WHAT IS A HUMANIST?
What is humanism?
Humanism is the outcome of a long tradition of free thought that has inspired many of the world’s great thinkers and creative artists. It is a life-stance or an attitude, not a religion, aiming at the maximum possible fulfilment through the cultivation of ethical and creative living. It offers a rational means of addressing the challenges of our times. Many atheists or agnostics prefer to describe themselves as humanist, as it expresses the shared values and the moral code of conduct that we feel is a natural part of being a good human. You may want to work towards the common good, be charitable, have high moral values and love thy neighbour, without having to hang your hat on religion to do this. To me, I like to hang my hat on the term ‘humanism’, but you don’t have to be a humanist to have a humanist ceremony.
What is a humanist?
Humanists believe that a person has only one life; it is, therefore, our responsibility to make it a good life, and live it to the full.
As humanists, we take full responsibility for our actions and work with others for the common good.
Humanists respect and acknowledge people with their own faiths.
Humanists make sense of the world using reason, experience and shared human values.
Humanists appreciate scientific fact. The great, late Stephen Hawking was one of our patrons, and many scientists are part of humanist organisations worldwide.
Do you have to be humanist to have humanist weddings and namings?
Not at all. Humanist ceremonies are non-religious but very meaningful ceremonies; they are more personalised and hand-crafted to reflect the individuals and the couples. Often couples choose a humanist ceremony because they want to get married in an outdoor location, and they don’t want to get married in a church. Often couples come from different cultures and would like a personalised ceremony that is inclusive of their families and friends, respects the faiths of those people, but reflects who they are as a couple. There are many traditions that are more cultural than religious and these can be incorporated into the ceremony.
It is important to realise that rites of passage and rituals do not have to be monopolised by religion. Ceremonies and rituals have been important to people, regardless of religion, throughout the world since the beginning of time.
Did you know that Humanist Ceremonies has been championing non-religious ceremonies since 1896? And that the organisation (which has been called the Union of Ethical Societies and the British Humanist Association) was supportive of equal rights, including the women’s suffragette movement in the early 20th century?
Humanist ceremonies are:
Unique, inclusive, respectful and interesting.
Humanist or non-religious ceremonies can be tailored to your requirements. Ceremonies can take place anywhere at any time, according to your wishes. From mountains to beaches, from castles to back gardens, and all sorts of interesting locations in-between, the ceremony can take place wherever you want.
Your ceremony can be as light-hearted or as solemn as you wish. It can be as short or as long as you wish. It can be where and when you wish, in whatever way you wish. The loveliest thing about humanist ceremonies is that they are unique, to your wishes.
Humanist ceremonies are inclusive of the people who attend. You can choose to include particular people by selecting readings for them, or in other ways, such as hand fasting, candle lighting or other rituals.
Respectful of people’s different religions and beliefs
Although a humanist ceremony is non-religious, it is possible to include silent time for individual prayer, or in other ways to honour the cultures or religions of people present.
If you have religious members of your family and friends, who you wish to acknowledge with the inclusion of a particular ritual or religious poem, piece or song, then that can be included, (although, someone religious would be expected to read or lead that particular part of the ceremony.)
As every humanist ceremony is unique, and will reflect the personalities of those involved, then they are interesting, enjoyable and memorable. People’s responses to humanist ceremonies are almost always positive; because the ceremonies resonate with the friends and families, and the couple themselves, they are heart-warming and evoke emotion. I always say that I aim to write a script that reflects the couple to the extent that it can evoke tears (of joy) and inclusive laughter too.
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International: 0044 7734 581184