Religion/Faith/Beliefs: The Decline in Funeral Services

I do believe that every person has a right to whatever is best for them concerning religion, faith or beliefs.  Or, whatever keeps them moving forward through this life.  I hope not to offend anyone with topic.  Keep reading and you will know why I thought about this subject.

In my career as a funeral director I have done services for many different religions, faiths and beliefs (examples: Jewish, Catholic, Methodist, Southern Baptist).

I learned a lot from every service.  I am definitely not one to tell anyone what is right and what is wrong.  I have a unique job in which I get exposed to many different religions and/or religious beliefs.

I think it is important to get some definitions to some words (according to Webster Dictionary):

RELIGION: the belief in God or in a group of Gods; an organized systems of beliefs; ceremonies and rules used to worship a God or a group of Gods; an interest, a belief or an activity that is very important to a person or group.

FAITH: a strong belief or trust in someone or something or something; belief in existence of God, strong religious feelings or beliefs; firm belief in something for which there is no proof.

BELIEFS: a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true; a feeling that something is good, right or valuable; a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone.

Over the past 10 years, I have had people ask for a service with no religious content.  I have heard many times, “Well, Dad was not much for religion” or “We quit going to church”.  As a funeral director, you do what the family wants.  We do what we can to make the service personalized to all the families liking to move them forward in the grieving process.  But, sometimes remind them if you have a clergy or any religious leader (i.e., lay leader, chaplain) there will be some form of religious content.  Unless you get a family friend or relative to lead the service, which is getting more and more common.

I believe there is another word we need to define (according to Webster Dictionary):

SPIRITUAL: of or relating to a person’s spirit, of or relating to religion or religious beliefs; having similar values and ideas: related or join in spirit.

The reason for writing about the matter of religion, faith, belief or spirituality was of some statistics of a recent survey in one of our trade magazines.  I truly kind of sat me back in my chair and think.  I hope it does the same for you.  The survey statistics are below:

The nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service conducted a survey among 2,201 Americans between July 27 and August 9, 2016. The results:

*The Survey found that 25% of Americans are now identified as religiously unaffiliated. This has grown by 3 times since the 1990’s.

*The most common reason of the religiously unaffiliated for leaving their childhood religion:
1. 65% said they just stopped believing in their childhood religion.
2. 32% said they their family was not that religious growing up.
3. 29% cited negative teachings about or the treatment of gay people by religious organization.

The Survey showed that 72% said they spend little time in their day-to-day lives thinking about God and religion.

In this survey it identified three distinct groups among unaffiliated:

1. Rejectionists: 58 % say religion is not personally important in the their lives and believes that religion as a whole does                                      more damage then good.

2. Apatheists: 22% say religion is not pernally important to them but believe that it’s generally more socially helpfu then harmful.

3. Unattached Believers: 18% say religion is important to them personally.

**The Dodge Magazine, December 2016, “Survey Finds “Unaffiliated” Leaving Religion Early; Few Looking to Reconnect

I sent this information to some minister and clergy that have been in the situation with family and arranging a service where they does not want any religious content.  Just to give me some input with this topic of conversation.

One minister replied, “One thing I have found is that a lot of folks will tell you that they are spiritual but not religious, meaning that they believe in God but don’t have or don’t want to be part of a “church.” I think we are finding that so many have been affected by the ’60’s movement against established institutions and believe the church to fall into that category.

That is one of the reasons we see such a decline in the mainline churches today and some increase in the “non-denominational” churches. Older churches are buried in traditions that can not be let go of and it is threatening to many people.”

I believe a lot people believe in something greater then themselves to deal with life.  We all have different ways of expressing it as a individual or with a group.  What keeps you or helps you move forward???  

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