Cremation and Religion

The Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church have only recently accepted cremation. This marks a new breakthrough in religion and in the middle of current global pandemic this will give people an alternative when they just lost loved ones due to COVID-19. But why is it banned in the first place?

Once rejected and persecuted by the Christian church as a pagan ritual, Charlemagne had cremation banned in the 8th century under the threat of the death penalty. The body had to be burned during the “resurrection”; the church then instrumentalized the burns of the supposed “heretics”.

Cremation began with the worship of martyr bones in the Old Church. Nevertheless, the body cremation remained known in individual regions of Europe until the 13th century.

Against this background, it is not surprising that voices in favor of cremation only came out again in the 17th and 18th centuries – in the sense of the Enlightenment, Revolution and the new interest in ancient culture. The churches took a late position: in 1885 the Old Prussian Evangelical Higher Church Council banned the participation of clergymen in cremations; In 1898, the Eisenach conference of the regional Protestant churches advocated a ban on cremation; In 1911 the Church of the Old Prussian Union enabled its clergy to participate in the funeral service under certain conditions; In 1886 the Catholic Church strictly prohibited cremation. It was not until 1964 that she officially lifted this ban again.

In general, the preference for cremation or body burial is closely related to the afterlife. For example, ethnology names fear of the dead as a so-called revenant. In the cremation, give the soul the opportunity to leave the body as quickly as possible so that it does not have to return.

With Buddhism, the body cremation spread from India to the Asian continent. While cremation is currently the usual form of burial among Hindus and Buddhists, it is fundamentally not permitted for Orthodox Jews. (Thanks to Living Urn for this info)

Not all religions are open to cremation though. Muslims does not apply this method due to their belief that “ from dust to dust” where it basically means there is only one method of funeral which is the standard burial.

At the end of the day cremation has given people more options when it comes time to care for their loved ones who just passed away. Whether cremation is the answer or not that will be up to the individual.