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Bishop of Burnley welcomes crematorium u-turn over cross

Council run Accrington Crematorium has been forced into a u-turn following a backlash to its decision to remove the Christian symbol and only display it if a family asked.

Hyndburn Borough Council said it was going to be taken down to avoid causing offence to people of other faiths.

In a statement, the council told Premier 40% of families using the facility state they have no religion and humanist services are "very common now".

But following a backlash the council said the cross would be displayed at all times and removed if a family had asked.

It's understood there had never been any complaints about the cross being on show.

The Bishop of Burnley, Rt Revd Phillip North, told Premier he understood the motives behind the original decision but "the fact is...nearly 60% of people in this country self-identify as Christians".

He added that he suspected the figure was even higher in his area.

"Most people at that very vulnerable time in their lives want to see the cross as a sign of hope and a sign of comfort and a sign of victory over death.

"I think having to ask for it specifically, for it to be a complex operation, is just not the best way of ministering to people in that kind of situation".

"I'm glad it's been brought back," he added.

Councillor Ken Moss, Hyndburn Borough Council 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% 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 Borough's now take this approach."

Bishop of Burnley Rt Revd Phillip North speaking to Premier's Marcus Jones:

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