Freedom of religion still does not mean freedom from religion. The BBC has a news item today about a an atheist in Co Donegal (Republic of Ireland) having to be buried in Co Londonderry (United Kingdom) because all the graveyards in Donegal are church owned.
A Donegal atheist had to be buried in Londonderry because the county has no facilities for non-religious burials.
Journalist Roy Greenslade’s mother was buried in Ballyowen cemetery in Derry on Tuesday after a humanist service.
He said he was told atheists could not be buried in Donegal because the graveyards are church-owned.
Strikes me as being a touch petty and very strange that this appears to have been the first atheist / humanist burial in Co Donegal. I know the Republic of Ireland teeters on theocracy, but surely…
Once I got over the farce of a whole county being unable to bury the non-religious, I did wonder a touch. Why did an “atheist” family want a Church burial in the first place? I certainly dont. And, reading the article something else struck me as slightly odd:
“Therefore unless one is willing to compromise one’s beliefs by agreeing to a religious service, it is impossible to be buried,” [Roy Greenslade] said.
Here we see atheism described as a belief system again. I find it hard to compromise my lack of belief, simply because it is a lack. If I wanted to bury my atheist mother in a church graveyard, I would pretend she was what ever religion is required. If I want my children to go to a church shool, I will pretend to be what ever religion is required. This is not immoral – if I needed to get my kids into Santa’s school I would pretend to belive in Father Christmas. It is all the same to me. Dying for your religious beliefs is the act of a religious believer.
Where there is a difference is the issue of choice. Should, for example, a law be passed saying I have to belive in Faeries, I will stand up against it. To me, these are two very different things.
On a final note of black comedy, the BBC have a delightful example of Irish (Northern Irish in this example) reasoning regarding religions:
“When I [Roy Greenslade] rang up and asked Derry City Council’s cemeteries department if it was possible to bury an atheist in a municipal cemetery they said it was possible because there were different sections for Catholics, Protestants and Muslims.
“My wife asked if it meant they were going to start an atheist section and the woman said, ‘oh no, she can go in with the Protestants’.”
It really is a joke that just keeps giving.