Religion: Competition for Cadavers

U.S. Protestant churches think that funerals cost too much, but they have tried only half-heartedly to get funeral prices down. The Federal Council of Churches, feeling that the time had come for action, made a survey, came up with a flat charge: many an undertaker, cemetery and tombstone maker is fattening on human grief.

The survey showed that super-salesmanship, when people's resistance is lowest, sometimes inveigles the bereaved into spending three or four times the deceased's monthly income for a decent burial. Some undertakers, said the survey, fix fees on the basis of the amount of insurance the deceased carried. During a...

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