I got into a conversation with a redditor called Wannabebunny and I heard a story, I am posting it here with his permission because I think people should hear and listen.
He has a story to tell, a story which is emblematic of a variety of problems with religion, atheism and group think.
Firstly? Belief in a god does not make you a good person. All it does, is provide you with a hard code of good and bad so you don’t have to think about your actions. Your actions may not be good from the perspective of another.
Secondly? Atheists are discriminated against, in many places religion drives life and is so entrenched within it that the very idea of an atheist is a declaration of war. We always bring up Islam as an example with many countries calling for the death of Atheists and the UK recently giving asylum to an atheist from Afghanistan.
Thirdly? People have declared us to be an acceptable target.
What happened to Wannabebunny is completely unacceptable. Many Christians would deride the actions of the man in question and declare them as “un-Christian”, but one cannot claim that what happened was solely due to the man in question being a complete bastard.
Wannabebunny’s father died recently. He passed away on the 29th of December 2013 and had his funeral on 2014. Now these are stressful times for the best of us and it’s a period where religion and atheism often clash because we atheists often have to bite our tongue with regards to religion and our beliefs.
Wannabebunny’s father was an atheist too and he had planned for his death. His family had requested a non-religious secular service in keeping with his wishes. We all want that right? Sure we may tinge it with the most known aspects of our cultural past butt we still want it to be secular for all to enjoy.. I know one of my readers (Guy Otten, The Mancunian Humanist celebrant who met me last year) does some great work as a Humanist celebrant by officiating secular ceremonies.
The Funeral Home was John Gray and Co. in Bangor. County Down, Northern Ireland.
And the Funeral Director did not live up to the standards needed from his profession by allowing personal beliefs to dictate his dealings. To begin with he straight up does not want to do a secular service. He made a big fuss over how highly irregular such a thing is which should be news to Mr. Otten. Secular services are nothing new. Upon insisting, he quietened down.
After the planned service, the Funeral Director announced that he would like to say a few words which puzzled people. Funeral Directors may compare the service an announce and usher other speakers but rarely do they actively participate.
The ceremony stopped being secular. The funeral director’s speech was religious in nature and tasteless if I were to describe it at my most benign. But what did the damage was the line
“David was not a believer, but now that he is dead he knows the truth, he is with god being judged now”.
At this point Wannabebunny stopped the service and considering this was a funeral in Northern Ireland where a large number of people would hold a strong cultural and political affinity based on religion was incredibly polite in halting the religious speech with “My father didn’t believe in your god and asked for a non-religious service, could you respect that”.
He wrapped it up, but the bitter taste had already set in.
One can postulate if the funeral director would have brought up the Christian god at a Muslim, Jewish or Hindu wedding, hey may have. See if you cannot respect the wishes of atheists then what hope do other faiths have of being respected in a time of tragedy, sorrow and need.
At the best of times such a diatribe would be considered in poor taste and insulting to those who are not religious or are of a different faith. But during a funeral is a complete insult. It’s a total inability to keep your religion to yourself in even the most inappropriate of places. We would hold the atheist to the same standard, we do not get on stage and say “There is no god, no heaven and Kevin (all my hypothetical situations occur to a Kevin) is not partying with angels!”. Such would be considered inappropriate yet we see a religious person deeming fit to insert his beliefs into people.
If you want to help and you want to make a difference to the beliefs of David and indeed Wannabebunny then please.
Do not harass the funeral director. I hate it when people send hate mail to me even though I think it’s a sign that I ask the “right questions”. We must be better than this cretinous creep who failed basic human decency while passing Bible class. But I fear sometimes we are no different.
Religion does not make you a moral person, thinking about your actions on others does. And this is the prime example, yes there are moral religious people. But these are moral because they think about what their actions mean to the people around them and their effect on those they love.
Maybe Wannabebunny will get some justice out of all of this. But as you know and may have realised, the more religious people criticise what we do, the more I feel like showing them up.
I know I asked visitors to earmark (or try to earmark for ASTI and I am planning to carry with me as a donor so that some good will come. Wannabebunny’s father was a giving man who wanted to help children who are disabled. I offered to donate money earned in his name so my donation to ASTI will go under Mr. Wannabebunny’s father’s name in addition to everyone at A Million Gods who reads and donates.
It will go to help women and children harmed by cruelty and chance.
If you wish to donate to ASTI you can go here directly or if you wish to add to my fundraiser, I have not yet started fundraising, you can either donate (mark it on Paypal as a donation to ASTI for the AMG Nepal Dealie) and I guarantee I will put it towards the Nepal fundraiser or you can wait and donate when I have my fundraiser page set up.
While we condemn this funeral director’s poor human touch, we must also demonstrate a better one.