‘Faith’ in Funerals? Robust attenuation or terminal decline? Religious and spiritual presences in a post- pandemic funeral landscape

Baker, Christopher; Thompson, Naomi; Cheal, Steve and Spacey, Meghan. 2024. ‘Faith’ in Funerals? Robust attenuation or terminal decline? Religious and spiritual presences in a post- pandemic funeral landscape. Journal for Contemporary Religion, ISSN 1353-7903 [Article] (Forthcoming)

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Abstract or Description

This article analyses the fluid and rapidly evolving funeral event landscape in England and Wales with a view to locating the role and presence of faith within these changes.

The article draws on recent multi-stranded research which collates the views, perspectives and experiences of key stakeholders in the funeral experience including funeral arrangers, independent celebrants and those attached to religious institutions, and families living with bereavement. It has triangulated these narratives
with survey data and analysis of 1000 funeral service plans which detail the choice of music and readings (including religiously based items).

This article focuses on the experiences of those on the front line of negotiating the development of the new funeral space within an ongoing secularly framed milieu, with an increasing emphasis on individuation, personalisation and choice, and including further
practices of sequestration of the body of the deceased and the disaggregation of the costs of the funeral by the use of specially-designed apps.

The article identifies and explains how the presence and role of faith in the form of religious and spiritual items
in the funeral event, although attenuated compared to the context 20 years ago, remains robustly and consistently present within current practice.

Item Type:


Additional Information:

Funding: This research was funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust (Ref # 2970)


Faith, celebrants, attenuation, funerals, spiritual

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS) > Faiths and Civil Society
Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)


10 February 2024Submitted

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

28 May 2024 09:15

Last Modified:

28 May 2024 16:09

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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