Only three per cent of Norwegians buried from church because lacking alternative


Northern Europe


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Last year, the claim that there were too few alternative non-Christian alternatives for funerals drew much attention. A new survey, however, shows that this seems a problem for only three per cent of the Norwegians.

According to Vårt Land, about 80 per cent of the people that die in Norway, is buried from the Church.

Only a few Norwegians chose for a funeral in the Church of Norway because they cannot find an alternative non-Christian place, Vårt Land writes.

The funeral survey was conducted at the request of the Church of Norway. About 2,000 people participated. The survey asked people who had been involved in planning a funeral in the Church what the reason for an ecclesiastical burial was. Only three per cent said that it was because they did not know an alternative place.

Another question of the survey asked how people would bury their relatives. Of those who answered that they would organise a funeral in the Church, only five per cent said that it was because they did not know an alternative.

The results of the survey show that the debate about non-Christian alternatives for funerals is not as problematic as it seemed to be. Last year, Agnes Ravatn argued in Aftenposten that many people do not want to be buried from a church, but still end up in a sanctuary. Her statement led to much commotion, as priests, humanists and politicians chose sides in the debate.

Church council director Ingrid Vad Nilsen is not surprised by the outcome of the survey. “Funerals in Norway are strongly linked to traditions, regardless of worldview”, she says to Vårt Land. “And since most churchyards are located around churches, it is no wonder that this is connected in people's consciousness.” Her argument is supported by the survey, which shows that tradition is one of the most important reasons for having a funeral in the Church.

Priest Ingeborg Sommer, however, points out some challenges for the Church of Norway. She asserts that a third of the people who say that they do not want an ecclesiastical burial does not feel at home in the Church. Sommer: “We see that affiliation to the Church is declining, even though the local church is still strong in Norway.”

Furthermore, she finds it important that the Church keeps an eye on mourners that attended a funeral in Church. “When the grief is too painful to endure, then one must go somewhere. And people know they can go to church. The grief does not go away, it does not become easier to bear. But the church has a room to enter and a language of seriousness and darkness - and hope”, she says to Vårt Land.



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