Family Wins Right to Exhume Atheist’s Remains from Holy Burial Site June 11, 2019

Family Wins Right to Exhume Atheist’s Remains from Holy Burial Site

A lifelong atheist who was wrongfully buried at a Christian church graveyard in a holy site will be properly relocated, according to a judge’s order.

58-year-old Gwendolen Patricia Crow was killed in a car accident in January of 2000. Because her family was so traumatized by what happened, a friend of theirs made arrangements for her body to be buried near St. Nicholas Church in Crawley, England. (Crow’s daughter later said the body was in a “very shaded dank and damp area of the cemetery.”)

The family friend meant well, obviously, but it’s hardly the place where a life-long atheist should have been buried. By the time her family realized what had happened, it also appeared to be too late to do anything about it.

But that’s about to change.

… in a rare decision, a judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court has granted rare permission for the staunch atheist’s remains to be exhumed and cremated following a “fundamental mistake”. The court seldom approves exhumations.

In a case which she described as tragic, remarkable and extraordinary, Morag Ellis QC, Deputy Chancellor of the Diocese of Southwark agreed that the remains of Mrs Crow could be exhumed to then be cremated and scattered elsewhere. She was a keen gardener and her family want them to be scattered in a garden.

It’s a beautiful resolution for a woman who was known for her atheism and raised her children in the same way. While it makes no difference to her now, her family will no doubt appreciate that her ashes will go in a garden instead of her body remaining in a church cemetery.

Believe it or not, this isn’t even the first time something like this has happened. Just last year, a family in England won a similar battle to move the remains of their 10-month-old girl from a church graveyard. She had died 35 years earlier.

In both cases, it would have been downright cruel to keep the bodies where they had been placed. When everyone involved just wanted to correct an old mistake, it’s good to see that some legal technicality or critic didn’t get in their way.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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