Removing religious symbols ‘showing disrespect’

Concerns over the presence of Christian religious symbols in Scotland’s crematoria raised by the country’s Inspector of Crematoria have been called into question by one leading funeral director.

In his latest annual report, Robert Swanson, the Inspector of Crematoria, wrote: “There have been concerns raised over the presence of Christian religious symbols, particularly the ‘cross’ in chapels and gardens of remembrance. There have been a number of occasions where, at the request of applicants, steps have been taken (where practical) to remove or conceal the cross (in chapel) for the duration of the service.”

Highlighting potential cases of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, Mr Swanson said he had been in touch with Humanist Society Scotland to address concerns.

However, Jim Auld of James Auld Funeral Service, Helensburgh, said: “I think this is a piece of nonsense. We accept there are a huge number of non-religious funerals that take place. But, for people attending a funeral, even though the deceased, and perhaps the family, aren’t religious, it’s comforting to have some religious symbolism.”

Jim said he has never had a request to have religious symbols covered up. Indeed, the regular crematorium he uses has a cross that’s part of the stopping mechanism for a coffin, so would be impossible to cover. Emphasising that he respects people of all faiths and none, he said it’s important to bear in mind that crematoria built 50 or 100 years ago were designed to mimic ecclesiastical buildings.

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