Funeral directors, chaplains, government registers and singers are among those who have signed up to become nonreligious celebrants. Hotels have hosted wedding fairs to showcase themselves as possible secular locales, and a few funeral directors have also recognized that customer preferences are changing.
It’s a welcome shift — at a godless funeral, you have to find a way to talk about the life that was lived instead of the fictional places the deceased may be going to in the afterlife.