Humanist officiant
A Humanist officiant is a person who performs secular humanist
Secular humanism
Secular Humanism, alternatively known as Humanism , is a secular philosophy that embraces human reason, ethics, justice, and the search for human fulfillment...

Celebrancy is a movement to provide agents to officiate at ceremonies often reserved in law to clergy or officers of the courts. These agents, generally referred to as "celebrants", perform weddings, funerals, and other life ceremonies for those who do not want a traditional religious...

 services for weddings, funerals, child namings, coming of age ceremonies, and other rituals. Some Humanist officiants are ordained or accredited members of the Ontario Humanist Society (OHS), Humanist Association of Canada
Humanist Association of Canada
Humanist Canada is a national not-for-profit charitable organization promoting the separation of religion from public policy and fostering the development of reason, compassion and critical thinking for all Canadians through secular education and community support...

 (HAC), the American Humanist Association
American Humanist Association
The American Humanist Association is an educational organization in the United States that advances Humanism. "Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that...

 (AHA), the British Humanist Association
British Humanist Association
The British Humanist Association is an organisation of the United Kingdom which promotes Humanism and represents "people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs." The BHA is committed to secularism, human rights, democracy, egalitarianism and mutual respect...

 (BHA), the Humanist Society of Scotland
Humanist Society of Scotland
The Humanist Society of Scotland is a Scottish voluntary charitable organisation that promotes humanist views. It is a member of the European Humanist Federation and the International Humanist and Ethical Union.-History and aims:...

 (HSS), the Society for Humanistic Judaism
Society for Humanistic Judaism
The Society for Humanistic Judaism, founded in 1969 by Rabbi Sherwin Wine embraces a human-centered philosophy that combines the celebration of Jewish culture and identity with an adherence to humanistic values and ideas....

 (SHJ), the American Ethical Union (AEU), or the Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Association , in full the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in North America, is a liberal religious association of Unitarian Universalist congregations formed by the consolidation in 1961 of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of...


United States

Laws in each state of the United States vary about who has the right to perform wedding services, but Humanist Celebrants or Officiants are usually categorized as "clergy" and have the same rights and responsibilities as ordained clergy. In Canada and in the US State of Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, where same-sex unions are legally recognized, Humanist officiants perform many LGBT
LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people. In use since the 1990s, the term "LGBT" is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "gay community" beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s, which many within the...

 weddings. The Humanist Society, an adjunct of the American Humanist Association, maintains a list of Humanist Celebrants.

United Kingdom

The British Humanist Association organises a network of celebrants or officiants across England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

. A similar network exists in Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, where, following a June 2005 ruling by the Registrar General, officiants or celebrants of the Humanist Society of Scotland are permitted to conduct legal wedding ceremonies. Scotland is one of only six countries in the world where Humanist wedding ceremonies are legal, the others being Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway and some parts of the USA. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the current legal position is that a Humanist wedding or partnership ceremony must be supplemented by a process of obtaining a civil marriage
Civil marriage
Civil marriage is marriage performed by a government official and not a religious organization.-History:Every country maintaining a population registry of its residents keeps track of marital status, and most countries believe that it is their responsibility to register married couples. Most...

 or partnership certificate through a Register Office
Register office
A register office is a British term for a civil registry, a government office and depository where births, deaths and marriages are officially recorded and where you can get officially married, without a religious ceremony...


Non-religious funerals are legal within the UK. Humanist officiants are familiar with the procedures of cremation and burial, and are trained and experienced in devising and conducting suitable ceremonies. The British Humanist Association describes officiants as follows:
Officiants are generally at least 35 years old, have experience of public speaking, and have probably had paid or voluntary experience in a caring/supporting profession – such as nursing, teaching, police or social work, for example. They must be able to cope with the emotional burden of regularly meeting and working with bereaved people - often in relation to particularly difficult or unexpected deaths, such as the death of a child in a road accident. Funeral directors are able to make arrangements with trained officiants in their local area.

Humanist funerals have reportedly been held in recent years for Claire Rayner
Claire Rayner
Claire Berenice Rayner OBE was an English nurse, journalist, broadcaster and novelist, best known for her role for many years as an agony aunt.-Early life:...

, Keith Floyd
Keith Floyd
Keith Floyd was a British celebrity chef, television personality and restaurateur, who hosted cooking shows for the BBC and published many books combining cookery and travel...

, Linda Smith
Linda Smith (comedian)
Linda Helen Smith was a British stand-up comic and comedy writer. She appeared regularly on Radio 4 panel games, and was voted "Wittiest Living Person" by listeners in 2002...

, and Ronnie Barker
Ronnie Barker
Ronald William George "Ronnie" Barker, OBE was a British actor, comedian, writer, critic, broadcaster and businessman...

, among others.

Celebrants also undertake humanist baby naming
Humanist baby naming
A baby naming ceremony is a humanist or non-religious alternative to ceremonies such as christenings. The principle is conceptually similar to a civil wedding ceremony as an alternative to a religious wedding ceremony....

s as a non-religious alternative to ceremonies such as christening
Christening is a naming ceremony associated with:*Baptism*Infant baptism*Ship naming and launching...

s. The purpose is to recognise and celebrate the arrival of a child, and welcome him or her in the family and circle of friends.


Humanist officiants often perform alternative and non-traditional ceremonies in places, and under circumstances where mainstream religious clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 will not. Many Humanist officiants perform same-sex weddings and commitment ceremonies. Humanist wedding officiants often perform ceremonies in parks, on beaches, on boats, on hiking trails, in hotels, in banquet halls, in private homes, and many other places. Humanist officiants may perform secular services for interfaith couples and families, as well. Officiants differ from Chaplains in that Officiants serve the unaffiliated public at large, while Chaplains are usually employed by an institution such as the military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

, a hospital or other health care facility, etc.
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