Cremation Dictated by Religious Beliefs
Updated July 31, 2019
Religions share different views on cremation. Their views are an profound and deep part of their religious beliefs. While some religions are very much in favor of cremation to the extent that it is part of their core beliefs, others strickly forbid it. There are a few religions that are loosening up on their rules against and and are allowing cremation as a part of funeral rites. This is becoming relevant in America because more than half of Americans prefer cremation over traditional burial.
Religions that currently approve of and or encourage cremation:
Buddhism, Christianity, Christian Science, Church of Scientology, Hinduism (mandatory except for sanyasis, eunuchs and children under five), Jainism, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Sikhs, Society of Friends (Quakers), and Unitarian Universalism all permit cremation along with traditional burials.
In the past, cremation fell out of favor with the people among Christians. The Catholic Church’s original disapproval of cremation was rooted in these theories:
- The body, as the instrument through which the sacraments are received, is itself a sacramental, a holy object.
- The body is viewed as an integral part of the spiritual human person, it should be interred so to honor and revere their life any other way early on in Christianity was considered an insult to the body.
- The body of a Christian should be buried In honor of Christ’s interment.
- It constitutes a denial of the resurrection of the body.
The Catholic Church has officially approved cremation as a form of interment. Now, most large Catholic Cemeteries are building or have built cremation mausoleums where niche urns for ashes can be displayed sometimes in a clear niche that will allow a nice visual display of the urn.
In Buddhist and Hindu Religions cremation is required for all adults. Their belief is that the body is an instrument to carry the soul while alive. Once the soul has passed on, the body has no use and is not sacred or necessary any longer. Therefore the cremation is regarded as highly ethical. According to Hindu traditions, the reasons for preference of destroying the corpse by fire over burying it into ground, is to set forth the detachment of the body towards the disembodied spirit to assist the loved one in passing though to the other world.
This also explains the ground-burial of holy men and young children in burial urns. Cremation is referred to as the last rites. At the time of the cremation or “last rites” a Hindu prayer to assist the spirit to transcend into the after life.
Judaism traditionally disapproved of cremation. However the overcrowding of Jewish cemeteries in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s Europe made cremation somewhat necessary and acceptable by Liberal Jewish leaders.
Although burial remains the preferred option, Reform Judaism does still supports the practice of cremation. Orthodox and Conservative Jews still disapprove of cremation as Jewish law forbids it.
Cremation is forbidden in the Islamic religion except in cases of mass deaths caused by disease. It is seen as a form of mutilation and every effort must be made to avoid it at all costs. There are no exceptions to this rule; if masses of people perish from disease and experts prove that burial would spread further disease, then and only then is cremation allowed.