News

Non-believers get their own burial ground in Sweden

Non-believers get their own burial ground in Sweden

A Google search for a photo to illustrate a report about an atheist cemetery in Sweden yielded a whole bunch of spoof images, but the one above is both genuine and amusing.

Wiki points out that Martin Jenners’ headstone is located at the Spring Vale Cemetery in Lafayette, Indiana. Jenners was a Civil War veteran who was an outspoken atheist.

Originally located in Greenbush Cemetery, his headstone is unique because he had it placed in the cemetery 14 years before his death, no doubt to cackle over the reactions of outraged faith-heads before he finally fell of his perch at the ripe old age of 87.

Jenners used two contradictory verses to support has assertion that the Bible is a load of old cobblers. I Corinthians 15:52 talks about believers being raised from the dead “in a twinkling of an eye”, and Isaiah 26:14, states:

They are now dead, they live no more; their spirits do not rise.

The headstone received national attention at the time. Attempts were made to have it removed, but it continued to draw visitors from around the country many years after his death.

Jenners’ headstone inscription has been cited as an example of the Bible being taken out of context.

But back to the Swedish report which says that a graveyard devoid of any religious symbols has been opened to cater to the country’s growing number of atheists.

Josef Erdem, a teacher from Borlänge in central Sweden, first proposed the idea because he wanted people to:

Decide for themselves what their graves should look like.

He sent in the formal application for the ground after negotiating with local representatives of the Church of Sweden.

The church will maintain the graveyard but that will be the extent of their involvement with the cemetery.

Erdem said:

People can decide for themselves what their graves should look like, but the cemetery will be free of all religious and nationalist symbols.I’ve spoken to a lot of people about this, many of them religious, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

In fact the reaction has been positive from religious and non-religious people alike across the country.

He stressed that people of faith were welcome to be buried there as well so long as they accepted that they could not have the marks of their religion on their headstone.

The cemetery, which is close to the local church, is currently empty but several locals have expressed an interest in being buried there.

Local teacher Gunnar Lindgren told broadcaster SVT:

I don’t want a burial place with a stone that needs to be cared for. I also don’t want a church burial because I’m not a believer so this suits me.

Sweden has the second-highest number of non-religious people as a percentage of its population of any country in the world, according to a 2015 survey by Gallup International and the WI Network of Market Research.

The study found that 76 percent of Swedish respondents said they were either “not religious” or a “convinced atheists”.

The only country to score higher was Communist-controlled China, where religion is officially frowned upon.

Hat tip: Trevor Blake & BarrieJohn

15 responses to “Non-believers get their own burial ground in Sweden”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    Now, that’s my kind of headstone! On a par with that of the late, great Spike Milligan whose chosen epitaph is of course, ‘I told you I was ill’.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturenews/9273783/Spike-Milligans-epitaph-I-told-you-I-was-ill-voted-UKs-favourite.html

  2. barriejohn says:

    AgentCormac:

    “Duirt me leat go raibh me breoite”

    The religiots wouldn’t allow the words!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/southern_counties/3742443.stm

  3. AgentCormac says:

    @barriejohn

    How effing dare they?! How dare someone dictate what another can have as their epitaph? From cradle to grave these bastards religiots want to have their loathsome tentacles intruding into every aspect of our lives. The fact that they were willing to contest the last wishes of Milligan just goes to show how utterly disrespectful and dismissive they are of anyone who doesn’t share their superstitious world view. When my father-in-law died a couple of years back the family arranged a humanist service for his funeral through the wonderful BHA which I have to say was utterly brilliant. The celebrant was absolutely superb and summed up Sam’s life, and death, with compassion, humanity and with a very refreshing lack of ritual or dogma. Yet the lead guy from the undertakers, even though he knew full well what the family wanted, couldn’t resist kneeling before a cross in the crematorium and genuflecting. They are so indoctrinated they simply will not or cannot accept that there is another way. That there are people out there who don’t share their faith.

  4. RussellW says:

    Why does anyone need a burial ground? Cremation and then the ashes and the immortal atoms are returned to the earth. Done.

  5. Broga says:

    “”If any question why we died, Tell them, because our fathers lied.”

    I like this epitaph Rudyard Kipling placed on the headstone of his son whom he encouraged to fight and who died is terrible circumstances. The words are thought to reflect the guilt that Kipling, the great imperialist, felt when he discovered the incompetence and indifference of the English generals.

  6. Rob Andrews says:

    Here’s what I want on my headstone:

    “Here lies an atheist. All dressed up and nowhere to go”. LMAO

  7. RussellW says:

    Broga,

    Yes, and that would also be an appropriate epitaph for hundreds of thousands of ‘colonial’ soldiers.

  8. Dianne Leonard says:

    When my dad (an atheist in his youth and in his age, but Mr,. Super Catholic while the kids were still at home) died, I decided that I wanted to leave a legacy to science. I called the local teaching hospital and asked about donating my body. I made out the paperwork, now have the papers in my Death And Dying file. When they are done with the body, it’s cremated and the ashes are scattered at sea. Best of all (for me and other low-income people) it’s completely free. If you live near a teaching hospital, or a medical school, you can follow up like I did. I felt such relief when I was done–it was what I truly wanted. I’ve read that in countries like Argentina, where few people donate their bodies, as many as 200 med students must use the same cadaver. Let that get your ass in gear to do that!

  9. barriejohn says:

    Dianne Leonard: Good point!

    https://www.hta.gov.uk/donating-your-body

  10. Laura Roberts says:

    Dianne Leonard: that is what my father did (though he was thoroughly Christian and his ashes are buried in a cemetery). I plan to do the same, but don’t care where my ashes go.

  11. Broga says:

    My mother, a resolute atheist despite much family opposition including dire threats of being excluded from heaven, died almost five years ago. I arranged the humanist funeral, and conducted it myself. A number of relatives each spoke for five minutes or so about their memories of her.

    The comments of my children and their happy memories were particularly touching. They had me choking as I listened. Our Labrador who had been a companion to her in her last months was there. We had a buffet afterwards.

    The undertaker was excellent and said non religious funerals had become normal. My mother said that if I allowed a clergyman near her funeral, “I will come back and haunt you.” It was definitely a sad/happy occasion. It is not difficult to arrange.

  12. barfly says:

    On my death my organs are to be harvested or used for teaching or research. There will be a booze up in the nearest ale house where some good music is to be played and there should be enough money to cover a bar bill on the condition that only good English ale is drunk.

  13. Joe Fogey says:

    I rather fancy being buried in an unmarked grave in a local peat bog – it’s on a nature reserve where I volunteer – so that archaeologists can dig me up in a few thousand years.

  14. I myself, for reasons too complex to explain, will almost certainly end up being buried in a Y-shaped coffin.

  15. 1859 says:

    I will be cremated and my ashes rocketed up high into the night sky where they will explode. And after the thin ash has drifted back to earth my dusty bits and pieces will no doubt end up in someone’s hoover or vegetable patch.