Religions that permit cremation
Ásatrú, Buddhism, Christianity (containing Baptist Church, Calvinism, Church of
England, Church of Ireland, Church of Scotland, Church in Wales, Lutheranism,
Methodism, Moravian Church, Roman Catholicism, Salvation Army, Scottish
Episcopal Church), Christian Science, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints (Mormons) (permitted but discouraged), Hare Krishna (ISKCON),
Hinduism (mandatory except for sanyasis, i.e., monks and children under five),
Jainism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Liberal Judaism, Seventh-day Adventist Church,
Sikhs, Society of Friends (Quakers), Unitarian Universalism
Religions that forbid cremation
Bahá'í Faith, Presbyterianism, Eastern Orthodox Church, Iglesia ni Cristo, Islam,
Orthodox Judaism, Zoroastrianism
Neo-Confucianism under Zhu Xi strongly discourages cremation of one's parents'
corpses as unfilial.
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People choose cremation for a variety of reasons, including religious reasons.
Many religions have rules or reasoning for supporting or opposing cremation. Here
is what some religions believe. What do you and your religion believe?
|Cremation Beliefs for Dharmic Religions
While the Abrahamic religions prohibit cremation or prefer burial over cremation,
the Eastern religions (i.e., Dharmic faiths) such as Hinduism and Buddhism
mandate the use of cremation. However, two exceptions to cremation apply in
Hinduism. For example, monks, Hijras, and children under five are buried. In
Sikhism, burial is not prohibited although cremation is the preferred option.
|Cremation Beliefs for Christian Religions
In Christian countries, cremation fell out of favour due to the Christian belief in the
physical resurrection of the body. Beginning in the Middle Ages, rationalists and
classicists began to advocate it. In the Medieval Europe , cremation was practised
only on special occasions, such as in situations where there were multitudes of
corpses simultaneously present, such as after a battle, after a pestilence or famine,
and there was an imminent danger of diseases spreading by the corpses.
The first to approve cremation were the Protestant churches, whose rationale was
"God can resurrect a bowl of ashes just as conveniently as He can resurrect a bowl
of dust". The development of modern crematoria also helped to make difference
on the Pagan rite of burning the corpse on pyre. The first crematoria in the
Protestant countries were built in 1870s.
For most of its history, the Roman Catholic Church had a ban in place against
cremation, which was lifted in the 1960s. The church still officially prefers the
traditional burial of the deceased. Cremation is now permitted as long as it is not
done to express a refusal to believe in the resurrection of the body, and the church
has become more open to the idea of cremation.
Until 1997, Church regulations stipulated that cremation was to take place after the
funeral service has taken place. The Church does specify requirements for the
reverent disposition of ashes. This means that the ashes are to be buried or
entombed in an appropriate container, such as an urn. The Church does not permit
the scattering of ashes or keeping them at home.
Some branches of Christianity still oppose cremation. The Eastern Orthodox
Church forbids cremation. Exceptions are made for circumstances where it may
not be avoided (when civil authority demands it, or epidemics) or if it may be
sought for good cause, but when a cremation is willfully chosen for no good cause
by the one who is deceased, he or she is not permitted a funeral in the church and
may also be permanently excluded from liturgical prayers for the departed.
In Orthodoxy, cremation is a rejection of the dogma of the general resurrection,
and as such is viewed harshly. Some of the more traditional members of the
Catholic church have objected to the practice of allowing cremation.
|Cremation Beliefs for Jewish Religions
Judaism has traditionally disapproved of cremation, as it was the traditional means
of disposing the dead in the neighbouring Bronze Age Pagan Semitic cultures, but
also disapproved of preservation of the dead by means of embalming and
mummifying, as the Egyptians did. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, as the
Jewish cemeteries in many European towns had become crowded and were
running out of space, cremation became an approved means of burial amongst the
The Orthodox Jews have maintained a stricter line on cremation, and disapprove of
it as Halakha (Jewish law) forbids it, considering a soul of a cremated person will
remain as a restless wanderer for eternity. Also, the memory of the Holocaust ,
where millions of Jews were murdered and their bodies disposed by burning them
either in crematoria or burning pits, has given cremation extremely negative
connotations in the minds of Orthodox Jews, who often view it as blasphemy.
|Cremation Beliefs for Other Religions
Zoroastrians have traditionally prohibited cremation, on the grounds of the sacred
nature of fire. They consider fire would become contaminated if it is used to
dispose dead corpses. Instead they have left their dead on specific Towers of
Silence , where birds of prey are allowed to devour their flesh; the bones are then
entombed in the ossuary inside the tower. As modern hygiene regulations prohibit
this means of body disposal in many countries, Zoroastrians either favour
conventional burials, while some sects do allow cremation, though this is forbidden
by the Gathas.
The former Queen lead singer, Freddie Mercury , who was Zoroastrian, was
cremated after his death. In addition, Rajiv Gandhi received a well publicized
cremation on a sandal wood pyre, and he too was Parsi (though maternally of
According to Feminist interpretations of the archaeological record, cremation is the
usual means of burial in Patriarchal religions, the rising smoke symbolizing the
deceased's spirit ascending to the domain of the Father deities in the heavens, while
Matriarchal religions are speculated to have favoured interment of the corpse, often
in a fetal position, representing the return of the body to Mother Earth in the tomb
which represents the uterus. Of modern Neo-Pagan religions, Ásatrú favours
|Cremation; Permitted or Forbidden?
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