One Christian’s Take on Forensic Cemeteries/Body Farms

To dust we shall return.

Valentine Wiggin

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A decomposing woman with bloating, discoloration, and skin slippage
Tachibana no Kachiko, a pioneer of the study of human decomposition. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Objections to cremation and alkaline hydrolysis in Christianity are rooted in the idea that these practices disrespect the body that God has given to a person. For example, it has taken over a century for the Catholic church to warm up to the concept of cremation and some still condemn cremation as “cold and godless”. With the rise of alkaline hydrolysis, very similar arguments came up. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester branded alkaline hydrolysis as “undignified and disrespectful at the most basic level.” However, after poking around on various websites, I never found any churches taking any official stances on the use of forensic cemeteries.

Resembling neither cremation nor burial in the traditional sense, forensic cemeteries enable the study of human decomposition in a variety of conditions. The forensic cemetery is a complete overhaul of the funeral as one knows it. Some bodies are buried in shallow graves. Others are suspended from scaffolds, covered in plastic, or left in the trunks of cars as forensic anthropologists write down their findings. Although some would find this practice disturbing, others see it as an opportunity to help others, even in death. Studying the deceased human body in this manner has helped to identify bodies, answer questions about the…

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Valentine Wiggin

Death-positive, sex-positive, and LGBTQ-affirming Christian. Gen Z. I hate onions. She/her