Sweden Opens First Atheist Cemetery

Religious symbols such as the cross will be banned from headstones Getty Images/iStockphoto
Religious symbols such as the cross will be banned from headstones
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Founder insists believers are welcome as well as long as they don’t have religious symbols on their headstones

A graveyard free of any religious symbols has been opened in Sweden to cater to the country’s growing number of atheists.

Josef Erdem, a teacher from Borlänge in central Sweden, first proposed the idea because he wanted people to “decide for themselves what their graves should look like”.

He said he had grown up in Kurdistan and as a result his worldview had been shaped by having friends from all walks of life.

He sent in the formal application for the ground after negotiating with local representatives of the Church of Sweden.

The church will maintain the graveyard but that will be the extent of their involvement with the cemetery.

Mr Erdem told The Local: “People can decide for themselves what their graves should look like, but the cemetery will be free of all religious and nationalist symbols.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people about this, many of them religious, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said.

“In fact the reaction has been positive from religious and non-religious people alike across the country.”

He stressed that people of faith were welcome to be buried there as well so long as they accepted that they could not have the marks of their religion on their headstone.

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SOURCE: The Independent
Caroline Mortimer