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Removal of large Christian cross from Accrington Crematorium Chapel labelled 'absolute disgrace'

Hyndburn council said the general guidance is that crematoria should be 'non-denominational'

Accrington Crematorium Chapel.

A decision to remove a large Christian cross from Accrington Crematorium Chapel has been labelled an ‘absolute disgrace’.

The wooden cross had been permanently located in the chapel off Burnley Road since 1956.

But it was removed by Hyndburn council as part of a recent £17,000 refurbishment of the building and will now only be put back if requested for individual services.

Conservative councillor Peter Britcliffe said it should be ‘the other way round’.

He said: “I have been contacted by a number of people who have been rather upset at funerals they have attended at the crematorium to find there has been no cross in place.

“I understand it was removed while the redecoration took place and for some reason a decision has been made to only have it on request.

“We are a Christian country and surely this is the wrong way round? The cross should be in place all the time but removed if a request comes for that.

“The decision Hyndburn council have taken is an absolute disgrace and an insult to residents in the borough.”

The refurbishment has been carried out over the last few months and has included upgrading the chapel, repainting the crematorium, and installing new seating and carpets.

Coun Ken Moss, Cabinet Member for Cemeteries and Crematoria, said: “The large wooden cross was taken down during the recent refurbishment of the crematorium chapel. General guidance for crematoria is that the building should be non-denominational so that it has the flexibility to make all families welcome whatever their beliefs.

"Most people with religious beliefs have a church service first and then go to the crematorium for the committal. At Accrington crematorium approximately 40 per cent of families state they have no religion and humanist services are very common now.

To cater for those families with religious beliefs the crematorium has a cross and crucifix in place, which can be taken down when not needed. Whilst this is a change at Accrington Crematorium, it is normal practice across crematoria and the majority of the surrounding boroughs now take this approach.”

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