Thursday, November 1, 2007

Religious Funerary Accommodation

Canada's funeral law fails large immigrant groups:

The Hindu community faces a problem with scattering of ashes after cremation. According to Hindu custom, ashes should be immersed in a river but Canadian conservation authorities have objected to the ritual citing potential hazard to the ecosystem.
'Everything is geared to the Christian tradition, but the rules are outdated. They have to change because the demographics have changed,' Roopnath Sharma, a priest at the Shri Ram Mandir temple in Mississauga, was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.
Christian? I don't think ecological regulations are just quite an extension of the Christian faith, more just a protection of the common good. It would already be absurd to accommodate such a practice, but lets just bring this to its logical end. There's another Hindu ritual called Sati. Here, when a bride outlives her husband naturally, she is burned to death on the pyre of his cremation. This still goes on today.

How about we accommodate that one too?


Snake Oil Baron said...

I don't support waving all our laws to accommodate any religious group but assuming that all Canadians wanted to follow this practice, given the size of cremated ashes and the volume of water in these rivers, are people dying fast enough for this to be a problem? There would be no pathogen risk and the chemical energy is mostly gone so the only impact would be some minerals that might briefly reach a concentration that could be high enough to encourage algae blooms. Maybe. When did citing a "potential hazard" become sufficient to permanently limit personal freedoms?

The authorities likely want to keep poorly cremated remains from the rivers but with the modern crematory practices I see no reason that this particular ritual should be forbidden. Using state power to ban something should be a last resort to a tangible problem.

We don't ban every Mormon ritual just because we ban the underage marriage and polygamy of some of their more extreme types. If a genuine environmental threat or damage to the public good can be shown from scattering ashes then I have no problem banning it but I am skeptical that there is any problem here.

It is not the fault of Christians that society has avoided outlawing their practices (as far as they do not affect the rights of others) and I do not mean to suggest that Roopnath Sharma was suggesting that it was their fault. But frankly, we ought to be reasonably accommodating for issues like this since Hindus and other infidel immigrants are valuable counter weights to Islamicists' claims and demands.

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