Wow! I must say. I am in a current state of shock and utter disgust. Today, I attended the funeral of my great-aunt-by-marriage. As expected, it was a religious ceremony. Let me start out this post by making something excruciatingly clear. I have no problem with religious ceremonies. Just because I am atheist doesn’t mean that I think everyone must share my beliefs. I am not intolerant, dismissive, or rude to religious people (at least, I don’t intend to be, and if I ever am, please put me in my place). People are free to choose their own beliefs and I respect them for that, just as I hope they will respect me for choosing differently.
That said, I actually left this hour-long ceremony holding back that little bit of vomit that creeps up into your throat after hearing so much bullshit for an hour. I was disgusted. This aunt was a wonderful person, especially as a great-great-aunt to my kids. She was fun, loving, and always concerned with the whereabouts and well-being of Aubrey and Landon. I have heard funny stories from my in-laws about her, and she was close with her siblings (my grandmother-by-marriage), and I’m sure they had many tales to tell. Her son did speak for about three minutes, highlighting the love he had for his mother and how much she would be missed.
Then, the pastor started in. During his forty-five minute sermon (and that’s what it was–a sermon–because it sure as hell wasn’t a eulogy), he talked about the three essential parts of being human. He talked about life, death, and choice. He preached about how we have the choice to live eternally. He said that everyone, everyone, dies from sin. No one dies of diseases. No one dies of natural causes. No one dies of old age. No one dies of accidents or murder. People die from sin. (I’m super curious on his abortion stance, because I’m pretty sure the unborn aren’t sinning in the womb.)
He spoke about Adam and Eve and their choice in the garden of Eden; he spoke of Lazarus’ rise from the dead. He spoke of how the breath of life was breathed into humans and animals alike; however, animals were different because they did not plan, anticipate, have feelings.
He spoke about a previous ceremony that he had administered, in which a family member left the ceremony angrily because he was calling out the sin in her deceased relative. He spoke of an atheist father who grunted when he closed his ceremony with “Who’s next, and are you ready?” and even had the audacity to indicate that this man was the next at the ceremony to die, dying a few weeks later (though I highly doubt he tracked the status of every single individual at the ceremony, in order to actually make this call). What did this have to do with the beautiful individual lying in the open casket behind his stage?
He finally talked about my aunt, well… for about two minutes. He called her a “giver,” which she was, but he managed to make it sound about as rehearsed and overused as an annoying pun. He told one quick anecdote about her and then resumed his sermon.
He preached on… well, on and on and on… about sin and the choice, and repeatedly called out the audience on “eye rolling” and their non-belief. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know everyone that was there. But, I can guess that 99% of them were religious just like my aunt, and had already made their choice. My husband and I, though disgusted and discouraged, kept quiet and still. I’m not sure who the minister thought he was “reaching,” but I’m pretty sure he came up empty-handed.
I really don’t care that the ceremony was religious. In fact, my aunt was extremely religious so I would hope that whoever planned this ceremony passed these beliefs along, to be highlighted in the ceremony. I expected to hear her favorite passage, to hear a message about how she had moved on to a better place with her lord and savior. I did not expect to sit through an hour sermon on her sins, and our sins, and the “truth,” without hearing more than four minutes eulogizing her.
The pastor should’ve just passed out his damn business card and collected tithes at the end of the ceremony. I am appalled that the family of the deceased paid him to eulogize her, and he spewed nothing more than a few generalized comments. I have no problem with a religious ceremony, especially for a religious woman. I have a huge problem with an incompetent and fear-tactic preacher stealing an opportunity to spread his “truth” and taking away from a celebration of my aunt’s life.