Good question! What exactly is a Humanist Celebrant?
First of all, I am clergy of the Humanist Society. I am to provide leadership, moral guidance, rites of passage, and life celebration services to other humanists. The Humanist Society avoids dogmatism, and abuse of authority, but celebrants, like myself, are clergy, and are an ambassador of the Society. While I will never consider myself “religious”, as a Humanist Celebrant, I am a religious leader in every legal and practical sense.
Secondly, Humanist Celebrants conduct life cycle ceremonies. What are life cycle ceremonies? Well, they can be weddings, funerals, memorial services, baby naming ceremonies, commitment/same-sex unions, and any other life cycle celebration. It is my duty to provide humanist meaning and solemnity to life celebrations, gatherings, and communities. It is my duty to also help humanists through important times of life including birth, love, loss, morality, and mortality. As Humanist Celebrants we strive to make life cycle ceremonies meaningful, personal and professional with a humanist approach. Although we can refuse any ceremony that is contrary to our personal beliefs, we have a strong record of providing inclusive, secular, inter-religious, or other nontraditional service.
Thirdly, are Humanist Celebrants legally allowed to marry couples? Absolutely! Humanist Celebrants are recognized as clergy in all states and in many other countries, being accorded the same rights and privileges granted to priests, ministers, rabbis of traditional theistic religions. Local county clerks and officials must recognize our rights as clergy as we are backed by a legal team within the Humanist Society.
Lastly, are Humanist Celebrants allowed to include religious prayers and scriptures in their services? It’s your ceremony, so what you want is what you will get, within reason of course. If you wish to have prayers or scriptures read at your ceremony, family members or friends with these convictions are more than welcome to share in your special day. As a Humanist Celebrant, it would be inappropriate for me to say a prayer or read scripture as these are not encompassed by the humanist view.
And of course, there is the question, “what is humanism anyway”? Well,……..Humanism is a progressive lifestance that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity.
– American Humanist Association
Since I began officiating weddings my goal has always been to celebrate the couple involved and truly make their wedding ceremony about their relationship and their life together. In truth, I’ve been doing it the Humanist way long before I became a Humanist Celebrant! I will continue to celebrate people, their lives, and share my compassion with them in their joys and sorrows. I know of no other way to be.
Thank you for reading and I hope this answers the questions you may have had about Humanist Celebrants!