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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Humanist weddings outpace Catholic ones in Scotland

Humanist weddings are now more popular in Scotland than those conducted by the Catholic Church, according to new figures. From January to September 2010, there were 1,706 weddings led by a humanist celebrant, compared to 1,506 Catholic weddings – making humanist marriages the third most popular.

During the same time period there were 11,569 civil marriages at registry offices across the country and 5,013 Church of Scotland marriages.

Humanist wedding ceremonies have the same legal status as civil and religious weddings as long as they are conducted by a Humanist Society of Scotland celebrant who has been authorised by the Registrar General of Scotland and can be held anywhere “safe and dignified”. Many of the secular ceremonies are conducted in hotels and castles, with some couples even opting to get married at open-air venues.

Humanist Society of Scotland Convenor Juliet Wilson says, “We are very grateful to the Registrar General of Scotland for granting humanist weddings legal status in 2005, and to registrars around the country for their continuing support. We believe that more and more people are choosing to marry in a humanist ceremony because they identify with the humanist values of equality, reason, compassion and tolerance, and these are the values that bind society together. The rise in popularity of our ceremonies is due in large part to the dedication and professionalism of our celebrants, of whom we are rightly proud.”

Full figures for 2010 are expected to be released by the Registrar General of Scotland in his annual report in August, but these findings suggest humanist weddings have increased in popularity by 2000% since they became legal in Scotland.

A spokesman for HSS said: “In 2007, just over a year after humanist weddings were first made legal in Scotland, we forecast that 2010 would be the year that humanist weddings became more popular than Catholic ones. We’re delighted our prediction has come true. By the same projection, we expect to see that humanist ceremonies will overtake those of the Church of Scotland in 2015.”

Published Fri, 25 Feb 2011