Evangelicals spurn cremation

Jan. 10, 2010 at 5:47 PM
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NASHVILLE, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- One-third of Americans are likely to be cremated when they die, but evangelicals have the lowest cremation rates in the country, a survey says.

A survey of Leaders among the National Association of Evangelicals noted 8 percent would choose cremation, Nashville's The Tennessean reported Sunday.

Hindus and Buddhists traditionally cremate their dead while Jews, Christians and Muslims bury theirs.

The objection to cremation for evangelicals essentially involves the resurrection which requires a body to be resurrected, the newspaper said.

There's also an emotional tug for some evangelicals in the Bible Belt.

"The symbolism of ground burial captures me," said Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals. "There's a certain attraction to being able to go to a cemetery and find a connection there. That's more emotional than it is theological."

However, there is evidence the cremation rate in the South is rising. In Tennessee the Cremation Association of North America noted the cremation rates rose from 2001's 4.9 percent to 2007's 16.9 percent, the newspaper said.

Christopher Taylor is a founding member of the Cremation Society of Tennessee and a worship leader at Maury Hill Church of Christ. He says cremation accelerates the natural process of dust-to-dust.

"I was created from dust -- we are returning to dust," he said. "My great-grandmother was traditionally buried in 1961. There is no body laying in the ground today. It has completely deteriorated."

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