Thoughts from a Southern Baptist funeral service as pagan

We just returned home from the funeral for my husband’s stepmother’s mother. I’ve never met the woman and he’s only met her a handful of times. They were not good step family until he was 23. Long story short, because of what a few people said, the majority of the family won’t speak/acknowledge my husband as “he’s got a dark cloud surrounding him.” We went strictly to support his dad and stepmom, who is an amazing woman and doesn’t listen to the rest of her family.

At the service, they had an actual sermon, something I hadn’t experienced before at a Southern funeral, but then I haven’t been to many. Here are my thoughts about this sermon.

  1. The sermon started with a discussion of heaven and how to get in by being a Christian and fully surrendering to Jesus Christ.
  • I took issue with this as there were likely others like me there that are not of the Christian faith. I felt that lecturing us on what we should/shouldn’t do at a funeral where we should be remembering a woman’s life was inappropriate.
  1. The pastor talked about how once you got into heaven, you would be truly content. How you are not content here on earth or you wouldn’t get a new car, or a higher paying job.
  • I would argue that you can be content here on earth if you choose to appreciate what you have and be grateful for the people and experiences you have in your life.
  • As to the comments about (1) a new car, the old one eventually wears out so yes I need to buy a new one; and (2) seeking a higher paying job, had he not seen the price of gas and groceries lately? Simple inflation makes us seek higher paying jobs even if we are perfectly happy with our current one.
  1. You won’t know true love until you meet Jesus in heaven.
  • This just made me upset. Especially since the pastor giving the sermon was the one that married my husband and me 20.5 years ago. I am still madly in love with him and him with me after 25 years together.

Out of an hour service, maybe 20 minutes was spent talking about the woman who we were supposed to be celebrating. Without knowing her, this to me was still really disappointing and disrespectful. The service was followed by a very short graveside (literally just a single prayer).

The only positive thing I really took away from this was that I wandered off looking at some of the old headstones and cleaning the Spanish moss and dead grass. This has led me to a new way for me to honor Hades. I decided I’m going to find a cemetery/graveyard near me that will let me clean stone heads and do this once or twice a month. I’ll also place fresh flowers on those that I clean too honor their spirits.

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@Amaris_Bane
Funerals are never easy, and I’m so sorry for the loss in your family. You have shared some interesting thoughts. Even though I was raised Christian, I have to agree with you.
That’s so nice of you to clean headstones, it breaks my heart when I see vandalism in a cemetery.
Much love
:heart:

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Honestly, this is normal in many parts of the south and in other parts of the country as well. While the service must be non-denominational it is still based on Christian beliefs. As someone who has studied this, I know how disrespectful it can come across to those who are not Christian. What’s sad, is that this is how non-denominational services are taught in many churches and by many seminaries. It’s the same for weddings as well. Almost no books offer any form of information on non-mainstream religious practices. In fact, it’s something that can be difficult to research at times as well. While it can be offensive to us as non-Christion or non-Mainstream practitioners. We cannot allow that to affect us because we have to remember that it is not our faith, it was theirs and out of respect, we sit through it. This is the right thing to do not because we want or expect to have our beliefs thought about but because we want to respect others. This goes to how we wish to be cared for when we pass or are married. Do we want that time meant for us and our families to be special to us or do we cater to everyone else making sure their values are met? I make it a practice to try to remember that I can honor my gods and goddesses by respecting the point of view of others even if I myself don’t agree. I feel that you did this by cleaning off the headstones.

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Wow. I’m glad you made it through the funeral and wish you family comfort right now.

I love your idea about cleaning graves! We used to live on the same road as a tiny historic cemetery for African Americans. I would walk there often and clean graves. I also got to do some amazing work with a historical society that actually located lost graves and marked them! It was so rewarding to find the graves! I always leave pebbles on graves that I visit.

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So totally agree with you here. I’m sorry you’re experience was so bad today. I’ll be thinking of you.

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My point by my comments were that instead of honoring the memory of the woman we were there to celebrate, we were getting a lecture. While yes, I would prefer it to be more neutral, I also know that she was Christian and would expect a Christian service, just more in lines of honoring the deceased.

You are right, they are not easy. Thank you. At the end, I took some time out to tell his stepmom that we were sorry for her loss.

That is so cool!! I’m looking into everything and am seeing if I can find similar organization here.

Thank you! We greatly appreciate it.

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@AileyGrey
I’d like to agree with everything you said.

But I can sum it up with a Southern Baptist Bible believing preacher, More interesting in ‘Saving Souls’ than celebrating the life of the deceased.
Sorry you were offended but some things you can’ t change. I stopped going to the B. Church because I kept snickering when they said something Preposterous.
Blessed Be
I love you
Garnet

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I have been to so many funerals that were church services. I remember one funeral that the preacher asked people to bow their heads, close there eyes, and raise their hands if they wanted to be saved and then he proceeded to save them. I was in total shock that this was happening at a funeral.

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@Amaris_Bane Sorry about the loss- I think you and your husband are very supportive and thoughtful for going to honor your husband’s relative and support his father and stepmom :pray::heart:

Although parts of my family were raised in the church, my parents wanted something different for me- so as someone who was not raised Christian, everytime I go to a church for a funeral or wedding I feel like they are trying to get me to convert. Not in a friendly way, but just like you said- through guilt and threats. It makes me really uncomfortable and confused- threatening people seems like a horrible way to get them to do what you want. It’s also a terrible marketing strategy :thinking:

That is really beautiful- I’m glad you found a silver lining to the service :blush: You really have a big heart to take time to clean the headstones. I am sure that they, especially those who have been forlorn or forgotten, would greatly appreciate your kindness :headstone: :sparkles:

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My husband had to elbow me when the pastor was going on about not being content here on earth because I kept snickering!

As would I! That is just preposterous.

It is a very bad marketing strategy! I grew up in the Irish Catholic church (my mom’s side is all Irish). Their funerals are crazy. There is a wake that typically last 2-3 days but can be up to a week long. This is usually done in the home. The deceased is then transported to the church, where a mass and service are held. This will generally be over an hour long. From there you then have the committal, which is when the body of laid to rest in the cemetery/graveyard. After all that, the Irish then have a party to celebrate the person’s life.

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I love your idea of sprucing up cemeteries. It’s sorely needed in many!

I love cemeteries, always have.

That sermon sounded like a real bummer but it sounds like you made the best of it.

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They are absolutely trying to get you to convert. Some Christian “sects” don’t even see some of the other Christian “sects” as being eligible for “salvation.” As a former Baptist, I speak without malice, but it is true. I was even taught, as a Baptist, going on “visitation” to people’s homes was a must, or you should question your own salvation. I was even taught that if a person tried to shut the door on you, put your foot in it. I was NEVER comfortable with that.

Funny thing is, they see it as an act of love toward lost souls. They just do it in such a hateful, condescending way.

There is also the prevailing notion that if someone gets “saved” at your funeral it will bring a small comfort to your family.

Fact is, most Christian sects see their way as the only way, and even within some of those sects, you can “lose your salvation” if you fall into sin.

So you can’t win!

They see any church gathering as a “soul wining
“opportunity.” Especially funerals.

I am so sorry for your loss. You honored her by being there and I’m know your Dad and Stepmom appreciate that.

I love what you are doing with the graves. It has inspired me and I appreciate it!

Blessed be!

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I love this! That’s the way I would want my funeral to go- no dour sadness and misery, that’s such a poor last image to have of someone. I think it’s much better to send someone off with brightness, joy, laughter, and love. A very happy final memory and celebration with them :heart:

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@kim7

Have you ever wondered why the ‘act of love is uncomfortable or painful?’
The ever present, infamous “They” are always right." Right?
The Holy people who burned our ancestors to death felt righteous.
People can certainly have strange beliefs.
Stay safe, and think freely .
Garnet

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That is one reason I have turned away from Christianity. So many deaths due to flat out bigotry. I can’t accept that.

I know this path will have challenges in the area of acceptance. Some of my distant family would never accept my choice of Wicca, and I have at least one friend who doesn’t have a relationship with her Dad because he married a Wiccan High Priestess.

I was terrified to visit my grandparents due to their beliefs. My grandfather was a self appointed fire and brimstone preacher. I always felt a spirit of negativity in their home and always felt like I needed a cleansing of some sort when I returned home, even as a child.

I am finally, truly happy on my Wiccan path. I want others to experience this happiness and peace whatever path they choose.

Blessed be!

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When I studied in Paris, I was touring cemeteries all the time! They are all sorts of gorgeous!

New Orleans has beautiful cemeteries as well!

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I am very sorry for your loss.:disappointed_relieved:

I agree with this - having just gone through this with my own mother who was Catholic…I am not going to lie, I was dreading the “big church” thing and tried to remember this was my Mother’s closing and my internal dialog was, “suck it up buttercup.” UGH.

Thankfully my stepfather didn’t want a big-to-do and apparently my mom didn’t either - her wishes were something small and intimate with just her family and close friends. WHEW! :blush:

The pastor who spoke kept it short and talked about us remembering stories about her etc., of course towards the end of his short story he had to tie it into heaven and Jesus. Which was fine, but I think I have PTSD from the forced religion on me when I was younger… haha. :laughing:

As terrible as your experience was, you walked away with a beautiful lesson - :green_heart:

Death is never easy - no matter what religion you follow - unfortunately it’s part of this life cycle :disappointed_relieved:

May her loved ones find peace.

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I’m sorry for your loss.
There’s a time and a place to preach and a funeral service is not one of them.
Cleaning the headstones and putting fresh flowers on the graves is a nice way to honor your deity.

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I think it’s beautiful that out of it all you were able to find a new way to honor deity and spirits. This reminds of funerals that I’ve attended growing up. You’ve hit the nail on the head. They never seemed to be about or even FOR the person being laid to rest. Just another way to preach the “it’s this way or no way” sermon to a captive audience. But y’know what? I definitely think your act of honor spirits at those grave sites is just beautiful despite the day you had to experience.

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Thank you! I was upset at first but, as others have pointed out, this was her faith and I’m sure she would have had no issue with it sadly. But I think I was able to “make up” for it by honoring those spirits that were at that particular cemetery. I am still looking for one near me that will let me clean up the headstones. It is surprisingly hard.

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