Is a funeral selfie appropriate?

It was the funeral selfie heard seen around the world.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt and President Obama took a selfie during Nelson Mandela’s (funeral) memorial service. To the right, Mrs. Obama does not look impressed. Social media quickly reacted in disgust, support, shock, and confusion:







While not a true selfie, President Bush looked happy with Bono


To be fair, this was a memorial service and not a funeral service. The “selfie” as it is called, is really an individualist expression that is either loved or hated.  As a pastor, I often lead and experience celebratory memorial services. Instead of the dull, dreaded, and sad service, many families want a memorial service to be fun, festive, and a celebration of life.

Taking a selfie at such a large gathering of Mandela’s memorial service is entering into new territory. Certainly questions of when to take a selfie are important. If someone would take a selfie during someone’s speech would be off putting. However, marking an occasion with friends, family, and co-workers with smiles in a picture at a memorial service isn’t a big deal. But, when a president does it, it is.

So, is it wrong to take a selfie at a funeral?

Alan Rudnick

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Alan Rudnick has been featured on television, radio, print, and social media and serves as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa, NY. He has quickly established himself as a leader, blogger, and commentator in the areas of faith, Christianity, ministry, and social media. He is the author of, “The Work of the Associate Pastor”, Judson Press. Alan’s writing has been featured with the Albany Times Union, The Christian Century, Associated Baptist Press, and The Fund of Theological Education.

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  • coreyf_4

    It has been an amazing display of cultural ignorance by Americans. Anyone who watched even a minute of footage from the event knows that people were not even sitting quietly and listening, much less being somber. Look behind Obama as he speaks. People are jumping around and waving flags. That’s South African culture. But isolated Americans don’t know that. Here’s a post from the photographer who snapped the picture: