Good news from Scotland today: new figures show that Humanist wedding ceremonies are on the rise in Scotland. Not only that but religious wedding ceremonies are in decline. The figures have been published as part of a broader policy of support for gay marriage ahead of the Humanist Society Scotland’s annual general meeting which takes place in Glasgow on Sunday. Scotland has a proud heritage of unbelief and rightly champions David Hume as one of the fathers of modern skeptical philosophy.
Just over 2000 humanist wedding ceremonies were conducted last year, an increase of 31% on the previous year. That’s already more than Catholic ceremonies and quickly approaching the 6,000 Church of Scotland ceremonies that occurred the previous year. Most Scots chose to have a civil ceremony with no religious affiliation. This, coupled with the rise in Humanist weddings, means the Humanist Society Scotland now believes half of all Scots are non-religious. It is not just the weddings that have seen a growth in popularity, there has also been a rise in the number of Humanist funerals and baby naming ceremonies.
Most of this growth can be traced back to 2005 when the Registrar General authorized Humanists to conduct these types of services. Civil marriages have been available for a very long time, but people usually like to retain a sense of the pomp and ceremonial aspect of a traditional wedding. This is a role I feel Humanism in general supports very well. It allows for the grand sense of occasion at important moments in peoples’ lives, dignifying them in a way that a civil servant writing your name in a book can’t really capture. All of this without the superstition religion brings to the table.